Who cooks and eats here: Anne Parker, a food and prop stylist
Where: Portland, Oregon
Rent or Own? Rent
Anne Parker's Portland kitchen is a small, imperfect rental, but that has not stopped her from making it one of the coziest, treasure-packed culinary outposts I've ever had the pleasure of spending time in. Anne has tenderly gathered up a world within this kitchen that is creative, efficient, economic, and very, very pretty.
Anne's Kitchen Story
Anne's love of cooking and eating started with growing up in a household that valued natural ingredients, family traditions and handmade tools. With a carpenter as a father and a mother who threw every dish the family used for eating and drinking, the influence of Anne's parents runs deep within Anne's approach to her kitchen and cooking.
Anne's kitchen is a familiar sight to many renters — it has Formica counters, no dishwasher, and decent storage in a 1940s era space. The layout is a tight galley, perfect for one person but not big enough for a crowd.
The most interesting aspect of her space is not the architecture or design: it's how her lovely collection of pottery, glasses, cutlery, pots, pans, cutting boards, and plants create a mood that's all about coziness and handmade beauty. And Anne is able to churn out an abundance of delicious food here for the frequent gatherings she hosts. 2012 will be forever known as the year of "The Chicken Soup Party," when she cooked up a pot so big, many of her guests remarked they'd never seen quantities like that in a home kitchen.
Anne's Cooking Story
Anne and a small group of friends started a preservation club a few summers ago, and the results are inspiring: Meyer lemon/vanilla bean marmalade, rhubarb earl grey jam, pickled veggies for Bloody Marys (Anne's signature drink) and foraged mushroom salt are just a few items that are all at the ready in this stocked pantry. Anne cooks and eats simply and likes to top her food with vibrant condiments and salts from all over the world. Her cooking style is as straightforward yet inventive as her actual kitchen!
As a food and prop stylist, Anne is very organized in her approach to prepping foods at just the right time for a photo shoot. In this profession, timing and getting through a lot of cooking in one day or just a few days is everything. Anne does it all with ease and grace, most often from this little kitchen.
3 Questions for Anne About Her Kitchen
How would you describe your cooking style?
"I was a vegetarian for 10 years, and 4 of those years I was vegan. When I began to eat that way, I had no reason for eliminating animal products — I just thought it was a cool challenge. Throughout high school and college I worked at a natural food store, which absolutely influenced my relationship with food. When I was 19, I was given a gift certificate to Borders as a prize at work, and I bought The Food Revolution by John Robbins on a whim. I soaked up every word of that book. It gave purpose to my veganism. I learned a ton about where our food comes from, and the environmental impact of the choices we make.
I'm no longer vegan or a vegetarian, but I still incorporate many of the principles I learned at that time into my cooking and eating habits. I try to cook as healthy and seasonally as possible, but there are inevitably some exceptions from time to time."
Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
"One summer I worked for an Iranian woman who had a catering company. I'm not sure that this is the MOST valuable advice, but she instilled in me that rice should always be rinsed three times before cooking it. I think of it every single time I make rice, and always feel like I'm cheating if I don't heed her advice."
Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
"I really don't have any one thing that was a big investment. I got to take home a fancy Japanese chopping knife after a photo shoot I worked on. I try to take special care of it, and keep it in the case except when it's being used. Other than that, my only indulgence is just the sheer quantity of things I have! I get to use the excuse that my collections of things are to use as props for styling, but that's really just a convenient line I get to throw around."
Resources of Note:
Table: "Nearly everything in my kitchen was acquired secondhand, including my kitchen table. When I moved into this house nearly five years ago, I found this table on Craigslist. I'm constantly scouring Craigslist for things I (or someone I know) want or need. It comes in handy sometimes, as I've found both this house and table while just browsing for fun."
Pottery: "All of my pottery is from different places, but mostly from thrift stores near and far. I have a sixth sense to spot good pottery in any store — I'm just drawn to it!"
Spoons: "Given as gifts and collected from all over the world."
Glassware: "I have an inclination toward drinking out of small vessels. Most of my glasses are jars of some sort. I have a collection of small glasses that are actually furikake jars. I also drink out of little glass containers from yogurt that I ate in France."
Cutting boards: "Another compulsion I am trying to fight is my love of cutting boards. Similar to my pottery, I find them wherever I go."
Those beautiful kettles: "I definitely like tea, but am not an afficionado like some people I know. However, that doesn't stop me from collecting tea kettles! I just have a few, and like everything I collect, each have a story. Two of them were acquired while on a road trip with two of my best friends in southern New Mexico on our way to Marfa, TX."
Coffee equipment: "About a year ago I had a friend from New York staying with me for a week. She commented that each day I had a different special way of preparing her coffee: Chemex, French press, pour over, percolator, AeroPress, etc. I'm a committed coffee drinker, and go through phases of how I choose to prepare it. My coffee equipment is probably the only stuff in my kitchen that I've bought new in a retail store."
Pots/pans: "A number of years ago my parents gave me a set of cast iron skillets for Christmas. I've spent the time between then and now diligently seasoning them the best I can. Whenever I make bacon I secretly am excited for what all that fat will do to my pan."
Thank you so much Anne for letting us peek into your kitchen!
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(Image credits: Leela Cyd)