In our previous post we talked about renewal of our commitment to newdeal kitchen, and of renewal in our personal lives as we prepare to downsize our living space from two bedrooms to one. During the packing process, we’re experiencing another form of renewal: the renewal of acquaintances with some kitchen stuff we forgot we had (which is easy to do when you have a lot of stuff).
This stuff was hidden in kitchen cabinets and in boxes stored away in our spare bedroom/storage facility, and we are so excited to find it, we are keeping it! (So much for downsizing, right?)
For example…Kathy rediscovered these Chadwick Miller bone dishes imported from Japan. She originally bought them at a local thrift store. Each dish has a different pattern, but all bear the CMI Inc gold seal. (And yes, there are similar sets on sale on Etsy.)
Mike rediscovered two boxes of kitchen supplies related to a private chef career that never got off the ground. In one box was a complete place setting for four, minus the silverware but including napkins and placemats; in the other, miscellaneous gadgets, including Mike’s mise en place bag from his Bauman College days.
But the real rediscovered treasure is a box full of recipes collected by Kathy’s mother, who was quite a fabulous cook in her day, and an even better baker. The highlight of the box is a collection of recipes either handwritten or typed by “Ma” herself, usually on whatever paper was handy—even on personnel forms from JC Penney, where Ma worked part time. There are even written-out menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day feasts.
We’ll be sharing more about our newdeal kitchen “renewal”, including some amazing tidbits from Ma’s recipe collection, as the weeks progress. Renew on!
It’s that time of year again…when our domain name and web hosting both need to be renewed. The good news is that we’re sticking around the blogosphere. It was an easy decision to stick around and keep this not-a-food-blog-but-a-love-story thing going.
The harder decision we’ve had to make is to move from our current two-bedroom apartment into a one-bedroom apartment. Yes, we are moving and downsizing at the same time. It’s the right decision for us as we start to stare retirement age in the face. We know we need to get rid of the things we don’t need any more (and the things we didn’t know we thought we needed).
And that includes some kitchen items, including pots and pans and miscellaneous gadgets that were just gathering dust. We are selling stuff, donating stuff, giving stuff to family members. But we’re not getting rid of the kitchenalia (it even has its own moving box, see?)
We’re very excited about this move, as we see it as a chance at…well, renewal. By downsizing our possessions, we’re honing in on what we feel is really important at this point of our lives, and we’re renewing our commitment to those important things. One of those important things is newdeal kitchen. With this move into a new kitchen, we are renewing our commitment to share our love of food and of eating (and of kitchenalia!) with all of you.
So, that question we like to ask—“Where’s your kitchen?”—takes on a whole new meaning. As we progress through this journey to our new living space, we invite you to join along and watch as we take newdeal kitchen to a new location.
Where’s our kitchen? Watch this space…it’ll be here soon.
We like to call him “the wee one.” He’s about six years old and is the son of our next-door neighbors. And he’s quite the precocious child: once he stopped by the sliding glass door to our apartment (we share a common balcony), opened the screen, and threw in a paper airplane. We retrieved and unfolded it, and found an invitation…to meet his baby sitter, who would be watching him the next day while his parents were out of town.
We accepted his invitation, to the puzzlement and delight of his baby sitter (and his parents as well). This young man has quite the outlook and vision on life, as we discovered a few months ago.
Again, he stopped by our sliding glass door and asked Kathy if she would like some “things” he had created. “I’ve made a lot of them,” he said, “and these are the ones left over.” Curious, Kathy said, “Sure, we’ll take them. Thank you!” The wee one excused himself, went back to his home, and returned with a stack of what looked like construction paper. He solemnly gave the stack to Kathy and left.
When we examined what he had brought us, we were shocked and delighted. The stack contained drawings in multiple media and paper assemblages. They are all very clever, creative, and delightful. We knew we had to display this art somewhere, and then the thought came to us: Why not decorate the archway that leads into our kitchen? And that’s what we did.
One of our favorite pieces of kitchenalia isn’t a gadget, or a cute looking creamer, or even the proud and honored whisk. It’s a refrigerator magnet with a very special message.
We bought it at a thrift store. As soon as we saw it, we knew we had to have it. It’s been a feature of our kitchen ever since, and its message is one of the main inspirations behind newdeal kitchen.
We were curious about where the magnet came from, so a brief search of the Interwebs revealed that the magnet (and the message) comes from Penzeys Spices, a retail spice merchant based in Wisconsin.
The message is part of Penzeys Spices’ corporate culture, which emphasizes cooking as an act of love and kindness. The cover of their Thanksgiving 2016 catalog bears the motto: “Heal the world – cook dinner tonight.” Their corporate tagline is “Love to cook – cook to love.” Members of the Penzeys team summed up their philosophy this way:
So much good happens when people cook for each other. We like to encourage everyone who cooks to be happy and comfortable with whatever their cooking interests and experiences might be. So we share a simple, yet important message to love the people in your life by cooking them food just the way they like it. [“Penzeys Spices Sprinkles Kindness with Stickers,” websticker.com, December 13, 2011]
This philosophy is just as we like it. We downloaded the Penzeys Thanksgiving catalog from their website and we were very impressed. A huge assortment of spices and spice blends are available (including “Frozen Pizza Seasoning” – whaaaaaat?). Plus original recipes. Plus stories which emphasize “the goodness of cooking.”
By the way, we don’t have any kind of advertising relationship with Penzeys. We just like putting in a free plug for good people. Check out penzeys.com today!
Some of the most profound things come out of the some of the most simplest things. Take an apron, for example. For some cooks, it’s a necessary piece of equipment. For others, it just gets in the way of what they’re doing.
For us, an apron is a profound symbol of the life Kathy and I chose together, from the very beginning of our marriage. As one of the two wedding shower gifts we received from Kathy’s friends and co-workers almost ten years ago, the apron represents everything that newdeal kitchen stands for: a passion for eating well always, and a desire to share that passion (and our food) with others.
So we believe there is something to an apron…a power, let’s call it, to transform others. The apron is an invitation to work, to join in with others to make things right and share them with others.
This power is not limited to the kitchen. Kathy works part-time for a major retailer, and as part of the job, everyone is required to wear aprons with the retailer’s logo. For some folks, it’s definitely a burden to wear; and for those folks, the power of an apron holds little interest.
But for one of Kathy’s co-workers, the power of an apron was everything. One day Kathy lent an extra apron to this young lady. A couple of weeks later, an envelope was left at Kathy’s work table. Inside it was a card from the co-worker, who had just left the company.
The note in the card began: “Thank you for the apron. It was my most valuable piece of equipment….” And it ended with these words:
One of the questions we’ll be asking in this blog is “Where’s your kitchen?” We want to know where and how you store, prepare, and eat your food, and we’ll share with you how to do that soon. But, to be fair, we felt it necessary to show you our kitchen. It’s a big small…in fact, it’s very small. And there’s virtually no counter space, as you will see. But it’s the laboratory for our food experiments, and the place we display our cool kitchenalia. So without any further ado…here’s our kitchen.
To our eternal chagrin, however, kitchenalia is not among them.
Our humble blog is but five entries deep, but we have already driven the claimstake into the ground. In our second post, “why a kitchen?”, we define kitchenalia as “things designed for use in a kitchen. They can be as mundane as a whisk, as valuable as a Dutch oven, or as whimsical as a vintage Moo-Cow Creamer dispenser.”
We are not the only users of this extraordinary word. Other dictionaries recognize it as well. Dictionary.com defines kitchenalia as “cooking equipment and other things found in a kitchen”. Oxford Dictionaries — yes, that Oxford — defines kitchenalia as “cooking utensils and other items associated with the kitchen.” A quick Google search on “kitchenalia” returns 3,190,000 (or, a veritableplethora of) resources for exploring the meanings of the word and its current use in our culture.
And here’s the final twist of the (chef’s) knife…in the article introducing these new words, Merriam-Webster takes great pride in announcing:
This is a travesty, a sham, and a calumny, and we shall not stand for it. What will it take, Merriam-Webster, for you to see the light and to include kitchenalia in your (up until now) outstanding tool of the English language?
We await your reply with complete, utter, and total aplomb.