A Country Kitchen Renovation

And a quick and easy dinner of beef and garden snow peas

Old Beadboard and Antique Brass Cabinets

My kitchen is a disaster! We are in the midst of a renovation, and there is stuff everywhere. I mean everywhere. We are definitely not the neatest renovators, but I think we are pretty good at the finished product. Here is a photo of our butler’s pantry/hallway in transition, with several different paint colors and hardware going on. We usually slap on many paint samples before we make a final decision. Sorry for the mess–hopefully you can identify with it! 

Butlers Pantry in Transition

It took lots of discussion and research, but in the long run, we decided to maintain as much of the original material of our old cottage as we can. After pricing cabinets and looking at the quality of the new stuff, we decided to stick with the handmade, solid wood beadboard cabinets that are original to the house. I am really glad that we did. While cleaning and carefully painting each cabinet, I could not help but think that someone’s dear hubby spent a lot of time and effort building the cabinets for his wife. They may not be magazine-perfect, but they were made with love. A fresh coat of paint and new hardware gives them a whole new life. I like that. We’ll also add new interior organization–like cool pull-out drawers. 

Fresh paint and gorgeous chrome hardware breathe new life into the old cabinets

And the countertops? Well, they are handmade from solid oak. Solid. Oak. After pricing out granite, marble, Corian, and new wood countertops, we decided that what we have is just fine, thank you! A light sanding, a little deeper stain, and a good coat of polyurethane, and they will be country-elegant.  Bingo, we just saved about $5,000 on our kitchen renovation! We’ll replace our appliances as we find them on sale.

Our kitchen is small. It’s actually an add-on to the back of our cottage. To open it up, we’ll remove some cabinets, add open shelving, and move the appliances around. That means we have to eliminate anything that we don’t love and use, and design a place to put the things that we do love. We have to be really creative with space and materials. It is a challenge, especially for cooks like us, who tend to gather lots of kitchen gear. We need room for our mixer, food mill and processor, canning supplies, spices, herbs, and what have you. And because we live in the country, we tend to shop for a month’s worth of food and supplies at a time. Careful planning is key. Anyway, I promise it will be kickass when we finish with it.

On another note, when you are in the midst of a kitchen renovation and you haven’t eaten all day, you get really hungry. It’s a challenge to find pots and pans to cook in. I mean clean ones, without plaster dust in them. But at the end of a long day of sanding and building and painting, you want something really good. Something simple, hot and delicious. Because you are starving!  We had a bunch of snow peas from our garden, and a beautiful flank steak and fresh ginger in the fridge. So we scrubbed up a frying pan and made beef and snow peas with jasmine rice. It only took a few minutes, and it was a beautiful thing. We used the fantabulous Pioneer Woman’s recipe. Ya’ll should go visit her sometime! 

Beef with Snow Peas

It was a very good thing. The flank steak was perfectly tender and flavorful. The snow peas were crispy and sweet. The fresh ginger and hint of sherry made the simple dish sing. It was the best Asian dish I’ve ever had. Well, almost. Anway, you want some. You know you do! I loved this simple recipe and will mix it up with beef and brocolli, shrimp and snow peas, chicken and soba noodles. A perfect meal for a night when you want something easy and delicious.  Now, back to painting just one more cabinet!

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Cowlick Cottage Farm Welcome to CCF. I’m Carolyn Binder, a passionate writer, avid photographer, cook and gardener. My love of gardening and writing have transformed my cooking and our lifestyle (...more)

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