I don’t recall anyone saying “the kitchen is the heart of the home”, but I certainly agree with that sentiment. From early-morning oatmeal to sneaky late-night snacks—and everything in between—the kitchen provides a venue for all kinds of body nourishment. and more.
For years, when there was a high chair in the Cape kitchen, there was endless entertainment for the little boys who sat there, eating a circle of dry cereal with one fist or slathering pasta with their fingers after eating Sauce. The first little plastic bowl — a blue one provided by Baby Cereals — often hangs upside down on the floor, bouncing harmlessly on wooden boards. Sometimes cats will help clean up if the splash contains something they like.
Soon we were all sitting around old-fashioned oak round tables, sharing the same food and drinks. We chatted and laughed and blew out a lot of birthday candles. We drew on that sturdy table with our fingers, cut cookies, and soon enough, started helping out with homework.
There is also a Slaughterhouse Island, which my husband created by reading an article in a family magazine. The tops and marble slabs we used for the pastry came from a summer trip to Vermont. I can still picture kids standing on stools, learning how to make pizza, each making a small circle of dough and adding their favorite toppings. When the son did not. 1 When he went to college, he avoided doing the dishes by making pizza for his roommates. To this day, they still make their own pizzas from scratch and those of us old folks still love to eat them!
Holiday celebrations often center on the kitchen. We boil eggs and decorate them with dyes and decoupage. When it rained on Easter, there was also an egg hunt there. All sorts of Christmas activities revolve around that oak table: card making, garland decorating, infinite cookie making and decorating.
And then there’s the gingerbread house! We started with simple squares made of graham crackers, then added a few icing sugar and dozens of colorful candies. Each year brings more intricate designs, including an entire tub of icing sugar and a few packets of candy, usually sourced from a candy store in Port Dennis. Sure, we managed to eat some sweets while we were at work, but there was plenty more to tile the roof, add shutters to the windows, and make a colorful path by the door. The fence came later, the last time we made the house, the son didn’t. 2 Decided to put a row of Halloween-style avatars on his fence.
Kitchen tables often double as game tables. We played various card games such as Rummy, War and King in the Corner. Favorite is Spank the Berry Bird from the Strawberry Shortcake Set. We also put together jigsaw puzzles and did many other projects. It was a time of competition (learning how to be a good loser), intimacy and stupidity.
We also feed the cats in the kitchen and they chase toys under the table and down the cellar stairs. One of our cats can even drop a ball, run down the stairs to hit it to the bottom, and start all over again.
Although it’s a small kitchen without much frills, we’ve spent 30 years making food and making memories there. For me, the kitchen is still the most important place in the home. I’m going there for dim sum now.
Anne Horrigan Geary is a frequent visitor to Eagle.