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Last week, I spent two days working in my kitchen wondering if the greasy film that covers certain parts of my stove can ever be clean again.  Then I remember what I say all the time, “You can have a  clean kitchen or you can cook in it a lot, but you can’t have both.”  I know that to be a fact at my house.  I’ve cooked in this kitchen for 3 1/2 years and by my rough calculations, I’ve made over 1500 meals here.  It’s a hard working space & although I love it when it’s shiny and unsullied, I like it better when the wreckage from dinner reminds me that this is the place where I take care of my people.  Feeding people is hard work but one of those things that is so worth the time and effort you put into it.  

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So, if cooking more is on your list of things to do this year, let me offer a little encouragement and a few tips for bringing the magic back into the kitchen.

1.  Start wearing an apron

It just makes you feel like you should be cooking.  My morning routine looks something like this—shower, brush teeth, put on cute outfit, put on apron.  Every single day I wear an apron. Something simple with pockets, like this one.  When you walk into your kitchen in an apron, you naturally want to saute an onion and as I confessed on tv the other day, sometimes cooking an onion in some olive oil will inspire me to make dinner even if I don’t know what I’m making.  You will think to yourself, what a shame that I have on an apron and haven’t cook anything yet.  I dare you to try it!

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2. Listen while you work

I love being in my kitchen with my hands in bread dough but I also love it when I can work with my hands and use my brain at the same time.  I listen to oodles of hours of podcasting every week while I’m doing my other chores and especially while I’m in the kitchen.  It actually makes me look forward to kitchen work, which can sometimes feel dull & repetitive.  You can listen to my podcast archives or try out Issues etc or find a podcast related to what you’re interested in and listen to that.

3.  Start early & stock up

I’ve written a fair amount about meal planning and I will gladly give you  free access to meal plans in my monthly newsletter, but honestly, I often don’t follow a meal plan very closely.  But I do have one trick for getting dinner on the table most nights and that is—start early in the day.  I wrote a whole post about some of the tricks I use to get dinner started early.  If I don’t follow my own advice, we scramble and then eat bad food, unless we’re lucky enough to have ample leftovers.  If I have an onion sautéing by 9 am, good things are bound to happen!  But this only works well if you’re pantry is well stocked so that you have what you need to get meals started & on the table.

4.  Get a good dutch oven

I did a segment for our local television channel on cooking & decorating the other day and lugged my 9,000 pound soup pots FULL OF SOUP to Knoxville and back.  Because having a good pot to cook in is a game changer.  Maybe you have some Christmas money lying around and even if not, you’ll make your money back in less than a month by eating at home.  You don’t have to get Le Creuset but get a good pot and you won’t be sorry. (Sometimes TJ Maxx has them for a steal!) I use mine every single day for nearly everything I cook and it’s the best investment I’ve ever made in my kitchen and in my family. I have fed them well from my dutch ovens.  And  January is SOUP SEASON if ever there was such a thing.  It couldn’t be a better time to get in the kitchen and make a big pot of soup. Here’s a list to get you started!

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5.  Be patient with yourself

It takes a while to get good at anything.  You have to do it over and over again and fail a lot and make lots of messes.  Don’t get discouraged when the veggies are soggy & the meat is tough and the bread is burned.  I still mess up but we are doing something so profound when we feed people.  This is how Christ chose to take care of us too, by feeding us.  And when we partake in the mystery of food, we are partaking in the mystery of life.  It’s deeply satisfying and humbling and rewarding.  But it’s not easy.  Nothing worth doing is.  So go slow and be good to yourself.  Order out when life is chaotic but you will find that getting into a rhythm of cooking will ground you and will give your family untold comfort and security and nourishment. It’s so worth it.

Tell me how you bring the magic back to your kitchen!!

36 comments on “5 Ways to Bring the Magic Back To Your Kitchen”

  1. Thank you for this! I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired in the kitchen lately, but yesterday, I cooked a big pot of soup for my family and our dearest friends. Although dinner wasn’t until 5, I started it after church and felt delightful. These are great tips! Now, I’m off to buy a new apron, and I’ve got my eye on another Le Creuset pot 🙂

  2. I agree with all your tips, especially about a good pot being a game changer. I got a 7 3/4 qt Lodge enameled dutch oven (someday I’ll get that Le Creuset 🙂 and it gives me a happy feeling every time I pull it out. It makes cooking more fun for me, not sure it that makes sense. Good pots make me happy (that probably makes me some kind of kitchen nerd).

    I was wondering what size dutch ovens you use the most?

  3. i love this list. i find a cute apron and some music really get me in the mood to spend some time in the kitchen. my cute hubby gifted me a staub dutch oven for christmas and i have used it most days since. just seeing that happy red pot makes me want to make something new.

  4. Oh my, how true about a clean kitchen!! I love to cook but how I hate that greasy film though! Great tips! I agree 100 % on a good dutch oven! I’ve only had my LeCreuset a few years. I leave it out on my stovetop September through Spring and use it all the time, probably 3-4 times a week. 🙂 Worth every penny!! 🙂 Now, to put an apron on. 😉

  5. This is a great post! I love working in my kitchen, cooking and baking and eating with my family. I must admit that I miss the extra parts that I tend to skip now because of three small children and some dietary restrictions for my child with a metabolic disorder. I need to find a way to embrace my kitchen again. I still cook every day, for pretty much every meal, but it’s in a hurried “we have to eat!” fashion. Thanks for writing. I’ve been pouring over your ebook on hospitality. Good stuff!

  6. You had me at M.F.K. Fisher but I love the whole post! I must get an apron. My big green LeCrueset was a birthday and Mother’s Day present from all the kids years ago and I never put it away in a cabinet–it’s too heavy to lug in and out.

    I recently learned a way to motivate me to cook when it begins to get old. It’s from a chapter in Tamar Adler’s wonderful book, An Everlasting Meal, called How to Build A Ship. How do you build a ship? You teach someone to love the sea!

    After reading it I made a list of the memorable meals that first come to mind, many of them from long ago, most of them fun comforting meals when everyone around the table was happy. Now I keep that list handy and pick one of them when I’m sick of cooking. And I take her advice when the cooking blahs hit and don’t worry about whether it’s nutritious. I just want to learn to love the sea again–maybe why 3 of the meals on my list were at places where there was great fried shrimp when I was young. My potato salad is pretty high on the list too!

  7. Edie, you nailed it on the head. Either it looks perfect or you make great meals. You can’t have both. And love the podcast ing experience when cooking. Cheers!

  8. Such a great post, Edie! I have pined for a LC dutch oven for years – guess it’s time to start saving for one. And love the apron idea – while its not practical for me on a daily basis it could make things a little more fun in the kitchen.

  9. I took the cabinets off in a section of my kitchen and painted the inside aqua! I now display the china my mother in law handed down to us, and my vintage kitchen pieces. I love it because they are beautiful to look at, and it forces me not to clutter up the shelving with junk. I got the idea from you, and I am so glad I did it!

  10. Edie, I love this post! I agree…although a clean, sparkling kitchen may feel good for a little while, there is nothing like cooking or baking something that smells heavenly and even a little messy! I love it when family members are suddenly drawn to the kitchen by the delicious aroma…best perk in the world! Thanks for affirming simple things like preparing soup…like Shauna Niequist says, the best times happen at the table. Blessings to you!

  11. Although, I’d love a le creuset its never in my budget. I have a “knock off” version that gets loads of soup on the table and out the door to share! My best motivator is often a simple request from my family for something they’ve been craving. I guess I just love taking care of my people! Happy souping to you!

  12. What a beautiful post! You’ve inspired me to start wearing an apron. I agree that a well stocked pantry is so important! I would add to list – learn to bake something well that is considered your specialty. And learn to bake homemade bread! It’s something so simple but so special and delicious.

  13. So true about the aprons, Edie! When I put one on, I feel like I’m wearing my mom uniform and I’m noticeably more productive with housework. Plus, it hides me 3x c-sectioned fat apron nicely 😉 haha!

    I couldn’t afford a Le Creuset but mom bought me a beautiful orange Lodge brand Dutch oven as a housewarming gift and it’s been my BFF in the kitchen. I never even put it away, it sits on the cooktop waiting to be used at any time.

    Cheers,
    Heather

    • YES! It DOES make me more productive! And yes, it hides my buttercream indiscretion!
      Your babies are SO adorable, btw. I know you’re in a crazy busy season with littles but oh my word, hang on tight. Soon they’ll be taller than you and making fun of the way you sing! xoxo

  14. This made me chuckle a bit as I have been in a bit of a cooking rut… for like the past 4 years. Seriously it is so sad but thankfully it has not been a year round affliction for that entire time just during the height of the high school fall & spring sports. Inspiration was slow in arriving but it was arriving then it burst upon the scene via the most unusual circumstances. You see my cooking and baking buddy (aka our middle son S.) was home on leave and we did a little cooking (and shopping and dining out!) The day we dropped him off at the airport was cold, grey, dreary, and just plain sad because I knew it would more than likely be a full year before he was home again (ugh uncle sam i do not always like you…) so we stopped by “THE” mall on the way home and wandered into Williams Sonoma (one of my happy places). Do you know what was going on? A SALE! the winter clearance sale!!! plus there was an additional 20% off clearance items and then there was our military discount of 10%!!! on the clearance table was the most beautiful Le Creuset dutch oven ever! Yes that sweet thing made it home with us and I’ve been cooking up a storm every since!! It is so pretty! And it cleans up so nicely! and heats so evenly! OY! Have a lovely day! Now I’m off to shower and then attack the dining/kitchen shelves!

  15. I think having fresh flowers neaby (a cheap bouquet from the grocery store works) and natural light pouring in works wonders for bringing magic to the kitchen – especially when I realize it’s the room where I spend more than 50% of my day!

  16. Thank you for this post… I have been so crazy lately have been dropping the ball on making dinner but have cooked the last two nights since I read this post and am loving it. There is something truly magical about gathering around the table to share a meal and that is even better when it’s one you prepared yourself!

  17. When I come home from work, I put on ‘soft clothes’, make the bed (I leave before his alarm goes off) and then PUT ON MY APRON! When I’m at someone else’s house and they put me to work in the kitchen, if I’m not offered an apron, I feel like I’m trying to do something with one hand in my pocket!

  18. What an inspiring post! Thank you for taking the time to write this. We renovated our kitchen about 1.5 years ago and since then I know I am somewhat reluctant to cook in it and “ruin it” (doesn’t help that I am a tad bit OCD about not having a darn mark on the stainless steel). But I really needed to hear what you said (“You can have a clean kitchen or you can cook in it a lot, but you can’t have both”). I just need to let go and use it to feed my people. 🙂 Thanks again for another wonderful post. Hope you have a great 2015.

  19. I just ran across you via the Nested, and I had to comment on the sauteed onion thing – I remember reading some advice for wives written in the fifties, that if you were late getting dinner started and your husband was due home soon, get an onion sauteeing so that the house would at least smell like you were working on dinner! Ha!

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