A Working Kitchen Finally Emerges

I didn’t sleep well again last night and so I decided to focus all my energy for today on home chores and the bit of transcription I had left to do. I only went out around 6PM to get a beer!

First thing I did this morning was heat a ton of water so I could wash all my new china and get it off the kitchen table, which would give me a surface for cutting out my shelf liner.

I’ve got a tip for y’all for cleaning dishes in an area with very hard water, such as Yucatán. The water here is so hard that even the water softener in Chelem was little match for it. Detergent doesn’t work well and dishes always end up with a film on them. The solution, when it came to me, was incredibly obvious — vinegar! I add a glub of white vinegar to my dish water and about a quarter cup to a pitcher that I top up with hot water for rinsing. In Chelem, I would fill the second sink basin with hot water and add the vinegar. The vinegar counteracts the minerals in the water and gets your dishes squeaky clean and spotless.

Once everything was clean and had air dried, I put it all away in the china cabinet:

Doesn’t that look lovely?! And I thought that beautiful cabinet was just going to sit empty!

I then got to work and in between spurts of typing, I cut shelf liner and cleaned more dishes so I could start really sorting out all my kitchen things and find a place for them in the furniture I have, which I knew was going to be enough since it was at least as much storage as I had in Miranda. I really love having a kitchen with free standing furniture like this. It’s really not unlike my Bulgarian kitchen.

Mid-afternoon, even with the kitchen still being a disaster, I set to work making a proper lunch!

I’m so tired of cooking on that hot plate, but have to admit it has served me very well. Chicken in one pan, veg (carrot, onion, zucchini, garlic) in the other, and I had basmati going in my rice cooker as well. The hot plate is two small for these pans, so the cast iron is actually hanging off of it and I had to keep stirring because the heat was so uneven!

Since this was my first real meal in this house, I decided to go all out and use a bunch of my new dishes, going so far as to use the covered serving dishes!

The curry was of course delicious, but the star of the meal was the fresh veg! I just sautéed it in oil with a bit of salt. I couldn’t believe how well it turned out. It was hard to get fresh veg daily on the beach and one of my eventual goals is to find a reliable source of veg within walking distance that I can buy from almost daily.

I continued to type and pick away at my kitchen organisation as the afternoon turned into early evening. The electrician texted just as I got back in with my beer that, oops, it’s a holiday (Day of the Dead) and the hardware store he goes to was closed. So he’s coming tomorrow afternoon. I loved his “Holaaaa!!!” greeting. I texted back that he got an evening to relax and know I made a couple of mistakes with that, but the emoji he sent back told me he got what I meant. They are a universal language. 🙂

A logic for sorting out the kitchen materialised. Things I don’t use much obviously belong in the china cabinet. On that shelf, I have my French presses and some vases. In the drawers, I have a table cloth and napkins my mother made for me eons back that should fit the table.

I’m trying to figure out who miscalculated because I ended up with WAY more shelf liner than I needed! I don’t mind since it was so inexpensive and it gives me the option to replace some if I wear through it.

Here’s one bookcase with the shelf liner on, but the back not yet painted, and full of things I use daily:

The big blue tub, which you might recognise from my bathroom in Chelem, holds my dish cloths and towels.

The bottom of the deep cabinet next to this bookcase is full of containers, mostly the mason jars I got from my neighbour Caroline that will slowly be filled with foodstuffs. They have air tight lids and so should be good for this climate. There’s also some plasticware down there.

The drawer above is heaven sent, really. I find the dimensions of the cabinet to be awkward, but the drawer is absolutely fantastic and, best of all, it’s on rollers so it opens and closes well. Inside, I have my mandoline, cheese grater, measuring cups, smallest sieve, meat thermometre, Ove Gloves, and tea strainer. It’s also the perfect place for plastic bags and wrap as well as aluminum foil.

The big open space above the drawer has my pots. I can envision a future where I put in a wire shelf to get a second layer to store more things since the cabinet has so much volume.

Above the pots on the narrow shelf are other things I use daily, including a colander, sieves, a scale, a big metal mixing bowl, and a glass measuring cup. The shelves above hold odd bits at the very top and the rest of my plasticware below. The very top shelf is hard to reach even with my E-Z Foldz step stool giving me a boost.

The other bookcase is coming together, but isn’t done yet. I’m due to go pantry-building!

Another thing I did today was give my sink two coats of carnauba wax. Doesn’t look much different until you run water in it.

See how the water now beads? The sink should be much easier to keep clean now and I shouldn’t have anymore issues with rust.

Still very much a work in progress, I’m starting to get a sense of the workflow on the counter area.

Yes, that’s my trashcan right on the counter. Trash management is a pain in the tropics in a house that’s open to the elements. What I’ve found to be easiest is to have a small bag right within reach that gets taken out when it’s full. It’s a bad idea to have the trash under the sink or in some area where you can forget about it.

Here’s the other part of the counter.

There’s way too much going on here and some of these things will move to the table temporarily and then eventually to an island. I especially need to set up my coffee station somewhere less busy. The grey cable you see is a heavy duty kitchen extension cord. There is an outlet immediately to the right of the hot plate, but it doesn’t work. *sighs* So I’m running everything off that outlet to the left. Yes, I know better than to run multiple items at the same time!

Finally, there are key and mail holders behind the door. The key holder is a good enough place for now to put my apron. 🙂

The kitchen is far from being done-done, but it’s now usable and I have an idea of what I’m missing. I still really like the stainless steel table idea for an island, but am now wondering if I could find one with (locking) wheels. I really like the idea of a rolling cart, but I want something counter height. If I didn’t, I’d make do with the round wooden table that came with the kitchen.

It’s been another very full day. I’m going to turn in early in the hopes of getting a solid seven before the rooster wakes up…