Today we get to tour the kitchen of a culinary professional! Prolific cookbook author Diane Morgan renovated her kitchen fifteen years ago, but she designed it to feel both solid and timeless, so as you will see it still looks fresh and modern.
This kitchen has been the site of development for over seventeen cookbooks. Come peek into the incredibly organized cabinets and drawers of a professional food writer!
Diane Morgan's kitchen is beautiful, functional and highly organized. This celebrated food writer, cookbook author and educator uses her kitchen to develop new recipes and cook meals for her family. It's a workhorse space, where every item has a designated spot (no junk drawer to be found!). Being there, and getting to know Diane a little bit felt like diving into an artist's repertoire in their studio, getting to know her past and present work by discussing ingredients and her organizational practices.
In between authoring extensive cookbooks on a wide breadth of topics, Diane teaches a food writing course where she encourages aspiring food writers to find their voice and develop recipes properly. She invites students and guest speakers into her home, and usually uses the kitchen as a classroom. This unique kitchen, located in Portland, Oregon, on a windy street full of dense trees, is an inspiring place to spend time. You can just feel the dedication and work that has occurred here, on the limitless counters, amidst the organized drawers and of course, on top of a bright flame on the glorious French stove.
• Visit Diane's website: Diane Morgan
10 Questions for Diane Morgan (and Her Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
It may seem cliché to say this, but I am truly inspired by the seasons. Come spring, I am hungry for strawberries, asparagus, and the early runs of sockeye salmon. During the summer, I have berries at breakfast every day and we turn to grilling for most of our meals. As soon as the fall weather hits, I'm ready for soups and stews, using lots of winter squash and all the root vegetables in the market.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
Kitchen tasks would be challenging without my good knives and my large, sturdy cutting board. I encourage beginner cooks to invest in 3 basic knives: a paring knife, 8-inch chef's knife, and a good serrated bread knife. In addition, the knives need to be kept sharp with a good sharpener.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
It would have to be the first Thanksgiving dinner I cooked after remodeling the kitchen. Both ovens were going, all seven burners were lit, and a big stack of plates was in the warming cabinet. In addition, I finally had a long counter for all the prep and plenty of space to carve the turkey. It felt like a dream to have all this room to work and prepare a big holiday meal.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Even with all the cabinetry and pantry space, I still need to put extra-large appliances downstairs for storage. I bought a large slow cooker, tagine, canning kettle, and deep-fat fryer as needed equipment for previous books I have written. I have no room to store those in the kitchen and have them all in a large closet in the basement.
5. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
The architect and I designed the custom farmhouse-style, stainless-steel kitchen sink with the apron front. In hindsight, it would have been better to make the apron front about an inch or two higher to keep occasional splashes of water from running over the front. We have adapted and are careful where the faucet is turned. Guests wanting to help with dishes need a quick lesson! I still dream about a wood-fired pizza oven, but that will still be a few years off!
6. How would you describe your cooking style?
I think as a cookbook author I would fall into the savory-cooking category. I love to bake and have many desserts in my books, but my strengths are with savory foods. I love regional cooking and global flavors and those are reflected in my recipes.
7. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
I have had two wonderful cooking mentors in my culinary career, and Alma Lach, a former food editor at the Chicago Sun Times, was one of them. She had a prestigious avocational cooking school in Chicago and I was her assistant for five years. She was a perfectionist and really helped me develop my palate and sensitivity to flavors and the nuances of taste. Many chefs add extra salt to pick up flavor, and Alma taught me to balance flavors with acidity and sweetness in addition to salt.
8. What are you cooking this week?
With all the beautiful winter squashes in the market and our damp weather and falling leaves, I've grown hungry for butternut squash risotto. For weekend breakfast, I may make some pumpkin pancakes.
• The stove is a La Canche. It is a French stove manufactured near Beaune, in Burgundy, France. The stoves are distributed in the United States by Art Culinaire out of Bellevue, Washington.
• Architect: Margie Miller,
• Cabinetry: Simon, Toney, and Fisher
• Wooden spice holder: Southern India
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(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)