The kitchen they say, is the heart of the home. So many memories — sometimes special and other times, catastrophic — take place there, like preparing holiday feasts, cooking heirloom recipes, baking Christmas cookies and, (gasp!), burning the Thanksgiving turkey. On a trip to Murfreesboro, Tennessee recently, it was in my brother and sister-in-law’s kitchen where my three little nieces and I created new memories to cherish.
Earlier this summer, my husband, Kurt, and I flew to Nashville to spend some time with my brother and his family. A flight there from Savannah is just over an hour and sure beats a nine-hour car ride. We packed a lot into a three-day weekend, including boating and tubing on the most beautiful lake, playing with puppets and puzzles, eating ice cream, swimming and riding the side-by-side with the mountains in full view. We couldn’t visit without some quality time together in the kitchen though, and on our last night there, my little helpers — Lydia, 8, Hannah, 6, and Julia Hope, 3 — donned our aprons and set about baking white chocolate raspberry blondies.
Lydia, my oldest niece, is quite the baker. For her birthday earlier this year, Kurt and I gave her a children’s cookbook, and she’s successfully made many recipes on her own — banana bread, she tells me, is her favorite. Lydia is planning to open her own bakery and bookshop in New York City when she grows up — she’s asked me to be her business partner — and we’ve spent many hours planning her menu and even the decor. So, when I come to visit, we always sharpen our skills.
As I was gathering the ingredients and cleaning off the counter tops to get started on our recipe, I looked over at Lydia, and noticed specks of white flour on her cheeks and forehead. She smiled reassuringly and said, “It’s my kitchen paint.” My heart swells a little more every time we’re together. Hannah and Julia Hope were eager to help, climbing on the step stool wanting to know if they, too, could stir. I put them to work going to and from the pantry for ingredients, and asked them to be on standby. We cracked the eggs, melted the white chocolate on the double-boiler, combined the dry and wet ingredients and greased our baking dish. Lydia knew just what to do, taking extra care to read the recipe through and preheat the oven.
When the blondies were baking and the batter spoons had been licked, we cleaned up and went outside to ride the side-by-side, while waiting on our evening snack. When we stepped inside again, the smell of white chocolate and butter wafted from the oven, with only 1 minute remaining on the timer. Happy with our handiwork, we pulled the pan from the oven and waited for them to cool just slightly, before enjoying a slice, with a cold glass of milk. The youngest sister, Julia Hope, fell asleep before dessert, and it wouldn’t be long before the other two would join her. The blondies were melt-in-your-mouth Some Kinda Good, and the fun we had, even better.
Lydia says she’ll definitely be making that recipe again, and when she does, I hope she’ll remember that first time we baked it together, kitchen paint and all.
Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a food enthusiast, author and the cooking show host of SKG-TV on YouTube. A Season 14 finalist on "Food Network Star," she is the personality behind the blog, SomeKindaGood.com. Rebekah is a Georgia Southern University alumna and attended Savannah Technical College’s Culinary Institute of Savannah. Search Facebook for Some Kinda Good, tweet her @SKGFoodBlog or visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.