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Over My Dead Body…

…Is what my mom said when Patty Smyth—the singer/songwriter aptly known for “Goodbye to You”—attempted to repo our stove.

 

You see, the coastal Brooklyn house my mom bought in 1976 had long been a second home to Patty, whose stepmother, Cookie, had grown up there. The stove that came with the place was indeed a beauty: the same vintage Chambers model Rach used to have on her set, except ours was powder blue, not yellow.

 

Every once in a while Patty would swing by the house to see how the stove was doing. Well, to say hi to the family, too, but mostly to make sure her cherished heirloom was still around.

 

Once, when I was in college, my mom called me and said, “John is here and wants the stove.”

Me: “John who?”

Mom: “Johnny Mac.”

Me: “MacEnroe?”

Mom: “Yeah—and I told him over my dead body.”

 

Yes, she summarily shot down the era’s most famous tennis player—who also happened to be Patty’s husband.

 

My mother loved that stove. Never mind that we had to light the burners with a match. Or that the oven wasn’t spacious enough to hold a decent turkey (sort of crucial when you host Thanksgiving every year). Or that the merest breeze would kill the pilot light along with the burners, and we’d have to wait at least 30 minutes before turning the gas back on—or risk getting blown off our feet by a gas surge (believe me, I know from personal experience).

 

Our beloved stove

 

Despite all the stove’s shortcomings, her love for it was unflinching, no matter how much her culinary-minded children pleaded for an upgrade.  After all, this stove had been her trusty sidekick throughout her adult life. Those burners heated the first meal she made as a homeowner—and the water for my first bottle.  That oven helped us celebrate every conceivable family milestone—and achievement, big or small.

 

But after this 36-year love affair, everything changed in an instant: The night Sandy hit, five feet of water swallowed the stove whole.

 

You know the rest of this story by now—about the devastation and loss that reached far and wide. And while the household essentials were comparatively minor casualties, my mother couldn’t bear to part with the stove. She often said it had a soul; the prospect of discarding such a beloved being broke her heart.

 

Our kitchen post Sandy

 

Now, even after her herculean mold-, rust-, grime- and debris-removal efforts, the poor thing is still “resting” outside while we search for ever more advanced resurrection methods.

 

In its place sits a shiny new oven big enough to hold a 40-pound turkey—much to her children’s delight. But somehow, mom hasn’t quite gotten used to the idea that knobs alone can fire up burners.  No matches required.

 

Our new kitchen

Patty did stop by the house after Sandy to make sure we were okay. And of course, to check on the Chambers. She was saddened by its streaks and corroded innards, but relieved it was still there.

I’ve urged my mother to pay it…backward and relinquish the stove to Patty. And you know what? Mom’s almost there. But I have a feeling that “almost” could last for a while.

 

Written by Chris Jette, Meredith senior marketing manager

 

Related Links

Eight Long Months After Hurricane Sandy

The First Steps for Your Kitchen Renovation

Reluctant Renovator

 

Hot Plates!

You’ll be dying to make the hot new casserole recipes—from green chile chilaquiles to mu shu pork—in our exclusive October issue tear out booklet. But before you hit the kitchen, grab one (or all!) of these great bake-and-serve casserole platters for  your table.

 

1. Go retro with a two-tone 1.5 quart family style dish. Corningware Etched Green, $21, target.com

2. Breakfast casseroles, like our booklet’s Hash Brown Bake with Eggs & Smoked Salmon, belong in the morning bird. Revol Happy Cuisine Poultry Dish, $70, bloomingdales.com

3. This heavy duty dish makes casseroles and doubles as a dutch oven for stocks, stews and chili. Calphalon Simply Cast Enamel, $100, wayfair.com

4. Serve up individual portions of our booklet’s Shrimp & Pasta Mini-Bakes in individual-sized (8-oz.) cocottes. Mini Cocotte in Red, $50, fab.com

5. Go classic with Rach’s easy-to-grip 4.25 quart Casseroval, available in 8 colors. Casseroval, $50, rachaelraystore.com

6. This pumpkin doesn’t turn into a carriage—it turns into a delish casserole! Add the single-portion dish to your table for some seasonal fun. Petite Pumpkin Cocotte, $30, lecreuset.com

7. Fill up the crowd with these traditional minis. Available in green, blue, red, orange and white. Omniware 5 oz. Cocottes, $35 for 4 piece set, macys.com

8. Make them quack up with this woodsie serving piece. Also available with a rabbit or chicken top. Apilco Duck Casserole Dish, $120, williams-sonoma.com

9. You’ll be surprised how fast the food disappears from these 12″x8.5″ dishes, buy two to make seconds! Italian Onda Bakers, $30, surlatable.com

 

Still hungry for more casseroles? Try these recipes:

Summer Picnic Essentials

If you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen—get out of the house and host a picnic! We’ve got the best gear for a summer day in the park, at the beach or on the lawn—all you have to do is provide the food. Check out our fave products:

1. Forget schlepping around a bulky, boxy basket—this insulated picnic tote holds everything you need and keeps food at the right temp! $42, macys.com

2. Easily carry this large picnic mat to whatever spot you choose—the waterproof bottom means you can lay it wherever you want! Plus, store extra essentials in the hidden pocket. $32 and up, picnicfun.com Special note: 10% of all pink mat purchases will go to breast cancer research.

3. Keep food safe from bugs while you play with these hand-painted food domes. $30 and up for set of three, depending on size, worldmarket.com

4. Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style! You’d never guess these servers, with intricate rope detailing on the bottoms, are melamine. Available in three colors. $18.50, potterybarn.com

5. Need inspiration? Look no further than Tori Finch’s “A Perfect Day for A Picnic” loaded with tons of decorating and recipe ideas for your outdoor party. $17, amazon.com

6. Don’t forget the wine! This three-bottle-tote ensures the vino keeps flowing all day long! $30, builtny.com

7. These bright, printed melamine plates will survive the trip outside—and impress your company! $4.50 each, westelm.com

Pair your picnic gear with these delish just-for-summer recipes:

 

More Picnic Posts:

7 Portable Cocktails

3 Small and Portable Chargers

10 Outdoor Party Ideas

 

 

The Best Father’s Day Gifts!

Here’s to you Dad!

Stumped on gift ideas? We’ve got some quirky, foodie and all-around awesome presents to show your dad just how much you love him this Father’s Day!

1. I mustache you a question! How cool would your old man look in these stache-covered socks? $12.50, fredflare.com

 

2. Whatever his title may be at work, we promise you he’s most proud of the title “Dad.” So let him brag at the office with a special for-dad-only mug. $14 each, rockscissorpaper.com

 

3. Guys aren’t all about meat and potatoes, they have a secret sweet tooth too! Fill up his candy drawer with a three piece candy collection, loaded with fruity sour gummies, gummy cola bottles and gourmet gummy papa and baby bears. $16 for set, sugarfina.com

 

4. Happy hour just got better! With this age-your-own whiskey kit he can pour friends a drink and brag about it. Each kit comes with two 110-proof bottles of un-aged White Dog Whiskey, an aging barrel and two drinking glasses. $150, binnys.com

 

5. Make a statement! This wood sign (5″x4.5″) let’s him show off just how much you care. $11, paper-source.com

 

6. If he’s more of a beer guy, try a garden kit that lets him grow his own hops! In this garden dome, he’ll grow wheat, barley and hops (seeds included in the kit) so all he has left to do is brew a pint! $28, overstock.com

 

7. Here’s a treat he’ll eat right up: Slow-roasted pecans smoked and seasoned with chili powder, thyme, brown sugar, salt and Old Bay for true Southern BBQ flavor. $24, blackberryfarm.com

 

8. If he’s a grill master that loves to entertain, he—and his guests—will get a kick out of these Claudia Pearson beach-inspired hot dog plates. Surfs up! $16 each, westelm.com

 

 

Looking for more Father’s Day ideas?

Throw a bash in his honor
 
Find more gift ideas in our Father’s Day Gift Guide
 
Try our Father’s Day recipes
 
Make him a manly breakfast

 

Best-Case Scenario

These covers look so delish that you’ll flip over your phone…every time you flip over your phone.
–Diana Pearl

Foodie Phone Cases

Photo by Levi Brown

 

(Pictured from left to right)

Eye Scream
Don’t be surprised if answering a call leaves you craving an ice cream sandwich treat. ($15, etsy.com/shop/graphicpals)

 

Hot Stuff
Spice up your conversations with a dose of sriracha. ($18, etsy.com/shop/icaseserasera)

 

Sugar Rush
It’s all sweet talk with this clever Skittles cover. ($15, etsy.com/shop/kustomcases

 

Nice ‘n’ Crispy
Talk about fakin’ bacon: All this cover needs is some scent and sizzle. ($25, touchzerogravity.com) 

 

Condiment Craze
Move over, ketchup! Mustard’s got a new partner now: your phone. ($25, touchzerogravity.com)

 

Snack Attack
Here’s one cracker you’ll want to keep away from soup. ($25, touchzerogravity.com)

 

RELATED:

Gigabites: Foodie USB Drives

Self-Empowerment: Portable Chargers

Rach’s Fave Products

 

The First Step For Your Kitchen Renovation

Design guru, Maxwell Ryan of ApartmentTherapy.com, gave our editor-in-chief, Lauren Purcell, one goal before they started collaborating on her kitchen: to get inspired.

If you’re working on your own renovation, that means to dream a little bit! Collect images of rooms that you love. The goal is to give yourself a guiding star that will pull and excite you (because the rest of the process can get you stuck in the weeds and you’re going to have to change you mind a lot). “Starting out with a firm idea of inspiration will act as your lighthouse to carry you across the sea that you’re going to embark on throughout the course of your renovation,” Ryan says.

Lauren started her own kitchen inspiration Pinterest board to keep track of her ideas (and Maxwell contributed to the board, too!). Check it out!

Lauren's Pinterest Board

3 Mother’s Day Care Package Ideas

According to the National Retail Federation Mother’s Day spending survey, consumers will spend an average of $168.94 on mother’s day gifts this year with a majority of people splurging on electronics. Instead of giving mom a straight-out-of-the-box gift like a phone though, we suggest showing her a little TLC with a care package specially customized to compliment her personality. Use our three suggestions below as a starting point, then get creative by adding other items you know your mom will love!

3 Mother's Day Care Package Ideas

For Moms Who Love a Little Nosh:
Give her an edible world tour: Line the inside of a cardboard box with an old map and pack it with treats like jasmine tea pearls from China, French macarons, figs from Spain or Belgian chocolate. Or look to family vacations for inspiration: saltwater taffy from San Diego, bagels from New York or maple syrup from Vermont.

 

For Moms Who Put Everyone Else First:
Encourage her to indulge her interests. If she’s a cook, try colorful kitchen tools, an apron and a cooking-class gift certificate. Add a recipe box filled with notes and family photos. Or inspire an artistic mom with an art or photography book and a set of brushes and paints.

 

For Moms Who Want Something You Made:
Create a memory box: Write down your most heartfelt thoughts on separate slips of paper. Roll and tie each one with a bit of ribbon and stash them in a vintage tin. Include a photo in a recordable frame with a message from the whole family, or go all out with a customized photo book from a site like pinholepress.com.

 

RELATED:

Mother’s Day Recipe Ideas

Mother’s Day Menus

Mother’s Day Scrapbooking Party Plan

Breakfast in Bed Recipes

 

Gigabites: Foodie USB Drives

USB-thumb drives are coming in ever-tastier disguises. Do a double take with the smorgasbord below because one of them is a fake! Tell us which of the drives is your favorite in the comments below. My favorite is the watermelon one!

Foodie USB Drives

1. Cool Cube Toys 4GB fortune cookie ($25, coolcubetoys.com) 2. Zhuzhusworld 4GB chocolate doughnut ($15, etsy.com) 3. HDE 8GB watermelon slice ($12, shophde.com) 4. Imposter 0GB egg—Gotcha! This egg is a fake!  5. Cool Cube Toys 4GB cucumber roll ($17, coolcubetoys.com) 6. Cool Cube Toys 4GB strawberry torte cake royale ($25, coolcubetoys.com) 7. Cool Cube Toys 2GB chocolate bar ($15, coolcubetoys.com)

 RELATED:

Faves: Fun Finds for Birthday Parties

Faves: Get the Look of an Italian Kitchen

Faves: Trendy Polka Dot Home Products 

 

 

 

Join our Facebook Chat with Maxwell Ryan

 

Facebook Chat with Maxwell Ryan

Renovating is tough. Just figuring out where to begin is hard work! So to make it a little easier, we’re bringing design guru from ApartmentTherapy.comMaxwell Ryan, to our “kitchen table” to talk with YOU in a series of Facebook chats.

 

To kick it off, we’re focusing our first chat on the woes and worries of starting the renovation process and opening it up to any and all of your questions. Is it knowing who to hire and when? Or maybe it’s deciding whether to start your renovation with the floors or the ceiling? Or perhaps you just want to know if gray is really going to look good in your kitchen? Whatever your concerns, now’s your time to tap our expert and get your need-to-know renovation answers. Hope to see you there!

 

Can’t make the chat? Leave your question in the “Comments” below and we’ll ask Maxwell for you, then post the response afterward!

 

RELATED:

The Reluctant Renovator

Reluctant Renovator: The “Before” Photos

 

 

Reluctant Renovator: The “Before” Photos

We told you all about our editor-in-chief, Lauren Purcell’s, kitchen renovation. Now, take a peek at the “before” photos of her 61-square-foot kitchen (it’s in Manhattan, people!). She shared Instagram pics of the space and filled us in on some of her most troublesome elements.

Kitchen before

 ”The best part about my kitchen now is that it faces a big window in my living room.”

Recycling and garbage bins

 ”I’d like to hide the recycling and garbage bins, but I don’t want to have to open trash drawers with dirty hands. Do they make doors you open with your feet?”

faucet

“The faucet has sprung a tiny leak. (Hey, you can’t have sufficiently awful “Before” photos without some duct tape.)”

kitchen before 2

“Nice gaps between the counter and appliances, eh? I dread discovering what’s fallen down there!”

microwave

“OK, I have no shame: I’m revealing to the world that I’m using a scrunchie to remind me not to pull the bottom of the microwave handle, which has detached. (The scrunchie is meant to go on a wine bottle, not a ponytail. Does that redeem me at all?)”

oven

“A nonfunctioning oven means two things: lots of sautéing and more storage!”