17 October 2012

The Kitchen Laboratory (Insert Evil Scientist Laugh Here)

I used to have one of the ugliest kitchens in the world.  Seriously.  This corner used to be completely empty. The walls and ceiling were a horrible mud-brown color.  It was like working in a basement.  It also had tile countertops.  The countertops ensured that I couldn't roll out a proper pie crust.  The grout lines also made it nearly impossible to clean, especially since those countertops were installed in 1955 (when the house was built).  So, basically, my kitchen was horribly dark, almost non-functional, and caked with 50+ years of cooking funk.  

At the beginning of this year, my husband and I decided to gut the kitchen and remodel it all ourselves.  We managed to do everything ourselves and did the whole thing for just over $1000 thanks to the fact that we did it all on our own and got some really good deals in the process.  We refinished the existing cabinets and added new hardware.  We pulled up 4 layers of linoleum and put down new hardwoods.  We put in a new sink, faucet, and backsplash.  It was all an adventure, especially since we had never done any of these things before.

Since my back is still acting up on me, I thought I would tell you about my favorite part of my new kitchen -- my "baking laboratory", as I call it.  That's a picture of it at the top.  I have shelves with all my canisters with baking essentials.  The cabinet underneath houses all my baking pans and dishes.  The cabinet up top is where all the not so pretty things go, like bottles of corn syrup, cane syrup, molasses, cookie crumbs, etc.  
Here's a rundown of the things I always keep in my pantry.  Just in case you ever wanted to know.  Maybe there's something in there you never knew you needed, or maybe just hadn't realized how often you use it....I specify brands if I really have a preference for any one in particular.

Hopefully everyone can get something from this, since I have been perfecting this system for years.  It's almost perfect now.  At least for me....

White Lily All Purpose Flour
Swans Down Cake Flour
King Arthur Bread Flour
Granulated Sugar
Kosher Salt
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Ground Cinnamon
Cocoa Powder
Shredded Coconut
White Chocolate chunks
Semi Sweet Chocolate chunks
Bittersweet Chocolate chunks
Dark and Light Brown Sugars
Muscovado Sugar (a.k.a. Sugar in the Raw)
Quick Cooking Oats
Vanilla Extract
Almond Extract
Apple Cider and White Vinegars
Light Corn Syrup
Cane Syrup
Unsulphured Molasses
Maple Syrup
Evaporated and Sweetened Condensed Milk
Vegetable Shortening
Nuts (I keep pecans and almonds all the time, but sometimes I have pistachios and peanuts, too)
Crystallized Ginger

So, that's about it.  Don't even get me started on the spice rack.....

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