A tragic tale of a kitchen interrupted


Yes, we needed a new kitchen floor. But no, it wasn’t a tragedy.

The old tiles — thick, vinyl tiles — had started to crack and come loose. It would take just a couple of days to replace them. So it would be, at most, a minor inconvenience.

The stove would have to be moved to get at the flooring underneath it. The stove is heavier than most, so it would take two guys to move it, one of whom would be me, but that wasn’t a problem. Moving the stove means turning off the gas to it, which means I wouldn’t be able to cook on it, which would in fact be a problem. But we have another stove in the basement, so the problem would be an inconvenience, not a tragedy.

The refrigerator would also have to be moved and would sit in the middle of the floor for a couple of days. And the water line to it would have to be turned off, but that is fine because I never drink water out of the fridge.

Of course, no water means no ice.

Now it’s a tragedy.

The longest-lasting impact of my 27 years spent living in the south is an apparently unquenchable thirst for iced tea. When I moved to Texas in 1983, my initial approach to the fact that everyone there drinks iced tea for every meal quickly was one of curiosity. But it soon became a wholehearted embrace. To this day, I drink the stuff by the gallon. I’m sure I’ve drunk at least an Olympic-sized swimming pool’s worth of iced tea in the last 30 years.

(Actually, I haven’t. No one has. An Olympic-sized pool holds 660,000 gallons, and at a not-unreasonable rate of a quart a day it would take more than 7,200 years to drain it.)

Still, I drink a lot of it. And being without ice for two days would leave me, at best, sullen and cranky.

It goes without saying that the two-day repair stretched into a seven-day repair, plus an eighth day for some minor modifications and some time in the future when all the nicks and chips in the paint will have to be repainted. That’s just the way it is with house repairs.

Meanwhile, we saved enough ice in the freezer to last a couple of days, and then — we’re no dummies — we bought a bag of ice large enough to satisfy all of my iced tea needs. Not that I was the one who thought to do it.

The stove was actually a bigger problem. We use the one in the basement on occasion, such as when I am baking different things simultaneously for a story. But having to use it every day, when the fridge and the pantry are upstairs, quickly became a hassle. Especially because dirt and dust from the work on the floor above it kept falling on the stove and its environs.

Finally, I got tired of trudging up and down the stairs. And that is when I had my brilliant idea for a food topic to write about: I would (very cleverly) devote a story to making ice cream. Everyone loves ice cream, and because we are in the middle of the summer no one would notice that I really wrote the story because I did not want to use my stove.

Except there is this: Three of the recipes required an oven or a stove (and a fourth used a toaster oven). That meant slogging up and down the stairs anyway, getting the ingredients, making a custard, heating the milk and cream, even making the cookies to accompany one of the ice creams.

I understand that, in the grand scheme of things, these are not the worst problems to have. I fully recognize that these are First-World problems (as opposed to Third-World problems, which tend to be things like cholera, starvation, and political oppression). And although they were inconvenient, they only lasted for a week or so.

I have my stove back. I have my ice back. And because we used the same kind of tiles, the floor looks exactly like it did before.

Contact Daniel Neman at: dneman@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.