When I re-started this blog nearly a year ago, it was my intention to keep up with a regular stream of content. But as with many things, life got in the way—sending a son off to college; making time to visit the college kid; spending time with friends and family; spending time on career advancement; spending time with the youngest.
But the one thing that has preoccupied my time has been the end of my 25 year marriage, resulting in me moving out of my home of 16 ½ years with my gorgeous kitchen into a two bedroom apartment with a galley kitchen. The reason for the marriage ending is not pertinent to this blog, nor is it particularly interesting to you, the readers. What I do want to share with you is how often we fool ourselves into thinking that our passions are unattainable unless we have the right equipment, materials and products in place. Only then can we truly indulge in our interests be it cooking, racing or art. People have done remarkable things with less than what we have today.
The kitchen I left behind was my dream kitchen. Occupying half of the main level of a 4,600 square foot home that I designed with the help of a skilled kitchen designer as part of an addition that was driven from the old kitchen being too small and inefficient. (Electric range? I think not). Double oven, so I could cook majestic holiday dinners of roasted fresh ham, turkey, leg of lamb and goose. An industrial gas range because a lot of my cooking, like many Latinos, involved the range. Silestone® countertops in an emerald green that looks like it came from a dealer in Oz. And enough cabinet space to hold all my pots, pans, and specialty items—Ice cream maker, electric wok, chestnut roaster, angel food cake pan and Bundt pans. The cabinet themselves reflected my personal aesthetic of simple lines having gone with shaker-style cabinets.
So I’ve gone from the kitchen of my dreams, where I honed my cooking craft, to a galley kitchen with a fourth of the counter space I had (although, a gas range was a must for me). Despite the limited counter and cabinet space, it hasn’t hindered me from pursuing my love of cooking. And as I’ve gone prepping meals and baking, I’ve come to realize that the reality is some of the best meals we remember were prepared in very modest settings. My parents’ own kitchen was much bigger than the one I have now, in terms of counter and cabinet space, yet some of my favorite dishes that parents prepared were cooked in a modest kitchen — veal ribs, oxtail soup, chicken noddle soup and roast chicken come to mind.
If you go waaay back, almost to the time when man discovered fire, maybe not that far back, but maybe to a time when there was no electricity or refrigeration, people made do with fire and simple implements. They even figured out how to dry meat and dehydrate food. The Indians for example innovated a style of cooking, dum pukht, that uses a round, heavy-bottomed pan with a lid to seal in moisture by stemming the food over a slow fire – not an electric or gas range. Not propone-fueled grill. Just a simple slow fire. Before there were blenders and food processors, the Mexicans had stone molcajtes (also known as a mortar and pestle), to blend items like salsa and guacamole. And let’s not forget that a flour or corn tortilla can was made in a simple brick oven instead of those cool tortilla makers that resemble a factory assembly line often found at many large scale Mexican restaurants (Uncle Julio’s comes to mind).
In reality, my old kitchen may have been awesome, a temple to my love of cooking. But it did not make me a better cook than those with less. Nor should my new setting be a hindrance to pursuing my passion. I still have an oven, a range, counter tops and a fridge. What more do I really need or did I think I needed all these years?
And if you excuse me know, I am going to go sit by the pool — an amenity of this apartment complex—and dream of new culinary adventures to write about.