Breaking in a New Kitchen

My brother-in-law just built his dream house 2,000 feet up the side of a mountain in North Carolina. By extension, my sister-in-law just built her dream kitchen. It’s a lovely open design, oak cabinets, sage green walls, brand new stainless appliances. The view across the kitchen sink is of a valley with the French Broad River snaking between two mountains, the sound of it’s rushing water a pleasant undertone to the call of birds, the buzzing of hummingbird wings and the rustling of the leaves. I’m most envious of all the cabinets & counter space that she has (why is it that most people with families make do living in a fairly small home, then when the kids are about to leave for college they upgrade to a home four times the size?) And we won’t even discuss her pantries (yes folks, not just one but two pantries….)

When we visited, they were still in the process of unpacking. While they waited for their dream home to be built, they rented a house even smaller than their home on Long Island, so much of their “stuff” has been in storage for nearly two years. My sister-in-law said it was like Christmas all over again, going through boxes and rediscovering all her treasures, unseen for so long.

You can’t put a personal chef in a brand new kitchen and not think he won’t want to cook, so they quickly adapted to me making dinner. It’s my way of thanking them for letting us stay in their home. The paint in the house is barely dry, and I’m trying to replace that new carpet smell with the aromas of roasted chicken and frying bacon.

Speaking of bacon, a trip to the grocery store in North Carolina provided some fresh perspective on the culinary differences between the North and the South. I have never before seen “hog jowl bacon” for sale, but you can find it at Ingles grocery store. Should you need it, you can also buy “cracklins” in a convenient 1lb package. It’s definitely different down there.

At least my sister-in-law actually uses her kitchen. She cooks, she even bakes cookies from scratch. Even my brother-in-law can hold his own; he used to do a lot of the cooking at his firehouse before he retired from the NYC Fire Department. So I don’t begrudge her a kitchen three times the size of mine. Ok, so I’m insanely jealous of her double convection ovens. I’ll get over it. At least until the next time we visit.

Bon Appetit!

Chef Glenn Burgess

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