ll Cibo é L'essenza Della Vita....

"The rooms that you use on a daily basis are the rooms people will always want to sit in, because they have soul." --Bunny Williams


"If you want to live forever and ever, drink wine and eat maccheroni." ~~~Sicilian Proverb

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Greetings to all!  Welcome to this week's Metamorphosis Monday hosted by the very gracious Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. 
    When we moved here from New York, our family underwent a metamorphosis of epic proportions. We left family, friends, jobs and home to embark on a whole new adventure here in North Carolina. One of the challenges for me, was making our belongings, and family, "fit" into this new home in this new world. Another major change for us was having my parents retire and join us- living WITH us. Needless to say, organization became a priority. I am, in general, an organized person, but have found that flexibility is key to making our new lifestyle work for us
        Is your day planned? Work, school, kids, furbabies, puttering- do you plan out your days in advance? This is pretty much where I start my day

Ummm...of course this is after I stumble out of bed muttering some well-chosen (but always loving) words at my beloved (who is soundly snoring) because he insists on keeping the thermostat at an ungodly 71 degrees so my toes and eyelashes are frozen ....(honestly, our room is COLD at night)!  The man wears shorts in January! Anyway, you really don't want to see that part of my morning. Trust me. 
    So I should mention that my day starts at 3:15 a.m. that's not a typo- 3:15 a.m. You see, I have to be at the gym between 4:45 and 5 for my first client. Now, I LOVE being a trainer and I am a huge advocate of exercise, but don't you think there's something the tiniest bit wrong with someone who WANTS to do squats at 5 a.m.?? Just sayin'. 
       It's a very good thing that no one is awake to see me at that hour. So, after a quick shower (our bathroom is also FROSTY), I start the coffee, make the kids' lunches, and check email. I know, I know- my children are spoiled rotten. I'm embarrassed to admit that not one of the 6 has ever had to make their own lunch. Shameful. How will they survive when they're out on their own ?? (sssshhhh..that's the plan- they'll NEED their Mama!). I actually have a child who, in his first call home 5 days after being dropped off at college, wanted to know WHERE he should go to FedEx his laundry home.
     But I digress. He learned. He survived. And he keeps a lovely home now. Actually, his lovely wife does, but again, I digress. Hopefully, she won't hate me too much.
    Anyway, right now I'm planning a "Healthy Cooking" class for a local group. They asked me to cover prep and serving of a healthy meal, a pretty tablescape, and how to organize a kitchen efficiently for people looking to start cooking healthy. (in an hour and a half??!!) Sandra Lee, I'm not. But it got me to thinking. What do you consider BASIC necessities in your kitchen? Now, here's my kitchen

which honestly only looks this neat when there's nobody but me home, between 1 and 3 a.m., and with the moon in perfect alignment with the north star. In other words, this was the one and only time. 
       Honestly, I love my kitchen- I really do. Well, it's not the cabinetry I would have chosen....or the counters....and it doesn't have the Fireclay sink I covet, or the cobalt LaCanche range, but it works really well. When we bought this house I wasn't sure, but I've found it to be incredibly efficient and easy to work in. The work area is all on the far side of the island, so it basically works like a galley kitchen-which any kitchen designer will tell you is the most efficient. I love having an 8 1/2 foot island for cooking, serving, parties, demos, and cookie marathons with my grand-daughter. There are 2 MAJOR flaws for me in this kitchen. It's the first kitchen I've ever had with 1 oven- I NEED at least a double oven. I know, I'm spoiled. But we have a lot of people living here and cooking is what I do! The second thing is the pantry. UGH! It's obvious a man designed this space. Any woman knows the value of a large and useful pantry space- personally, I'd love a scullery with floor to ceiling glass-doored cabinets, space for all my appliances, and a huge work island table with a shelf for all my Le Creuset and cast iron. Yes. I know. Spoiled. Fantasizing. Here's the reality:

You would think that in a 4000 + square foot house, someone would have thought to put in a pantry larger than a broom closet. :( 
      We need to be VERY organized here. So, I asked my husband this morning what he thought a well-stocked basic pantry and kitchen should have in it. Uh....Cereal, beer, snacks for the kids, beer, soda, beer, steaks, beer, ground meat, beer. Alrighty then. 
    The sad part is that he'd be perfectly happy with that. How on earth did he end up with ME?

My knives- death to the person that dares put them in the dishwasher! 

Grains, beans, rices- I live for this stuff. Can you tell I don't advocate low-carb diets? :)

Some of my flours. I write the type on top of the container in permanent marker- it makes me feel special. And happy. 
     It occurred to me that while semolina was a staple, I don't ever remember couscous or quinoa in my Nonna's pantry. I think she'd have it now. She was a woman ahead of her time

Spices. I mostly use fresh herbs, but my mother adores her jars and some things are just necessary for family harmony. This goes to the heart of my mantra- there is NO kitchen big enough for 2 Italian women. But an Italian kitchen ALWAYS has more than one woman in it. 

Good quality pastas (I usually use Barilla or DeCecco- the artisanal ones when I have money to spare- homemade when I have the time), good olive oils, vinegars, olives, roasted peppers (for when I don't have any homemade left), anchovies, bouillions, and good San Marzano tomatoes. Sea salt, Kosher salt, Sesame and Canola oils- all have to have a home. There's always a jar of caramelized onions in the fridge. I'm lazy and do them in the crockpot once a month or so. The house smells INCREDIBLE!!! (if you like the smell of cooked onions, which of course everyone I know does) Fresh garlic, ginger, thyme, parsley, cilantro, mint, lemons, limes, and POTATOES (for you, honey!). Allie insists on Nutella and salsa, not to mention hot chocolate mix. The boys look for chips and popcorn (oh, to have their metabolisms!) and, of course, marshmallows. There MUST be good coffee in the house at ALL times. It's a law. Mom's Law.
          The rest of the cabinets are for dinnerware and such

I LOVE transferware! This is the brown set- the blue and the pink sets live elsewhere. I don't mean to segregate- I just have this aversion to pink china residing next to orange pumpkins. Call me strange. 

Everyday stuff kept near the kitchen table-keeps the kids from being underfoot when they set the table and I'm cooking. That was the plan, anyway. I don't actually remember the last time one of them set the  table.....

Salad and dessert plates. One of my more noteworthy addictions. I think I could easily serve salad to 80 people. My mom taught me to always be prepared.

Some of my pottery- I adore the colors. The cherry cups in front are Allie's latest creation in her ceramics class. Watch for an upcoming post about that

Hubby insists on keeping his soda in this cabinet for fear of me filling it with more dishes. I really don't understand him!

Yes, I really do use all these pitchers

I LOVE Depression glass, jadeite, snack sets, china tea sets and anything vintage!

My favorite dessert dishes and bouillion cups

Snack sets. I LOVE snack sets. For ladies' lunches and tea parties and the very rare times I can sit alone with a book and a snack. Whoever came up with the concept of delicate little plates with cups that balance on them and just enough room for a half sandwich or 2 cookies obviously did not live with boys. Snack sets are not meant for serving boys. Ask me how I know. 

My next kitchen will be ALL drawers-they hold SO much more!

About the dishes- yes, my husband is looking for a 12 step program. He insists there MUST be a chapter of Dish-aholics Anonymous somewhere in the area. Delusional Funny guy. It really isn't necessary to bring you into our garage where we have an entire set of kitchen cabinets full of- you guessed it- dishes... My blue and white transferware and my ironstone, and my stoneware are feeling a bit crowded out there. My Waterford is complaining too. We haven't even discussed pots, baking pans,  and flatware storage. All for another day. 
I NEED a new butler's pantry. And a scullery. And a maid. 
     Oh. Right. That's also another post
So, tell me. What's BASIC to your kitchen? And what makes your heart sing?


  1. My hubby! lol No really when he cooks my heart sings because not only do I stink at cooking, he excells at it. So not only does my heart sing when he cooks but my tummy is happy too!
    But seriously I don't think I could ever live without my Kitchen Aid mixer, although I would love the bigger sized one so I could make a double batch of cookies in one shot. I much prefer to bake than cook.
    And if I ever get a kitchen without grout on the counters or floors I would be SO HAPPY!
    P.S. if you find out about a dish-aholics group, please let my mom know. ;)

  2. What a cool tour! Love all of your dishes. If you do find a dish-a-holics group, don't tell my family, they may send me!

    - The Tablescaper

  3. What a beautiful kitchen and well-stocked pantry and dish collection!

    Thanks for stopping by today!

  4. Oh, you're a gal after my own heart! I'm a dishaholic too and have loved seeing all of your dishes. I love your kitchen.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  5. Hello...

    Just wanted to come by for a visit after you left such a sweet comment on my "Changing Room" post! Thank you for coming by for a peek and leaving me a comment!

    My friend, you are a girl after my own heart! I loved the tour of your pantry ( are organized! Hehe!) and getting to poke around in all of your gorgeous dishes! Like Sheila (the above comment)...I'm a dishaholic too! All of your pretty dishes gave me a great "fix"! Hehe! Ohhh...and you have a gorgeous kitchen, my friend! Thank you for sharing a part of your busy life with us and for that great tour! Loved it!!!

    Warmest wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design
    PS...eeeks...squat thrusts at 5am? NO WAY!!!

  6. First, You GOTTA get the Waterford out of the garage! I love your kitchen--especially the brick! My husband is at the gym every morning at 5 too--without a trainer and without me!! I do make his coffee before I go to bed though! :) Thanks for stopping by!


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