Teja's Family Kitchen

Kitchen Tour

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Who cooks and eats here: Teja Ream & Neil Collier, daughter Elsa, baby Owen and two dogs
Where: Los Angeles, CA
Rent or Own? Own

Teja used to store her fabulous collection of heels in her oven, and she rarely cooked if at all. Now she's a busy working mother of two, serving as creative director at a major record label, while husband Neil is a full-time software engineer —and together they manage quite a lot of home cooking. Teja even makes all her own baby food, which she chronicles on her blog Either or And. She's proof positive you can make simple, healthy meals quickly.

Here's a peek inside Teja's kitchen.

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Teja's Kitchen Story

Teja and Neil bought their Sherman Oaks home about five years ago. From the time they closed on the house to when they moved in, all of the kitchen appliances were stolen. So the first order of business was purchasing a new stove, dishwasher and fridge. Their kitchen has its quirks; the limited counter space is a challenge as well as storage. The cabinets need a paint job, but with two small children, two dogs and two working parents, it's not the highest priority for this busy family.

The space is well-organized and has simple tools for their simple style of cooking. There's no microwave because Teja likes everything to be made fresh and makes meals to be eaten that day.

What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?

Chopsticks. They’re versatile. I also love having instant hot water with my Zojirushi water boiler. As an avid tea drinker it's nice to have boiling hot water on hand at all times!

The biggest challenge in your kitchen?

Storage and counter space. This could be applied everywhere in my house, but in the kitchen it's more evident.

Is there anything you would like to change?

I would like to expand the kitchen, change out the countertops to white, get one of those fridges with the freezer drawer on the bottom, would love some more natural light as well!

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Teja's Cooking Story

Teja's main focus in cooking is freshness, seasonality and high quality ingredients. She shops a few times a week and loves to have tons of produce to center the family meals around. Teja's family is Chinese by way of Jamaica, so she has a particular fondness for tropical fruits and strong, herbaceous flavors. She always has mangoes, papayas and berries on hand and she grows her own pomegranates, herbs, apples and many other veggies in her urban garden.

Teja learned to cook from her grandparents, both of whom created incredible Chinese and Jamaican dishes such as 5-spiced lobster, honey glazed chicken and black forest mushroom with lilly petals, callaloo (cooked Carribean greens), rice and peas and always loads of steamed veggies and rice. Her cooking is deeply influenced by them, only it's morphed to be faster, to accommodate her work schedule.

Teja's biggest asset in her cooking is her ability to shop for the week based on what looks good at the market and turn that into a quick meal. She'll buy some family favorites like bok choy, raspberries, and spinach, and always try to throw in a new-to-the family produce item for everyone to taste. Then she gets a few choice cuts of organic meat or fish to serve alongside rice and veggies.

Teja usually spends about 30 minutes preparing dinner, five nights a week, and on the off nights, they splurge on sushi or Indian takeout. She makes it look easy, but it takes a lot of commitment and effort to eat this way!

Best cooking advice you ever received?

"Sharpen your knives and have fun."

What are you cooking this week?

Lamb Chops, Grilled Sesame Eggplant, Chicken and Bok Choy, Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Sautéed Portobello Mushrooms with Toasted Barley and Sprinkled Parmesan, Veggie Stir Fry.

How would you describe your cooking style?

Fresh, inquisitive, easy.

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Resources of Note

  • Stove: Kenmore
  • Refrigerator: Kenmore
  • Dishwasher: GE
  • Pots and pans: Sur la Table
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Thank you so much for letting us peek into your kitchen, Teja!
Share your own kitchen renovation or improvement!
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
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More posts in this series

Kitchen Tour: Teja's Family Kitchen & Garden

(Image credits: Leela Cyd)