If I could have one bigger room in my house it would be the kitchen. I would love one of those kitchens that you see in home design shows with granite counters, loads of cabinet space, an overpriced stove with a double oven and an island. This would mean that the dining room would have to go to accomodate this our house yet I do not long for a bigger house. The dream kitchen would be the supporting player in meals I love to cook. I like to crank up my music and have a glass of wine while I am cooking. I love the smells and the whole transformation process. The meals often lean toward gourmet and I get excited at the prospect of nibbling on the ingredients and a pretty presentation.
I was not always a good cook in fact I wasn't even a decent cook. In my first apartment, the kitchen was actually decent size and the living/dining room small. For my first foray into entertaining I was ambitious in this 500 sq ft location. I decided to do Thanksgiving for friends the Wednesday before the actual holiday. I heard you gasp as you read this but I was 21 and absolutely needed no advice from my Mother or anyone else who had done this before because as we all remember you are brilliant and all knowing at that age. More people than could comfortably fit were invited, tables and chairs were borrowed and a lot of food was bought. The turkey was bought that day, it was still frozen when my friends got there, though I valiantly did defrost it via a host of methods. The oven, which I had never used prior to this, had a habit of turning on and off. As for basting, foreign term to me at that point, there was of course nothing ready. We monitored the on/off oven, basted it with beer, ate after 10 pm, drank cheap wine and decent beer and had a great time if not necessarily a good meal. I distinctley remember that everyone thought the turkey tasted like ham and was edible. I did buff up my skills after that and started to ask for and listen to advice from cook books and family.
My next few meals were cooked for guys I was dating, kept simple and pretty good.....signature desert of home made chocolate dipped fruit always impressed. So with this new found confidence my good friend and I decided to cook dinner for our boyfriends. Kathy and I thought that chicken Marsala sounded fancy enough while still not too challenging to make. So onward we went food shopping, laughing and prepping. We had limited funds and infinite optimism. We bought a lovely Marsala wine, recommended by the liquor store clerk, vintage unknown. Her whole apartment smelled delicious but as we cooked our chicken in the Marsala wine, which was really cheap, it turned a lovely shade of mauve and then deep purple. Kathy and I took turns staring at this color which really was meant more for a shirt than chicken, laughed and decided the men we were with (which we both later married) had to love us even with a purple chicken dish! As odd as it looked it was delicious, think stick of butter can salvage almost any dish. We had dinner with Kathy and her husband, and our children, last night and Kathy has become an amazing cook so everything looked as appealing as it tasted.
I love to cook, do it well, and am always looking to improve and expand my skill set. My children seem to be interested in eating only a limited menu (but that is blog onto itself) but my friends and family have enjoyed many meals here. Even with the less than Martha Stewart approved dinners mentioned above the act of cooking and sharing meals with friends still were great successes, friendships in many ways are like making a perfect dish, you add good ingredients, nurture while it comes together and in the end have something that gives you great pleasure.