I made an announcement last week, believe it was, that moving forward for the foreseeable future – Benhardt Construction was going to focus on two things. Those two things are kitchen remodeling and concrete.
At first glance those two things look far removed from one another but the honest truth is within me they are like two best friends standing back to back for a picture. Please, let me explain why.
Being fortunate enough to grow up with a family that cooked.
Mom learned to be a pretty good cook from her mother whom was a hell of a cook in her own right. Grandmother learned from her mother whom was an even better cook. Dad’s mother was a good cook and her expertise, more so because of necessity, was her ability to work her ass off canning and storing food.
Dad’s mom and dad had two huge gardens on their property and a large chicken coop. Significant summer time was spent on that property gathering eggs and helping pick ripe items from the garden. The amount of work canning all those vegetables will never be forgotten. Her kitchen was literally set up like a factory assembly line – with the main difference being she was the sole worker.
Not only was she great at storing food but when it came time for a meal – still recall the smell and sound of bacon sizzling in her cast iron skillet upon waking in the mornings – she would go all in. For example, a simple lunch consisting of chips and sandwiches or hot dogs. She easily could have tossed a hot dog on a bun and said here ya go. Not her! Nope! There was a little wicker basket full of chips. The bread was laid out on a silver tray. Hot dogs – or sandwich meat had their own tray. Each condiments had it’s own little container complete with a little silver knife. Lunch was usually served on paper plates but even they had their little wicker holder gimmicks.
Uncle Bill even kidded her one time as she was trying to get a couple papers plates unstuck from one another about being so frugal by saying, “Mom, if you let those things dry after washing them they wouldn’t stick together like that.” HA!
Mom’s mom was also frugal, understandably from the times they were brought up, as their basement had two large chest freezers and a metal cabinet full of canned goods. This was usually where Thanksgiving dinner was held. Gram came from a large family with many sisters. One of those would be in attendance along with mom and aunt – all of whom could cook. Needless to say – there are not too many five star restaurants that could hold a candle to the turkey, ham, side dishes and all the desserts that was available! Even recall gathering at her house on Halloween, since it was her actual birthday, remembering how good the fire charred hot dogs tasted off the little grill on the deck.
The point to this backstory is that growing up, especially the early years – food was the main focus of the gathering. Not gimmick, boxed food or take out crap some people think is ‘food’ these days but real, honest to goodness, made from scratch and real ingredient food.
From those experiences, which are too many to list in this format, cooking naturally transferred over to me. I got pretty good at making a beef stroganoff in college when a bunch of fellow football players and I lived off campus. What started out as a one skillet cook ended up being two large skillets because word got around and many people would show up. Which still amazes me because our time in college, thankfully, was well before the cell phone – so I never really understood how many people showed up in such a short time.
Jiminy Cricket get the point I am sure you all are saying by now…
Well my point is that without a shadow of a doubt – real cooking for people that you love is more rewarding than anything else out there. The entire process from start to presentation can be considered to be a practice in meditation that puts a person in a place of peace at times for up to several hours. There is nothing that is more recharging than the process of cooking for loved ones.
Real cooking puts a person into a place where this wonderful feeling of love resonates from their core. While cooking in this manner, most likely a smile is either on your face or directly below the surface. While cooking there is little to nothing else on your mind. You have your ingredients bought and laid out and from the moment you start the process and there is no turning back. The ingredients have to be prepped. Then they have to be cooked and prepared in a order dependent upon what your end results wish to be. All this takes place over a period of time to where nothing else really matters. One doesn’t think about a bill laying on the desk. A project at work that is behind schedule or any other ‘problem’ for that matter.
From scratch cooking with wholesome and clean ingredients is a form of meditation that benefits you. If you are cooking for others it can affect your friends and loved ones. How does it affect others? By providing them with wholesome nutrition, hand made with love.
Concrete has similar aspects – at least to me. Concrete is a beast unto itself that very few people understand. Consider for a moment that in simple terms one has to take a liquid, pour it into a mold and end up with a solid form that is in the shape that hopefully was intended. What was just described has similar aspects to cooking, does it not?
Surely most of you have baked a cake at some point in your life. It doesn’t matter if it was a box or scratch cake the process is what to consider for a moment, please. Remember that experience? Mixing all the ingredients together into a smooth liquid, pouring into some sort of cake pan, putting it into the oven for a period of time and upon pulling it from the oven you had something that was solid? Remember the pride and joy you felt from making this happen?
Multiply those feeling by – heck, I don’t know … a thousand, maybe? Maybe more? And that is the feeling I get upon seeing a completed concrete project. Part of it is pride in a job well done and another aspect is that there is a large relief from not having to do it over.
If a cake falls or doesn’t turn out exactly how you want it – you are out some time and a minor amount of money. You may even be able to save the cake with creative use of icing and not too many will know the difference.
When concrete doesn’t turn out correctly there is large amount of time and even larger amount of money lost. In turn, each and every concrete project that I take on becomes a focus of well intended results from start to finish. Everything is done for a reason that has been learned from years of experience. From the base the concrete will sit on. The reinforcement. The forming (or mold). The concrete ingredients. The pouring of the concrete. The weather conditions. All this and more factor into what it takes for a concrete project to have the best results possible.
During the pouring or placement of the concrete there is a zen like experience as well because – just as scratch cooking – there is no time outs or do overs. From the moment you start the process you had better damn well be sure your complete attention is on the concrete and nothing else!
How does this all tie together? The simplest answer is wanting to provide two things for Benhardt Construction clients. One being a kitchen which allows them to nourish and entertain friends, family and loved ones while being able to personally slip into a place of calm and love while doing so. The second is that I want to provide a fantastic end result for our clients’ concrete needs.
Just as mentioned with concrete, from the moment we meet about your kitchen remodeling project – everything is geared towards the best possible end result. Here is my stance on things related to kitchens. Crown molding has zero influence on cooking. Exotic top tier granite counters have zero influence on cooking. Floor tile where one row is shiny and the next row is dull has zero influence on cooking. While these things and many others have been a part of kitchens Benhardt Construction has built, they were not the first things on the list.
How many people do you cook for? What type of cooking do you like to do? How much counter space? Lighting? Sink space? Storage space?
In a perfect world what is needed in your new kitchen that allows for you to have the best cooking experience?
We start by answering those questions and try like heck to gets all those things, (and more) included in the initial design to meet the budget you have. Being able to include all those wish list items while maintaining budget is great. If not, we will prioritize what is important and what can be left off. If everything on the wish list fits inside the budget and there is money left – then and only then will be consider all the items that I consider bells and whistles.
You may be thinking to yourself right now, “I don’t have a budget – I want a knock out, gorgeous kitchen that everybody will drool over with envy.” When a Benhardt Construction client has an open budget, our kitchen design process remains the same. My purpose is to provide you the very best kitchen for you. Period. There is a process to be followed regardless of the budget.
Same goes for concrete – there is a minimum of components to be accounted for that is required regardless of what you would like to have. What is the point of having a beautiful stamped patio if for only it to fall apart because there was no money in the budget for a proper base? Same goes for a kitchen. What is the point of have exotic granite counters if only to be able to chop a single carrot at a time??
In explaining my passion for kitchens and concrete, hopefully it is quite apparent that your satisfaction, long term enjoyment and usability of your new kitchen or concrete are the main objectives. Reasons exceed what has been written here in this article and they will be disclosed with future writings on the Benhardt Construction website. For now, thank you for reading.