Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Happy Kitchen

It's February, and the garden is still asleep. That means I still have nothing garden related to post about! But as I moved around the kitchen this morning, I realized how much that space makes me smile. Even eating off my favorite plates makes me smile!
Whether or not it's a cliche, I think most everyone would agree that a kitchen truly is the heart of the home. It's where we gather, it's where we are fed. It's where we connect with our family and friends. It's where nourishing foods are prepared with a loving touch.
The sunny, south facing windows were one big reason why we bought this house. Enough sunshine streams in, even in winter, that it encouraged a bloom from the cactus that grows in a pot I brought home from Mexico. I've never seen this plant bloom before. This qualifies as gardening, right?
And I can never resist those brightly colored primrose pots blooming in the grocery store this time of year. I do plant them outdoors once the weather cooperates. 
We've been slowly updating our kitchen space. We already added bright paint colors, and other simple touches. But now we're starting to do some bigger projects. We added new quartz counter tops, and I just love the silver sparkles in it. That's why I added a shiny silver colander full of apples in the middle of the island, to reflect the sparkles. It makes me happy every time I see it! Sometimes I fill it with lemons or limes, and next I might even use fresh artichokes.
Now I think I want to paint the cabinets white. The orangey oak color just isn't the thing anymore, is it? But I do love the orange soffit, and the asparagus green walls. Since I'm a wine aficionado, the Wine and Dine signs over my pantries were just the touch I was looking for. We bought the microwave over the stove as a Christmas present to each other, and I like how it looks there. But it does make me want to match up all the rest of my appliances so that they are all stainless steel. Ooh, that sounds pricey. I'd better wait on that. 
Besides being a wine lover, I'm also a tea lover. I drink it hot and iced, all day long. I have a habit of picking up teapot and tea cup shaped objects when I see them, especially planters.
I also pick up cute teapots now and then, even though I don't really use them. This one resides on my baker's rack next to the back door. The microwave was on this rack before, and I like being able to keep a few special objects on it now.
Well, that's about it for today in my kitchen. Now if you'll excuse me, there's a bowl of BBQ Bean Soup with my name on it. What better way to stay warm on a cold winter's day?
Barbecue Bean Soup

16 oz bag dried northern beans
8 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. diced ham
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. vinegar
2 T. brown sugar
16 oz can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 T. mustard
1/4 c. chili sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight, then discard water before cooking. Fill bean pot with fresh 8 cups of water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 3 hours until beans are tender, adding water as needed. As beans soften, watch closely for scorching.