I’m on my way out here at Ironing Board Collective. I thought since we’ve grown so close, I’d invite you to a bit of my dream life. Because I do often find myself ambling throughout this city, schlepping from one thing to the next: work, school, farmer’s market, gym, work, more work and so on. Maybe you can relate to this, my comrades of the 99%. Getting one’s hand to one’s mouth in a stylish, savory, healthy, and efficient fashion seems harder than it did when I was 25. Although when I was 25, the healthy part was not at issue. Oh hell, neither was the stylish part, looking back. But I don’t want to be a renter my whole life, longing to paint walls I am lease-bound to leave a dull “ivory,” loathing my decomposing stove, dying to pour a custom concrete fire pit in my yard. I want a house someday to slowly mold into the best house of my heart. And maybe that will take all 30 years of a mortgage at this rate. And maybe I will have to move out of the most expensive city in the land, but SO BE IT! Come over, already and sit by the fire and eat all the amazing things from my phenomenal fantasy kitchen.
Now what you cannot see in this photograph of the fire pit in the yard that is not mine is Ginger’s garden. In the world I do not currently reside in, Ginger has all the resources to do any and all soil amendments she needs, has the time, energy, funding and joie de vivre to grow everything I could possibly want to cook with: basil, heirloom beans of fantastic spots and stripes, cilantro, cucumbers, early girl tomatoes, butternut squash, sweet broccoli, cauliflower, midnight carrots, purple yams, gold potatoes and cipollini onions. She grows garlic for me and celery and all manner of pepper varieties. She delivers baskets to the French doors that open onto our reclaimed wood deck to the left of the solar heated Japanese soaking tub. Baskets full of parsnips and peaches and poblano peppers. There is oregano and rosemary, red kuri squash and gold beets. And there is a grape arbor! Blueberry bushes! Rhubarb! Black raspberries!
And you come over on a lazy Sunday morning while we prepare for the Steelers game. I sit you down at our custom concrete and iron table with a nice beverage. Since it’s football season, there is an autumnal chill and I just happen to have mulled cider simmering on the stove, UNPASTEURIZED and sweet from the neighbors’ orchard down the way. Contraband cider. Illegal with it’s rawness and neighborliness.
We have so much to catch up about, you and I. Your new book is out and you leave for tour the following week, finally ready to pack light for the whirlwind two week media blitz. You bring classics in your Longchamp carry-on, rotating silk scarves to tie around your long elegant neck and those jeans people pay so much for they don’t wash them. they just put them in the freezer. You can put them in my freezer. As you can see, it’s also beautiful.
Your jeans will be across the kitchen from my stove. Everything will heat evenly, pots will slide easily across the burners on the top, each height even, an unbreakable plane of perfection. The center can easily sport a grill, on which you might find thick center cut grass-fed bacon and coconut macaroon pancakes crammed with plump blueberries from the bush in the yard. Flavor! Color! Antioxidents!
The countertop is dotted with treasures from world travel, among them the hot plate you toted back for me from Morocco and the spoon rest from Istanbul. You see the hand-carved wooden panther mask we got on that trip to Isla Mujeres together, the cat watching over all concoctions that mix and bubble, rest and rise. We talk about your mother who you will return from your tour to, shack up with her as she convalesces from hip replacement surgery. We talk of her penchant for cigars, her cantankerous, bawdy, unsinkable self, saddled with pain and discomfort. How no amount of your success can protect her from this state or you from watching it. You tell me of how her ex-lovers still call to check in, the ones who are with us, and some even visit, still happy to be in her circle of shine, lighting up the room even from the depths of a groan. We talk of publishing, audience and lack. Ginger arrives from the yard with the salad fixings and greets you with quite possibly the very last peach of the season, sad but still fighting.
I pull out my turquoise mixing bowls and prepare to fill them with colorful food for the table. The salad greens from the garden are ringed in purple, a mix of raw kales and mustard greens, butter lettuce, and arugula. I roast sesame seeds and walnuts in my vintage Le Creuset skillets from yard sales and eBay.
I like the old designs with the wood handles better than the new stuff and even in my dream kitchen, I dream of other kitchens too. YOU CAN’T HAVE EVERY KITCHEN AT THE SAME TIME!!!
(It should be noted I have an active fantasy life in the realm of bathrooms as well.) And then here’s the best part. It’s finally time to start slicing and dicing. This knife is reason enough to cook every day. If I had a knife like this in real life, even the factory one by J. A. Henkel and not the custom one, I would find an excuse to dice something every day for the rest of time. I am trying right now to remain in the realm of our fantasy brunch, but now that I’m
at the part where I’m talking about the Kramer knife, I just feel like a teenager at a Beatles concert. The sight of the thing just does something to my imagination, pours $76/lb. organic pink peppercorns all over it, lighting my brain up like a Southern California brush fire.
Bob Kramer isn’t like other people. He’s a real genius. Here, don’t take my word for it:
So I begin cutting into a Fuyu persimmon with one of these
Or this gorgeous thing from Alaska:
And you sip your cider and we laugh about our mutual crush on Tim Riggins, a fictional high school alcoholic from Texas. The salad is tossed: toasted seeds, walnuts, persimmon, and salad greens in a walnut and olive oil vinaigrette with homemade mustard and wildflower honey. Spicy vegetarian chili simmers in a pot on the stove, the perfect football brunch meal with a tiny pinch of Vietnamese cinnamon, the secret ingredient to every killer chili.
I stir it with my beloved olive wood spoons, and I scoop out a side of apple cumin kraut from the Redwing crock that’s been fermenting in the dark basement. It’s a shame to keep the crock in the basement, but the kraut likes it dark and the scent doesn’t work for guests. So That’s how that goes sometimes. A beautiful object for a dirty job in the name of DELICIOUS SEASONAL KRAUT!! We all arrange ourselves with our Heath Ceramic plates and bowls in front of the television with our linen napkins by Commune, who also design linen for Ace Hotels, and we proceed with our glorious brunch, ready to see the Steelers dismantle the New England Patriots. GO STEELERS!!!
In closing, my invitation stands: Come over. Or have people over. Your kitchen is great the way it is. Food should be shared with friends and family, just like style. Thanks for having me, IBC, and thank you for reading.