Kitchen Love: It All Began With a God Named Thor
June 2, 2007

It's been going on about two weeks now, so I feel it's time to come clean and be up front with you all. I'm having an affair.

With my kitchen.

My kitchen and I, well, we haven't exactly been getting along for awhile now. In fact, for as long as we've known each other, we've had serious issues. It felt that every time we'd get together, Kitchen would try and forcibly change my eating habits. There was the whole turning me into a vegetarian thing, and while I was grudgingly allowed to have fish every once in awhile, lamb, pork, beef, and chicken all seemed to be off-limits. And whether Kitchen thought I needed to lose weight or just didn't care for the homey smell of fresh bread, pastries and all baking was severely restricted.

It had gotten to the point that Kitchen and I were only having drinks together. There would be some take-out and a few salads and vegetables here and there, but really, I was avoiding any and all contact. Kitchen just stressed me out way too much, and I even entertained serious thoughts of leaving Kitchen for good and taking up with a new and more forgiving kitchen. One that was okay with me broiling rosemary lamb chops and making the odd batch of cookies or even, god forbid, a pie.

However, after a lot of counseling in the form of a trip to IKEA, Kitchen and I have worked out all of our problems and are completely in love.

The biggest hurdle was the kitchen/if-we-ever-get-one dining room table. Mathra suggested we move it out, take it apart, and find somewhere to store it. Not only was it too low to be used as a prep space, it had accumulated everything from eight different calc texts to piles of CDs, random mail, dusty decanters, and a cat or two. It also stuck out several inches past the depth of the refrigerator and was therefore encroaching on what was already a very small space. You could forget about eating at that table, too, because it was so long, only a very skinny legless midget could sit at one end and the only other available space was a hazard to anyone trying to do any cooking at all. The other two sides were blocked by wall and refrigerator, so, also useless.

We love that table. It's a "rustic" farmhouse type of thing, and some day, when we have a farmhouse, or at least enough room to turn around in without immediately treading in the cat boxes, we'll bring it out again. However, until then, Varde is taking its place.

Varde, or "Darth Varde" because I'm a geek, is my new countertop. It's 69 inches of birch-topped freedom. It has deep drawers and two shelves that give me 69 inches of storage space. It's 35 inches high, which is perfect for prep, and only 25 inches deep, which gave me about a foot of space back in my kitchen.

Technically, our kitchen is an "eat-in" kitchen. The little linoleum square of space that incorporates cupboards, stove, dishwasher, and sink is technically the kitchen, and as soon as you hit hardwood, you're doing the "eat in" thing. However, NOW that eat-in space is part of the kitchen. I do all my work at Darth Varde, which is up against the wall where the table was, and my old prep station -- the tiny, rickety, roll-able island with a drop-leaf -- is just gravy.

I could go into great, delightful (for me) detail about how I moved stuff all over the kitchen. How I spent happy hours dreaming up various ways of organizing this great new gift of space. How I moved all cleaning products under the sink where they belong and transformed the top shelf of a hall closet into a wine cupboard where the wine is finally away from the heat of the kitchen. But I won't bore you with such mundane details.

Instead, I can tell you that I went to the Ferry Building Farmers' Market for the first time in eons and was able to buy stuff without getting all stomach-clenchy about how/when/if I would prepare it. I got two kinds of cherries -- Rainier and Boxer -- and adorable tatsoi and smelly herbs and rose geranium (just for sniffing, because I'm copying Jen) and crinkly, hefty packets of Rancho Gordo beans and exquisitely small turnips and elongated candy-striped radishes and MORE PEAS and rubied strawberry jam from Swanton Farms (though I'm now seriously considering making my own) and tiny watercress and wine and Meyer Lemon-Rosemary bread.

The other day, I made homemade cracked-pepper fettuccine, a thyme-mushroom sauce served over baked polenta, and broiled halibut. AND IT WAS ALL FOR ONE MEAL!

I love Kitchen so much, I actually ENJOY cleaning it. I want to SLEEP in my rose geranium-scented kitchen. How much of a freak does that make me?

See, all Kitchen and I needed was space.

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