My Favorite Room + Basic Polenta


You've probably guessed. It's my kitchen. It's where I spend most of my time puttering around, whipping something up, cleaning lots of dirty dishes and spills, cooking, baking. It's where I automatically go when I arrive home or come downstairs, even if I don't actually need anything. I just end up there. I get euphoric about recipes that turn out well and comforted by old favorites. Justin bikes home from work and heads straight for the pantry to pull out the peanut butter, raisins, or a handful of granola for a snack. Evelyn helps unload the dishwasher, pulls things out of cupboards, and tries to climb the refrigerator shelves whenever she gets a chance. We do a lot in this kitchen. 

So allow me to share some photos with you. Take you on a tour. And then maybe a little recipe at the end. Come along, friends, my kitchen welcomes you.

Justin and I are part of a meal share group which should, in theory, free us from cooking and doing dishes for three nights of the week. But I can never seem to manage it. There is either bread to make, or food to prep for the next day, or a new baking project to tackle. I love to be in the kitchen. I love to organize it in the best way possible (which is always changing; hence the puttering). I love to use real ingredients to create good food that (usually) tastes amazing.

One of my favorite things is my pantry. The actual pantry is nothing special, but what I put in it is. Good snacks like dried fruit and nuts. Fair trade chocolate. Whole grains, beans, and legumes. Homemade granola. Baking ingredients. Fresh eggs. And directly to the left sits my stand mixer, which has been so helpful in making bread dough.

Most kitchens have the sink in front of a window, which is nice in a way, but it makes it hard to be social while doing the dishes. I like to do the dishes and still chat if I have people over. It also helps me to keep an eye on Evelyn while she's toddling around the living room and dining room.

Some of my favorite tools in my kitchen are my moka pot that I use most mornings to make stove top espresso, my food processor, and my blue dutch oven. I like using a gas stove and oven to cook as opposed to electric. It's also nice to have a vent above our stove. We had some home repairs done last year, and one of the items on the list was to remove a greasy, broken microwave above the stove and replace it with a beautiful hood. 

I live in a row home. When one looks at row homes from the outside, one might wonder, "How do they get any natural light in there?" The answer is a back alley between each home. With five windows on the first floor and two glass doors, there is a lot of natural light. We moved here four years ago from an apartment with a tiny, tiny kitchen that had one little window and a light bulb. I could never tell if the dishes were clean. It was hard to see how much salt and pepper I sprinkled on food. When we moved here, the first thing I noticed was the kitchen and all of its glorious light.

I love my cookbooks. Even though I use the internet a lot to look for recipes, there is nothing like holding a book in your hand, feeling the weight of it, and running your finger down the index to find a recipe. Favorites include The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Super Natural Cooking, The Art of Simple Food, Simply in Season, Baking Illustrated, and Good to the Grain. The binders, on the right end of the shelf, hold recipes printed from the internet or given to me by friends.

Let me share with you a polenta recipe that I've made a dozen times. It's easy, versatile, and you can top it with whatever you like. Just four ingredients: water, cornmeal, salt and butter. It makes a nice base for toppings, and you can eat it hot out of the pot, or let it cool, and cut it into squares to reheat or fry. This version has a fried egg, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, Parmesan, and some bacon. It was full of wonderful fat and flavor. Simpler toppings could be just cheddar and an egg, or sauteed greens, or any roasted vegetables.

Basic Polenta
Recipe from Giada De Laurentis
Serves 4-6

6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Bring water and salt to a boil in a large sauce pan. Gradually whisk in cornmeal. Lower heat and simmer, stirring often, until polenta thickens. This will usually be about 15 minutes, but may happen sooner. Turn off heat and add butter, stirring until melted. Top with cheese, eggs, bacon, and/or veggies.

Hope you enjoy. Have a great weekend, everyone!