Saturday, December 3, 2016


Part way through my kitchen renovations, I am panicking. We just set the new oven in its niche and I realize it’s almost at floor level. What to do now? Find another location? Raise the stovetop? How did I miscalculate so badly?

Luckily, I’ve got my revamper-in-chief, Peter Nielsen, to help me solve this and some other problems. Peter is an artist who earns a living by doing electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, masonry, and much more.

Peter placing new counter top in my kitchen.

My kitchen in Spain, 1972, with original small Spanish gas stove. (Yep, that's me in the mini-skirt, making a salad.)

When I built my house in 1972, I custom-designed my kitchen to the specifications of the times. I had a dinky little Spanish gas stove, so I built my counter tops to line up with it, only 34 inches high and 19 inches deep. That, I soon realized, was not enough counter space to roll out a pie crust. Peter built me a center island to house a dishwasher and extend the counter space.

My kitchen, with American range converted to run on butane gas and a center island with enough counter top for kneading bread, rolling out pie crust.

Ten years later, I acquired a big American stove, a MagicChef, purchased second-hand from an American military family leaving the US naval base at Rota (Cádiz, on the Atlantic coast of southern Spain). That necessitated knocking out some cabinet tops. The new stove stuck up much higher than my counters.

That stove has served me well through the years—family meals, dinner parties and recipe testing for eight cookbooks.  When the thermostat stopped functioning, I got an oven thermometer so I could regulate temperatures. Clogged gas valves can’t easily be cleaned, as the tubing becomes brittle. That means I can’t get burners hot enough for good wok cooking. And, some invasive varmint ripped most of the insulation out of the oven, so it’s seriously inefficient to heat.

Adios to my big American oven. A whole chicken, apple crisp and beets roast on one rack.

Peter at work in my kitchen. I've alerted him that Monday we're going to have to make some changes.

Panic! The new oven is almost at floor level. It's not wired in yet, so I'm looking for a new plan.

Cooking with gas is swell--but, as I get older, lugging butane gas tanks is a pain. (I got rid of gas hot water heater when I installed solar hot water system.) The new electric oven is way smaller than the old one. But, gone are the days when I roast whole turkeys with all the trimmings for eight to ten people. The induction cooktop only has three “burners.” But, hey, I can’t remember when I last needed four burners at the same time.

During the renovations, we’ve moved the clunky gas stove into the dining room so I can still put meals on the table. With the kitchen en obra, in the works, I’m not doing a lot of cooking.

My favorite soup pot for 50 years--aluminum with copper bottom--is soon to be  decommissioned, as it won't work with induction cooktop.

Peter Nielsen’s web site shows samples of his art and photography. His fix-it and build-it artistry is on show in many homes in my area. My neighbor, Jan, wants to clone Peter. That's how important he is in our lives.


  1. Kitchen looks Great, Janet; lucky you (and Peter). Pickles fab!

    1. JohnD: Thanks! Tho, still a few days away from hooking up new oven and cooktop.

  2. Isn't remodeling the kitchen fun!?! I so remember your kitchen with all the built in spots for cookbooks, wine bottles, etc.
    Is there anything Peter CAN'T do?




    1. Patty: The kitchen remodel stretched to 3 weeks--not fun! All the built-in nooks had to be reassigned. So glad to have it finished!

  3. Hello,
    I absolutely loved what you did with the blog. I love how you talked about what foods they eat and when. The mousse looks so good to me. How easy do you think it would be to make?

    1. Kiley: The almond nougat mousse recipe (in the newer post)is exceptionally easy--if you can get Spanish turrón and unflavored gelatin. Do try it.

  4. Thanks for sharing this great article! That is very interesting I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this. Home Improvement McKinnon