Dutch and I have spent nearly this entire weekend in kitchens of some sort. On Friday, the Qs graciously invited us over for dessert-after-sushi, last night we were at a party at the Slug Monitor's house, and today, our kitchen.
The first time I thought about kitchen design was 15 years ago, when my parents had to update their kitchen. It had been designed in 1959, by an old Navy captain who had one foot firmly planted in the 19th Century. It had all sorts of nifty pre-industrial touches, like a huge root cellar (that vented to the outside), and a garbage burner. The fridge was on the porch, outside-- an afterthought. As cool as it was, my parents decided it was time for an update. At first they bemoaned the 10x10 foot space, but soon, they realized a small kitchen was, in the words of the immortal Irma Rombauer, "fewer steps." Unlike Heather's typical White People, they chose white formica counter tops, that look fine today. It may have been fortunate that they didn't have an unlimited budget (Dad did splurge on oak floors), otherwise they may have been tempted by pink granite. The final result is a cozy, highly functional, 1 butt kitchen with a view of the Pacific Ocean.
This weekend I visited the Qs. They remodelled last year. This was the first time I had been to their house, and I was floored by the huge kitchen/dining area. A small plane could hangar there. At first I was envious. The space was even bigger than our apartment. Real estate like this, in the city, is an enormous luxury-- we were in millionaire territory. After a moment, I realized that I had nothing to be envious about. With 20 feet separating the fridge and the sink, any simple cooking project would turn into a Peter Jenkin's style "walk across America." Then I thought, well, maybe it accomodates more than one cook. The range was situated in such a way that only one person could use it at a time, ditto the sink. And while the green granite countertops seemed to stretch all the way to the horizon, this kitchen had as much area abutting the sink as mine did (you have to clean veggies next to the sink!). I suppose it could accomodate a couple sous chefs chopping vegetables, it wouldn't be that useful, say, for three people all cooking cookies at the same time.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I used to date the Elf. The Elf Family made their millions during the Dot Gold Rush. Mrs Elf was not only very financially savvy, she also was very practical, so when it was time to remodel her kitchen, she not only had $100K to spend on black granite countertops, but her culinary goal was to be able to allow three persons to simultaneously bake cookies (in addition to entertaining a lot of people).
She succeeded. That year, I was one of a gaggle of women she invited over to do the Holiday Cookie Bake. On a table outside the kitchen, she had five pound bags of sugar and flour. Inside, there were stacks of cookie sheets, flats of butter, bags of nuts, dozens of eggs, food coloring, milk, chocolate chips, M&Ms, coconut, and even some marzipan. She had multiple sets of measuring cups and spoons, of bowls and spatulas. That afternoon I baked a couple batches of peanut butter cookies, in addition to one batch of snickerdoodles. I never had to wait for anything, nor bumped into anyone. Those were the easiest cookies I have ever made. Mrs Elf's kitchen was a true Three Butt Kitchen. Her two sinks afforded ample sink-area, and the double oven meant no one had to wait for someone else's cookies to finish. The extra counter space and the kitchen table provided enough room to cool hundreds of them. It was magic.
Today, Dutch was feeling a little under the weather, so after church, we came home and just stayed put. I puttered in the kitchen for hours. I cooked delicata squash in the crock pot, roasted garlic, baked ML's crab apple cake (yum!), made a pear-and-gorgonzola salad, cooked the Slug Monitor's amazing Leek Confit and put it in omelets with gouda and labni and made a couple pots of cardamom coffee for Dutch. Everything was within reach. I knew where all the tools were. It was magic.
And I cannot eat another bite.