Weds Chef in the House
Mark Bittman's Scrambled Eggs with Shrimp

My Kitchen, At Last

It's been 58 days since we moved. And though the kitchen was largely unpacked for the past 54 of those days, I've felt strange about showing it to you. Maybe because it still felt so new and unfamiliar, or maybe because it hasn't felt entirely ready. But with my mother here this week, rearranging cabinets (unbidden, but much appreciated), attaching hooks left and right (my oven mitts will lie flat no more!), getting stains out of things (my favorite tablecloth) and generally being a star by cooing over everything, from the view out of our balcony to the choice of painting in the kitchen, I think it's time for me and my kitchen to get over our stage fright. Here goes nothing.

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The stove, a terrifying thing that spits fire and brimstone whenever you turn it on. Ben's knuckle hairs got burned clean off the first time he used it. I secretly adore it; it reminds me of the fire power in a restaurant kitchen. Except it's not entirely level, which seriously annoys me. Don't you hate it when oil pools in the corner of one pan and doesn't level out? (As for the towel under the drying rack, ugh and double ugh. I'm on the hunt for a pretty tray to go underneath it, but haven't found anything cute and affordable yet. Hence the towel. Oh, it's so gross you have no idea.)

The tea kettle - there's a story there. We each came to the apartment with our own kettles: mine an 8-year old Alessi thing that's been with me since I lived in Paris in 1999, Ben's a gift from his sister. Though we compromised (stop snickering, Ben) on most of the things in the kitchen (getting rid of duplicate forks, say, or stockpots because how many stockpots does one couple actually need?), we both dug our heels in when it came to the pots and so they occupied the back two burners for close to a month. I'd use mine in the morning for my tea, he'd use his for his coffee. When I realized, though, that fighting for my tea kettle would involve admitting that it was a birthday gift from an old boyfriend and that my attachment to it was, now, somewhat untenable, I decided to let go. Washed and dried, it sits in one of our cupboards. I peek at it every now and again. But I'm getting used to the red one.

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This is something I call my German corner: three milk glass containers for cocoa, tea and coffee, a wooden shelf, that onion basket - all transported over from Berlin, piece by piece, year by year. I didn't really expect them to all end up together, but they did. Sage and rosemary from my CSA dry on the left and right shelf hooks. (Full disclosure: the "Kaffee" jar holds all my cookie cutters (more fleamarket finds), while the other two jars are currently still empty.)

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What, your kitchen doesn't come with a Terminator bobble-head doll that has half its face blown off? Why on earth not? He's there keeping Mr. Peanut company. That thing is one of Ben's prized possessions and to be honest, though I mock him for it, I kind of get a kick of out Ah-nold in the kitchen. It's just so ridiculous. The freezer door displays some of the house-warming cards we got. (Ben's mother's, on the left, was definitely the most creative - she gave us a set of sheets and crafted a whole house on the wrapping paper, complete with a New Yorker cartoon of a dancing couple. We can never, ever, recycle this.)

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This Bekvam cart from Ikea is swiftly shaping up to be one of my favorite things in the apartment. I've hung my cake plate on the right side, and oven mitts on the other. My trusty RobotCoupe sits on the first shelf, along with our place mats (salvaged from a life in the gutter). Wine and olive oil stand at attention on top, along with two thrifted Alessi bread baskets, and a mini pumpkin from the CSA.

The painting in the kitchen, a watercolor of a cut lemon and a glass, was left to me by my ex-stepfather, a convoluted and not entirely accurate label for a man who I miss terribly every day. He would have turned 63 two weeks ago and has been dead for more than three years now. This still seems entirely impossible. I so much wish he could see where I live now and come over for a glass of wine with me on the balcony at dusk. If I close my eyes and think very hard, I can imagine him sitting next to me now, rubbing his forefinger along his brow, flashing his funny little dimple when he smiles and lisping raspily. But when I open my eyes he's gone. So I pass this painting, and others, every day and think about him instead. It's not enough. It never will be.

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