Where I Cook: Meg of Beard & Bonnet

Kitchen Tour

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Who cooks and eats here: Meg van der Kruik of Beard & Bonnet, a vegetarian and gluten-free food blog, her husband Todd, and her children Eliza and Kash.
Where: Long Beach, CA
Rent or Own? Rent

I’m always smitten by a living space that fully represents the personalities of its inhabitants. You know the kind. It’s more than just a space — there is life to it, a story. Meg’s house is definitely one of these places. (Within about five minutes of being there, I casually asked Meg if she wouldn’t mind coming over and helping me redesign my entire house. She chuckled, but I meant it.) Nestled around the corner of the main living space is her kitchen, which Meg admits is the most used room in the entire house. Let’s take a look, shall we?

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When you walk into the van der Kruik's Long Beach home, you’re instantly hit with a feeling of whimsy and design along with a sense of old world charm. There’s bold art hanging on the walls. A record player sits in the entryway along with a collection of records, ready at a moment's notice for an instantaneous dance party. Vintage finds are scattered throughout the house mixed with clean lines and modern pieces. But I was most interested to see Meg's kitchen and hear more about her cooking, since she has quite the story to tell:

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Meg's Kitchen Story

Meg is the creator of the stunning gluten-free and vegetarian food blog, Beard & Bonnet. Like most modern day love stories, my relationship with Meg began on the internet. We started writing our blogs around the same time and quickly formed an easy friendship that spanned the miles between us. So, nearly a year or so later, when I found myself in Southern California, I knew I had to make a stop in Long Beach and visit my friend in person! We chatted, drank cocktails and I got to snoop in all of her cupboards.

In my snooping I found organized mason jars filled with different spices along with dried goods such as rice and beans. Her dishes were a collection of antiques and other unique pieces she and her husband have collected over the years. Compared to the relatively open floor plan in the rest of the house, the kitchen feels more contained but no less special. On the counter were bowls of fruit and vegetables and some prepped ingredients ready to whip up into gluten-free falafel. (Oh, and that falafel was good.)

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I've been ogling Meg’s food props over the internet since I first found her website. They always seem to go beyond a standard white plate or clear glass mug. Her props are antiques. I knew she was somewhat of a collector, but I wasn't prepared for the scope of it. Beyond what I found in her kitchen she pointed me to this chest of drawers that lives in the dining area. I opened the drawers and the cabinets to find antique silverware, cutting boards, and cocktail glasses. Really, it felt like a little piece of food-styling heaven. "We travel A LOT so most of our journeys become points of inspiration for new collections," explains Meg.

Since she and her husband Todd really love hunting out these unique pieces they started an online store called Blk Market where they are selling some of their collections to the public! I’m totally excited to nab some of their well-curated loot.

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Meg’s Cooking Story

When I asked Meg if she’s always loved to cook, she started to tell me about her childhood and how she first authored a cookbook at the age of nine. Sure, it was handwritten on notebook paper with pictures taped onto its pages, but the inspiration was there! She explained "If I didn't have film to shoot, I drew some of the pictures instead." Her mom was a pastry chef, so she grew up "eating all the cake a girl could ever dream of eating and then some." Her dad was a great home cook that whipped up roasts, beans and other comforting fare. But, what this daughter of a pastry chef didn’t know is that she’d be in for a challenge.

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Although the food that Meg cooks now is still comforting and satisfying, her diet had to change significantly once she started a family of her own. Each member of her family has some sort of food intolerance, ranging from mild to severe. Dairy allergies. Severe gluten allergies. Soy allergies. There’s a vegetarian in the mix. There's also a meat eater in the mix. Wheat is totally off limits. Even though she’s cooking for four people with very different dietary needs, she manages to pull it off, and oh so deliciously. She now cooks to please the palates of all the members in her household while making everything allergy-friendly, tasty and food that her family can thrive on.

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3 Questions for Meg About Her Kitchen

What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?

"I am inspired by my family when I am cooking. My husband and kids are almost always in the kitchen with me and I just love it. I don’t know many two year olds that are willing to sample every raw veggie you slice up, but mine does and since he knows what so many raw fruits and vegetables look like he is a great sous chef too. My daughter, Eliza, is almost 12 and really is a whiz in the kitchen herself. She is always willing to jump in and stir a pot, chop a veggie, or wash a dish. Honestly, sometimes her flavor combinations are more interesting than my own!"

What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?

"Last July 4th my mother in law, Anita, and I made an entire gluten-free taco bar for our guests from scratch. It was so much fun to be in the kitchen all day, enjoying cocktails, and cooking our favorite foods. We had everything from vegan ceviche tacos to homemade black bean tacos with jicama, citrus, and red cabbage slaw. That was probably one of the best meals I have eaten in a long time!"

Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:

"I have received a lot of advice and tips over the years from the amazing cooks in my family, but really the best lesson I ever learned was watching my grandparents cook from their own garden. They didn’t really have to say anything at all; they simply led by example and instilled a passion in me at a very young age for fresh, local produce. Going into their garden as a child and hand-picking my dinner is a memory so fresh and so vivid that I can still recall the smell of the beans as I snapped them off of the vine all of these years later. It really was magical."

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Resources of Note:

  • Furniture: Bookshelf (in the kitchen) from IKEA, dining room table and chairs are from an antique shop in Hogansville, GA. The stereo cabinet in the front entry was handcrafted by the couple out of a dresser they found on Craigslist.

  • Dishes & Cookware: Vintage Pyrex pieces, large mason jars, and silverware are from various antique and thrift shops (you can find some items from their collection for sale through their store Blk Market). Milk bottle measuring cups are from Anthropologie. Blue rimmed bowls and the wooden cutting board are from Williams Sonoma. Green bowls are from Le Creuset. Ceramic knife is by Kyocera. Spice containers are from TJ Maxx.

  • Artwork: Skeleton pieces by entryway are done by Butch Anthony. The bear sculpture is by AJ Fosik. Painting on wood in the entryway is by Peter Ferrari. Mixed media collage was done by Meg, and the skull above their kitchen bookshelf was done by her husband Todd. The large scale print in the dinning area is by Shepard Fairey. The bird painting over the stove is by Kelly Moore. The larger painting in the kitchen the couple had commissioned by Jesse Hazelip.

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Kitchen Tour: Meg of Beard & Bonnet

(Image credits: Gina Biancaniello)

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