I am happy to report that my personal kitchen “repeal and replace” project has been going far better than the Senate’s. In fact, after an intense negotiating session with the designer last week, I’m ready to put it to a vote. And since I only have to woo one legislator (me), I think it is a shoo-in to pass.

However, as I plot the demise of the current set-up, I am concerned about an unintended consequence of replacement.

Once I have a new kitchen, I fear I’m going to get out of shape, because I will be losing my workout space.

No, I don’t have a home gym whose footage will magically be added to my kitchen in the renovation. (Have you seen the size of my house?) I mean the kitchen itself.

Its current configuration has played a major role in maintaining my svelte (ish) shape. As evidence (and because I’m feeling particularly lazy today), I’m rerunning part of a favorite column from 2010 about my cooking exercise regime:

“The appeal of working off the calories from dinner while you’re preparing it is irresistible, but in order to get the most out of your cooking experience, you will need to set up your kitchen like I have.

The first thing is to separate your salt and pepper. Put the salt high up in a cabinet, so you have to stretch to reach it every time you need it.

Then, put the pepper somewhere low and in the back of a different cabinet, so you have to reach down to get it. Start your workout by cooking something that calls for salt and pepper and you’ll be warmed up in no time.

Also, be sure to put your utensils as far as possible from where you will be using them, preferably in a low, crowded drawer so you have to squat down repeatedly to hunt for the ones you need. (So good for your quads and glutes.) If you can put them in the next room, that would be even better. Quick, run to find that wooden spoon before the onions you are sautéing start to brown! Don’t forget to breathe.

Do you have a really heavy cast iron and enamel pot that you can’t find room for in your cabinets? Do as I do and store it on the front burner of the stove. That way, you’ll have to lift it every time you want to cook anything. Instant biceps.

In your cabinets, place five-pound bags of flour and sugar in front of something you need to get at every day, like the breakfast cereal. Make sure they are thoroughly in the way. Now, every morning you’ll have to grab a bag in each hand and heft them up and out. Oops, you forgot that bag was open? Never fear, sweeping is also excellent exercise for the arms and back.

After slipping on the spilled sugar (it’s like ball bearings, isn’t it?) check for broken bones, then use the opportunity to do a few sit-ups while you’re on the floor. Try not to be distracted by how dirty it is.

Now it’s time to work the obliques. For this exercise, it’s necessary to have insufficient counter space. (If you have a dream kitchen with vast expanses, fill it with a lot of clutter so you only have about a foot clear on either side of the sink.) Pile all the ingredients for a salad on the small patch of counter to the left. Place your cutting board on the patch to the right. Plant your feet firmly, then swivel repeatedly between the vegetables and the cutting board as you chop. If, like me, you can’t find any other place for it, balance the salad bowl on your head. It’s great for your posture.”

That old column noted further twists and contortions as well, ones that I no longer notice because they are so much a part of dealing with my current kitchen. In fact, until I reread it, I hadn’t focused on how much the room has contributed to my muscle tone over the years.

Oh dear. I hope no one tries to filibuster on that subject during the final debate on the Kitchen Replacement Act of 2017. I’ve counted the vote and I think it will pass, but it could be a nail-biter.

I pray that other pending “repeal and replace” act in the Senate doesn’t make it through, though.

Once I have a new, convenient kitchen and stop all this exercise, I suspect I may find myself in even greater need of affordable health care coverage.

Pecan-crusted trout

With kitchen renovation looming, probably in early fall, I am starting to try to use up the food that is around the house. I found some frozen fish fillets in the freezer, as well as some pecans, so decided to combine them.

I was inspired by some delicious trout that I ate during my recent visit to Idaho. I’m not sure that I have captured what that restaurant did, but this version is pretty good and will do in the interim while I am experimenting.

Note: I have tried this with salmon as well, but find that the salmon flavor overwhelms the nuts. So I would stick with milder fish like trout or flounder.

Serves 2

1/2 cup pecans, ground to bread crumb size

1/4 cup panko

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1/2 tsp. chopped rosemary leaves, marjoram, or herb of your choice

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

1/2 tsp. fresh-ground pepper

2 trout fillets

1/2 cup flour

1 small egg

2 Tbsp. butter

In a shallow bowl, mix together the pecans, panko, chopped herbs, salt and pepper and set aside.

Place the flour in another shallow bowl or on a plate. In a third shallow bowl, beat the egg with about a teaspoon of water.

Lightly salt the fish, then dip each fillet into the flour to coat it lightly. Shake off any excess flour, then dip it into the egg mixture to coat, then press the wet fillets into the nut mixture. They should end up with a uniform coating.

Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the fish, being careful not to crowd them too much. Cook about three minutes, then carefully turn them (adding more butter if needed) and cook about 3 minutes more or until done.

Betty Teller doesn’t want to hear one more idea about how to make her kitchen great again, but write her anyway at amuse-bouche@sbcglobal.net.

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