Friday, March 22, 2013

Made with Love in the U.S.A.

I'm not sure how I developed "taste."  Whether it's the food I eat or the kitchen where I cook, I've become what my dad refers to as "hotsy totsy."  For someone who grew up in a house with one bathroom and nine people, you might think that 1) I would crave more and better and couldn't get enough of either, or 2) I wouldn't know the difference between plastic-wear and granite if my noggin collided with either substance. It seems I fall somewhere in between; but I'll admit it, I like nice things, and I adore a pretty kitchen. Studying them has become an obsession. But I only care about "the finer things in life," as far as they are able to take anyone because I know that what's important aren't those "things." It's about the people. And the place. If I think I can't live without marble countertops or Brazilian hardwood; if I believe my kitchen must mimic the latest craze featured on Houzz and a butcher block island must be ultra-designed, then I don't deserve them in the first place, because I haven't learned it's what happens in the kitchen that matters as much as that kitchen's appearance. 

 Fancy Schmancy
A kitchen that's All For Show? Where are the people? (photo credit:

My mom cooked in a small kitchen at the back of our 1920's Dutch Colonial. There was an old white sink, the kind that incorporated a rippled drain board. There were dilapidated metal cabinets. She navigated little children's sniffly noses and pleas from the upstairs bathroom for help while she made spaghetti sauce in a pressure cooker. Her daughter (moi) has never mastered the use of a pressure cooker. It'd probably explode if I tried.

On the evening she returned home from the hospital after giving birth to my youngest brother, she stood at the kitchen counter in her pastel shirtwaist dress - a dress she managed to fit into five days after a pregnancy. (I'm guessing none of us appreciated that then, even me, since we were all under the age of eleven.)  She peeled carrots and potatoes. And she browned a pot roast in the pressure cooker, then set the cooker so it functioned perfectly.  She had 5 kids, a live-in mother-in-law and a new baby. Yet we sat down to dinner that evening as a family. And I knew it even then . . . that my mom had performed a miracle. No fancy roasting pans, no high-end cutlery - just her will, the conviction that a home-cooked meal was important, and enough love for one house and nine people. 

A Jersey/Vermont Hybrid Writes 


  1. Woo-hoo, Eileen! Get your words OUT THERE! Can't wait to see what you come up with (and totally agree with your comments on the Fancy Schmancy kitchen).

  2. I've been waiting for this since Goddard G1 and Cruella deVille ;) I feel fulfilled, though still am interested in your recipe for Jersey Gravy.