Strange Kitchen

I’m in a strange kitchen. The only thing I’ve brought from my home base is my chef’s knife. This kitchen is equipped for squatters – temporary occupants that have no interest in real cooking. I feel awkward, like I’m intruding. How will I manage the next few weeks without my beloved pots, pans, tools and machines?

The layout is a one sided galley, with the refrigerator almost out of the room. The stove is an electric smooth top. Quick cleanup is a small consolation. The big picture window is a bonus, opening outward with a crank to welcome in cool mountain air, even if the view is the side of the neighbor’s house.

We bought some granola at a local bakery and of course it doesn’t measure up to my Triple Creek Granola, so I stock up with the ingredients at the Whole Foods at the edge of town. My friends tell me I should sell it, but it would be the world’s most expensive granola, as it costs $20 for the raw ingredients to make a batch.

I scrounge through the drawers looking for measuring cups. The 1/2-cup is missing, so the 1/4-cup does double duty. I find a large stockpot to mix the dry ingredients – oats, three kinds of nuts, coconut, brown sugar and cinnamon, while a small saucepan gently warms oil, honey and maple syrup.

I find a cheap sheet pan in the broiler drawer beneath the oven and spread half the batch to the edges, spilling gooey oats on the counter. Fifteen minutes later the pan buckles when I take it out of the oven and it hits to cold surface of the cook top.

The granola sticks to the bottom, even though there is plenty of fat in the mix. Through the hot pad, my hand burns, as I forget that once side is only a thin veil of fabric, like a one-sided mitt.

A few more minutes, another stir and scrape, and repeat again, until the granola is golden brown and the house smells of warm cinnamon, maple syrup and toasted nuts. Now I stir in dried cherries and blueberries, breaking up the clumps as it cools.

All of a sudden, the kitchen seems right, like someone turned a light on in a dim room. The granola cools on the counter. The house smells like the home of a cook, and the strange kitchen isn’t so strange after all.

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