The little garden is only steps away from the kitchen. I can walk outside and pick edible flowers (like the guavas and nasturtiums), herbs, lettuce, and fruits. I feel wealthy when I harvest these things.
Parsley (I love the robust Italian) and lots of thyme are an arm's length from my kitchen door.
This true bay tree is now three feet tall. It was about six inches tall when our dear friends Susie and Ellis Bassetti brought it to us as a housewarming gift. I love her and named her Eudora. She is a key ingredient in Jeff's spaghetti sauces.
Home picked herbs, fresh bread, and a tin full of homegrown peppers, which I've dried for sauces.
Good grief, he looks so SERIOUS. And he was...he read that pasta making book like he was studying for his most important catechism test. (See the hanging light? We found it in Wisconsin and carried it home in pieces when we flew back).
"I love kneading this."
Our floor looked like the snowstorm that hit Maine this week.
Proud as a new father.
A richness of pasta.
"Could you get more chairs?" I did, and we had pasta drying over the back of them for a day. Now we use an old, trifold quilt rack, which works perfectly.
Well, it does have personality.
Scrape the old marble slab, sweep the floors, scrub the table. Days later and we're still picking up dough and bits of pasta, but we love this kind of mess.
Chicken breasts (sorry all my chicken-raising friends), butter, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and my freshly picked parsley.
Salt the water so the pasta has flavor, boil the water, drop it in. It was GREAT. We loved it, and Jeff is making it again for a gathering of friends this weekend. A young friend of ours died unexpectedly in November. We are going to her home to share an Italiano party with her husband. All of us are taking pasta (mostly homemade), different sauces for toppings, and appetizers. We're hoping that the joy of cooking with friends will help his healing begin.
While Jeff does his thing I do mine.
I'm making lavender dryer bags (instead of those perfumed sheets), and I'm mixing spices for my old iron scent pot. I love to simmer these on the stove on chilly days. (Can you see the quilt rack in the background? Now it is a pasta rack.)
The iron pot can't be used for anything other than spice simmering. The spices have permeated the iron and even when it isn't in use, it scents the kitchen with sweet aromas.
For all my life, I suffered through kitchens so small that trying to work in them with anyone else was a huge chore. Frustrating.
I loved my tiny kitchen in Cambria (you can see photos of it in the Rizzoli book Country Kitchens by Jocasta Innes) and used it well, but I had always dreamed of an eat-in-kitchen, like the one in my Grandmother's bungalow. I wanted sunlight, a long table in the center, which could stand in for an island, comfy chairs, bookcases, open shelves, simplicity, and room for two to dance through recipes.
After nearly four years of working on our kitchen, we are ALMOST finished. We just recently installed lighting appropriate to the age of our cottage (1930), and we have only a few small tweaks till it is exactly how we want it. Workable, good storage, lots of light, a sweet, old stove, a sink that nearly broke our backs when we installed it, and storage, abundant storage, and open shelves, which I love. If you don't like how it looks...why own it? We love it and spend most of our time at our table doing our own projects and cooking what we love.
My husband is half Italian. He grew up with a flock of devoted aunts who filled their home with the scents of Italian cooking. His cousin Joyce once told him that there was "always a pot of sauce simmering on the stove." I love that image and can almost smell the sauce.
Now Jeff is slipping into the stream of his heritage, cooking and even making his own pasta with the simple Imperia hand crank that I bought him for his birthday. He is so happy and peaceful when he cooks, and so danged methodical. Much more than I could ever be. I riff off of recipes; he follows them like a road map.
I love sitting at the kitchen table while he works. I do my thing; he does his. We play music, catch up on news, and laugh. Isn't laughter one of the best things to come out of a cozy kitchen?
Sending love to you from our cozy, scent filled kitchen,
P.S. I've received over a hundred letters from you faithful readers about the magazine article, which was just released. Yes, our garden has much, much more than what was featured, but they do have space constraints and some things were not in bloom. Nobody wants to look at a mass of gray lavender plants with no flowers! Thanks to all of you for your encouragement. Yes, I am into my bird book, which must be finished by the end of May. Yikes, I'd better get back to work now! Thanks for the visit, come again soon for my book giveaway-Something Old and Something New. A treasured old volume called The Stillmeadow Road by Gladys Taber, and a new book called Sugar Snaps and Strawberries by Andrea Bellamy (Heavy Petal Blog). I reviewed her book for an on-line store and now have a chance to offer it to my followers. Take joy and play!