Comida of errors at the Ranch |

Comida of errors at the Ranch

The kitchen here at Clear Creek Ranch has been remodeled. Hearth-bypass surgery, you might call it. Since Martha Stewart might not be working for Kmart in the future, we thought she might drop by with a few tips, but she hasn’t returned our e-mails.

Just as well. During the design phase, we plan to cut some corners and very few checks. No one knows what our original kitchen was modeled after. The three points comprising the stove, sink and refrigerator are definitely NOT configured into the efficient “work triangle” that most home ergonomists suggest. A well-designed triangle can shave off 40 miles of kitchen footwork a year.

That is, unless you are running around in circles. Our kitchen is more of a California foothills version of the Bermuda Triangle. Things disappear suddenly under mysterious circumstances at the Clear Creek Polyhedron (out here, successful cooks must move in many more than three directions when burning and losing things). Like that little plastic “thing-that-forces-the-leftover-garlic-out-of-the-holes” of our garlic press. Try replacing that; nobody stocks a part with that many hyphens.

We splurged on a massive granite countertop. With all the boulders inconveniently sprinkled about the ranch, it would be like bringing the outdoors inside, something where the dirt will just blend in, as it does on our “earth tone” entryway carpet.

The stone countertop looks great. The downside is we can’t chop or slice anything directly on the counter unless we are looking for more grit in our diet.

The new countertop does not agree with our old electric coffee pot. Where once we awoke to the muted sounds of perking coffee, we now bolt out of bed to a veritable artillery battle as the coffee pot skitters and jerks across the counter with each perk. Perhaps if I put the brake on when I parked it in the appliance garage overnight …

The appliance garage at the end of the counter was designed to hide the clutter of all those occasional-use electric gadgets. But ours is beginning to resemble a real garage: crammed to the rafters with useless stuff, things that need repair but would be cheaper to replace.

And the garage is overflowing. Our new counter now resembles the cliche rural front lawn. Instead of old cars, an abandoned toaster sits up on blocks surrounded by weed-like dust bunnies poking up through the slots.

Haute cuisine headgear? No puffy, mushroom-shaped chef’s caps for us! It is hard hats all the way. Once these were reserved for our bedroom – a loft with a low, exposed-beam ceiling.

The square-edged beams are quite stunning when you bonk into one in the dark. But nothing like the carillon-like tones produced by a forehead-meets-frying-pan encounter at the new overhead dangling cookware rack that dominates the kitchen airspace (not quite) above my head.

For a few minutes after the remodeling was done, our new kitchen looked (almost) like a Martha Stewart Living magazine photo. Until I tossed my car keys on the counter, that is. Then my wife set out mismatched food bowls on the floor for the cats, and we peeled some potatoes in the sink and stuck a reminder note to ourselves under a tacky old magnet on the new refrigerator door.

“If and when Martha Stewart swings by with her resume,” it reads, “Hose off kitchen (and each other) first.”

Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. Write him at The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at

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