This Crappy Kitchen: Kelly in Elkins, WV

Crappy kitchens. We've all had them (and if you haven't, sweetheart, then props to you). Nearly every lifestyle magazine or website glorifies the concept of a fully-loaded deluxe kitchen; we see profiles of famous chefs or writers or designers and their glorious, airy kitchens with top-end appliances and cookbooks arranged just so. Inevitably, these chefs and writers and designers have more resources to pull from in creating their dream kitchens than we mere humans. 

The argument is that glossy magazine spreads appeal to our own dreams--if we can't enjoy a clean, spacious kitchen of our own, at least we can do it vicariously--but I don't buy it. I want tips on living with the kitchen I have now, not ideas on how to set up the kitchen I'll never get. 

Earlier this week, food writer Debbie Koenig came clean in a blog post that went a little viral. In it, she points out that food writers, by projecting a buffed-and-polished version of their lives, let readers down by delivering something unreasonable and unattainable. "I don’t think we’re ashamed of these parts of our lives, necessarily, just that in order to capture attention, we chase a notion of unrealistic beauty," she writes. "That leads to cookbooks and food blogs as staged and Photoshopped as the models in Vogue."

I'm sick of Vogue model kitchens. So, with that in mind, I invite us--you!--to share your crappy kitchens with others who likewise cope with crappy kitchens. I hope this occasional series of short videos will inspire you to embrace what is real, and vent about what is crappy. First up: my lifelong friend Kelly. Back in February, I stayed at her rental house in Elkins, WV. Kelly is usually a very expressive, energetic person, and that she's somewhat subdued here is quite telling. She hated that kitchen. The video quality here is not great, perhaps in keeping with the theme, but you'll get the idea.

Happy ending: Kelly married her boyfriend, and they now live in a house way out in the woods. Their kitchen is still not ideal, but it's warm and welcoming, and its few cabinets are easily accessible. My heart goes out to the occupants of Kelly's old place, which is a cute little house, if you eat exclusively instant ramen and instant oatmeal.

Please share your crappy kitchen woes below. And maybe we'll feature your kitchen next on This Crappy Kitchen! 

Night on Pie Mountain

Sometimes an image explains things faster than words. How can you tell when your fruit pie is ready to come out of the oven? When it looks like this (which happens to be blueberry, baked for my dad's birthday).

The crust is half rye flour and half all-purpose flour, which accounts partly for the darker color. I also use butter or lard every time I can, and they brown better than crusts made with vegetable shortening (which a lot of the bakers I know here in Southeast Ohio use exclusively; I feel it results in a pasty, wan crust, but I will still gladly eat their pies).