I’ve had four kitchens to call my own in my adult years. The first I shared with three other girls in my very first grown-up apartment. That’s where I learned to boil an egg, bring the water to a boil then add pasta, and cook everything using a Campbell soup base. I literally knew nothing about cooking. At all. But I was in love and knew marriage was on the way and I decided I needed to learn. So I tried two new recipes a week and began to learn.
By the time we got married I had a handy little repertoire and no fear. I honestly think that’s what took me to the next level. I never had any fear to try a new recipe no matter what it entailed. I became proficient in crockpot and candlelit dinners in our first little apartment. After too many frozen yogurt runs we ended up on a diet called the Sonoma Diet. It was the first time I learned about cooking from scratch and began to love fresh ingredients. I learned to make hummus and my own taco seasoning and ate more vegetables than I can remember.
Then we moved to Illinois. To a tiny basement apartment with no stove and no oven. We bought a two burner electric stove and a convection oven and I cooked that way for two years. On a strict graduate school budget we managed to cook some wonderful meals in that kitchen. I borrowed other’s kitchens for Thanksgiving but other than that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t make in our little galley kitchen! I grew in my desire to entertain and my favorite dish to make was stuffed bell peppers.
Our kitchen prior to renovation, June 2009 (pregnant with Parker).
Our kitchen, 2009 – present
Then we bought our house. The kitchen was one of the selling points but we ended up renovating the whole thing anyway. The only thing we kept was the incredibly awesome oven. Short of professional grade, it’s the best there is. It has a smaller oven on top and a bigger one on bottom and I literally only use the bottom one when I make a turkey. The top heats so fast and it’s also a toaster and I use it 100 times a day. The counter space is small but this room means the world to me because it’s where I found myself as a cook.
I’ve dehydrated, canned, prepped food in bulk, baked, made bread, tossed pizza dough, taught classes and lessons, made dinner nearly every night, and made a million and one new recipes here. I’ve cooked with babies at my feet and on my hip while stirring jellies and sauces. We’ve baked cookies and first birthday cakes and creme brûlée for New Years Eve. We’ve had parties and showers and huge ‘family’ dinners and fed vegetable deprived college students. But most of all this is where I really found cooking. Where I found what it meant to me and who I wanted to be with cooking in my life.
And now I have a new kitchen. My first professional experience at my culinary school. This is my very own suite where I show up in chef whites and with my knives in tow. We julienne and brunoise and perfect our roux and try not to cut ourselves or burn anything. Our food is sold at the culinary market on campus so nothing is unimportant. Every detail is crucial. There are no kids at my feet and no shortcuts but it is it’s own kind of magic and leaves my heart pounding with excitement, nerves, and a little bit of pride.
There will be other kitchens in the future, where ever and whenever that might be. I don’t know much about them, but I do know that the kitchen will always be the heart of our home. More than that, it is my own heartbeat. Who I am and how I love is reflected in what I make in the kitchen and those I love generally gather there. How I love the kitchen, and I hope you’ll join me there!