I’ve had six kitchens since I moved out of my mom’s house when I was 18.
The first one was in a big old house on Highland Avenue in an apartment I shared with Kelli Care. It was a weird affair as I remember it, updated with new appliances. It was a long, skinny room with stove, sink and fridge pushed down to one end, and high white walls with no adornment. My signature dish at the time was a kind of fried flour tortilla, with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
My next kitchen was a hobbit hole in a one-room apartment on the first floor of the Hepburn House. I loved that kitchen, as it was my very own. It had a ceramic tile floor, a tiny stove, and just enough room for a little round cafe table. I perfected my pasta carbonara in that kitchen… and gained 20 pounds.
I moved upstairs at the Hepburn House and had a huge kitchen on the top floor. Tom Willis cooked starving artist food there, tuna and macaroni and peas, and sometimes liver and onions. We had bugs and mice and cats, and some time over the years, the kitchen got closed off and was a nasty place where no one dared go.
My next kitchen was on Roanoke, where I lived with Nancy Butcher. We ate out a lot, but she would do “big shopping” sometimes, and she was partial to making potato soup. Bob Bahr cooked up a huge serving of pasta with mushrooms, and the leftovers were excellent, even cold, straight from the fridge. I can remember making spaghetti for Nancy’s little girl Sarah, and losing half the noodles down the drain when the lid to the pot slipped because we didn’t have a colander.
I moved to New York, and had a tiny modern kitchen in an apartment on Alexander Ave. I cooked oyster stew for Charity there. It was the first time I had a dishwasher. I kept that kitchen very clean. It was the second time in my life that I lived alone and cooked for myself since that little hobbit hole years ago. I bought a colander, a blender and a good coffeepot for that kitchen. Charity bought me a rice cooker.
I married Charity, and for my birthday, she bought me pots and pans and and a pot rack for over the stove in the kitchen I have now.
It’s my favorite kitchen of them all. I learned to cook coq au vin, sourdough bread and the perfect steak here. In fact, my steak won the first round in the first Slice, Dice & Spice competition.
I’ve watched deer, rabbits, ducks and wild turkeys cavorting in my back yard through the windows of this kitchen. I’ve made wine and mead here. I’ve cooked with Angry Mike and Steve Baker and Charity’s mom here. I’ve cooked a thousand dinners, for Charity and the kids. I’ve washed dishes under a basket of rosebush bulbs suspended over the sink. I bought my first set of Henkels, and my first Lodge skillet for this kitchen. I’ve watched the kids grow up here. I’ve taught Chris how to make my roasted potatoes, and Charity how to drink red wine in this kitchen. I’ve watched Sami become a serious baker here. Katrina, who hates to cook, makes first-rate peanut butter cookies in this kitchen.
I caught a mouse in a live trap in my kitchen this morning, using peanut butter for bait. I’m scared to touch it. Maybe I’ll have Chris take it out and let it go in the woods behind the house.
Then I’ll make some grits for breakfast.