It’s been over eight years of kitchen adventures here on Joy the Baker. Eight years! That’s as long as I’ve done anything consistently professional, ever. I think at this point it’s safe to call it a compulsion.
In these eight years that we’ve been together I’ve called a lot of kitchens home. I’ve worked in tiny ovens. I’ve shared ovens with roommates. I’ve made cookbooks with three feet of kitchen counter. I’ve painted my floor and done a lot of dishes. None of the kitchens have been perfect by any stretch of the imagination. They all have their quirks and limitations, and they’re all part of the story, and in hindsight, infinite in their possibilities.
The kitchen road:
This blog started in a unairconditioned (that can’t be a word) apartment kitchen in scenic North Hollywood. It was my first apartment on my own and golly it was glorious! The oven ran too hot, but that’s where I made palmiers and seasoned my cast iron skillet. The tile counters were dingy on a sunny day and the fluorescent lighting was unforgiving (and rather condescending) every single day of the week. It’s where, with a camera I didn’t fully know how to use, and a 100mm macro lens (that I also didn’t fully understand), I began this blog because I just really really wanted to. See? Compulsion.
My mom and dad lived a few-good 30 minutes from my steamy kitchen and on the hottest days of the summer I’d escape to their modestly air conditioned, remodeled kitchen. Theirs is one of those phew-our-kids-left-the-house, gorgeous kitchen remodels and boy do they deserve it… and boy did I have no idea where they kept the measuring cups since everything had been remodeled. Every drawer used to be a junk drawer now there’s some sort of system going on that I still can’t quite compute. Dad taught me how to bake pies, so it was only fitting that I made one of my favorites of all time Peach and Blueberry Pie in their fine kitchen space.
I lived for a very short while in a concrete and metal loft in downtown Los Angeles where I shared the kitchen with two other women: a life coach and a makeup artist. How do you make a living off your blog? Take your expenses down to very very little by living with a bunch of roommates as a grown adult. As with any roommate situation, we devolved to silently loathing one another and each having our own rolls of toilet paper tucked away in our bedrooms because somehow we also silently refused to buy a community supply. If you don’t know what I’m talking about… you’ve never lived and I don’t envy you a bit. I painted my concrete floor a matte navy blue (which I’m still obviously proud of), made these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, and got dumped by a boy over the phone when I thought he was calling to discuss our lunch plans that afternoon. I mention that because I was blindsided (and yes I’m still watching a lot of Survivor). It all worked out. I’m still pretty proud of that floor painting decision.
In Venice (pictures above), my heart exploded and I had the kitchen of my dreams… all three feet of it. The oven was, I think it’s called ‘small boat sized’, and the refrigerator could hold little more than three bottles of ketchup and a kombucha. I lived a block away from the most insufferable most wonderful Whole Foods on earth where I spent 85% of my income between 2012 and 2014. I wrote and photographed two cookbooks in this tiny kitchen. I welcomed friends in and we’d stand butt to butt making pasta and doing dishes. Not for one single second did I think that kitchen was too small or not capable because it was a dream come true and I miss it with my heart.
There’s a loft in Asheville where the kitchen is oh-so close to the bed and the light is just right and I had very good dreams and made very good toast. I also made Apple Pie Biscuits right next to the bed which makes it a very fine place.
There’s a kitchen in Vermont that I’ve made my home, with a good handful of you. We made so many pies. That kitchen belongs to King Arthur Flour, but more than once we’ve baked together in it.
Ps. I’ll be teaching again at King Arthur Flour in late June if you wanna play.
The French Quarter kitchen was… there’s a long pause here because it’s hard to know. It was crooked and electric. The windows were tall and the walls steeped with stories, but the kitchen had no magic, and three drawers, and not enough cupboards. But it was home for a while and beautiful things were made and shared. A sense of new adventure filled my head and my kitchen. And then I burnt my life to the ground (not literally but kinda literally) and left that place to build anew.
In the Irish Channel I lived in a dorm room-sized apartment that was mostly kitchen. It was the only place people could and wanted to sit and they were welcome. I sat across the counter where I worked and rolled pies and served friends dinner and read books and wrote letters and cried only occasionally. I made crooked cakes because the oven was wonky and could be found very often batting at my kitchen smoke detector located just over the stove. That thing went shouting with anything over a medium heat. Fickle Betty.
Now home in the Bywater. Or… making it home. That’s not to say making it perfect. That would be tedious. Rather, getting to know the quirks of this space. Settling into the light and the rhythm of the drawers. Hanging some tile (do you hand tile or set it or glue it or what?), throwing in some shelves (carefully and with nails), rolling out the pie crust and feeling proud and settled in this space that I’m lucky enough to create in. My goodness. What a journey we’re having together.
These aren’t just kitchens. The memories of things made, shared, people loved, toilet paper hoarded, people unloved, changes, mistakes, lessons, accomplishments. It’s where I do everything. It’s where I learn my lessons. It’s the heart of me that I open up to share with you.
Good grief. I’m gonna go scrub the sink.
In related news: I have too many appliances and one very prominent cat-animal.