The coziest memory of my childhood is walking downstairs while Garrison Keillor sang “I hear that old piano from down the Avenue…” on NPR and the smell of green beans wafted out of my mom’s kitchen. A Prairie Home Companion was most certainly always playing at 5:00 every Saturday evening, but the green beans? I’ve been trying to figure that one out for years. The only explanation I’ve ever come up with is that steamed green beans – with a little bacon, of course – were a regular food at my family’s dinner table, and their smell is one of many comfortable, familiar scents of my childhood.
My mother, a lawyer-turned-artist, is an incredible cook. And like most women from the Deep South, she cooks the recipes of her mother, her grandmother, her mother-in-law, and, of course, Southern Living. The kitchen is her domain, and, I swear, everything that has ever come out of there is amazing.
We renovated our house when I was 11, and the kitchen, the place where my family spent the most time together, was the focal point. The room changed from a depressingly dark space – brown tiled floors, off-white walls, dark varnished wooden cabinets – into an astonishingly bright and open room done in white, yellow, and blue. There was no better word to describe the new kitchen than “happy.”
I recently graduated from college and am slowly, slowly settling into “the real world.” Unwilling to leave the South for long, I moved to the most delightfully and wonderfully un-southern Southern city: New Orleans. Since settling into my first apartment, I’ve been struggling to recreate that same feeling of the kitchen in my parents’ house. I want the warmth and happiness of a well cooked-in kitchen – the feeling that makes a house a home.
I am hoping this won’t be a hard to accomplish. My love affair with cooking – and, let’s be honest, eating – that my mom fostered now has me constantly dog-earing, ripping out, and bookmarking recipes. I like to focus on affordable deliciousness with an emphasis on ease and portability. But show me something cheesy, spicy or beautifully photographed, and I’ll happily cook that without regard to anything else. This blog will be a chronicle of my culinary discoveries and treks into new food adventures in my own kitchen.