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.

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.

Portland Fermentation Festival 2014 Redux

October 20th, 2014

The dapper foodists -- ferment fest co-organizers George Winborn, Liz Crain and David Barber.

Thank you to everyone who came out last week and made this year’s FIFTH annual Portland Fermentation Festival at Ecotrust such a stinky great time. It’s unanimous amongst David, George and I (festival co-organizers/founders) that this year was the most fun for us and I hope for you.

Every year has been fantastic but the three of us got to enjoy ourselves a lot more this year. I got to sample everything! In years past I always find myself running around too much to sample the ferments. I made a pact to try everything this year and I did and it was deeeeeelicious. Thanks in no small part to all of the festival’s awesome volunteers, participants and attendees. We’ve hit our stride. I guess five years has taught us a thing or two about throwing a big fermenty Portland party.

We put the Portland Fermentation Festival together every year with a shoestring budget + heaps of volunteered hours and as always we’re so grateful that Ecotrust puts up with us year after year. Thank you again Ecotrust! We love you.

We had some great coverage this year including this spot on KGW News PDX Tonight with Drew Carney, as well as the KBOO Food Show with Chris Seigel, this Portland Monthly story by Kelly Clarke, Portland Tribune story by Jennifer Anderson, Portland Mercury coverage, Willamette Week and moooooore. I guess Portland is ok with us. Happy.

If you’d like to keep up with local fermenty goings-on please check out our website, Facebook and Twitter.

Below are a whole bunch of photos from Stinkfest! If you have some great ones too please post them to the Facebook page or Twitter them with the hashtag #pdxfermentfest.

Thank you, thank you, thank you and see you all again next year we hope! Stay stinky!

We kicked off the night with a fermentation experts panel with left to right: moderator George Winborn, Josh Grgas of Commons Brewery, David Barber of Picklopolis and Bingo Sandwiches, Nat West of Reverend Nat's Hard Cidery and Eric Finley of Chop Butchery & Charcuterie.

The panel sold out weeks before and folks asked a lot of great questions. Most importantly we all learned that size does really matter especially in regard to fermenting cucumbers for sour pickles ;)

And then the madness of the first tasting ensued.

Perennial festival favorite -- Matt Choi of Choi's Kimchi.

OlyKraut brought all kinds of awesomeness including super tasty krauts and sour pickles and...

Their addictive spicy pickle brine.

Thank you Sash! She recommends using it in Bloody Marys and I am definitely going to.

Sweet Honey Farm's Lil and Jme serving up yummy krauts.

Cute shot of Lil right before the doors opened.

Out on the mezzanine the lovely Claudia Lucero did a fresh cheese demo with recipes from her hot off the presses rad book One-Hour Cheeses. Love her.

And on the other side of the mezzanine another perennial festival fave Heidi Nestler (heidinestler.com) and her husband Daisuke did a natto demo.

KGW News' Drew Carney came and shot the beginning of the fest for PDX Tonight. "Bow ties and beards right there. Surrounded."

Snapped this one during set up of my friends Teresa and Rich of Pitch Dark Chocolate. Kind of wild how many folks don't know that chocolate is fermented.

My boots photobombed their chocolate. So yummy.

Jon Westdahl getting cozy with one of his crocks.

The awesome salame spread from Chop Butchery & Charcuterie.

Connie and Brian Shaw of Oregon Brineworks with all kinds of super tasty ferments including fermented hot sauce and ketchup, beet kvass, ginger gold kvass and more. Love these guys.

My friends Jess Bull and Jemma Stromwick at ticketing in the lobby. Couldn't do it without all of our amazing volunteers. Thank you!

It was a beautiful night and on the rooftop we had food and drink from Bingo Sandwiches, Reverend Nat's Hard Cider and Commons Brewery and...

Music from DJ Pickle Barrel! The first time I got up to the roof he was playing Screamin' Jay Hawkins' I Put a Spell on You. So good.

Ecotrust/Edible Portland superstar and part of the fest dream team Lola Milholland having a tasty Bingo Sandwich with Patrick Barber. We took some swigs from my flask and talked about soy sauce. Geeky goodness.

Cute Colin Franger of Blue Bus Cultured Foods before the flood of people.

Nat West of Reverend Nat's Hard Cidery's favorite ferment of the night -- the Blue Bus Kraut-chi. Pretty stinking tasty.

Definitely the craziest ferment of the night -- Nat's LAMB hard cider.

Nat checking on it at the cidery a week before the festival. Scarier than The Shining.

David Barber's friend Patrick Barber setting up Picklopolis samples. David was probably putting on his NASA socks when this photo was taken.

Love festival moments like this -- Gabe Rosen chef-owner of Biwa, Alem Gebrehiwot owner of Queen of Sheba and Eric Finley of Chop Butchery & Charcuterie shooting the shit and drinking hard cider on the mezzanine.

Biwa's Gabe and Ed demo'ing miso. They brought three of theirs and made a miso soup. Biwa is one of my very favorite Portland restaurants and they always come to the festival.

Careen Stoli's beautiful handmade crocks.

Brad's Bread -- soooo many awesome sourdoughs.

Including...

Cute depot -- Tim Root's daughter Lil and Adelaide and David Barber's tiny lil Junior. Kids 12 and under get in for free.

Tim Root's incredible poster. We are so lucky to have him as our festival poster artist. Yes!

The cuteness doesn't stop -- David and Junior.

Tasty jun and all kinds of yummy kombuchas -- coffee kombucha?! -- from Symple Foods.

Festival fave and veteran Tress Yelig of Salt, Fire & Time. I had seconds of her rose kombucha ;)

Portland Kraut Cooperative filling up samples.

Regular Portland Bread. They got a little newsy love on KGW.

One of their many tasty treats.

Awesome crowd.

Allison Kirley and Cathy right before the panel. Their kombucha was great.

George, me and David before we did our news spot. I love these two so much -- brothers from another mother.

Always my favorite closing shot -- George with his jet pack vacuum cleaner. All cleaned up and ready for cocktails!

Thank you everyone for making this year’s fest one of the very best. We love you!

Fifth Annual Portland Fermentation Festival 2014

September 30th, 2014

Tim Root's sweeeeeet ass poster for this year's Portland Fermentation Festival!

Since 2009 my friends David Barber, George Winborn and I have put on the annual Portland Fermentation Festival with/at Ecotrust and every year it gets bigger and better. We’re only two weeks out from this year’s festival — Thursday, Oct. 16th from 6-9:30pm at Ecotrust — so I’m taking a moment to let you know all the stiiiiinky details in one place.

Most importantly, online tickets are on sale now ($10, $20) and you can purchase them here. Secondly, you can still apply to be an exhibitor — more info. here. Beyond that I’m pasting the press release below and some recent media links. Here’s the Facebook event page.

This year we’re having a panel of experts kick of the fest rather than one guest speaker. The inaugural Portland Fermentation Festival was in 2009 with Sandor Ellix Katz as guest speaker and we were lucky enough to get him back to speak at last year’s fest. Sandor is one of our heroes and favorite people so we asked him to speak again at this year’s fest, knowing full well he’d probably be too busy for it, and that we were being a little greedy. Just want to share these words that Sandor wrote back to us in response:

“sorry can’t make it this year. have fun and keep me posted on future festivals. i’m heading to the boston fermentation festival next month and austin (tx) festival in november. you were the pioneer fermentation festival and they keep spreading…..”

Let’s all be super proud to be a part of “THE PIONEER FERMENTATION FESTIVAL”! We can’t wait to see you all in just over two weeks at the STIIIINK!

PRESS RELEASE
Fifth Annual Portland Fermentation Festival
Thursday, October 16th 6-9:30pm
Ecotrust’s Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center
Rooftop food and drink sales and music from DJ Pickle Barrel
721 NW 9th Ave. Portland, OR
All ages, open to the public, $10-$20
Children 12 and younger attend for free
www.portlandfermentationfestival.com

Open-to-the-public, all ages celebration of fermented food and drink. Bring kraut, try kraut. Bring miso, try miso. Come out for Portland’s fermented food and drink skill sharing, recipe sharing, and tasting event of the year. We are very pleased to announce that this year’s special pre-tasting event (special ticket must be purchased to attend this panel) will be a panel of fermentation experts. Nat West of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cidery, David Barber of Picklopolis, Eric Finley of Chop Butchery & Charcuterie and Josh Grgas from Commons Brewery will answer questions and talk all things food/drink fermentation. Bring questions!

Come celebrate pickling season at the Fifth Annual Portland Fermentation Festival at Ecotrust. Taste and share live, fermented food and drinks made by professionals and home fermentation enthusiasts at the annual event that brought out more than 500 attendees in 2013.

Talk to fellow fermenters, exchange cultures and recipes, get advice from local food fermentation enthusiasts, and sample everything from sour pickles, miso and kefir to cheese, hard cider, and mead.
  
Enjoy rooftop food and beverage sales from Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, Commons Brewery and Bingo Sandwiches and music from DJ Pickle Barrel as well as fermentation demos from Claudia Lucero author of One-Hour Cheese, Gabe Rosen chef-owner of Biwa, Eric Finley butcher-owner of Chop Butchery & Charcuterie and Heidi Nestler teacher of Heidi Nestler Cooking Classes.

Tickets will be available online at portlandfermentationfestival.com on September 30th!
Admission for the 7 or 8pm Thursday tasting sessions is $10. 
For $20 you get to attend the 7 pm tasting as well as fermentation demos and the 6pm panel of experts on all things food/drink fermentation.

Visit the website above for more information on how to enter your fermented goods and cultures for the event.

MEDIA COVERAGE THIS YEAR
BuzzFeed
Portland Monthly
KBOO Food Show
Portland Tribune

MEDIA COVERAGE OF FESTIVALS PAST
Cooking Up A Story
My redux on this blog with photos 
OPB
Willamette Week
KBOO Food Show

CONNECT WITH THE PORTLAND FERMENTATION FESTIVAL
portlandfermentationfestival.com
Facebook
Twitter

Cooking the Toro Bravo Book Party Pt. 3

June 19th, 2014

Alec serving up the Toro Moorish Meatballs that he and Sarah made.

We’ve now officially cooked through half of Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull and we’ve only had three dinners so far — the first one at Loly’s, the second at Tom’s and this last one at Dana and Oliver’s. The dinners have all been a lot of fun and I’m really grateful that my friend Chris Damcke came up with idea. Thank you Chris!

Last weekend’s dinner at Dana and Oliver’s was the lightest of them all in terms of what we ate/drank but that’s pretty absurd because we all consumed so much that we felt super sleepy at 9pm on a Saturday night. So much good food.

The next Toro book dinner will be at my house later in the summer once my kitchen is remodeled. I’m really looking forward to having a fire in the backyard for that one and putting my new gas Dynasty range to good use for it. Yes! I’m also looking forward to doing this cook the book thing with the next book when the time comes too — the Tasty Brunch Book that John and I are working on now. I see a lot of day drinking in our future.

Here’s what we cooked and ate from the book this time around. Really tasty as always.

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

Casa Rita
White Wine Sangria (with plum wine)
Halibut Cheeks
Grilled Corn with Cilantro Pesto
Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins
Hazelnut Ice Cream (with strawberry rhubarb compote)
Olive Oil Cake (with balsamic vinegar reduction)
Hand-Cut Noodles with Pimenton Dulce
Moorish Meatballs

Future Toro grilled corn and sauteed halibut cheeks...

Sara has nice cheeks! Toro's Halibut Cheeks with oil-cured Calabrian chiles and marinated olives.

My Toro Grilled Corn with Cilantro Pesto.

Loly and Faulkner's Hand-cut Noodles with Pimenton Dulce.

They also made this gluten-free version.

Alec and Sarah's Moorish Meatballs.

So much good food...

Dana and Oliver's Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins and mugolio that they bought at Pastaworks.

Chris's Toro Olive Oil Cake.

Loly, Sarah and Emily dishing it up.

Sarah and Alec's Hazelnut Ice Cream with a balsamic reduction.

Strawberry Rhubarb compote.

Chris and Boscoe mid-meal stretching.

All together now.

Every dog has its day. Thank you Boscoe for the great dinner party.