Posts Tagged ‘kitchen’

Kitchen Couture

August 21, 2009

I suppose it’s inevitable that any girl of a certain age will gradually acquire one vice or another, regardless of meager paychecks and creeping credit balances. Whether a product of nature or nurture can only be of so much relevance here, because really, the only question that matters when handing over the visa is simple: exactly how much Ramen will I be eating over the course of the next billing cycle?

Perpetuating every storyline are the standard love affairs – stilettos! makeup! handbags! – stirring visions of labyrinthine closets and bottomless drawers of lipgloss. Varying degrees of borderline obsession follow: Tiffany, Jimmy, Louis, Chanel, Manolo, Fendi, Dior (leaving off here with the admission that I have to actually google the terms ‘haute’ and ‘fashion,’ or delve into research volumes like InStyle or Devil Wears Prada in order to name drop any further).

No, my designer labels go something like this: Mauviel, Le Crueset, Wusthoff, OXO, Calphalon, Krups, Riedel, Shun, Jura-Capresso, Cuisinart… And as any girl can attest to the bubbly feeling of retail aesthetic, mine just happens to peak among brushed stainless steel, gleaming enamel and eggshell porcelain adorning shelf upon shelf of Williams-Sonoma. Fortunately for my bank account, the impermanence of singledom (and conversely, a reliable lack of personal kitchen space) goes a long way in curbing impulse purchases. Sure, I could put that $500 kitchen mixer on our countertop, next to the leftover pizza box and half-eaten package of graham crackers … or, not. Instead, I’ll just pass a few wistful moments in the pick-up-put-down maneuver, flawlessly executed under the hopeful smiles of sales associates.

Which brings me to that most embarrassing emblem of my twentysix-and-still-the-single-girl stage to date. Really, it all started with a tablecloth – a lime-colored French linen tablecloth, marked down from $120 to $30 on a Saturday sale. So completely stunning, and so totally unfit for a girl without a single coaster and a natural talent for spilling wine. I couldn’t possibly keep it. But my natural reflex failed as I clutched the package tightly, frantically dialing number after number. Someone must have this tablecloth. Someone NEEDS this tablecloth.

It was after three unsuccessful attempts that my mother uttered the phrase dreaded by all unmarried girls who believe themselves to be completely self-fulfilled at that very moment: Oh, honey, why don’t you keep it for yourself, you know, for your hope chest?

Oh. Dear. God.

Domestic as I may be, I draw the line at keeping a collection of items in the hopes of my happily ever after – let alone a quantity that might necessitate an entire chest.

The tablecloth was an unfortunate casualty.

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Culinary Therapy on a Friday Night In

August 8, 2009

It’s well past seven before I finally arrive home on most nights of the week – nearly a full twelve hours after the morning’s reluctant greeting to what will become a sequence of fundamental imperatives:

Coffee. Traffic. Power Up. Sit Down. Write. Call. Do. Now. Lunch? (No.) Rush. Wait. Approve. Deliver. Power Off. Workout? (Must.) Traffic. Home.

Most people I know view what follows as a mere part of this obligatory process: Wash. Chop. Boil. Cook. Serve. Shovel.

As for me (or any other everyday gourmet, for that matter), cooking is quite the opposite: unmediated, voluntary and spontaneous. At the end of the day, I can’t wait to retreat to the small space of our kitchen.  I am the chief executive here, the reigning corner office authority, subservient to no outside interest, deadline or contracts – and bare feet are the only stipulation on the code of attire. Though, perhaps even more significant is the power that comes in yielding sharp knives…

This Friday night warranted homemade pizza, super simple with ground turkey and a store-bought whole wheat crust at hand. Topped with orange and red peppers, onions and spinach, it’s the perfect weekday wind-down. Even better with a glass of chianti and flamenco guitar strumming softly in the background.

My kitchen is not ideal by any means, a U-shaped corner of cabinets and countertops that meet at a small but bright window looking out over the drive. It’s a crowded mismatch of cookware and tucked-away appliances, wrinkled dishtowels and scarred cutting boards, plastic lids with no partner – the obvious shared extension of four single twentysomethings and oddly comforting in its chaos. But by the time the pizza is ready, I’m relaxed and warm from the heat of the oven (maybe more so the wine) –  the perfect resolution to the compulsory and a welcome preface to the weekend.