It seems a funny thing to admire an appliance, but I’m fond of my stove. I love the shiny industrial chrome range, the thick flame and those chunky knobs. I even enjoy that clicking sound just before the flame ignites. Having a good quality stove makes a kitchen feel decadent. This single appliance acts as the anchor of the room, a place for guests to gather around and watch the home cook work his or her magic. Investing in a good quality range and oven can make the work seem easier, and change the space both functionally and aesthetically. It is truly a pleasure to cook on my commercial-style range and I enjoy trying out new recipes to bring my family and friends delicious food. I recently cooked a meal on a Wolf stove with a French Top, and it was daunting how many options were available with this feature. French Tops have been used in commercial kitchens for many years, and are now making their way into homes. It is not for the faint of heart and with its large flat surface with varying degrees of temperature, I cooked four pots of food at once moving them around to change the heat level as needed. It is exciting to see companies are offering the home cook more features and with smaller and easier-to-clean products. However, as soon as weather permits, my husband grabs his flame torch and mitt, heads outside during dinnertime and insists upon grilling most of our meals. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy outdoor entertaining and cooking, but I start to miss my trusty friend in summer.
Our whole kitchen starts to morph over this season. Our home starts to feel a whole lot larger as we expand out the back door, and enjoy dinners spilling over the lawn, under the pergola and more often than not, chatting in front of the grill. Now I told you I loved my stove, but most will agree food cooked on a grill takes on a whole different flavor. I envy all those people who have outdoor clear icemakers, built-in bars and an entire kitchen unit in their outdoor space. Shy of investing in a complete custom cooking system outside, there are little ways I have found to bring that indoor cozy kitchen feeling, that we enjoy all winter long, to the outdoors. I suggest using colorful Mylar trays to carry glasses and food, throw pillows on the outdoor furniture, oversized lanterns on the table and lots of accessories brought from inside. I also take console and side tables outside to allow plenty of space for setting drinks and platters of food. Of course a traveling bar cart on wheels comes in handy for cocktails.
Gone are the days of the grill as merely a place to throw hamburgers and hot dogs, because the outdoor grill offers many culinary options. Just this week I read Martha Stewart Living Magazine’s ideas for cooking vegetables and herbs together in foil and parchment pouches, and of course who doesn’t love Ina Garten’s grilled pizza? Even rotisserie chicken on the grill tastes better. With new grill options offering steam, extra burners and grill tops, cooking outside has endless possibilities. My husband has learned creative ways to grill clams and he has honed many tricks for searing seafood. After our culinary club explored Greek cuisine this winter, I’m envisioning Chicken Souvlaki parties under the pergola with twinkling lights. Can’t you picture it? All the while my lonely shiny oven will be waiting patiently inside for summer to end.