The 10 Most Important Things That Happened In My Kitchen This Year

Baltimore Museum of Art, September 11th. Friday field trips, a lovely tradition from this year.
Baltimore Museum of Art, September 11th. Friday field trips, a lovely tradition from this year.

I won’t lie: I am a sucker for a listicle.

Perhaps it’s because I am myself a prodigious maker of lists. Or maybe it’s because I am old and have the attention span of a fruit fly these days. It’s hard to focus on big words and long sentences sometimes, and yet this blog is filled with them.

Ah, well.

But lists.

I love them.

And I especially love lists that apply to cooking, kitchens, food, or anything otherwise involving comestibles and their preparation.

And now is the time of year when everyone puts out their top ten lists of everything (movies, songs, celebrities, etc). While I won’t lie and pretend that I haven’t ever read a tabloid in line at the supermarket (or on an airplane, or while at the beach. Ahem.), I will say that in general I couldn’t care less about those sorts of lists.


I love top ten lists of cookbooks, like the one from Bon Appetit or this one from Paste.

I love a solid how-to list for ingredients or supplies of a particular cuisine (hello, Korea! You are happening in my kitchen in 2016!).

I especially love lists about stocking a bar (although I would swap out the absinthe in this list and add in a very expensive bottle of sipping whiskey of your preference. Mine is bourbon, and it’s a bottle of Pappy. What else is there?).

Lists create order out of chaos. They gather, organize, and distill crucial information. While I still enjoy reading a page-long sentence every now and then (hello, Kerouac!), and I very obviously enjoy writing them, lists have become a crucial part of my writing, cooking, and daily life.

So. To that end, it only makes sense that I end the year on this, my very new food blog, with a list. I will call it The Ten Most Important Things To Happen In My Kitchen This Year. In no particular order, here they are.

1. I actually got a kitchen

Call it the rehab that never ended, but we bought the house in October and didn’t move in until mid-May. That’s SEVEN MONTHS ON AN AIR MATTRESS. But who’s counting? I am tremendously grateful to be in this house, in this kitchen I designed, regardless of how long it took.

2. Shared my expensive bourbon with a gentleman caller

Because my friend Mark has a lovely liquor store connection, he was generous enough to snag me a bottle of 15-year Pappy Van Winkle. On the interwebs, these bottles are going for upwards of $800. Although I didn’t pay nearly as much as that, I sip it with reverence, and I am not prone to sharing. I shared a wee sip with a gentlemen. It is both the sharing itself and the person with whom I shared that makes it an item on this list. #Standby

3. Acknowledged the importance of vulnerability. Using cake

I decided that moving forward would become impossible and fruitless were I to continue in the manner in which I was traveling prior to death of my spouse. SO. Time to open up to the possibilities. Cake teaches lessons.

4. Got to know a candy-apple red stand mixer

This is my first stand mixer, and it was my Mother’s Day gift to myself. I LURVES it. It marked a new era of spending money on myself, something that I have previously had difficulty doing, and it allows me to make ALL OF THE THINGS.

5. Reaffirmed my love of mise en place

I am mise en place-ing like a boss these days. It just makes life in the kitchen easier. Turns out, having everything in place makes the rest of life easier also. #KitchenLessons

6. Learned how to sharpen my knives (and actually sharpened them)

Yeah, turns out this makes a huge difference. I knew, but lazy took over, then crazy took over, and finally we settled down in Baltimore, and I did it.

7. Mounted my own magnetic knife rack

I dug my standard Ikea magnetic knife thing out of a box when we finally moved in to our permanent house, kicking myself for not having the contractor install it. So it languished in the box for awhile until I couldn’t take it anymore, and I mounted it myself. With a level. #LikeABoss

8. Decided to dig into the shadows 

In keeping with the trend of #3, shadow work has become a focus over the past six months. Uncovering the darkest parts of my experience, examining them, and letting them go has made a profound difference in the quality and depth of my ability to grieve and then move forward. Not nearly done, but the process has been eye-opening.

9. Made a cooking video

But guess what? It was crap, so I am not posting it. I am okay with showing the process, but this was just not even close to what I was going for. So maybe this time next year.

10. Re-designed this website

I said I would not do another website ever again, but I bit the bullet and did it. While it is not exactly what I want yet, it does represent a certain amount of tenacious ferocity that I have learned lurks deep within me. So there’s that.

These go to 11: Got to know The Teenager better

So The Teenager and I are at this amazing place in our relationship where we are transitioning from a straight mother-daughter thing to more mother/daughter friends. This can be very difficult for both parties, as The Teenager sometimes struggles with understanding that I am still her mother (and as long as you are living under my roof….), and I may have difficulty believing everything that comes out of her mouth (the working motto: Trust but verify). In the end, she is becoming a strong, intelligent, opinionated, passionate human who is an excellent friend and an all-around good person. I have realized that it is up to me in many ways to treat her in such a way that allows her to continue on that road, and I did it during one of our long, after-school chats. That she still wants to have them is such a gift.

So that’s my top ten list for 2015. What’s yours?



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