Op/Ed

Jessie Raymond: Renovations and a shot in the arm

Two exciting things are happening this spring.
The big one, which you’ve surely been thinking about nonstop, is that our kitchen renovation is moving right along.
Also, COVID vaccinations have begun.
Now, if you’re one of the few readers who are sick of my kitchen updates, just be glad you’re not one of my friends. They have to look at my daily texts featuring pictures of the freshly painted ceiling or the newly uncovered subfloor. Unlike them, you aren’t obligated to send me a thumbs-up emoji or write, “Looks great!” as if you love a good subfloor photo; you can just skip to Victor Nuovo’s column.
These days, I should be outside welcoming the return of life to the barren Vermont landscape and the unfamiliar sensation of direct sunlight on my skin. Instead, I’m mostly indoors, either on my computer looking at other people’s kitchens for inspiration or wandering around my own kitchen picturing how lovely life will be when all the appliances are once again in the same room.
Soon I’ll have an oversized single-bowl sink that will accommodate my biggest cookie sheets. Even better, it will sit in front of a window instead of facing a blank wall. I breathe a little faster just thinking about it.
For some people, of course, this project would be considered a modest renovation; we’re not even buying a new refrigerator. But we are getting one new appliance that has me so giddy I keep bursting into Broadway show tunes, much to Mark’s annoyance: a 36-inch electric induction cooktop.
Though I’ve been more attached to my gas range than Nero was to his fiddle (apocryphally, of course), multiple factors have changed my mind; mainly our solar panels, which provide us with a surplus of electricity, and the advice of some friends who live in Europe, where induction is common.
In case you aren’t familiar with it, induction cooking works using magnets. This makes no sense, so let’s just say it’s magic. Induction is very efficient. The smooth glass cooktop gets hot only where it comes in contact with cookware (which must be magnetic). And it works so fast you can boil a pot of water in less than two minutes.
If you do any reading about induction, every article starts with the same general statement: “It’s a mystery why Americans have been so slow to adopt this advanced technology, which rivals gas for its responsiveness and is, frankly, freaking amazing.”
My objection to induction was the same as everyone else’s: “I’d have to buy new cookware.” It’s true that I needed two new induction-compatible saucepans. But our old pans were ones Mark had bought in the late ’90s for a family camping trip. Finding they were better than the ones we’d been using in the house for years, I switched them out as soon as we got home. I think I can justify an upgrade.
Other features of the new kitchen are standard for some people but life-changing for me: a gooseneck faucet with a sprayer (that works), cupboards that don’t have laminate peeling off the doors and under-cabinet lighting. Pinch me.
You may not be impressed, sitting in your fancy kitchen with your hoity-toity dimmer switches and windows that close properly. But to me, this is luxury.
Meanwhile, in other somewhat important news, last week Mark and I got our first COVID vaccinations. This should have been the highlight of my year, but we had just started putting down the new flooring and I couldn’t focus on much else.
Not that I forgot about the shot altogether. The way it made my arm feel like it had been hit with a sledgehammer helped keep it on my mind, as least for a day or two.
The availability of the vaccine is a welcome development, not just for the sake of humanity but also for Mark and me personally. It suggests that maybe this year we’ll be able to resume our annual Christmas shindig.
Assuming we can get past the weirdness of having multiple people in our home at one time, I intend to gather everyone around the induction cooktop, where I will make them watch a pot of water boil in less than two minutes.
It’s been a while, but I still know how to throw a party.

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