COOKING….IN MY ZONE

I fell in love with cooking about 5-6 years ago…I’m not sure why or how it happened….but I trace it back to when I bought my first home and had my own kitchen.  I filled it up with all of the cute kitchen things that I realized I should learn how to use.  Growing up, food was not a huge deal in our household – unless it was a holiday – mainly Thanksgiving.  Don’t get me wrong – we ate well but it’s not like I grew up with Soul Food Sundays…

In my 20’s – when hanging out with my cousin, Jessie, who was GREAT at cooking…I would watch her in the kitchen – from her couch – and randomly compliment her skills and talk about how she was like superwoman, to hold down a home and cook amazing meals for her family. My routine was pretty consistent..eat and fall asleep on her couch.  I had no desire to help her out.  No desire to learn. It was the norm.

In my early 30’s, owning my first home, I suddenly got bit by the bug.  I remember the feeling I got once I spent time in the kitchen – I got lost in a world of food, spices and cookbooks.  My life, especially then, was consumed with work, work and more work added with a load of stress.  So the first time I stepped in to try a meal – I got wrapped up and spent hours messing up, burning up and throwing away simple things that I was trying to make.  But – it was a time to be away from the world and focus on something different.  A stress-free zone of just learning and creating.  And I LOVED the feeling!

I started tapping into the resources around me…my aunts (how do you make REAL Haitian hot chocolate???); Jessie (is it ok to keep chicken in the fridge to defrost for more than a day???) and my good friend Rich…also known as Chef Richard Ingraham.  I called Rich over one day to teach me the basics of cooking…we spent the day in my kitchen learning the best way to choose spices for different foods – and we made a few dishes, including baked turkey wings – which later became one of my most requested dishes from friends and family.  In that one day, I learned an important lesson from him – and that was to be confident with cooking…but that would take some time.

Fast forward years later, my best times are when I’m in my zone – cooking for friends and family…its why when I purchased a new home 2 years ago – I completely gutted out the kitchen, broke down walls and created my new “zone” from scratch. With the help of my good friend Shellye, who happens to be an interior designer, we mapped out exactly what I wanted – an island, plenty of work space, bar area, etc… (Sidenote:  It’s great to have friends in high places – like chefs and interior designers!!)

Cooking to me is about patience, growth, learning, challenge and love.  Everyone does not have to approach cooking a meal with that mentality – it’s just what I choose to do…and I am enjoying the journey.  I love to spend time reading cookbooks and spending days trying new recipes. My home is a place filled with lots of love and laughter – and food is usually the center of it.  Food brings people together – which leads to memories and moments that last a lifetime.

Below are a few photos from my kitchen re-design…Stay tuned for some of my favorite recipes and food stories…Bon Appétit!

P.S:  My husband wanted me to acknowledge that he also gave input on the kitchen design….can’t remember which part – which is telling 🙂

The original kitchen and space

Walls down; the fun begins...new kitchen cabinets and appliances were installed.

Voila! But, this is not the final kitchen design...photo does not include dining room area, window treatments and backsplash.. it would require work for me to actually look for an updated photo - and I'm lazy.