Today we’re guest blogging at Celiacs In The House for the Gluten-Free Kitchen Series. I love that her blog focuses on eating for what works for personal health, and that she eats without a label – a diet most of you would be intimately familiar with! We’re so honored that Wendy asked us to contribute our kitchen to her round-up and hope you enjoy its story! If you didn’t read it yet, Wendy also wrote a lovely review for Eat Like a Dinosaur that warmed our dino hearts!
When we bought our house from foreclosure back in 2009, it was a mess. We live in Fairfax County of Northern Virginia, the ever-growing area of suburban Washington, DC. When the economic downturn hit this area, vast swathes of over leveraged houses went into foreclosure, including the one we now live in. We’d scrimped and saved for years to buy our first home (on one income), and had a lucky break to find the one we did in a lovely neighborhood with excellent schools, a lake, parks & trails. Not only that, our home had an addition off the kitchen perfect for a playroom! A room for the boys to play where Matt could listen in while he made dinner? Perfect! We pounced and were even luckier to buy it for what we did.
There were huge holes in the drywall, all of the flooring and windows had to be replaced, and we wouldn’t even let the kids inside until it was professionally cleaned and painted. It was a mad dash over the course of a week (closing on forclosure homes is notoriously difficult and ours was no exception) to get the house into workable shape. But, in the end a little elbow grease made our house become a wonderful home we’re very proud of today.
Our kitchen was one of the more difficult parts. Not only did we replace the flooring, but we had waterline issues, all of the appliances didn’t work, there was a gaping hole in the ceiling from a fan being ripped out and the cabinets were missing knobs as well as splattered and stained with grease and soot that hadn’t been cleaned, maybe ever. We also wanted to replace the counter-tops and back-splash, but we’re not rich and we have young kids that ruin things, so we’re kind of in a holding pattern for now until the last repair and recovery can take place.
Here’s all of us cooking one of our favorite recipes, the Grain Free Granola! This is how our kitchen normally looks from the far back wall. When I look at this picture, I see a lot of accomplishment. My brother and I installed every appliance in here as well as the sink and faucet. Not to mention the fact that we got all our kids, including the not-quite-two-year-old excited about cooking grain-free in our home!
Here’s Wesley, our youngest, on the “appliance counter,” which lies to the left of the sink. Usually, there are five things here: the rarely used toaster oven, the daily used Kitchen Aid Mixer and food processor, a George Foreman Grill with changeable plates that is mainly used to make our Frozen Waffles recipe from our book, and my SodaStream (used to make unsweetened flavored seltzer water). This is kind of the baking workspace, for obvious reasons. We’ve placed all our baking sheets, cookie cutters, rolling pins and cake pans in the cabinets beneath.
Here’s my favorite 3 feet by 3 feet square of real estate in the whole world! I spend so much time between the island for prepping, the oven behind me, the fridge to the left and the sink to the right. Stacy was very insistent when house hunting that we ought to look for a kitchen island. I’m so glad we found one! You gain so much space by having just that little extra counter!
Have you ever hung a microwave? It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to install, even harder than the time I had to disassemble a dryer in order to move it into our laundry room! The oven is gas and that was another challenge by itself, hoping I had successfully turned off the gas as I attempted to screw in the line and seal it.
Once it was in, I had to teach myself to cook. Really, the biggest inspiration for me learning how to cook was the difficulties I had installing this stuff. I figured if I was going to have all these new toys, I best figure out how to use them! Above the microwave is a jam-packed spice cabinet. I love spices (I own almost all of these). As a paleo family, I can’t take shortcuts to flavor like cheese or wheat or sugar. I’ve got to figure out how to get flavor with, well, flavors!
Here’s us being goofy at the other end of the kitchen: the breakfast table. The herb picture behind us makes me smile because Stacy got it at a yard sale to combat the “vegetable” back-splash we inherited that she does not like!
We eat all our breakfasts and lunches here and our dinners together in the dining room. Both of those tables are the ones Stacy (kitchen) and I (dining room) grew up eating at. It’s so special for us that our kids get to create their culinary memories with these and other kitchen heirlooms (like the cutting board pictured above, passed down from my father’s father).
The last angle of our kitchen is the wall which flanks the entrance hall to our home. It houses our fridge and pantry – the heart of our paleo kitchen and the central stopping area for all 3 of our young boys.
Finally, here’s the large overview of the 2nd half of our kitchen. You can see the open pantry, the playroom entrance and Stacy’s family table where we eat our daytime meals. Not to mention, our favorite ingredients (palm shortening, coconut oil, tapioca flour, almond flour and coconut flour). I know, Aimee‘s a WAY better photographer, but I wanted to show where the playroom was!
How about a baby on a buffet?
Finally, on the other side of the wall of the oven is our dining room and Stacy’s favorite piece of furniture ever. It’s not really in the kitchen, but it houses Our Fun Accessories, wine glasses and serving plates… so it’s kind of the kitchen, right?
I got the hand painted authentic German buffet off Craigslist for right cheap as a Christmas present for Stacy. She loves unique furniture with personality and I was thrilled to find this for thousands less than it is worth. To us, though, it’s priceless. Let this be a lesson learned (as we describe in How to Keep Your Paleo Family Out of the Poorhouse) that you need not spend a lot of money to enjoy your life.
We created this kitchen, this home, with our hands and a moderate budget. It means the world to us to have a haven where we can build memories with our boys and give them their health back at the same time. We hope you enjoyed this brief tour through our kitchen!
Alright, alright, you want more details of how we stock our paleo kitchen? Here’s some links to give you the nitty gritty and get you started:
- Our Paleo Fridge (we’re 100% paleo now, so it’s a bit more “hard core” but this post is a good example of how food and diet transitions over time)
- Our Funny Ingredients – a list of all the substitution foods that get us through (like palm shortening and coconut milk)
- Our Fun Food Accessories are a bit of our “trickery” with getting kids excited to eat Linguine with Clams – made with spaghetti squash, or probably the answer to the question you’re asking “where do I get those cool Monster Bowls?!”
- and although they’re linked above, here’s the Tools We Find Helpful (like a dehydrator and silicon muffin cups)
- Lastly, you can even watch a video of our paleo pantry (Stacy’s since convinced me to give up the protein powder!) with Stacy and Cole
Special thanks to Aimee Buxton Photography, for making our kitchen look much more welcoming than it ever really does. You can see more of our kitchen and us cooking with our boys on this video for our newly released book, Eat Like a Dinosaur!