kitchens . . .

by mulberryshoots

dahlias and gerbera with knives on the old formica countertop . . .

dahlias and gerbera with knives on the old formica countertop . . .

I love kitchens.

Maybe it’s because I like to cook so much and spend a lot of time in it. Or maybe it’s because the kitchen is the heart of our home where we have our meals together. I’ve had good kitchens and almost-good kitchens in past lives. Ironically, the kitchen that had more storage cabinets than I needed was in a condo that I lived in between marriages. I had enough room but nobody to cook for. Three of my kids were in college or beyond (in more ways than one.) I never had so much storage than when I lived by myself in that glorious condo, having lived in Victorian houses before and afterwards, notorious for lack of closet and storage space.

In my current kitchen, I’ve cooked many meals in its small space. The dishwasher we are replacing was won in a contest at the local grocery by G.’s father decades ago. It still chugs along noisily and gets the dishes clean on the heavy duty setting, but that takes hours of washing! The plumber is coming on Sunday morning to install the new one, not a fancy European model but a sturdy Consumer Reports highest-ranking Sears Kenmore dishwasher with a stainless interior, “turbo jets” in the back and reinforced nylon racks. It was seriously on sale and I hope it works out.

old redware holding utensils next to the stove. . .

old redware holding utensils next to the stove. . .

Preparing for replacing our decades old formica top, I’ve been culling through the utensils I have, stored in old redware crocks near the stove and placement of our kitchen knives on a long knife rack mounted at the base of one of the octagonal windows.

We use an old set of shelves that holds our napkins, potato chips, teabags and supplements. It fits perfectly in the space under the paper towel holder and we’re used to it being there. I had used two pieces of fabric as a make-do curtain but found someone in Michigan who makes custom sized door fronts in a simple Shaker style. I chose one in cherry wood that G. can attach to the shelves when it arrives next week and voila, we’ll have a cupboard finally for minimal cost that will keep our necessities handy and invisible.

I’m excited, to be sure, about this renewal for our kitchen space because we have a six foot curly maple tavern table that we use, set diagonally in the kitchen when there are two to four of us, and moved perpendicular to the kitchen when we have six or more during the holidays. It was custom made for us according to a antique table I found in Wallace Nutting’s “Pilgrim Century furniture” book by a craftsman out in the Western part of Massachusetts. Years ago, G. had bought a stock of curly maple boards that were stored in the eaves of the barn which were used in making the table turnings and breadboard top. It has a center stile down the middle and vase-and-ring turnings. A gorgeous table that required taking our door off the hinges to get it into the house!

I can cook anywhere, as I have in the miniscule kitchen of our winter rental cottage on the ocean in Rockport, a few years back. We had to get the oven fixed because the temperature sensor was off and fluctuated wildly. In spite of not having a disposer or a dishwasher, and about two and half feet of counter working space, many meals were cooked in that kitchen for Thanksgiving and Christmas, including our traditional homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. The experience cooking there was kind of like playing an old upright piano, slightly out of tune, rather than a regulated and finely tuned Steinway grand piano.

Well, it looks like I’m finally going to get my Steinway kitchen. It’s going to be ebony and off white, just like piano keys, only the material will be soapstone, a dark background with some bold graining once it is waxed. Instead of a double sink in which you can’t really fit anything to wash which we’ve struggled with, there will be a single sink with plenty of space. Once we figured out how “pull out” faucet heads work, we ordered a Kohler kitchen faucet with adjustable temperature lever with just one hole required for installment.

The job is scheduled for next week. And even though we’ve had the countertop detached from the cabinets and the backsplash loosened in preparation, it’s still hard for me to believe that this is actually going to happen. You know how it is when you’ve dreamed about something for a long time and after a certain number of false starts over a number of years, it hardly seems like your vision will ever come true. But I believe it will this time, simply because this is the right timing for it to happen.

Culling things out in preparation for the soapstone fabrication has been an useful exercise. As usual, we’re finding we need half of what we had out before. The challenge now is not letting it all creep back in again.