the kitchen

This isn't new, but I'm going to write about it anyway.  You know how people hang out in the kitchen at gatherings all the time?  There is all kinds of other room in the house, but the kitchen is where people congregate.  Even in smaller kitchens.  Last night, a couple of my friends came over for dinner and - granted - we were getting dinner ready and making cookies, but part of the time we could have been sitting in the living room.  But we didn't.  We just hung out around the counter in the kitchen.  Even when Keith has boys' night with his buddies, they hang out there for a while when they first get there -- and sometimes for quite a bit of the night.  And on Christmas, Mom and Dad's kitchen was packed all night... which was different when she had a bigger kitchen because people could spread out.  But now that she has a smaller kitchen, that hasn't changed.  I was even stuck in the corner for a while and couldn't get out!  It was cool, though, because the company was good and I was next to the drinks... and within arms reach of a couple of the food things.

Like I said, this is not a new concept, but I still don't know why it is.  Maybe because that's where the food / drink is?  Or it's less formal than the dining room?  Does it smell better there?  I was talking about a while back with a colleague and they said they have even moved the food into another room to try to move the party... but people still came back to the kitchen.  So, what is it?  I'd be curious to know your thoughts on that. 

I'm not complaining - I had a lot of fun hanging out in the kitchen with my friends last night!  I made dinner... I had found a recipe for Baked Apricot Chicken that I wanted to try.  When I went to make it, it turned out that what I thought was apricot marmalade in the fridge was actually orange marmalade, but it worked out just fine.  I messed up and didn't get a picture of it, but if you look at the pictures on the site, it looked like that. It was super good and super easy - served with rice and corn from the farm.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture, but it was really good.  Here's what it ended up being (credit to the original recipe):

Baked Orange Chicken
1 c. orange marmalade
1 c. sweet & spicy french dressing
1 pkg (1 oz.) Lipton onion soup mix
10 chicken thighs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken in a 9x13 pan.  Mix the marmalade, dressing, and soup mix together well and then pour over the chicken, covering well.  Bake for 1 hour, uncovered. 

That's it.  SO easy.  And SO good. 

Then we did dessert and made some chocolate chip cookies.  I honestly cannot remember the last time I made chocolate chip cookies and, because I don't do it often, don't have a favorite recipe that I use.  Instead, I pulled out the trusty church cookbook, and made J. Halverson's recipe from it.  They turned out really good, but I think they were better when they first came out of the oven... they were a little hard today.  Still very edible, though!  I'm interested in hearing what your tried-and-true chocolate chip cookie recipes are - ones that stay soft and chewy on the inside and a little crunchy on the outside.  Feel free to share. :) 

And we made the last group with some cut up maraschino cherries in it, and it was a yummy edition.  Give it a try sometime!


with cherries!

After dinner and dessert, we hung out in the kitchen for a little while longer, and then watched a DVD of a comedian.  A great night with awesome people is always nice. 

So... what I want to know is:
  • why do you think people always hang out in the kitchen?
  • got any good chocolate chip cookie recipes?


  1. When I make chocolate chip cookies I use the recipe on the back of the package. I've actually found the recipe on the back of the Roundy's brand to be the best! But I take the amount of butter and divide it in half and use half butter, and half butter flavored shortening. Then I bake them on a stone from pampered chef. I take them out when they are just brown on top and then leave them on the stone until they flatten a bit. Nice a soft on the inside and a nice crispy edge. I think I might have to go make some now! Then when I store them away in a airtight container I place a piece of bread in with them. This helps to keep them nice a soft for a few days.

  2. Thanks, Kate! I'll have to grab some roundy's chips next time I'm at the store. I don't have a stone, but maybe should look into getting one at some point... great idea on the bread, though! I do that with brown sugar, but didn't think about it for cookies!

  3. Brenda I don't bake, so I can't comment on my fav chocolate chip cookie recipe. However whenever we have people over we always congrigate in the kitchen as well (and we have a tiny kitchen), I think people feel more comfortable in the kitchen because it brings back all those wonderful memories of mom's/dad's cooking weather it be a homemade meal or some yummy goodies from the oven. It's the one place in someone's home that gives you warm and fuzzy feelings no matter who's kitchen it is.


  4. I also make mine with half shortening

  5. Genni - that's a good answer and it makes sense! It seems people always seem more comfortable there.

    Kim - good to know. The recipe I used had half shortening, but it was the first time I'd had it like that, I think. Like I said, I don't make chocolate chip, often... let's just say I eat them more than I make them. :)

  6. This chicken sounds real good and I will be trying it sometime as you know we love Chicken.

  7. Well Brenda I have to agree with the kitchen thing....you know that's how it is here too. I think the kitchen gives easy access to the fridge and ice cubes, glasses in the cupboard, coffee in the pot, and hopefully lots of food on the island for grazing. As for the chocolate chip cookies, a gal I work with makes great ones and says she always uses Crisco instead of butter for shortening, but you can't melt it in the microwave but just mix at room temp (I have been impatient at times and melt the shortening...not a good idea, even with butter) - and as already noted, let them sit on the pan for 5 minutes or so before moving to a cooling rack. Your chicken sounds good. Thanks for sharing!
    Love, Pam

  8. Just a thought . . . But, I think people are just being courteous of the cook; they don't want him or her to feel left out and alone during family and social gatherings. We don't want them to miss anything, or feel left out.

    I will share one of my fondest moments of childhood, and a kitchen congregation. It was, I believe, Thanksgiving, and we were at Booie's (my Grama, for those that don't know). As usual, everyone was in the kitchen while Booie was trying to get the food ready.

    Let me lay out the kitchen for you. I was an average sized kitchen, the kind with the table in the middle of the room, a stove on one side, the cupboard next to the fridge at the opposite end of the table, and sink across the room from the stove. A door from the kitchen leading to hallway that had double doors going into the living room; the living room had double doors leading to the dinning room; the dinning room had a door going into the kitchen. That being said; this is how the story played out. Picture this little lady in your mind. She was all of 4' 9", maybe shorter, and about 100 pounds. Like I mentioned earlier, she was trying to get the Thanksgiving Chow done, and on the table. You see, the natives were getting restless (we have Native American ancestry . . . so I am being politically correct when I call us/them natives). Booie was making round trips (going from kitchen, through living room, through dinning room, and into the kitchen again, to gain access to the fridge and get dishes out of the cupboard. She made about three trips, getting more agitated with each trip; as you can imagine. Finally, she erupted, which sent people evicting the kitchen area . . . She was standing by the stove with a fork in one hand and a pot in the other, looking very upset and angry( well . . . as angry as a grama can look). She looked across the kitchen, at the sea of people joyfully visiting and consuming cocktails, and screamed . . . "GET THE HELL OUT OF MY KITCHEN!" Needless to say, HER kitchen, was vacated in a hurry . . . the natives retreated . . . FAST! And, at that very moment, all I could grasp in my tiny little brain, was . . . Woaaaa, Booie just swore . . . Booie said the H word . . . COOL!

    I think of this story, every time I am part of a congregation in someones kitchen; while they are trying to get food on the table. It always brings a chuckle to by mind.

    As for the chocolate chip cookie recipe. I always use the Toll House recipe on the back of Nestle chocolate chip bag.

    The chicken sounds really good.

  9. I, too, am looking for the perfect chocolate chip recipe. I have one that I hear is wonderful. I'll pass it along if it's any good. I don't use shortening, as I think that is what adds trans fats. My friend uses 1/2 butter and 1/2 plain yogurt, and her cookies turn out puffy but soft. They are quite good.

    I have never understood the kitchen thing. I suppose it's just that people start there and never end up leaving! I often tell my guests we're moving to the living room and people often seem relieved with the change.

  10. Pam, I'll have to try that with the cookies! Patience is not my virtue... but my shortening was at room temp... butter, not so much. Next time I won't melt it, though!

    Tammy, I think you're probably right -- but as Booie proves, not all cooks want people to be "courteous" and hang out with them. HAHA - I love that story! If memory serves me, I may have only been in Booie's house once... but I remember she had a beautiful stained glass window. Am I making that up in my head? I was pretty little... I may not remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, but I remember some pretty random stuff from way back when... ask mom - she'll tell you! :) I've heard the Toll House recipe is good. It sounds like I may have to have a cookie baking day and try all of these different kinds and then do a blind taste test. Want to come?!

    Laura, you'll have to pass that recipe along if it's good. Interesting with the yogurt -- haven't heard of that before!


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