My husband, John, is a talented cook and beer brewer, and he needs a proper kitchen. He deserves a proper kitchen. So when we built our last house, we chose things that would make it warm and welcoming, spacious and appealing. And it was all of those things. We made memories with family and friends in that wonderful kitchen for almost 15 years.
When we moved to the 1906 farmhouse a year ago, we had to get over the small size of the kitchen. We were used to some abundance. Ultimately, we decided “Size doesn’t matter…” And as it turns out, it doesn’t.
Think of a campfire. One of the best kitchen experiences you can have is cooking and eating around a camp fire. The warmth. The smells. The safety. The satisfaction of the meal. The glowing faces of your companions. That’s what makes it work. You’re doing dishes in a freezing cold creek…and it still rocks. (Literally.)
I’ve gotten a lot of satisfaction over a hotel room with a tiny kitchenette that permitted us to pop a bag of popcorn in a microwave. That can turn an evening of feeling “out of town” into a night of feeling the comforts of home….with no obligation to clean up afterward.
So as it turns out, kitchen-ness trumps size.
Still, I knew the problem would come when everyone wanted to hang out in the kitchen, and “everyone” is more than John and I and our four kids. When family and friends are gathering, we all want to be together, and we all want to be in the kitchen.
All of my hand-wringing has turned out to be needless on this subject. Two things happen: (1) we cram into the kitchen anyway, and it’s more fun than ever because there are layers and layers of people, sitting all the way up the stairs, on the counters, hanging in the window from the porch…
…or (2) we hang out in the barn.
Yes, the barn.
In fact, some of my family hasn’t been in the house for months, because when the gang arrives, we all head straight out to the barn.
The animals can come and go, there’s a TV for the game, there’s a bathroom (essential), and food travels. There’s a barbecue outside, a fridge inside, and when the dishes pile too high, the kids load them up in a big, plastic wagon and cart them back to the house the way we did at Christmas. They hosed them off outside and eventually got them all through the dishwasher. (You can’t tell them how to solve every problem, now, can you?)
So kitchens, as it turns out, are meeting places. The necessary elements are food, drinks, great people and places to sit. That’s it. Valuable additions include wonderful smells, and friendly dogs (and other domesticated animals).
All along I was aspiring to great kitchens, when it turned out we really didn’t require one.
I wonder how many more things I can do without?
(No doubt most.)