Recreating my comfort zone: Kitchen updates


For me, food is love. It is self-love through giving your body wonderful tasting food that nourishes body and soul, as well as for loved ones as you show those close to you that you love them enough to do the same for them. Your body will only feel good, physically and mentally, if you put good food into it; and hence, eating is an almost spiritual practice. And my kitchen is meant to be a reflection of that ideal.

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_MG_1096Where does the time go? It’s rather sad that it’s been almost two months since I’ve graced my blog with my presence.

But fear not, reader for I have been far from idle! In fact, I’ve been busy whipping my kitchen into shape the last couple of months.

The kitchen is the heart of my home. For me, it represents a place for families to get together around a table, break bread, and discuss their day, their hopes, and their dreams. It is filled with nutritious meals, fine smells, and exotic textures and tastes for adults to take pride and pleasure in, and for children to experience as they learn about the world around them. It is a place centered around the pleasure of the taste buds, and the enjoyment of good company sharing in that moment and those culinary adventures.

For me, food is love. It is self-love through giving your body wonderful tasting food that nourishes body and soul, as well as for loved ones as you show those close to you that you love them enough to do the same for them. Your body will only feel good, physically and mentally, if you put good food into it; and hence, eating is an almost spiritual practice. And my kitchen is meant to be a reflection of that ideal.

In essence, it is an extension of myself as I create and prepare tangible and tasty “love” for family and friends.

While my partner jokes that so many families have exchanged family for their alters dedicated to the big glowing box in the living room these days, the kitchen was once the center of activity in the American home.

And yes, many Americans have lost their way from the traditional family Mecca that is the kitchen. They’ve forgotten the art of passing down family recipes and even the art of how to boil water, never mind combining spices, flavors, and foods before broiling, baking, or stewing. We as a culture have become such an on-the-go, throwaway culture that the stove top has practically become a vestigial appliance. An antique that smacks of the days of Norman Rockwell. An anachronism.

So how do we fix it? We start small.

But what a true kitchen novice needs to do before he or she even puts knife to food is to create an environment that they feel comfortable in. If done right, cooking can be time consuming. From the preparation to the actual cooking, to the post-cooking cleanup, we have to commit to being in the kitchen for blocks of time in our day. So why even try cooking in a room that does not appeal to you? If it isn’t pleasing or comfortable, or doesn’t reflect your personality, your interest will fade fast.

Even slapping some nice paint on the walls is a great start to developing a little creative culinary corner. It’s amazing how a little paint can completely transform a room. My partner and I finally got around to sponge painting our kitchen this past spring. It has given the room an entirely different cozy look. The change has even brightened my attitude about the dark color scheme I had chosen several years ago.

old kitchen
The messy, old, less than efficient kitchen space.
New kitchen look
While it’s nothing earth-shattering, for me the new paint job and neatened counters and decorated shelves do just enough to dress the kitchen and make it cozy and fun to cook in!
20130505_113526
I’d been unhappy with the army green I’d mistakenly chosen, and wanted to touch up the paint for years. While sponge painting was labor intensive and took two of us five hours to complete, it gives the room a new dimension – and made it brighter and more cheery in general.

Next, why not add some themed towels? I like coffee and herbs, and my first purchases for my kitchen were towels and hot mitts that reflect these interests. Over time I’ve added little figurines, food related calendars, and even art to hang on the walls.

Only recently, I’ve started to decorate the blank space on top of my cabinets. Due to having three adventurous cats, I’ve been cautious about what I put up there. But by blocking up the open end of the cupboard top with a basket and decorative silk flowers, we were able to solve that problem

IMG_2068And so, my partner and I began to adorn the space with the easiest and most applicable kitchen accessories possible: Food, and the tools that help us prepare it. Or as he puts it, “functional art.” We’ve put dry food items like beans and chili peppers in glass jars all along the top to dress up the empty space. Even added a decorative set of measuring spoons to dangle from a hook, beside a traditional looking tea set we no longer use.

And since we’d moved in together and had two of nearly everything, we’ve stored some of the doubles, such as a French press and knife block, up there, too. On our counters, we have artful, yet perfectly serviceable, food tools on display such as a molcajete (large mortar and pestle), a Japanese cast iron tea set, a class cutting board decorated with drawings of herbs.

jarsAnd most recently, we’ve changed over all the messy bags of foods to storage in glass jars. I am much happier with my pantry and cupboards, which are neatly arranged with dry food goods that I can readily ID at a glance. This was essential for the bag of flour I had, which spewed white fluff every time you went anywhere near it. And I’ve recently started investigating crochet and macrame that can dress the glass jars up, too.

The possibilities are endless.

Like any room of the house, our kitchen continues to be a work in progress. It will constantly reflect our personalities. Our ideals. Our spirit. Our love.

What have you done with your kitchen that makes cooking just a little more cozy and fulfilling?

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