Batya Stepelman's Open, Garden-Powered Kitchen in Denver

Batya Stepelman's Open, Garden-Powered Kitchen in Denver

Jayme Henderson
Sep 16, 2014
(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

Who cooks and eats here: Batya Stepelman of Sparrows & Spatulas, along with her husband, Matt Berman, and their young sons, Otis and Theodore
Where: Denver, CO
Rent or Own? Own

I recently visited Batya Stepelman's city garden and warm, functional kitchen, nestled in a historic section of downtown Denver. Originally from Brooklyn, Batya is a self-taught cook, seasoned vegetarian, first-time gardener, and author of the popular lifestyle blog, Sparrows & Spatulas. When you visit Batya's kitchen, two things are certain: you won't leave empty handed, and you'll walk away inspired.

Let's take a peek into her cozy, open kitchen and flourishing garden.

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

Batya's Kitchen Story

I first discovered Sparrows & Spatulas from Batya's lively, engaging Instagram feed, well over a year ago; but I met Batya, the woman behind the camera, about six months ago. I mention this tidbit because social media plays such an important and connecting role in Batya's life. At a small coffee shop, over pastries and pour-overs, we shared laughs, our lives' paths, our interests, and our mutual love of gardening and food. A friendship was instantly born.

Three years ago, Batya and her husband, Matt, left their familiar community and family in Brooklyn and moved out to Denver, Colorado. Tired of her draining, "soul-sucking" job within the law profession, she changed careers and is now both a full-time mom and social media director for Brooklyn-based PR firm, D Loves Design. She greeted Denver, armed with a desire to establish roots, own a home with room for a garden, and create a positive life for her young boys.

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

Batya began blogging as a means to document her family's journey, and her style has evolved to incorporate what her family cooks, where they eat, how they garden, and where they travel. Moving to Colorado with no immediate family or friends, Batya was compelled to reach out to like-minded, local individuals, via social media. It is so refreshing when social media becomes something personal and real, connecting you to others, who share your ideals and, perhaps, live only a few blocks away.

Batya and her family have lived in this remodeled home, built in 1895, for a little under two years, and this is the first year they gardened. The kitchen is open, spacious, simply arranged, and functional. Batya's garden has become her muse for creativity and culinary exploration, and she has high hopes to expand the growing area even further. She is proof positive that if you are determined to learn a new skill, you will find a way to make it work.

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

9 Questions for Batya and her Kitchen

1. How would you describe your cooking style?
Seasonal, vegetarian, non-fussy home cooking, definitely with some sweets on the side. I love making ice cream and cookies with chocolate and sea salt.

2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
My immersion blender, good knives, and my Dutch oven.

3. What aspects of your kitchen made you fall in love with it and decide to make the move?
I love the light and the space. It is a pleasure to move from station to station.

4. What is the biggest challenge in your kitchen?
We have a ton of storage space in our kitchen, but reaching items and seeing what we've got is a challenge. The cabinets are deep, and the shelves don't slide out.

5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Yes! I would love to expose the historical elements of the space that were covered up by a previous owner. There is an original fireplace (presumably used for cooking, due to the date of the home) hiding behind the cabinets. I wouldn't mind exposing the original 1895 brick, taking out the cabinets, and installing open shelving. A white marble island and herringbone floors would be nice, too, but that would take heaps of money and make our kitchen unusable for months. It just doesn't make sense now. We're lucky we have the kitchen we do, and I'm enjoying the fact that we don't cook in a galley kitchen anymore!

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

6. How often does your family eat together, and how important is this to you?
We eat together every night, unless Matt or I are out with friends, which happens about twice a month. It is how I was brought up, and it is very important to me.

7. What is the best cooking advice or tip you ever received?
Mise en place, the French concept of "setting in place." Prep before you start cooking and clean up, as you go!

8. Who has influenced your cooking style most?
Ina Garten. I started watching Ina right after I gave birth to Otis. I really looked forward to her program every day, when he would take his 5 o'clock nap. Ina is personable, and I like her food and cooking philosophy. She uses local ingredients, and she cooks with the seasons. I've also never had any of her recipes fail me. I love that she treats meals as moments to be shared with loved ones and friends. Her food is about creating memories.

9. What are you cooking this week?
I find a lot of inspiration from cooking blogs and publications. I am making Peach Pie and Snickerdoodle Ice Cream from the Paper Plates Blog, Eggplant Parmesan from Frankie's Spuntino (a favorite Brooklyn restaurant), Summer Squash Soup with Thai Red Curry from Heidi Swanson, a kale salad from Green Kitchen Stories, and Marinated Tofu with Peanuts and Charred Bean Sprouts from Bon Appetit. I also hope to make some seasonal cocktails, maybe something with peaches in it, because there are only a few weeks left in the season.

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

Resources of Note:

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

Thank you so much, Batya, for letting us peek into your kitchen!
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