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Thursday, February 17, 2011

No Fillers or Additives

No Fillers or Additives

Cabinet fillers or spacers – nobody likes them. We all want to maximize our cabinet’s storage space and looks, and fillers seem counter-productive.

Or are they? Let’s take a look at how and where fillers are used to get a better understanding of their functions.

Most in-stock companies (such as you will find at the big-box stores) don’t offer their cabinets in enough sizes to get the items needed to make your kitchen functional in the space available.  The not-quite-right cabinet sizes you’ll have to use to get the needed features will often require you to use a smaller than desired box, along with a filler, to make the run of cabinets fit. 

Whether the cabinets are in-stock or custom, fillers are necessary to prevent binding doors. When the end of a cabinet door butts up to an inside corner or against a wall, the door will bind when you try to open it. Using a filler between the cabinet end and the perpendicular surface allows space at the hinge so the door can swing open.  It can also allow the door to swing freely to the extent the hinges allow without having the free end and knob bang against the perpendicular surface, preserving the finish of both cabinets and walls.

We don’t realize it, but walls are never perfectly plumb, flat or square. Fillers adjust a cabinet’s sides to imperfections in adjacent walls, enabling cabinets to fit without binding or gaps and allowing the installer to “scribe” the long end of the filler to the profile of the imperfect wall surface. This is critical because the distance between two parallel walls is often not the same at 12” above the floor as it is at 34” above the floor.  If your run of cabinets fits perfectly at one height, it often doesn’t at another. Without fillers, fit at one height will cause binding or gaps at another.

So how can you minimize their use? Using custom cabinetry instead of stock cabinets can help to provide the options needed to maximize your storage space and minimize the width of necessary fillers.  They also offer extended stiles on the face frame for a smooth, fitted, custom look rather than a “pieced” appearance. The efficiencies custom cabinets provide can make up for their extra cost in improved utility and maximized usable storage space as well as the improved aesthetic of fewer fillers.

Try my recipe below for Spinach Lasagna

Deneane’s Spinach Lasagne – serves 8 to 12


10                    lasagna noodles
10        oz        fresh spinach leaves
2+2     Tbsp   butter
1/2                   large sweet onion, chopped
8          oz        fresh mushrooms, sliced
6          Tbsp   flour
3          C         milk
3                      eggs, slightly beaten
16        oz        small curd cottage cheese
1-1/2   Tbsp   dried basil leaves
1          tsp       salt, divided
1/4       tsp.      garlic powder
6          oz        mozzarella cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
2          Tbsp   grated parmesan cheese

4          oz        hard salami slices, cut in thin strips (optional)


Butter a 7” x 9” glass or ceramic baking dish.  Steam the spinach until tender.  Drain in a colander and set aside.  Boil, rinse and drain lasagna noodles.  Arrange 4 noodles in the bottom of baking dish.  Lay remainder of noodles flat, cover with damp paper towels and set aside. 

Mix eggs with cottage cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, basil and (optional) hard salami.  Set aside. 

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a medium skillet.  Add chopped onions and sautee.  As onions begin to turn tender, add sliced mushrooms.  Continue to sautee onions and mushrooms together until tender.  Remove from skillet and set aside to drain on a doubled paper towel. 

Add 2 Tbsp butter to skillet and melt over low heat.  Whisk in flour, turn heat to medium and cook butter and flour until bubbly, being careful not to burn.  Whisk in milk and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook butter and flour mixture, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Spread cottage cheese mixture over 4 lasagna noodles in bottom of baking dish.  Arrange 3 lasagna noodles over cottage cheese mixture.  Arrange drained spinach, onions and mushrooms evenly over the second layer of lasagna noodles. Sprinkle evenly with garlic powder.  Spread half of the white sauce over the spinach layer. Cover with final 3 lasagna noodles.  Spread the remainder of the sauce over the top of the final layer of noodles.   Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over all.  Sprinkle evenly with parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 50 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more.  Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before slicing.  Cut into 8 to 12 slices and serve. 

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