I’ve been blogging a little less lately; there’s a lot going on and the siege (kitchen remodel) is still ongoing so we’re feeling a little displaced. No pain, no gain, though, and it is starting to take shape, my friends. Stay tuned for pics as the puzzle pieces start coming together in the Glover Gardens Kitchen 2.0.
Needless to say, cooking and eating is a little different these days. The kitchen is out of commission, its contents crammed in boxes into the dining room, which is serving as a storage space and temporary mess hall, and also sports the refrigerator, which looks really strange next to the china cabinet.
The breakfast room is also off limits as it is part of the remodel, and the living room is impacted since we’re having the wall removed that connects it to the breakfast room and there is floor-to-ceiling plastic around it to reduce the dust. Since we have no sink, we can’t wash dishes, and have guiltily regressed to using paper and plastic serving products (please don’t judge, it’s just temporary).
With this background, I think you can imagine our unbridled joy when my cousin’s wife brought us a care package one afternoon this week, a complete dinner. What a wonderful gift from her kitchen.
Homemade lasagna, still warm from Staci’s oven, was accompanied by small packages of extra cheese to add at the last minute and chopped parsley for a bright garnish. There was everything to assemble a caesar salad: washed romaine, lemon, hand-grated cheeses, croutons and a high-end bottle of dressing. Our package included a loaf of Italian bread with small container of olive oil and herbs that Staci had chopped for dipping the bread in. There was even a bottle of wine, a lovely Cakebread Cellars 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon.
All we had to do was assemble, heat, serve on our paper plates, and enjoy. I found a pillar candle in a box and we had a wonderful dinner upstairs in the game room on the chess table.
On our paper plates with our plastic serveware, this was a gourmet meal, and we enjoyed this gift from Staci’s kitchen immensely. The lasagna had that deep, rich, robust flavor that makes you feel like someone’s Italian grandmother made it, and indeed, Staci had charmed the recipe out of a grandmotherly someone almost 30 years ago when she and my cousin were first dating and experienced this dish at an extended family member’s house. It was one of those “old family recipes that never gets shared / well maybe just this once, just for you” things, and became a staple in Staci’s family after she and Jimmy married. She said she has to make two pans of it whenever she serves it, or there won’t be any leftovers to enjoy. We can see why!
Staci didn’t make a big deal of it, but it was clear that she had chosen the wine carefully to match the meal. James Suckling, a world-renowned wine critic and long-time senior editor for Wine Spectator, said in his review of the 2018 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon vintage back when it was released, “Ripe plums and blackberries with some coca-nib, vanilla, bread-crust and smoke notes. Full-bodied with velvety tannins, deep fruit and bright acidity. Tight and reserved, yet juicy, with a long finish. Approachable now, but better in 2022.” It’s almost 2022, and that rich red elixir was everything he described, and absolutely perfect with the rich, meaty lasagna.
The impact this meal had on us is exactly why we are remodeling our kitchen. Homemade food, lovingly prepared, delivers far more than just taste and sustenance. It carries with it the intent of the cook, the connection between the cook and the eaters, the history of the recipes and legacy of how they’ve been enjoyed by others in the past, the impact it has in the moment it is enjoyed, and the promise of a story, like this one. I feel connected now to that long-ago dinner that Jimmy and Staci enjoyed where they first tasted this lasagna at someone’s house when they were dating, and to those nights that she served this meal to her hungry teenage boys and their friends. And once I wrangle the lasagna recipe out of her, she’ll be permanently connected to the bubbling, rich dish as it comes out of the oven when I serve it in the Glover Gardens 2.0 kitchen. Homemade food connects us, sharing meals connects us, and we plan on lots of connections when our kitchen is finished.
Thank you, Staci!
This post is part of the Glover Gardens Kitchen Remodel Series. To see the rest of the chapters, click here.
© 2021, Glover Gardens