My St. Johns Design Build Dream Kitchen Remodel

February 26th, 2015

Before the remodel...

After!

This past summer/fall I got my kitchen remodeled by my good friends at St. Johns Design Build and I still haven’t recovered from the excitement of having my very own dream kitchen. It was such a long time coming considering I bought my house in 2006 and cooked on the shitty original electric stove, walked on the mustard and baby diarrhea colored linoleum and diced and sliced under the ugly fluorescents in it until 2014. That’s a long time for someone to cook in a crap space with a bum stove who cares so deeply about food, who works as a food writer for fuck’s sake.

My excuse for that long delay in remodeling whenever anyone asks — well, money primarily, you big dummie — and I never wanted to half-ass it. I could’ve done this, that and the other to improve it along the way but I figured why be piecemeal when I had a vision? I’d just wait until that vision could be fully realized. And now, it has! I’m lucky enough to call St. Johns Design Build owner/contractor Brian McVay a dear friend, along with his partners in crime Clarence Jacobs and Rude Graves, so rather than write any more about this here I’m going to give it to you straight from the source.

Below is McVay’s Crain Kitchen Recipe — his words interspersed with my photos. I can’t recommend St. Johns Design Build highly enough for any home or business remodel project — these folks are the best and the brightest. (I also can’t recommend the fellows as SJDB highly enough for draaaanks and great conversation on my front porch, OR at the Red Fox, OR anywhere else in North Portland that’s up all night. That’s just the way we roll.)

CRAIN KITCHEN RECIPE
by Brian McVay (as crafted in my HAUS by Brian, Clarence Jacobs, Rude Graves ++)

Objectives — Create a kitchen for a food genius (these are definitely not my words) food lover, affordable, bring a group of artisans together to work on this project, respect the age of the home, use local/reused/recycled content materials.

After our initial meeting/walk-thru with the group it was obvious you had a great space, an open mind, and a pretty decent existing kitchen layout. Seeing that the cabinet boxes were reusable we set out to simply resurface the room. I personally love this era of home (built in 1907) and this is an easy part of the country to source materials that are historically appropriate. One of my favorites is Douglas Fir — clear vertical grain (CVG) Douglas Fir. This material has such a history in this part of the world, and it also tells a story of its age by the density of the lines or grains i.e. if there are more than 10 vertical grains per inch that piece came from an old growth tree in an ancient forest.

I had been shopping at a local lumber reuse outfit called Green Star International and they had recently received a shipment of bleacher seats so I had my inspiration. Clarence hand made everything in our cabinet shop in SE portland.

The cabinets were to be new CVG drawers and door faces, naturally finished in shellac. We reused the cabinet boxes and the shelves. The shelves were covered with a vinyl tile in deep red.

Clarence Jacobs installing the cabinets he made from the CVG Doug Fir bleachers.

The counter, installed by our magic man Rude, (Rude also did all of the tile-work in the kitchen) comes from a company called PaperStone and their little known “bargain panel division”. When you pick up the material your self it means big savings, thrift stores, and really good Chinese food (I scored a pair of rad green pants! Someone else might have really wanted to score something else green).

Paperstone is one of the few architectural solid surface materials certified to FSC standards by the Smartwood program of the Rainforest Alliance. It’s made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper that has been saturated with their proprietary Petro-free phenolic resins and selected natural pigments on our treater lines. After trimming to length, resin-saturated sheets are stacked and moved into a press where they are fused together under heat and pressure. Paper sheet count determines the thickness of the finished panels.

Paperstone pick-up in Hoquiam with these fine fellows -- John Wenderoth (left), Brian McVay and Rude Graves's tiny head in the back of the Sprinter.

Rude, John and Brian checking out the goods.

My future paperstone counter!

Your kitchen sink came from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store in Tillamook.

Thank you John W!

Stove and hood, obviously The ReBuilding Center.

My dream Dynasty/Jade range and Viking hood! Heart of the kitchen. Aaaaand they scored it for a quarter of the price.

The floor was removed by Minority Abatement Contractors out of Vancouver. I feel it important and try to hire sub-contractors that are either women, minority, or emerging small businesses.

So happy once that baby diarrhea linoleum was pulled up there was beautiful, original Doug Fir flooring!

Brought back to life!

Electrical panel was replaced by Coho Electric. Track lights fro you know who (John Gorham! He gave them to me when he was building out Mediterranean Exploration Company. So lucky/grateful). The lighting scheme needed to go from mood lighting to kitchen lab at the flick of a dimmer.

Electrical panel surgery.

Thank you John G! Let there be light.

Custom metal work was designed by me, welded by Clarence. The table top material came from a local favorite — Salvage Works.

Beauty.

Custom blacksmith work came from our shop mate Scott Rash.

I've always loved the J&M Cafe's mug tree and this is our understated version of that. Love it!

My very own custom built and blacksmithed pot rack!

More photos from the pre/post-remodel that I love…

All of my Ice-O-Matics in one place!

Clarence built me a drawer for my secret spice stash!

Yep.

Another one of my favorite features -- the kitchen table storage benches. The one on the right was the original refaced and Clarence mimicked it on the left.

Yes! Keeping a lot of my canning supplies and canned foods in there.

So beautiful.

Me and the White Wolf soaking it all up. Happy.

Chunky maple chopping block!

And while my kitchen was out of service I did things like…

Make pickles in my...bathroom!

Use the hell out of my rice cooker.

Make Bloody Mary mix on plywood.

And once it was a wrap I had a big birthday/kitchen warming party. I’m so happy to have my dream kitchen and honestly a little sad that all the boys are gone. I guess I need to dream up another remodel project…

Cheers! Eat, drink and be hairy!

St. Johns Design Build
www.stjohnsdesignbuild.com
brian AT stjohnsdesignbuild DOT COM
971.678.3619
Who you gonna call? St. Johns Design Build!
You ain’t afraid of no ghost.

Northwest Fresh Seafood, Lentil Underground, Cuvee Weekend

February 25th, 2015

Still tickets left!

There are three tasty events coming up — two of which I’m directly involved in — that I want to tell you about. I also want to acknowledge that I do realize that I haven’t done a Yard Fresh installment in far too long. One excuse, over the summer and early fall I got my kitchen remodeled by my amazingly talented friends at St. Johns Design Build (see some photos of my kitchen remodel here!), beyond that life has been full. Anyway, I haven’t forgotten about that series and I’ll add to it again soon enough. For now, here are some upcoming food/drink events I’m hoping that you might come to and if not that you will help spread the word about. Thanks!

Saturday, March 7 @ 2-6pm at Northwest Fresh Seafood
Newberg, Oregon
BUBBLES & BOOKS

A month ago Zach Elliott of the Newberg seafood market Northwest Fresh Seafood asked John Gorham and me if we’d come out to the market for a spring food/drink/books event and we agreed right away. John and I are both seafood lovers and always up for a fun excuse to get out to Oregon wine country. The result is an afternoon and evening event hosted by these great folks with oysters, bubbles, signed copies of Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. AND Food Lover’s Guide to Portland, live music by Kent Smith and a Q&A with John and I ALL for $65. I hope you’ll come out for it and even if you can’t I hope that you might help spread the word. It’s going to be great. Tickets are available here.

Monday, March 9 @ 7pm at Powell’s
Portland, Oregon
Liz Carlisle, author of Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America READING

Working as a book publicist at Hawthorne Books, and having covered food and food books since 2003, review copies often come my way. They’re usually from Chelsea Green, which is one of my favorite publishing houses, but sometimes they’re from other publishers — in this case Gotham Books. Liz Carlisle is coming to Portland mid-March for a reading for her book Lentil Underground and if you care about food as much as I do I think you’re going to want to go to this Powell’s City of Books reading. I’ve only begun reading it and I’m inspired by the depth of Carlisle’s research into renegade farmers and sustainable agriculture as well as the tenacity of her subjects and their dedication to new ag. business and cropping systems and a sustainable ag. future. GENTLE PORTLAND LENTILS, please pick up a copy of the book and come out for Carlisle’s Powell’s reading and become a part of the Lentil Underground! If my endorsement isn’t enough…

“What does it take to farm sustainably–and make a living? Liz Carlisle tells the engrossing story of the ‘audacity rich, but capital poor’ Montana farmers who thought lentils were the answer and stuck with them until proved right. Anyone who dreams of starting a farm or wants to know how organic farmers can overcome the obstacles they face will be inspired by this book.” –Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.

Look at that fuzzy gentle lentil behind the book! Rubin is my favorite photo bomber.

Saturday, March 21st @ Noon at The Allison Inn & Spa
Newberg, Oregon
Cuvee Weekend PANEL

In celebration of Women’s History Month The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg is hosting an inaugural Cuvee Weekend on the weekend of March 21st. Couples are invited to purchase weekend packages and attend everything from a cooking demo. by Kristen Murray of Portland’s Maurice and a 4-course winemakers’ dinner with Tamara Murphy of Seattle’s Terra Plata to a guided vineyard tour and a panel discussion on women in food on Saturday, the 21st with me, Kristen Murray, Tamara Murphy and Veronica Vaga of Deschutes Brewery. Please help spread the word!

The Allison Inn & Spa rated #1 Hotel Spa in the Continental US by Travel + Leisure.

Mark Bittman at the James Beard Public Market Fundraiser in Portland January 22, 2015

January 23rd, 2015

Mr. Mark Bittman and me at the James Beard Public Market fundraiser dinner at Leftbank Annex.

I’m a very lucky lady. I got to be Mark Bittman’s date when he was in town for the James Beard Public Market fundraiser dinner at Leftbank Annex last night. Greg Higgins of Higgins Restaurant put together an incredible Pacific Northwest bounty meal comprised of recipes inspired by Mr. B’s latest book How to Cook Everything Fast which Higgins joked in his intro. to the event was probably “the longest book on fast cooking.” It’s a whopping 4+ pounds after all. (My favorite dishes that I’ve cooked from the book so far: miso glazed catfish with mushrooms, caramelized cod and Vietnamese-style fish sauce brussels. Mmmmm!)

The James Beard Public Market has been in the works now for nearly 15 years and it looks like we’ll finally have a market sooner than later. There have been all sorts of recent developments including the securing of the space at the west end of the Morrison bridge from the county for development, the partnership with the Norwegian design firm Snohetta to design it, the partnership with Bon Appetit Management Company to develop the teaching and demo. kitchens and on and on. In other words, things are moving right along now and gaining momentum. There are so many great local food folks involved including board secretary Janie Hibler, outreach and operations director Ann Forsthoefel, board members Lisa Sedlar and Greg Higgins and many, many more.

The dinner met the night’s fundraising goals and the highlight was Mr. Bittman’s inspiring speech which I uploaded here if you weren’t able to attend. The sound is pretty crappy but if you crank it up you can get most of it. There were a lot of bodies in the room and a lot of wine glasses if you know what I mean.

I’m really looking forward to one fine day when we have a large urban, indoor/outdoor year-round public market. I grew up in Cincinnati with Findlay Market and I really get how important these hubs can be to local culture. I want it! I want it now! Patience. It will soon be. Help make the James Beard Public Market dream a reality. Let’s do this thing.

Leftbank Annex all pretty for the event. Three Leg Torso playing on the stage just out of view of the photo to the right.

Mark and Bon Appetit Management Co. CEO and co-founder Fedele Bauccio before the dinner.

Super tasty menu from Greg Higgins.

EVERYONE left with a copy of Mark's How to Cook Everything Fast.

Mark giving his inspiring speech. Link to the audio is above.

Greg Higgins' yummy dessert.

Mark and James Beard Public Market executive director Ron Paul at the end of the night.

The happiest and luckiest person I know at the end of the night. Yep.

Learn more about the James Beard Public Market at www.jamesbeardmarket.com

Cooking the Toro Bravo Book Party Pt. 4

January 12th, 2015

Loly with one of the crunchy delicious Toro fried anchovies.

I finally got to host our Toro Bravo cook the book party last night (check out the first, second and third here) and it was really nice to do it in my newly remodeled kitchen. My kitchen has been pretty much done since early November but there were a couple final details and now it’s complete! It’s a beauty and I’m going to post about it here soon. I couldn’t be happier with it. My friends Brian McVay, Clarence Jacobs and Rude Graves of St. Johns Design Build are so incredibly talented. And you’ll know they’re good people when I tell you this — I was genuinely sad to see them go when my kitchen was complete. I truly enjoyed the entire remodel process and having those awesome fellows in my home. I miss having them see me in my pajamas. Wink.

It was really, really fun to have a whole bunch of friends packed into my kitchen last night for our fourth eat, drink and be merry cook from book party for Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. We’ve now passed the halfway point having cooked 60-plus recipes from the book. I’m guessing we’ll complete the book after three more dinners. Quite the feat. We’ve even started talking about which book we’ll cook through next. Potentials discussed: Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, Jerusalem and the Pok Pok cookbook. I mentioned that I’d love to cook through a comprehensive Southeast Asian cookbook. Unfortunately I think Pok Pok requires a bit more pantry building than our group is up for.

Another sweet thing — Shane Welch founder of Brooklyn’s Six Point Brewery recently moved to Portland and he gifted us (he’s friends with my friend and contractor mentioned above — Brian McVay) some of his Bengali IPA for the party which is super tasty. Really sweet of him. We also poured a lot of cava, various Spanish wines and we drank some of my early plum wine that I pulled off over the weekend while racking it. So crisp and tasty.

Anyway, I’ll let the photos tell the tale as usual. Happy 2015! I hope you’ve been cooking and eating well. I bet you have.

Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. dinner party menu

Toro Martini and Fried Anchovies, Fennel and Lemon with Romesco
Gazpacho
Charred Bread with Chanterelles in Sherry Cream
Chard and Eggs
Chicken and Clams Cataplana
Lamb Ragu with Eggplant
French Kisses and Pickled Beets and cheeses
Sherry Chicken Liver Mousse
Apple and Pear Clafoutis

NO ONE in Portland is carrying fresh anchovies at the moment so the super sweet John Gorham gave me a pound from Toro for the Fried Anchovies, Fennel and Lemon dish from the book.

They were deeeeelcious with Toro's romesco.

We started the night off right with my piping hot anchovies and chilled Toro Martinis. Not too shabby.

Next up was Nancy's super yummy Toro gazpacho.

Really nice to have so many friends around the kitchen table.

Alec charring the bread for...

Toro's Charred Bread with Chanterelles in Sherry Cream.

Dana cooking up Toro's...

Chard and Eggs.

Sara and I in our animal shirt finery -- giraffes and stags.

Loly and Faulkner cooking up Toro's Chicken and Clams Cataplana.

Soooooo good! With Olympic Provisions cured meats.

Left to right: Loly, Nancy, Faulkner and Jim. The best.

Super Tasty Six Point Bengali IPA. YUM!

Tom and Heather's (just engaged!!) deeeelicious Lamb Ragu with Eggplant.

Chris assembling Toro's French Kisses -- foei gras torchon stuffed brandy-soaked prunes. Perfect.

Tom overseeing. He approves.

Dana and Oliver's apple and pear clafoutis. Mmmmm.

Aaaand the final dessert plate -- Sara's sherry chicken liver mousse, Chris's French Kisses and Spanish cheeses. We are so lucky.

Cheers to 2015! I hope you are in good company and having a fine time of it.

Pre-order Food Lover’s Guide to Portland Tique Box

December 5th, 2014

Food Lover's Guide to Portland TIQUE BOX! Available for pre-order!

I had so much fun putting together this Food Lover’s Guide to Portland Tique Box with Tique founders Inger McDowell and Paige Buckner when they reached out to me several weeks ago. The mission of their business is very similar to the mission of my book — celebrate talented and passionate local artisans, oftentimes lesser known ones.

There are all sorts of fantastic Portland foods/drinks/crafts/art that these ladies have put together into pretty boxes for subscriptions (I have a year-long subscription and just got my first box!) or for individual purchase. For my Food Lover’s Guide to Portland box I wanted to include treats made by folks who I love and admire that just about anyone will use and enjoy (in other words — accessible) which is why I included easy to love salt, hot sauce, peanut butter, honey, chocolate, candy and cheese. That said, these are all elevated, unique and, of course, delicious renditions of these classics. Go Portland!

This box makes a fantastic gift for locals and folks afar and you can pre-order it now for $45 here to ship by Priority Mail on Dec. 15th — just in time for the holidays. Here’s what you get:

So many tasty treats in this Tique Box!

Meeting of the minds -- Paige (left) and Inger at our initial Food Lover's PDX Tique Box meeting at Breken Kitchen.

Inger (left) and Paige with their Tique Boxes.

My November Tique Box -- delivered to my doorstep! Love it.

Purchase the Food Lover’s Guide to Portland Tique Box at
www.tiquebox.com
$45, ships via Priority Mail on Dec. 15th