Monday, March 29, 2010

Kitchen Love

'Cooking properly is a great skill but it is also an act of love and so impacts on us in an emotional way. The smells that arise from the baking of bread or an exotically fragrant dish waiting to be eaten fills the air of the kitchen and the house with delight and anticipation, drawing the members of the household into the kitchen making it the focal point of the house. The visible presence of fruit, vegetables, herbs, condiments and food cooking all add atmosphere, turning a collection of furniture and fittings into a living kitchen.'

- from 'The Art of Kitchen Design' by Johnny Grey

On my fridge! I love stoves such as Agas!

If you were to redefine your own cooking as an 'act of love' how would it change you and how you see your kitchen? For if cooking is an act of love it means that this act of domesticity involves a lot more than just the preparation of food, cooking is transformed into an art and a kitchen becomes much more than just a place where food is prepared or just assembled. (God forbid!) If cooking is an art, that means my kitchen is my creative studio and I need some visual inspiration - it is why I love to pile produce into baskets and bowls and herbs are my kitchen bouquets ready to be snipped at a moment's notice. Kitchens are the place in the home where we do what we have to do with food and I need to ask you some questions specific to food.

If cooking is an act of love .......

Would it influence what you cooked? The type of foods you chose to stock your pantry and fridge/freezer with? Would you be more careful, taking time at the store to read the lists of ingredients on packets and tins? Would you be prepared to pay a little more for good olive oil or healthier bread? Do you take the time to visit your farmer's market to source locally grown fresh produce rather than buying everything wrapped in plastic at the supermarket or better still do you put in time and effort to establish your own food gardens at home or grow vegetables and herbs in pots on a windowsill, patio or balcony?

Tamarillo and Pear Chutney

Would you be prepared to cook more meals from scratch and extend your repertoire of recipes? Trying out new ideas, flavours and cuisines? Learning as much as you can about nutrition and the art of food preparation? And are you going to pass on this skill to the next generation educating your children in a domestic art which will pay a generous dividend - for their future health, household economy and well being?

Or do you reach for another packet of macaroni and cheese?
Or add water to a packet mix and call it home baked. Love goes the extra mile, so can I encourage you to teach your children to cook and bake with real ingredients. My youngest daughters are only four and if you are not sure how to make pancakes from scratch just ask them - they will give you the list of ingredients!
If cooking is an act of love would it change how you cooked? That is the attitude you chose to bring into the kitchen when you need to prepare a meal or snack? If it truly is an act of love, regardless of the circumstances - a limited budget, limited bench space, limited time or all three plus tiredness - cooking takes on a whole new dimension. Even the preparation of a humble plate of sandwiches becomes an opportunity to meet a need and minister to someone - even a hungry toddler! A pot of homemade soup on the stove that required your attention as it needed to be stirred and have you adjust the seasoning will be dished out in love. It has become soup for the soul.

If cooking is an act of love would it change how you served your food? Do you hand the teenager a bag of chips to take to his room or do you bake a big batch of biscuits - the aroma will draw him out of his room and into the kitchen. Oh Johnny Grey you are so right!

Do you chop up some herbs to garnish and transform your dish, whip up a simple dressing for the salad and serve it in a pretty bowl - or do you plonk a plastic bottle of vinaigrette next to the salad bowl? Did you even bother about a dressing?

Do you take the time to set the table, ensuring each person has a water glass, do you light a candle, or float a few flower heads in a bowl of water for a simple but effective table decoration - simple acts of love. Kitchen love. Table love. Family love.

You may have noticed that there are not many pictures of my actual kitchen, for this post is not about kitchen design. I could have shown you pictures of magazine kitchens to drool over but that is not what I wanted to share - I just wanted to spread some kitchen love!

And I have fallen in love with my kitchen over again, even with its limitations and it has reaffirmed its place as the most important room in my house thanks to the book I took my opening quotation from. I have read 'The Art of Kitchen Design' from cover to cover, it is not just a book about kitchen design to flick through over a coffee but rather an examination of what kitchens are all about. I was taken to my kitchen heaven, I took notes and became quite emotional as I read the insights of a man who knows kitchens and understands their true purpose! I might even review this book in more detail if anyone is interested but for now I will close with another quote from Johnny Grey 's introduction to his book. He is considered to be one of the world's best kitchen designers and he is also the nephew of Elizabeth David. If I were rich I would have him redesign my kitchen but in the meantime I have lots of pictures of plate racks and pantries to inspire me (my husband has told me to think outside the 'corner pantry' and one day he will build me a new pantry and a plate rack. It is in writing now!)

I hope this has helped you to also find some kitchen love!

'... a comfortable kitchen is one of the necessities of a civilized life and a major contributor to a happy household. It is after all a refuge, a creative space, a cradle of sociability and hospitality, a place synonymous with sustenance and a room that offers a constancy against the backdrop of the ebb and flow of family life.'

With Kitchen Love and Joy,

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A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

I adore Kitchens in general I tink because it is where I craft from cook from,Have kids read to me and I to them from it is the hub of life and activity in our home,
I think thats why my new home is a thorn in my side.
Tiny kitchen and bench,But still I bake and cook mostly from scratch.
I do want to love my family with what comes from my kitchen

Farming On Faith said...

I so enjoyed peeking into your kitchen. The pictures were so much fun to see.
You inspired me to get up and get my kitchen baking this morning.
You have a wonderful day~

Camille said...

What a lovely post Ann! I enjoyed the welcoming and yummy looking! I *love* the quote you began's so true! Kitchen love is something I desire to cultivate around here. I see you have a sourdough cookbook ~ do you have a starter recipe that works? If so, would you mind posting sometime on it? (Only if you have the time)...please do not do it if you don't!! I would enjoy learning that art ~ I already know how to bake bread. Oh the smells of home baked bread is so wonderful isn't it!

Have a lovely day!

Unknown said...

I love everything Nourishing Traditions. You have a lovely blog. Looking forward to reading more.

Renata said...

What a lovely post Ann!
I also enjoy creating in my kitchen! It is such an opportunity to bless my family by using my culinary skills (& I love cooking from scratch).
God has been challenging me, however over the last year about our diet - even though I am quite careful, I am trying more & more to eat things that are straight from God's hands. I have just borrowed nourishing traditions from the library (actually it came all the way from Coff's harbour tafe library - these inter-library loans are fantastic) - I am enjoying reading it - hoping to from cover to cover - although I may need to reborrow it to accomplish this. Anyway even before that we have taken out almost all of the processed foods from our diet & I'm trying to not buy things with colours or preservatives (birthday cakes don't count LOL).
Thanks for this lovely post as I have my in-laws coming for easter & now I feel inspired to be creative & really make something welcoming for their arrival!!!
Hope you have a lovely easter with your precious family!
God bless
Renata :)

PS - I have the exact same bowl as yours in that pic with your girls! -it's my favourite to use even if it's a bit heavy!

Elinor said...

I enjoyed reading your post Ann...
one thing I made sure of when we moved into our new home, 3 years ago now, was that our kitchen, dining room and lounge room was open plan all together.. and that I had a long counter in which to cook, do craft, and the multiple other things you do in your kitchen. I wanted a kitchen that when I had friends and family over I could still chat and be with them while we prepared our meal.
hope you and your family have a lovely Easter.

Beth said...

Awww...I like this post! I had an extremely busy weekend (worked my 30 hours in two days) and just barely had time to prepare Easter dinner. I didn't make my table lovely this year as we usually do...that made me kind of sad BUT we were able to use our pretty dishes that my husband's late mother gave to him at least 30 years ago and that was nice! (evidently she had bought them while he was still in school and was keeping them for him!) I hope all is going well for you and your precious family!

Chookie said...

What a great book -- I must try to get hold of it! Yes, cooking is indeed an act of love and a craft that brings me (and my family) satisfaction every day. But I fear my kitchen itself is not part of this -- it has very little prep space, so it's frusstrating for a cook. Still, it won't always be that way -- I have Plans!


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