Category Archives: Cooking

First of February, Fox Lake Road

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Here it is, February.

Winter on Beaver Island.

I’ve seen several memes that report we are now half-way through the darkest days of the season, and are working our way toward the light. It’s true! I notice already that I’m no longer getting out of bed in total darkness. There’s a glow in the window, that lets me know the sun is out there somewhere, even if it happens to be hidden today, behind clouds. I can find my way to the coffee pot without flipping on lights as I move through the house. This is hopeful!

It is cold! Sixteen degrees (that’s -8.8 Celsius!) at ten o’clock this morning. This is the third day in a row with this kind of cold. And, according to this morning’s news, we have even more extreme frigid weather on the way.

As I walk down the Fox Lake Road, I can see tracks where snowmobiles have been. My neighbor has been cross-country skiing, and others have gotten their snowshoes out. If you have the time and the endurance, this is a wonderful time to explore Beaver Island. Biting insects, which can be torturous in the woods and trails in warm weather, are absent. My tracks through the snow show where I’ve been, and can lead me back to where I started, if I happen to get turned around. Which I often do!

The Beaver Island community has enough offerings to keep everyone as busy, and as social, as they would like to be. The bars and restaurants do a reasonable business all winter long. For balance, so do the churches. And the library. The Commission on Aging has many programs for seniors each week, from Tai Chi to Yoga, to Bingo. The sewing group gathers two mornings a week. The Brewery hosts Euchre every Thursday evening.

At the Community Center, art classes are held on Wednesday evenings. Trivia (“Let’s Get Quizzical”) happens every other Tuesday. “Open Mic Night,” sponsored by the Harbour Bodega, happens on the opposite Tuesdays. Movies are shown every Saturday. Holidays offer more excuses to plan themed events.

All around town, folks are planning special offerings and entertainment for Valentine’s Day. Then, we’ll be getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day, which is a big event here on this Irish island. By that time, we’ll be halfway through March, and looking forward to spring…once again certain to have made it through another northern Michigan winter.

But, today it’s the first of February, and it feels like there’s still quite a bit of winter ahead. At my house, I ward off seasonal despondency with brisk walks, hot soups, fresh breads, and a good supply of books!

How to Make a “Feel Better” Soup

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[Looking for fresh ideas for things to write about, I came across a suggestion to “write a how-to about something you do well.” I found that idea kind of inspiring, and immediately wrote out a list of topics. I don’t profess to be an expert, but there are a few areas where I am quite competent. Not wanting to look like a know-it-all, I’ll spread these “How-To” blogs out over several months, to fill in when I don’t have any other topic. Happy learning!]

I was home sick today. My symptoms were kind of vague: a sore throat; a slight cough; a general all-over crummy feeling. And a fever. That was the clincher. I can be a bit of a hypochondriac, so I don’t always trust the signs of illness. With a fever, I know I’m not just exaggerating, or inventing the clues. When the thermometer gave me a reading of 101, I knew there was a real reason for the aches and chills I was experiencing. I called in to work, and spent the day at home.

I have fond memories of “sick days.” The ones that I remember with such good feelings, though, are days when I was not really sick. Then, it’s a bonus day. When I was a child, those days were filled with reading, and the unusual undivided attention of my busy mother.

As teen-agers, Brenda and I could sometimes bring Mom in on the conspiracy. With promises to help her with deep cleaning or other projects, she could sometimes be convinced to give us an excused absence. We’d keep still until Dad left for work, then rush around to get everything done before the afternoon soap operas came on. Mom would join us to watch General Hospital and Dark Shadows before our younger brothers and sisters started arriving home on the bus.

Even as an adult, I could sometimes, though rarely, manage a day away from work. It seemed like I could accomplish more in those “cheat days” than on any regular day off!

But a sick day, when I’m really sick, is no fun at all. Today I felt like I should be able to do something productive…or even just some lazy, fun, wastrel activities…but no. There were several projects that I didn’t get to on my regular days off…but I felt too lousy to tackle any of them. I have a stack of seed catalogues, two new magazines, and three in-progress books. I didn’t feel well enough to give attention to any of them. I didn’t feel up to exercise, or even taking the dogs for a walk. I slept a little, but mostly just laid around…doing nothing. The only thing I accomplished of any value was to make a pot of soup.

I put a variety of dried beans in pan, covered them with water, and brought the water to a boil. I simmered them for about ten minutes, then took the pan off the heat. This method eliminates the need for soaking the beans overnight. After they sat in the water until it cooled, I drained them, put in fresh water, two pints of soup stock, and any vegetables I had laying around. That amounted to one large onion, two carrots, four wimpy stalks of celery, a part of a tomato, a few green beans from the freezer, and about a quarter head of cabbage.

I let it simmer through the day. About an hour before I was going to eat, I added a handful each of quinoa and brown rice. Soup is always comforting, and that’s especially true when I don’t feel good. On a day that was otherwise wasted, it was one small thing to do for myself.

One Lazy Day

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I enjoyed a totally lazy day yesterday.

I started it off by sleeping in. The dogs went out at six-thirty. When they came back in, I went back to bed. They went out again at eight o’clock. At that time, I started the coffee pot. When the dogs were both back in the house, and with the coffee brewing, I thought I’d just close my eyes for a few minutes more. Well, that “few minutes” went long. I woke up with my big dog, Darla, standing beside the bed, looking into my face. “Raaooow,” she said. I think it was shorthand for “Rouse yourself!” And she was right…it was ten AM!

I moved from the bed to the dining room table, where I spent several hours writing, reading and drawing. Exercise was limited to getting up to let the dogs out and in, frequent walks to the kitchen to refill my coffee cup, and an occasional trip to the bathroom. I fried an egg and made toast about 1PM. After that, I turned on the computer. I checked my mail, looked at social media updates, and played a few games of online Scrabble.

At three in the afternoon, I showered and dressed, dried my hair, and took the dogs out for a walk. Home again, I picked up another book and, for a change of scene, sat down in the comfortable armchair to read some more. I fed the dogs around six, then made myself a grilled cheese sandwich, and warmed up the last of the vegetable soup. A good “lazy day” supper. For dessert, a bowl of yogurt with fruit and granola.

Back on the computer, I went through my news feed, then listened to a couple podcasts. My daughter Kate sent me an article that made me giggle. I watched a sitcom, using the commercial breaks to do up the dishes and tidy the kitchen. My friend Linda and I messaged back and forth, comparing notes on diet and fasting. I went to bed at a reasonable time.

After a day of little activity, it didn’t surprise me when I had trouble falling asleep! I finally cried “uncle” and gave up on trying to sleep. I got out of bed at two-thirty in the morning. I found a movie on Netflix. “Leap Year” is a cute romantic comedy with a backdrop of the Irish countryside, that didn’t require a bit of thought or concentration on my part. I made popcorn, with no regard to my renewed commitment to intermittent fasting. Finally, I went back to bed at four AM.

Today, I’m waking up slowly. I am determined, though, to get moving soon. There is plenty to do, to make up for my indulgent, lazy Sunday!

Good in Winter

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There are, of course, negative aspects of this cold season. For starters, it’s cold! Weather can be problematic. It’s harder to get around. Boredom can be an issue. We’re barely into winter, and already I’ve been dealing with some of these things.

Last week, my art class had to be cancelled because the weather took an ugly turn. Sleet, high winds, and freezing rain make travel dangerous. No matter how anxious we all are for diversion during this slow time, it’s just not worth it. Even getting out for my daily walk with the dogs can be a challenge. I picked up a pair of – almost new – boots at the resale shop. They were a little too big for me, even with heavy socks, so I sent them out to one of my daughters. Then, I noticed that my trusty, old walking boots had a wide tear in one heel. I ordered a new pair and, until they arrived, went back to that tried-and-true trick of slipping my foot into a plastic bag before putting the boot on.

The planes didn’t fly for two – or maybe three – days this week. That means no mail. Which, on some winter days on Beaver Island, is the only thing to look forward to! And, needless to say, no new boots were delivered. Some folks came in for pizza this week, after having waited all day at the airport, hoping to get across. With no luck. I’ve done that before. I have to go to the mainland for a couple routine medical exams this month. Every year, I think, “why don’t I plan these things for summer?” But summer is busy with other things. So, I worry about cancelled flights, road conditions, and getting stuck on the mainland…but winter it is.

Last weekend, our phones were out, I think all over the island. I’m not sure what caused it. It may not have been weather-related at all. Even so, winter is an especially poor time of year to be without telephone service!

But, whether I love it or not, winter is here. And, in fact, there are many things I enjoy about this season. I don’t think I’d like the crazy, frenetic, busy summer season, without the winter, for balance. As it is, I enjoy both. It’s nice to have the crowds of people come when the weather is warm. In winter, it’s a relief to have a break from all that chaos.

Now, when the ground is covered in snow, I’m not bothered by thoughts of what I should be doing outside. I don’t have to think about mowing the lawn, or weeding and watering the garden, or any number of other activities that nag at my consciousness in other seasons. I lazily page through the seed catalogues, imagining the coming year’s perfect garden.

When I take a break from the garden plans, I have a small stack of new books that I’m looking forward to. I have others on the shelves that I haven’t gotten to yet. There are at least four magazines and a couple interesting catalogues on the side table waiting for me to go through. And, if it comes down to it, Beaver Island has a wonderful library, with even more choices.

This time of year, there’s more time for meal planning and preparation. Food seems to taste better, too, when it’s cold outside. In the last few weeks, I’ve enjoyed a couple pots of soup, a nice stew, and a surprisingly wonderful noodle dish made with bits and scraps of leftovers. I only wish I could duplicate the recipe! Having the oven going, whether for breads, cookies, or just a tray of granola, warms the house in more ways than one.

Finally, here in the north woods, wintertime is often stunning. Even on the most miserably cold days, I love the view!

On to the New Year

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Here we are, at the beginning of a new year. And, even though the calendar is a human-made devise that holds only the value that we give it, the first day of a new year always seems important. It feels like a new beginning…and I love a fresh start!

Determined to make the best of it, I got up early and started my day with meditation, gratitude journaling, drawing, and study time. Then, feeling a little under the weather, and having not slept well last night, I crawled back into bed for a long morning nap. No sense in being too “gung-ho” about the new year!

When I woke up, I worked for a while on setting up my new 2023 bullet journal. Before retiring last year’s book, I like to remind myself of my accomplishments and the memorable events of the last year. As I flip through the pages where I recorded the large and small happenings of 2022, reminders of precious visits with family and friends make me smile. There are poignant memories of my sweet little dog, who died last spring. There are flowers pressed between pages, and a small gallery of colorful drawings done by my little niece, Ellie. There are records of events large and small: some important; most quite trivial.

At seventy years old and in what I like to think of as “semi-retirement,” I worked for pay 167 days last year. I volunteered my time at the resale shop thirty-four days. I wrote this blog regularly, though not as regularly as in other years, and read and recorded it for the Beaver Island radio station.

I walked almost every day last year, and totaled 375 miles for the year, surpassing my goal by ten miles. I kept track of the days that I did other exercise, and whether it was yoga, Pilates, strength training or rebounding. My sister Cheryl got me a “fitbit” for my seventieth birthday, so I’ve been keeping track of my daily “steps” since then, too. I write down my weight each day.

I read seventy-four books last year. Nine of those were books I studied. Though not exactly textbooks, I took notes as I went along, and read with the intent of improving my knowledge in one area or another.

Twenty-five were audio books, keeping me company on my walks. Of these, I’ve really enjoyed the Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis. Set in Rome, in the first century AD, they are well researched and historically accurate (at least as far as my own knowledge of ancient Rome goes), with a good storyline that includes both romance and mystery. The series is read by Simon Prebble, and he does an outstanding job, so important to my enjoyment of an audiobook.

The other books were simply pleasure reading, some much better than others. I read at least ten adventure stories by Zoe’ Sharp before deciding they were a little too violent for my taste. The “Irish Cottage” series by Juliet Gauvin was too simplistic. And, after reading three of Michael Robotham’s psychological thrillers, I decided I’d better stop before I scared myself to death!

I re-read, in order, all four books in the Jackson Brody series by Kate Atkinson. I then read her earlier novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, before reading her newest book, Shrines of Gaeity. I read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr before allowing myself to start his newer book, Cloud Cuckoo Land. Though wildly different from each other, both were wonderful. The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn, Light Perpetual, by Francis Spufford, and The Sentence by Louise Erdrich were other treasures.

Visits to the island by my sisters, my daughter Kate, several cousins, and a couple nephews gave me a good dose of family togetherness, just when I needed it. I made three day trips to the mainland in 2022, two for medical appointments, and one, completely unnecessary and totally frivolous, to meet my dear friend Linda for lunch.

After reminiscing about the past year, it was time to get busy with the present year. Rosa Parks opted to stay home today. but the big dog, Darla, and I went for a nice two-mile walk. After that, I made a bean, ham and barley soup, featuring black-eyed peas for good fortune in the new year. I’m not really suspicious about it, but it’s a good soup, and it can’t hurt. If it ensures good fortune, wonderful! If it doesn’t, well, it’s a nice ritual to mark the beginning of a new year! Happy New Year!

Lazy Days of Fall

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I stay pretty busy all year ’round. Even now, at seventy years old and in semi-retirement, I have plenty to do. I work two part-time jobs in the summertime; when one of them comes, seasonally, to an end, I volunteer at a local non-profit. I am an artist, with several projects (along with a hundred more ideas waiting for when I have time to pursue them) going on at any given time.

I am solely in charge of the care of my house, yard and garden. That’s a simple sentence, and I didn’t realize the magnitude of it until I found myself on my own. When there is no one else to help make decisions, carry the workload, or accept part of the responsibility, it feels huge. Though I’ve been doing it now long enough to be used to it, sometimes it still seems like a lot.

I eat mostly alone, and at home. I prepare every single meal. And before that, there’s the growing, harvesting and preserving, the planning and shopping, and then the inevitable clean-up. This is just one small aspect of my life. I have two dogs, with all of the commitments that come with them. There are daily walks, medicine to dispense, and vet appointments to schedule, as well as all of the companionship that makes having pets so worthwhile.

I’ve never liked housework. I’d find it daunting if that were the extent of my home maintenance. In my house, though it was built more than thirty years ago, there are still things involving carpentry that have never been finished. Because of its age, there are other things that have deteriorated, and need to be fixed or replaced. Home repairs easily overwhelm me. Whether it’s hiring a contractor or tackling a project myself, this is not an area that I’m comfortable with.

I try to keep the grass mowed regularly in the summer. A mowed lawn gives the dogs a place to play, and is less attractive to ticks and mosquitos. Keeping the weeds out of the garden and flower beds could be a full-time job all by itself, if I had the stamina. I put in lots of rock borders around flower beds. When conditions are right, they look lovely. Too often, they signal the need for me crawling around on hands and knees to get rid of the vines and grasses that weave in around the stones.

Before long, snow and ice will determine my outdoor chores. I hire someone to plow the driveway, but I shovel paths through the snow from each of the doors. The amount of snowfall determines the size and frequency of that job. It’s out of my hands.

Right now, in these early days of fall, nothing seems very pressing. My little garden is finished for the year. The blackberry season is done; my grapevines did not produce fruit this year. I’ve decided to hold off on my last mowing until there are more leaves on the ground. I’m not yet ready to get busy in the studio. I have a few home projects pending, but am waiting for help to begin them.

Saturdays and Sundays, which were taken up by a summer job for the last four months, now seem like vacation days. Time has opened up, like a gift, and I’ve filled the time with only joyous things. I’ve been taking long walks, enjoying the fall colors, and taking lots of pictures. I’ve got a couple crochet projects underway. I’m reading. Making soup. Baking bread. I live a busy life; this lull won’t last forever. Right now, though, I am loving these lazy days of fall!

Well

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Lord knows, I can always find plenty to say when things are going badly. Sometimes I think the only reason I keep this blog going is so that I’ll have a place to voice my complaints! Many days, it seems like if I’m not grumbling about something, I have nothing to talk about. So, for everyone that endures the whining, I think I’ll get a few words down now when things are going well. And plenty of things are, in fact, going well!

Used to be, I’d fall into a terrible, self-pitying depression every year around my birthday. I’d take note of how little I’d accomplished in my life up to that point, how I wasn’t loved or appreciated, and how old I was becoming with nothing to show for it. No amount of well-wishes and birthday cheer could drive that blue mood away. And oh, if I had to work on my birthday, or if one of my children forgot to call, well…it was just that much worse. I’m happy to find that I seem to have outgrown that tired old habit. Now, my birthday comes and goes pretty calmly. This year, I managed to turn seventy without any melodrama.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having time to spend with people that I love. I took a day trip to the mainland to meet my best friend in Mackinac City. It was too short, but we had a good visit and a nice lunch in the time we had. I’ve had time to chat with several cousins when they were here on the island. Recently, my nephew and his wife came here on vacation. Then, my four sisters were here for a long weekend during the Emerald Isle Irish Feile’. I enjoyed the entertainment, some wonderful meals, good conversation and even puzzles and games, all in the company of some of my favorite people. The day after they left, four cousins arrived. It’s always a pleasure to see these women who I’ve known since they were small children.

Animals are active on Beaver Island this time of year. Wild turkeys walk in procession across the roads, and the migrating birds are starting to gather. The chipmunks and squirrels are busy, gathering acorns or just rushing around. I feel thankful every day that so far I’ve managed to get to work and back home without incident, though they seem to rush out in front of my car as if they have a death wish! On my daily walks, I often startle deer that are nibbling in the berry brambles.

My meager garden has been offering up loads of cherry tomatoes, and enough summer squash for my use. In addition, my cousin has shared the bounty from his garden. I’ve enjoyed lettuce, peppers and kale, and enough green beans to put several quarts in the freezer.

I repaired my clothes dryer. I was able to get my whole five pound bag of coffee ground. I cleaned the refrigerator, and the freezer above it. I started a new book. The dogs are both doing well. I won four dollars on a scratch-off ticket. I lost three pounds and, for five days in a row, at least, have not gained it back! There’s a hint of fall in the air, and that makes me appreciate every single warm day. Usually, I’m able to notice everything that’s going wrong. Right now, there seems to be an abundance of good things!

Thursday Thoughts

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This blog is going to be a bunch of jumbled thoughts. I don’t have time to be fussy about it. Usually, I jot down a few ideas, and put them in a kind of sensible order before I begin writing. Then I edit as I go. I check spelling if I have any doubt, though I am a good speller; I go to the Thesaurus if I have the urge to re-use a word too often; sometimes I rearrange sentences or even whole paragraphs. Not today.

It’s already late in the day. I stripped the bed this morning, washed the sheets and comforter, and have yet to remake the bed. My supper is in the oven. It has been a busy, stressful day, and I’m ready to be done. I’ve been feeling guilty, though, about neglecting this blog. There are few things in my life that I have stuck with for as long as this, and I don’t want to let it go. So, here I am, rushing to get something down, while my chicken finishes cooking.

This is my first day off in a week! I started my summer job at the golf course, which takes up my weekends, now, until the end of September. At the Community Center, a couple of my co-workers were out sick, so I filled in. Some of those were short shifts, and nothing was too difficult; still, a day when I have to go to work is a day when I don’t get much else done. It all piles up and waits for me.

Yesterday, after working a couple hours in the morning, I went to the bank, the post office and the grocery store. I took the dogs down to Fox Lake for a swim, which was a nice break for all of us. Then, I hunkered down to put together a packet for a gallery where I’d like to show my work.

I had a good start on it a month ago. Knowing the deadline was in June, and knowing my propensity for procrastination, I was determined to be ready. Then, my family was here for a visit. Then, my little dog got sick, and then died. And my job at the golf course started. And a couple co-workers got sick. And suddenly, the deadline – June 10th – was right on top of me.

So, yesterday I rewrote my Artist Statement and cover letter. I opened a Paypal account, necessary for the entry fee, and I started revising my resume. Because I tend to go right down a rabbit hole when confronted with things like that, I spent far too much time reading about and looking at samples of resumes and CVs and went to bed last night with the deadline still looming.

A couple recent rains have sent my lawn into a growing frenzy. It really needs to be mowed! I have to get the garden worked up and planted, if I’m going to get anything out of it. I bargained with myself: take today to finish everything that has to be done in order to submit the application to the gallery, then tomorrow, take the whole day outside.

It worked! I submitted the packet just before 4PM. I did a little victory dance, then took the dogs for a long walk. I made a big salad, and put a couple drumsticks in the oven to bake. It should be done any minute now. Tomorrow, I’ll be outside. Maybe, I’ll get to some semblance of “on top of things” by the weekend!

All the Things…

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My friend, Paul, came into the Community Center last week. His greeting, on seeing me, was something like, “Oh, there’s the lady that writes when she feels like it…” That was his way of letting me know that he noticed when I didn’t post a blog last week. From Paul, I’ll accept the scolding. He may be my most loyal reader! He frequently offers an opinion or a comment about something I’ve written. He has often told me how much he enjoys my essays, and he misses them when I don’t write.

Still, I gave him a rundown of what had been occupying my time, then told him my next post would be about all the things that I’m doing when I am not writing. “Good idea,” he said. Spring is a busy time of year out here on the Fox Lake Road. There is plenty to do, and I’ve been working hard.

I finally got the box spring moved out of the spare room upstairs. After months of worry and procrastination, when everything else I plan to do in that room (paint the floor, move a small stand and a large bookcase to the other side of the room so that the two dressers can inhabit the same wall, put down a rug, set up my Pilates chair) hinged on getting the box spring out. Finally, I tackled the job, wrestled it through the door and around the corner on the small landing, and down the stairs. It is now resting comfortably in the tall grass of my back yard, until I can figure out where to go with it next.

After tripping over the stuff for a week, I – at long last – got all of the papermaking supplies cleaned, sorted, and put away. I enjoy teaching papermaking, but it involves a ton of prep-work, and even more clean-up when it’s done.

Last Sunday was a warm and beautiful day, so I abandoned my long list of things to get done in the house, and headed outside. I picked up windfall from under the old maple trees. I pruned the vines of climbing rose that had nearly taken over my front door. I cut back the wisteria, then started on the grape vines. They had nearly buried a forsythia bush, and it needed to be pruned, too, when I uncovered it, I cleared some weeds out of the daylily bed, raked around the rhododendron, and pulled some blackberry brambles out of the poppy bed.

My friend Judi stopped by, and I sent her off with a clump of rhubarb and a few Oriental poppy plants. I spent seven hours working in the yard that day. I hauled away twelve wheel-barrow loads of debris. Then I took the dogs for a walk. And then ibuprofen, a hot shower, and a small dinner before I collapsed into bed.

Tuesday was my only other day off last week, and I spent it outside, too. I finished pulling up the blackberry brambles, and worked on weeding and removing leaves from the flower beds. Before and after work, I’ve been trying to put the house in order – or at least in a state of less disorder – and other tasks that are specific to this time of year. I stored winter sweaters, and pulled a few warm-weather clothes clothes out. I turned off the furnace, and opened windows to the screens. On one nice day, I tossed all the dog beds, rugs and cushions outside where I swept and pounded and shook them clean, and left them out in the fresh air while I gave the floors a good cleaning.

Today, I walked the dogs early. Then I baked a cake. I went to town to meet the boat. One cousin, two sisters, a nephew and his daughter, my grand-niece, arrived on the ferry. Happy day! They’ll be here only until Friday, so I plan to spend as much time with them as I possibly can. So, if I don’t post another blog in the coming days, it’s because I’m busy enjoying time with my family!

Kitchens

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I’ve lived in a lot of places in my adult life, so I’ve had an assortment of kitchens.
  • My first was an in an upstairs apartment where all the floors ran at a slant. The kitchen and bathroom had been carved out of a space that had, before renovations, been one small bedroom, or a large bathroom. The two rooms shared a sink.
  • Then there was a large country kitchen in a downstairs apartment in the same building. That’s the apartment that I brought my first daughter home to, so I have lots of good memories associated with it. My father-in-law would stop in sometimes, for pie and coffee, and to visit with the baby.
  • Next was a tiny kitchen in a small cottage on a lake. When we first moved in, we thought we’d stay there forever. I bought three potted African violets, one for each little window over the kitchen sink.
  • Tired of remodeling and expecting another baby, we sold the lake house for barely enough profit to get settled in a brand new townhouse rental. The kitchen was small, but perfectly laid out. I loved it.
  • From there, we moved to Beaver Island, and into the family farm until winter. There, I channeled all the good cooks before me, and turned out fresh-baked breads and kettles of soup.
  • Come winter, we moved in to the “Stone House,” where the kitchen had, for looks, an old wood-fired cook stove next to the usable electric model. Pegboard lined one wall, and held an assortment of sturdy pans and utensils. A large collection of old cookbooks spurred my interest in collecting recipes.
  • Spring, it was back to the farmhouse. Summer visitors gave me opportunity to make big Sunday suppers for a crowd. The table expanded to accommodate every guest.
  • That Fall, we moved off the island and back to Lapeer County. Our next home was the rear apartment in a duplex that had once been the Deerfield Township Hall. I loved that kitchen! The back wall held a long bank of cabinets. The room was large enough for our table and chairs, and even, in season, for our Christmas tree! We lived there six months before I had a stove. I learned how to do everything, from birthday cakes to cinnamon rolls to baked lasagna, in my electric frying pan!
  • From there, we moved to a house on Johnson Mill Road. As much as I’d loved the last kitchen, I hated this one! Dark, wood-look cabinets were a dramatic counterpoint to the lively 1960’s era white, blue and green wallpaper. The floor was vinyl tile making an effort to look like brick. Ugh!
  • Then, back to Beaver Island: first the family farmhouse again, then a mobile home that faced the harbor. I can’t remember anything about that kitchen, but I know we had guests over for Thanksgiving dinner, and I prepared the meal.
  • We moved in to McCafferty’s Hotel for the winter. The kitchen there was spacious, warm and easy to work in.
  • Within the year, we moved in to our own little house, still unfinished and with few interior walls, but workable. Until the water froze.
  • Then, my girls and I moved in to the Erin Motel for the winter. Though the room had a small refrigerator and an electric burner, most of our meals were pretty unimaginative that winter.
  • After that, a house in North Branch, where the kitchen is remembered mostly for the bat that visited us there. Dinner was often take-out from the pizzeria where I worked.
  • Then, the Cherry Lane apartments on the campus of Michigan State University. We lived in two during the course of our time there, but they were nearly identical. In the small kitchens as in every other aspect of the space, the designers were masters at making the most of the space. Cooking there was memorable as we were walking distance from a large, cosmopolitan grocery store. Foods from all around the world were available there.
  • Finally, back to my own little house on Beaver Island. I added cabinets in the kitchen, then rearranged them. Four times. I moved the sink, and the window over the sink. I put up shelves for my cookbooks. It’s still a work in progress, but after all these years, this kitchen suits me.