Cabinet shelf-drawers

Anything short of a completely custom kitchen will inevitably be a compromise. Most of today’s “custom kitchens” are little more than a selection of options. Truly custom scratch built kitchens are just too expensive for all but the most demanding clients.

I rarely get called for a complete custom kitchen (but if you are in the market, I’m happy to discuss you wants and needs). Still, I do get calls for making customizations and improvements to existing kitchens.

In this example, the client had a small kitchen in which extra deep cabinets had been install around the refrigerator. I like the look of a flush-mount refrigerator and dislike those counter-depth refrigerators. The solution is extra deep cabinets. The problem is getting to the back of those deep cabinets. 

The solution is custom built extra deep pullout shelf-drawers.

The project consisted of 6 shelf-drawers for the tall and narrow side cabinets plus shelf-drawers for above the refrigerator.

Using 27″ under-mount heavy duty soft-close slides gave the client 28″ deep shelf-drawers which resulted in 30% more accessible storage and the shelf-drawers handle up to 150lbs each. To accommodate the potential loads, the shelf-drawers have 1/2″ bottoms.

There were a few wrinkles to the install. Since the cabinets where standard sized with full overlay doors, there was dead space on either side of the drawers where the face frame extended into the storage space. This called for different spacers to be made for the left and right sides of the tall side cabinets. The upper cabinet had different sized openings and a dead space in the middle so three specific spacers were needed there was well.

Installation was accomplished using a custom jig which snapped into the existing front and rear shelf pin holes along with a front spacer to establish the correct set-back for the front of each drawer. By mixing which holes were used in the jig vs the holes in the cabinet, I could adjust in quarter inch increments.

The installation took a good amount of preparation and planning but only a couple hours at the client site.

Guacamole, lazy ass style!

There are few tastes which set the tone for a relaxed summer late day with friends and family like guacamole. It pairs perfectly with a beer or a decadent cocktail. It can also take 10 or more ingredients and a bunch of preparation. But it doesn’t have to.

You can make a very good guacamole in about 3 minutes using 3 ingredients (plus some salt and pepper).

The most difficult step is getting 2 ripe avocados. Cut them in half, remove the seed, and scoop the flesh into a small food processor. Add about 1/3 cup of medium salsa. Add 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice. Pulse and mostly purée the ingredients but try to leave a small amount of chunkiness. Add a pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper to taste. Pulse a couple of times to incorporate.

You can serve the guacamole immediately but it is better if you can chill it for 30 minutes. 

A quick side note: I have one cheap (as in price) tool in my kitchen that makes this recipe especially easy – a Ninja Chopper. (They can be had for around $20 from various sources).

Sangria, lazy ass style!

Red wine, citrus soda, frozen fruit. There you go. Done.

You want more details? Oh, OK.

The basic recipe consists of a dry-ish red wine and a diet or non-diet citrus soda such as Siera Mist or one of its many clones.

I drink red wines during the winter and usually have left over bottles of good – albeit budget – red wines from Spain, South Africa, Portugal, or France.

My “soda bar” uses 3L bottles so my recipe is a 750ml bottle of red wine and a 2L bottle of diet Siera Mist or a similar store brand. Recently I found a couple good boxed wines on a close out discount so I’ll use those too. When using boxed wines, I use 1L of wine and 2L of soda.

Since you don’t like have a CO2 system and may not want to deal with 3L bottles, use this method – chill the 2L bottle of soda in the freezer and do the same with the wine. When it’s really cold but not frozen, pour off 750ml of soda from the 2L bottle and replace it with the wine. Transfer is to the refrigerator. The reason for using the freezer is you are preserving as much carbonation as possible.

If the resulting sangria is too sweet for your taste you can use 1L of club soda and 1L of citrus soda.

When you want to serve the Sangria, scoop some frozen fruit into each glass and pour in the Sangria.

I keep a tub in the freezer with a mix of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and mango.

For something different, use a dry-ish white wine (but not too dry). Also add apples to the fruit mix.


Sweet potato toast – not toast and not bad

There’s an Internet fad (?) going around called “sweet potato toast”.

The short description is to slice a big round sweet potato into 1/4″ slices and cook them in a toaster until you get some browned spots. Then you spread stuff on it as if it were toast.

For the skeptics, it works.It’s definitely not toast. It can definitely be worked into a healthy and flavorful breakfast (or any other meal).

As an experiment I tried several options:

  • Just butter – blah.
  • A little butter and a few grains of sea salt – nice!
  • Peanut butter – umm, OK, I guess.
  • Sweetened flavored cream cheese – wow!
  • Plain cream cheese and a preserve, jam, or my home made cranberry sauce – yippee!
  • Cottage cheese and pineapple – likely good (but I didn’t have the ingredients in the house).

The skins can be a little bit leathery. I’d say to leave the skins on but to add small cuts through the skin all the way around.

I plan to incorporate this into a dinner menu or breakfast for the next guests to the farmhouse.

Rider in the wheat

I was lucky to have a visit from my west coast best friend. He happens to be an avid and well educated motorcyclist. Educated? Yes, he’s an instructor with Team Oregon.

So a motorcycle instructor visits a farm in Virginia. No biggy, right? One little detail, he is on his motorcycle.

He’s doing another of his coast to coast to coast rides!

It was a short visit but it was greatly appreciated and good to have a little time to catch up.

I tried not talk constantly while he was here. I was partially successful. I did get to do some enjoyable cooking.

Swappable router station tops

I’ve had router station for several years. At the time I purchased an RT-1000 and I consider a very good option. It has lots of bit storage and very good dust evacuation. It’s close to some of the DIY plans available so it’s a matter of opinion if you want to “buy or build”.

Many of my projects consist of complimentary routing profiles. The most common is any door made with rails and stiles. Initially, I would try to do all the shaping with one bit and then switch to the other. Inevitably I would need to go back. Next, I cut a duplicate router plate. This allowed me to setup two routers – one for each profile. This was an improvement and for rails and stiles it worked well since adjusting the fence was quick and not finicky. A recent project was not asaccomodating. I nearly ordered another RT-1000. Then I looked closely at table and realized I could modify it so the top could be swapped.

I dug through the shop and found all of the construction materials. I mail ordered some 1/4-20 knobs, a length of T-track and a length of combo miter/T-track.

I’m sure this top is modeled after one of the DIY plans. I just made it to mimic the top I already have.

On my next project, I’ll setup complimenting router profiles with the two tops, fully configured and ready for the duration of the project.

If anyone takes a really close look at the construction they just might notice all the different types of wood I salvaged from my scrap pile. This project has a little bit of several past projects.