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In My Kitchen - Shivaya Naturals

In My Kitchen

June 28, 2011

Do you remember when the kitchen became yours? The moment when you realized that you knew your way around, and that it was a space of comfort and creativity?

It was November of 1997, and I was home from college in my junior year of school. I had recently discovered this fascinating woman named Martha, and I had brought her with me to meet my parents. Martha was one of those women who made everything domestic look easy and fun, and one afternoon in my dorm room I found her making red snapper in parchment paper on my TV screen. We were instant friends.

My mother, God bless her, was not a woman who shared her kitchen easily. I wish that I could tell you long, beautiful stories about our time together in the kitchen, but for the most part it just consisted of her telling me to get out of it. My mom is meticulous, and I dear friends, am not. She is organized, and clean, and can follow a recipe like nobody’s business.  I, on the other hand, am messy, am always in need of cleaning food off of my floor, and pretty much think that recipes are simply a good starting place to tweak to my liking.

So you can understand that it was a mighty big deal for my mom to cede control of her pristine work space simply to indulge my need to replicate Martha’s red snapper recipe. But cede it she did.

I actually remember that entire meal, start to finish. I remember the crinkle sound of the parchment paper as it came out of the oven. I remember being fascinated by the idea of roasting red potatoes in aluminum foil with butter and herbs. I remember eating at 10:17 at night, after cooking for 4 + hours, because I was so unaware of what the heck I was actually doing that I had to make everything at least twice before I  got it right. I remember my parents incredible patience and delight at their daughters first real attempt at a full course meal, and them eating every bite, and I remember being too tired to actually eat myself.

Mostly, though, I remember being in love with that kitchen. I had gone from being a mere spectator of my mother’s incredible culinary skills, to a skilled player in my own right. Over the next few years, as I finished school, traveled and began a life on my own, I still returned to that kitchen whenever possible.

Now I have a kitchen of my own, a space that I began and I know every inch of, and a place where those same joys of cooking have been expanded on with my own family.

I recall that night of making red snapper every time that I want to tell my boys to scoot out of my kitchen, every time that the mess that they have made is going to take me most of the afternoon to clean up, and every time that they are at my feet asking me if they can help chop, peel, and stir.

I remind myself that they too will have their moment when the kitchen becomes their own.

I sometimes catch my oldest running his fingers over the titles of my cookbooks, or finding recipes that he wants me to make, and I realize that he was raised in this room. He learned to read recipe cards before books, and math work consisted of measuring oils, fats and sauces rather than time tables and book work. I hope that one day that feels like something of value to all of my children, because it is one of the best parts of their childhood for me. I hope that one day a recipe is attached to most of the stories that they tell, or at least a good recall of a favorite dish.

Mostly I hope that I am here to witness when their moment comes, and to taste the creations that they come up with.

Red Snapper Baked in Parchment
adapted from Martha Stewart


4 red snapper filets
2 small potatoes, each peeled and cut into eighths
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
8 baby pearl onions, peeled
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
4 sprigs thym
4 sprigs rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut four circles of parchment paper 14-16″ in diameter. Butter one side of each circle.

Combine the softened butter with the leaves of your herbs and pulse in a food processor (You can also do this my chopping the leaves, and mixing them into the butter with a wooden spoon). Fold the minced garlic into the herb butter, and set aside.

Put each fish fillet on one half of the buttered side of each circle. Distribute the vegetables over the fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and a dab of your herbal garlic butter. Fold over the parchment and crimp the edges to seal.

Bake until the parchment has puffed, about 12 minutes. The fish should be done and the veggies crisp. Serve immediately.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

earth mama 101 June 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

So sweet! I try to find that balance too, about getting what I want to get done in the kitchen and making room for my little ones to help out, because they always want to help out! Which is a good thing, even when it makes a bit more effort and patience on my part. I hope they can carry that with them too.

:)Lisa

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Melanie June 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Lovely!

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Michelle June 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm

My cookbook shelf consists mostly of Jamie Oliver books. Like you, I think a recipe is a good place to start then do what you want after that. That is probably why I am a good cook but a horrible baker. Baking recipes need to be followed exactly. 😉

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PlainandJoyfulLiving June 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Just beautiful Heather. I try to balance my need for order with the children's blossoming creativity and desires to "help".

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Kim Akari June 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I love this post! I'm a bit scientific when it comes to recipes…I always follow it to the letter the first time through, so I have a constant factor and then the next time I tweak it to my liking.

I love how your boy learned reading and math in such a hands on way. I hope to teach my girls this way also.

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Kari June 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Lovely, thank you for the reminder. When days get tough and these pregnancy hormones have me frazzled I often forget my patience. I was also not allowed in the kitchen with my mother. I do want my children to remember the joy of creating food. Thank you so much!

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Sarah Jane June 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Ha! My mom sounds like yours. I started going in college when I was a vegetarian and my family was not. My mom said, "I'll buy your food, but you'll have to cook it!" The low-fat Moosewood was my Bible that summer! And a good reminder to let our little be part of the process.

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Joy June 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm

What a lovely story and example you are setting for your little ones. I wish I could let down my inhibitions in the kitchen a bit more where my kids are concerned. Cooking is such a relaxing, creative, enjoyable experience for me that I really prefer to experience alone! I will continue to try to incorporate my kids more where I can though. 🙂

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Jennifer June 28, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Oh, sweet friend, this is exactly why I feel so connected to you! I grew up in that same kitchen and became the exact type of cook you are. I try to bite my tongue when I send my kids out, and they too are learning to read, write and do math from cooking with me. This is beautiful! Thank you for all that you share.

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therealorganic June 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Oh, I had the same type of mother and all I have learned I have had to learn on my own. Now that I have my own girls they are IN the kitchen with me on a nearly daily basis.

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Lisa Q June 29, 2011 at 12:02 am

what a great story….It makes me wonder what my kids will say about our kitchen. Hmmmmm? that's food for thought!

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Sachi June 29, 2011 at 1:34 am

I think it is only in the past few years that my kitchen has become my own so much later than for you (I think we are the same age, maybe you are a year younger. I am 36). I didn't have a mother that was territorial about her kitchen. I just never took much of an interest until I had my own family and then I had a lot of catching up to do.

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Wendy June 29, 2011 at 4:24 am

Great story. I don't think I've made my kitchen "my own", even yet. I have made several meals, though, that took me MUCH longer to prepare than I envisioned in my head. 🙂

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agambroult June 29, 2011 at 11:09 am

ha. great story. I never felt like the kitchen became "mine" until we renovated ours. We moved into a very old house and the kitchen was a 1940s special. It was…not functional at all, in modern cooking terms, anyway. So after a few years, we made it our own. Every detail was ours and every nook had a designated use. It was mine all mine. mwahahaha.

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dani June 30, 2011 at 3:31 am

What a beautiful way to see the kitchen. I love my kitchen…it's my most favorite room in our house. I speaks of us.

I feel sad for those that see the kitchen with dread in their eyes.

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sherene June 30, 2011 at 3:41 am

I was a subscriber of LIVING, in middle school. Its no wonder I am who I am today. I also subscribed to Victorian. Strange little girl I was, but very good mama ( even then). Three kitchen memories from early years: orchestrating thanksgiving diner with my dad (age 12),making french toast ( and entire breakfast on china and crystal) for friends skipping school freshman year HS, and making pies for David in college. He would pick the berries from the mountain out our front door while I was in class , and I would roll the crust with a wine bottle when I got home. My mother and father split up when I was 11, so the kitchen was mine from then on. Luckily, my mother and grandmother had always included us in cooking- otherwise things may very well have gone the other direction!

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a little crafty nest June 30, 2011 at 5:40 am

Oh, you do so know how to write well!!! It is always a pleasure to stop in, take a breath, fill up with your wise words, and move on. I feel nourished by visiting your "kitchen". It is so true for me, too. My mother is a lot like yours, and reminds me (without her even knowing it) that I want to be different with my three children. I try as much as possible to embrace the mess that three pairs of hands bring, to embrace the extra time it takes to actually make a meal with those three pairs of hands, and to relish in the happiness on our four faces as the meal is presented. I love our time in the kitchen together. I love that you articulate so much of how I feel. Thank you!
xo Jules

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Jodi July 7, 2011 at 2:57 am

Oh my gosh….I remember claiming my mom's kitchen one day when I was about 13. I totally reorganized her spices — alphabetically. She was aghast at what I had done, but I left my mark! I love your story and the fact that you brought Martha home! There are days that I would welcome the real-deal in my kitchen.

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erin July 11, 2011 at 3:19 am

Your mom sounds like my mom. She is an AMAZING cook, but follows the recipe line by line. I on the other hand, am always adapting, substituting, estimating. It remember one time she called me for a recipe and I told her what I put in. She asked me for the measurements and it was quite funny because I didn't have any… she is so by the book, and laughed saying "how can you do that?" Cami is kinda a rules follower, so I sometimes wonder when we are cooking together if that will carry into her recipe readings as she gets older. 🙂

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kerry July 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I am certainly no purist in the kitchen. I, too, see recipes as recommendations and make quite a mess. I do have trouble sharing though. I love it so much and it's a place where I can relax. I love having the kids help me but I need to let them do it in their own way so that they can learn to love it too! Lovely story and a great reminder!
Also, Martha first came home from college with me for Christmas one year when I convinced the family to trade in the turkey for a standing rib roast! The tradition stuck! 😉

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Valarie July 16, 2011 at 1:45 am

I love this post because it brought back so many memories of when I first got in the kitchen without my mother hovering over me. I too used Martha Stewart but that was way back when Martha was just coming out. I used her first book called Entertaining and completely nuked the kitchen. I don't think it tasted that good either. All I remember is how great it felt to have full reign in the kitchen. Your red snapper in parchment sounds delicious.

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