One of my favorite times in the kitchen is Saturday afternoon, all by myself, making a big mess preparing Creole and Cajun dishes. Whether I’m trying to cook my roux(flour and oil) to the perfect nutty brown for Gumbo, or making a simple pot of Red Beans and Rice, it is my place to unwind and anticipate the good food to come. At our home like most of the homes we design, the kitchen is the heart of the structure. Our ‘eat in kitchen’ is where we have family breakfasts and dinners, we help with homework, we gather with friends and family to discuss the important things in life. The kitchen is a magnet for gatherings and conversation. Many homeowners decide to renovate and expand when they realize they just can’t keep people out of the kitchen.

When designing a kitchen, it is important to remember the chicken/broccoli rules. That is, those two items generally come out of the refrigerator, are washed in a sink, will be cut up, and seasoned on a countertop cutting board, and will then probably end up either on the stove or in the oven (this pattern is also known as the work triangle). The kitchen should be designed to make this pattern work as efficiently as possible.

Some things to keep in mind while designing your kitchen:

  • Provide the main sink with a view, hopefully a window.
  • Design the kitchen to feel comfortable with the house.
  • Provide ample storage and a pantry if possible.
  • Allow for plenty of natural light as well as electric lighting on dimmers. You don’t have to turn them on, but they are there if you need them.
  • Leave room on countertops for stuff, it always accumulates.
  • Choose materials carefully:
    • Some look great but are hard to keep stain free (if that is what you are looking for), i.e. marble and limestone
    • Some can look cold, i.e. some granites
    • Some may need to be replaced over time, i.e. butcher block around sinks
  • Make your kitchen a fun place to be. You, your family and friends are going to spend a lot of time there.

The kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms in a home because of the cabinets, plumbing, appliances, finishes, etc. In most cases it also gets some of the most use and can increase the property value as well as the sense of enjoyment so important to making a home.

Crisp Kitchen Before

Crisp Kitchen After

Commander’s Red Beans

1 cup of chopped onions
½ cup of chopped bell peppers
½ cup of chopped celery
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ pound of ham, diced
1 tablespoon of butter
½ pound of beans
water to cover the beans
salt and black pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
¼ tablespoon of thyme
2 bay leaves
¼ tablespoon of oregano
½ pound of hot pork smoked sausage or Kielbasa (sliced)

Saute onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic with the ham in the butter in a large sauce pan until the vegetables are soft. Add the beans with enough water to cover. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, thyme, bay leaves, and oregano and cook until the beans start to break up (about 2 hours). Add sausage and cook slowly for approximately one hour, until beans start to change color and are getting thick and creamy. Stir occasionally to prevent beans from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove from the heat until they are ready to serve. Serve hot.
Serves 8 to 10.

COMMANDER’S PALACE
1403 Washington Street, New Orleans, Louisiana