A chicken casserole I made last week was so unappealing that I tossed the leftovers. My husband and I should have eaten out. But we've been eating almost all our meals in restaurants since the first of July, and we're tired of it.
What's the Herald-Leader food writer doing eating out so much?
In May, my husband and his sister decided to update the home of their late parents. The house, built in the early 1950s, needed a new kitchen to make it more marketable.
It made practical sense for me to get a "gourmet" kitchen at our 10-year-old house and take our "almost new" appliances to the older house. While we were contemplating that idea, our refrigerator quit working and couldn't be repaired. I figured it was a sign.
We decided to shop for a new refrigerator at Pieratt's on Nicholasville Road. We were seduced by the shiny, stainless appliances that are trendy now. Lucky for me, that stainless refrigerator needed a matching double oven and range, microwave and dishwasher.
Our kitchen had white builder-quality cabinets, and we wanted to replace them with a wood finish. We chose to buy the cabinetry at Lowe's, and the sales consultant said the custom order for the alder cabinets we'd chosen would take about four weeks.
In the meantime, the contractor at the in-laws' Idle Hour home was ready for our old cabinets. To save $500, we decided to tear them out ourselves. The new ones were scheduled to arrive in a week, so I figured we could manage a few days without cabinets.
But with everything out of the kitchen, all the stains, dings and worn places on the hardwood floors were magnified. It seemed a great opportunity to have the floor sanded and coated with polyurethane.
When the new cabinets arrived, they had to be inspected by the installer. Five cabinets were damaged or not aligned properly, and none could be installed until they all arrived in pristine condition. That would take two more weeks.
The new stove and refrigerator had been delivered weeks earlier, but because the kitchen was a wreck, I had used the range top only a couple of times and the convection oven once, to bake a cobbler.
I have heard great things about convection ovens, but I was not impressed. When I roasted fresh tomatoes in the oven, I noticed that the top of the range reached an unsafe temperature (with the oven set at 350 degrees and no burners turned on).
I was ready to send the Frigidaire Gallery double-oven range back to Pieratt's. I wanted to exchange it for a dual-fuel range and oven, and I was willing to pay the extra money. But the fox-red Labrador puppy my husband recently brought home needed emergency surgery. I had to exchange the unsatisfactory range for a stainless version of my previously owned Maytag Gemini, which we had taken to the Idle Hour house.
So, now I have a range exactly like the one I had, only in stainless, a refrigerator that pops ice onto the just-refinished floor, and no sink. The dishwasher is on order.
A week after the base cabinets had been installed, a team from the granite manufacturer in Nashville came to make a template. I could feel my new kitchen coming closer to reality.
But the countertop, and the sink, probably would not be installed for three weeks, "or it could take longer," the team leader said.
So, we're waiting, and eating out. A lot.
One night we called friends and asked them to join us at the new Chuy's, near Fayette Mall. Our house is near Hamburg, and with traffic, it took 35 minutes to get there.
Now we're choosing to dine at restaurants closer to home. Fortunately, there are plenty of options. But burgers, fish tacos, burritos, won ton soup, pizza, and sub sandwiches are no longer appealing.
Grilling burgers and chicken at home and eating on paper plates with plastic forks is doable, but washing knives and tongs in a small bathroom sink is unpalatable.
Recently, my neighbor Carla Kimmons generously washed a load of dishes for me after I had rinsed them with the back-yard hose.
Because we don't have a kitchen, family members drop by less often. I don't even make iced tea. We buy large iced teas for $1 at McDonald's before heading home.
We no longer snack at night. It's too much trouble.
The kitchen — which used to be our favorite room in the house — isn't a pleasant place right now.
And because of the kitchen renovation, our entire downstairs is a mess. The dining room table is piled with plates, cups, glasses, silverware, and pots and pans. They cannot be placed in the cabinets until the finishing work is done.
But — yes, I have one success story — the kitchen utensils have a new home.
An idea I found on Pinterest.com showed how to hang a shoe organizer over the pantry door to store utensils and small kitchen items. They are out of the way but handy.
This idea works great, and it led me to clean out the pantry.
There were extra bottles of hot sauce, barbecue sauce, pancake syrups and flavored oils that needed to be tossed or given away. My son-in-law Eric Chambers devours hot sauce, so I put a bottle of Pete's in a bag with some other items for my daughter Emily to take home.
When my back was turned, the large, now-healthy puppy pulled the bag with the hot sauce off the makeshift countertop, which broke the bottle and spattered the bright-red sauce onto the rug I recently bought to cover up the den carpeting, which was dulled by the sparkle of my refinished kitchen floor.
As I wait, impatiently, for my kitchen to return to normal, the recipes are piling up.
Wonder where we'll eat tonight.