This kitchen, set atop a hill in a lovely Santa Barbara, California home, is chock-full of treasure. Heirloom pieces made by Penelope's mother and grandmother, a puppeteer and ceramics artist, intertwine history and a handmade touch into this beautiful, contemporary space.
Penelope and Andy are avid cooks and world travelers. Their adventures inspire their fresh, healthy and global menus. Their kitchen's crown jewel is the 1926 aqua and cream Wedgewood stove Penelope insisted on saving from her grandmother's home. It is in great condition, with large-flame burners and two ovens. Not only is it functional, it's the prettiest stove I've ever seen. What a delight to work with this piece of timeless equipment! And, yes, that is a fake snake under the stove. With her unconventional sensibility and eye for humor, it's no surprise that Penelope's placed a slithering creature under that gem of a stove.
Penelope is an amazing fine artist and it comes as no surprise that her mother and grandmother were also working creatives. Her mother's puppets dangle from a shelf and her grandma's ceramics are used regularly. The hand painted, often golden or silver-luster pieces are so elegant and glamorous, they look like what contemporary home stores (especially Anthropologie) are trying to achieve, yet often fall short of the mark. They are lyrical and whimsical in design, with lots of Arabesque flourish and vivid colors. The pieces are also slightly rustic and very timeless. Penelope and Andy have been using these dishes for over 20 years! This is a kitchen where history, family, beauty and function come together beautifully.
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
I love having friends over for meals. I really enjoy thinking about what they would like to eat, what I'm in the mood to cook and how I will present everything.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
I love my old stove; it's been in the family ever since I can remember. I have so many wonderful memories connected with it. As for new tools, I love my high speed Vita-Mix blender I use it more often than any other appliance.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
One of my favorite memories is an Indian meal we made with friends. We had all the ingredients ready and divided up into teams to cook several different recipes. We've had so many good times in the kitchen.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently? [if renovated]
I would have moved the marble insert for rolling out pastry to the right side of the sink with the garbage disposal (now, it's on the left).
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
Eclectic and healthy. I enjoy experimenting and am always trying new recipes. My husband and I love eating local fresh produce from our area. Santa Barbara has wonderful farmers markets.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
There have been so many. One that comes to mind is how to use my formed cast iron corn bread pans. Put them in the oven while you pre-heat and get them really hot. Take them out and pour in some canola oil, use a paper town and spread it around into all the crevices. Add the batter quickly. The cornbread will pop right out and not stick at all. Wipe the pans w/damp sponge to clean, don't get them too wet.
10. What are you cooking this week?
I am on a soup and salad kick. One of my favorite soups right now is chickpea with caramelized onions and lots of Meyer lemon juice. Add some Parmesan on top. Nice with a roasted garlic Caesar salad and some grilled chicken on top.
• Stove & Range: 1926 Wedgwood 6 burner stove
• Dishwasher: Bosch
• Additional Oven: GE
• Dishware: Made by my Grandmother in the 1920s
• Hanging Puppets: Made by my Mother
• Vintage Ceramic Panther and Black Poodles: collected throughout the years
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
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(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)