Auld Lang Syne for sure if you're an early riser. I come from a long line of them. Sitting at the kitchen table with morning coffee and a new year ahead, I am reminded of all the busy times we've had in this kitchen. Oh if these walls could talk there would be much to hear in this 89-year old kitchen. A few minutes into my first cup I can almost hear them.
Our family still asleep and the coffee hot so I decided it would be a good time to enjoy the tales my kitchen told me. Despite the fact our house is designed with a central hallway running straight through the house to the backyard, it is the kitchen that is the true center of the house. From the start of the day to evening's end it is a hum of activity.
This is the space where I so my best work: Cooking, writing, serving, sampling, teaching, sharing, and expressing my delight in preparing food for and with family and friends. Just thinking of all the cookies we've made here over the 35 years in this old house is mind-boggling. Cookies with our granddaughter, artfully painted ones made with our friend Svetlana visiting from Moscow, tiny carton-based gingerbread houses with precious little December birthday guests then those endless cookies cooking friends made before our Christmas cookie exchange and our “Pink Teas” to raise money for Breast Cancer research.
There were dozens of fortune cookies my daughter and I made when she ran for a class office in junior high. They were folded with little strips of paper bearing her political promises if her classmates would vote for Rachael. It is funny now that I remember only the process of making all those cookies but not whether she won or lost that election.
I wonder how many times my husband or our boys managed to sneak bites of cookie dough out of the kitchen. My husband can abscond with the bowl before I can finish making cookies especially with oatmeal or chocolate chip dough. (Not that he was immune to sugar cookies or any other variety.) It's been so much a part of our family cooking fun, I had my artist friend Vicki Jackson paint a little cherub stealing a bowl of dough over the back door.
Memories abound in this friendly room that was originally three rooms, a back porch and a hallway providing access to a dining room and butler's pantry. It would have been great to have a butler, but one didn't exactly come with the house. The pantry has probably had a lot to do with my dish collecting over the years.
I've used most of those dishes cooking up fundraising events for the Red Cross, the Enid Symphony Orchestra, Junior Welfare League, Leadership Oklahoma, Omelets for our annual St. Matthews Easter Egg Hunt, political events for causes and candidates from around the state, birthdays, Friends of the Library, graduation parties and Phillips University. There was a dinner for the Polish ambassador to the United Nations and a reception for Billy Jean King. There have been Christmas parties, dinners and a reception for St. Gregory's University, office parties, garden club and PEO events.
We've cooked for rehearsal dinners, bridesmaid luncheons, showers for brides and babies, vestry and choir dinners, funeral wakes and prepared dinners and lunches for visiting artists who transformed an aging relic of a building into a spectacular symphony center. I've donated dinners and luncheons for YWCA fundraisers and cooked for Chautauqua Patron parties here.
I've cooked dinner for former Attorney General William Saxbe, Historian Stephen Ambrose, media personalities like Diane Sawyer and probably tested hundreds of recipes along the way. It was the location for an OSU Student Leadership experience for students from the College of Human Science.
It has been my dream kitchen for teaching cooking classes and cooking with family and friends. Even though our house was designed with a central hall, the kitchen is the true center of the house. We are fed a lot more than food here. We are comforted and inspired, nourished and loved in those things that keep use returning to home and family.
Speaking of nourishment, it's about time to start the bacon.
Happy New Year! Let's make it a yummy one.