Hi everyone! I am excited to present Suzanne and her story. Her cooking life has changed and I am honored to have been a part of the transformation. Top left is her old cozy but crowded kitchen and bottom right is the new, sleek look. Here is her story:
Last summer, my partner and I and our 2 kids were at a week-long family camp in Vermont, where Alma offered her Take Back the Kitchen workshop the first morning. I did not attend the workshop, as I prefer to spend my vacation time on the tennis courts, not inside talking about cooking. My partner, however, is comfortable in the kitchen and found the workshop title enticing.
When we met up at lunch that day, my partner said she owed me an apology. I racked my brain, wondering if I had missed some earlier slight. But, surprisingly, she apologized for setting up and maintaining our kitchen at home in such a way that thwarted my ability to fully participate in cooking for our family.
“Wow,” I said. “Thanks.”
And I thought, “Thank you, Alma.”
My partner and I met privately with Alma later that week and hashed out what changes we would make in the kitchen when we returned home. My partner agreed that, because the kitchen had been to her liking for the past 20 years, I could do whatever I liked.
“Wow,” I said. “Thanks.”
I began by clearing out. Lots and lots of clearing out. I dumped all expired food (making our chickens very happy). I removed all duplicates of cooking utensils, except for knives and spatulas. I packed up three-quarters of our serving dishes and put them in the attic. I weeded through glasses, mugs, silverware, and dishes.
The biggest change (and the one most dreaded by my partner) was removing every decorative item from the kitchen, thereby emptying counter space and windowsills and walls, which then became available for functional items. For example, the big mesh strainer that was hard to get in and out of a drawer now hangs on the wall. It ain’t pretty, but it sure is handy!
The kitchen used to look cozy and homey and attractive, in an overstuffed kind of way. Now it looks fine, in an empty kind of way. But now I feel like I can move, and not being able to find things is no longer a reason to pick up Chinese on the way home from work.
The kitchen transformation process took the better part of a week, even with help from my very efficient and hardworking sister, who happened to be visiting.
But finally, the counters were clear, and every item in every drawer and on every shelf could be pulled out in one motion. Rummaging and swearing were no longer necessary when pulling cheese (or anything else) out of the refrigerator. A guiding force throughout the process was to eliminate the need to search for things while cooking, and that has been accomplished.
The day my sister left, I breathed a sigh of relief and opened one of 3 cookbooks I had left easily accessible (the other 17 linear feet of cookbooks are stacked in the back of a very deep cupboard, making it impossible for expired cans of food to hide in its dark recesses). I chose a recipe, gathered the required ingredients and tools, and cooked a very nice corn cobbler for my family.
Thanks again, Alma.