Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts on Keeping House and Home

My Favorite Husband believes my main mission in life is to cover every horizontal surface I can find in our house. What can I say? I love being surrounded by nice things and feel happy when I see personal treasures displayed wherever I turn. If something is special to me it is out there, where I can enjoy it, not tucked away in boxes and tissue, under a bed or in the back of the closet. OK, there may be some stuff in the closets - prom dresses can be so challenging to display tastefully. But you know what I mean.

Since the kitchen is my favorite room in our house, I guess it comes as no surprise that it is also where the my most prized "collections" are maintained. And, by its nature, the kitchen also houses a lot of equipment inherent to the work done there . . . so . . . my kitchen has a lot of stuff! And very little vacant space - horizontal or otherwise!

My counter top is bumper to bumper with the many and varied tools of my trade, sharing space with more decorative kitchen ware. Appliances, canisters, baskets, spices, utensils, dome-covered pedestals . . . I could go on and on. Let's just say, for someone who loves an artful arrangement AND loves to cook, the kitchen presents the perfect canvas for functional artistic expression. At least, that's my story!

I know the clutter-phobes are shuddering right now and seeking out a soothing cup of something to calm their jangled nerves. Minimalists. Lovers of sleek and shiny smooth surfaces, absent of decoration. Austere landscape as artful expression. No semi-homemade tablescapes, no sappy sentiment, no revelatory personalization, save one regal orchid in a vahhhse perhaps. Perfectly lovely people, I'm sure . . . perfectly.

Not so for me and my kitchen. We greet you at the door and warm you with our welcome. Come in and look around. Pull up that chair and grab something to drink. I think you'll find everything right next to the coffeemaker. Let me just switch on the lights so you can see what you're doing. Oh, just a little something I whipped up when I needed some light over the sink. I filled a basket, clamped a light bulb on it, decorated a shade and there you have it!

Well sure, you can help empty the dishwasher, if you want. The metal cooking utensils go in the bucket by the stove and the wooden spoons and spatulas in the sunflower pitcher. Oh, the whisks go in that canister, right next to the vinegars.

The pepper mills - well, I bought the white one at my favorite kitchen store in Chapel Hill. I fell in love with the black one when I saw it on the Barefoot Contessa one day - see how the detachable cup on the bottom collects the pepper as it grinds, so it's easy to measure? And a friend gave me the wooden wine bottle grinder when I admired it in his kitchen. Yeah, I do use all of them!

Why so many canisters of flour? Well, one is for bread, one is for pizza, and one is for everything else. Next to the canisters? MFH calls that the boat motor -- it's really a high powered blender that can liquefy whole fruits and vegetables. We love it for breakfast fruit smoothies. Let's see, I found those cutting boards on a trip to California, but you can get them just about anywhere. I have two -- one for me and one to encourage helpers. Best of all, they are dishwasher safe.

Silverware in the drawer right next to the dishwasher. Yeah, there is order and method to my madness - thanks for noticing! The knives go right on the wall above the cutting board -- the bar is magnetic, so they are out of the way, but still in plain sight. The pans go right above the island on the empty hooks.

On top of the cabinets? Well, they're family treasures too dear to use, but too sentimental to put away. The Fiestaware belonged to my great-uncle and it came to me through my grandmother. It makes me happy to see it and remember eating on it at my uncle's and grandmother's houses. Oh yes, there are many more treasures tucked away inside the cabinets too - they're all full! I also have a one-handled rolling pin was my great-grandmother Cora's. No one remembers what happened to the other handle, but I still use it. There's also a plate that belonged to MFH's Grandma Rose and a classic set of primary-colored Pyrex mixing bowls that belonged to his Grandma Irma.

Mine is a working kitchen, you see, at the heart of our home, and it says welcome to me every time I step inside. It's where I love to prepare a meal, read a cookbook, write my column, or blog on my computer. A place for everything, and everything in its place - including me!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cora, Cora...& to think I met you over a simple butcher block dinner table's assembly...who knew you had latent Victorian instincts?

I must confess that I far eclipse you I am sure in terms of clutter. My fiction collection, already significant, has been far overcome by books on travel & "the American decorative arts" - furniture, architecture, porcelain, silver, antiques, lifestyle histories - my most recent addition is a tome dedicated to the fork, knife & spoon, antiquity to the present day.

Add to this a husband whose collection of Car & Driver magazines dates from 1985 & you have a problem.

Where to turn for help, o blonde one? Next week himself is off on yet another business trip, & I'm thinking...DUMPSTER!