Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Gladys Kravitz



Mr. Blandings and I are a good match for a lot of reasons, but one of the critical ones is he is an amazing cook and I am not. But I do love to eat. For many years when we were first married, and even after the addition of the first baby, I would come home from work, put on comfy clothes and wait for Mr. Blandings to come home and fix dinner. I know this is flying in the face of traditional gender roles, but I was awful and he was great and it seemed a little silly for both of us to eat badly, especially since he liked to cook.



But, eventually, the boys were eating solid food and I quit my job, and it seemed a little silly for us to be sitting at home, a little grouchy and hungry, waiting for Mr. Blandings to arrive.




I did try. I simply don't have an affinity for it. No feel. What is the equivalent of a "good eye" in the kitchen? I don't have it. But we muddled through and Mr. Blandings, as is his nature, was always very polite.




Then one day someone recommended the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. Shaking my head, assuring her I was beyond professional help, my friend emphatically replied, "It's easy! It's great! You'll totally get her because it's never a list of ingredient as long as your arm and you won't need a dictionary to look up the techniques. Ina is the answer."



So I bought Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties. And it changed my life. It's easy! It's great! And I don't need a dictionary or a trip to the Asian market.




And then, oddly, I became hooked. I have all her cookbooks. And I use them. And I'm...good. Better. Now Mr. Blandings and I sit down together to watch Ina's cooking show on the Food Network. The only problem is, I became a little obsessed with her house. The kitchen hooked me. Green walls, white cabinets, black counter tops. Finally, something to love about cooking.



But I'm always craning my head around the corner trying to see into her living room. I looked on line, but I couldn't find anything. Apparently, it hadn't been photographed. Except it had, in 1994, while I was still drinking wine in my KU sweatshirt waiting for Mr. Blandings, Ina's charming Hamptons home was in House Beautiful.



It's changed a bit, but it's remarkably the same. The kitchen island is black granite now and the upholstery in the living room has been updated, but the house is strikingly similar to the images from 14 years ago.




Ina's New York apartment was in House Beautiful this past year. It is also clean and simple. And chic.






The lines are classic and sculptural, the colors mostly neutral and soothing.






With some pop.




We are now best friends because she allowed this chair to be photographed with the fabric that it is going to be recovered in. But isn't yet. I like a girl like that.




And she has the amazing Ted Muehling candlesticks. 




It was so nice of Ina to let us have a peak at the New York pad. The thing is, I hate to be nosy, but I still want to see a new spread on the Hamptons house. Really.



I know I'm a bit like the rubber-neckers trying to peer through the privet. It just seems that House Beautiful would have a bit of an "in." She does write a column for them.






Could she possibly think that we've seen enough on the Food Network? Not nearly. And the magnifying glass doesn't help a bit, even with the DVR on pause. Maybe I just need to stop by for a cup of sugar.

40 comments:

Paloma said...

I am obsessed with all things Ina! Her New York apartment is lovely, but I agree that her Hamptons house is amazing, from what I've seen of it on Barefoot Contessa. I've always loved her gardens and her kitchen, though I think she may have remodeled her kitchen recently. It looked very different in one of the newer episodes.

Anonymous said...

What do like to cook from her books?

Anna said...

Oh Mrs Blandings - what a lovely story!! Lovely pictures of her Hamptons home and apartment! Happy New Year!!
XO
Anna

Alison said...

Mrs Krav.......er., I mean Mrs B.,
You are a classic - your segues to your stories are always fab!

OK, so I'll say it.
As a kid, the ONLY reason I willingly participated in selling Girl Scout cookies was to pull off a "Gladys Kravitz" moment - the peek into neighborhood houses.

With the exception of her fab kitchen, BFoots house shots seem rather austere & too cool around the edges.........a void that strikes a bit hotel-esque
I like more visual reveal and teases dangled about the owner of houses.

Always a pleasure checking your latest, Mrs. B.
Cheerio, Alison

Mrs. Blandings said...

Paloma - I have not seen a new episode in a while - I'll be on the lookout for changes! There was one other shot from the article that showed a door to the left of the cabinet of the refrigerator wall. I do think that has been modified as well. I think it opens to the pantry and dining room. See. I think I have a problem.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Alison - the cookie story is a classic. I have a good friend and neighbor here who used to put babysitting flyers in the mailboxes of houses she wanted to see. As for the house, I think that is exactly why I need more. I do love the way she moves stuff around and sets up a table in the living room. Her garden is also wonderful and truly an extension of the house. House Beautiful? Are you listening?

Mrs. Blandings said...

Anon - I have not tried anything yet that I didn't like or couldn't manage. For me, that is significant. I'll list some recipes here by book, but many of her recipes are on her web site as well because of the Food Network connection.

Family Style
Chicken Noodle Soup
Smoked Salmon Spread
Parmesan Chicken
Linguini w/ Shrimp Scampi
String Beans w/ Shallots
Flag Cake
Potato Basil Frittata

At Home
Caesar Club Sandwich
Smoked Salmon & Egg Tartines
Loin of Pork w/ Fennel
Chicken w/ Goat Cheese & Basil

Cookbook
Banana Crunch Muffins

Parties
California Pizzas
Caviar Dip
Chinese Chicken Salad
Potato Pancakes w/Caviar
Salad w/ Warm Goat Cheese
Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

Sorry, I got started and couldn't leave anything off. Bon Appetit!

The Peak of Chic said...

Ina is the best! I too have all of her cookbooks, and there is not a bad recipe in the bunch!

Style Court said...

I know, her kitchen is great! Another perfect post Patricia.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Thanks, Courtney, I learned from the best!

annechovie said...

I loved this post! I, for one, think that, even beyond her obvious talent(s),Ina is just utterly likable! I agree with you, I'd love to see more of her Hamptons home than the little snippets we catch on the Barefoot Contessa. I often wish I could be invited to her home for dinner. She would be the perfect Aunt. She and Jeffrey are adorable together.

Rebecca said...

I love Ina too. She built a new kitchen/entertaining facility in a barn in her garden and some of the new shows are filmed there. It looks very similar to her home kitchen so some people might not notice.

I love her pantry. Every glimpse I get makes me want to see more. I am lucky enough to have a large pantry but my organization doesn't hold a candle to Ina's.

Rebecca

Cricket said...

OMG! I've never watched the Food Network; cooking for me is cereal with milk. This week, my TIVO thought I might enjoy "Chefography", and recorded 3 episodes. One was Ina. I've heard so much about her and some friends talk about her all the time, so I watched. I still have no desire to start cooking, but I was really amazed by her! She's so smart and has so much style. I'm very curious - does anyone know if she and Jeffrey have any children?

teaorwine said...

Adoring the sneakers by the door and the bookshelves in the dining room!

Mrs. Blandings said...

Rebecca - I love her pantry too, but have complete and total pantry entry. Mine is something like a deep floor to almost-ceiling cabinet. Better than nothing, but I can't walk into it to get my dark chocolate.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Cricket - Ina is pretty private about her family life - other than including Jeffrey in most shows - but I do not think they have children. When you're ready to turn on the oven or stove, she's your girl.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Anne - I agree, I think she's a delight. She's the kind of person that makes me say to Mr. Blandings, "If we met on a plane, I think we would be friends." He just smiles and nods.

Jessicas Follie said...

Mrs Blandings - Hope you will enjoy this real life Mrs Kravitz story... She was in KC doing a dinner theatre something. I think her name is Sandy something (?). My mother happened to strike up a conversation with her in the shoe department of Swansons. The two somehow became fast friends. My mother visited me in Ca. and we had lunch with her several times in LA. She is a lovely person, but somehow I kept thinking that she was looking in my purse and spying each time I was around her. The friendship has since gone by the wayside - too bad because it is such a funny way to have made a friend. Bless us all for having a little Mrs Kravitz in each of us.

Happy New Year.

Things That Inspire said...

I received a Le Creuset Dutch oven for Christmas, and in the afternoon I looked through my Barefoot Contessa recipes, because I knew she would have the perfect recipe for a Le Creuset. I am thinking about trying the chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.

A few years ago, I made some Barefoot Contessa cupcakes, from the website. They were the most divine cupcakes I have ever eaten in my life, and I am a bit of a cupcake fanatic.

Here is the recipe - it is limited time, so it is not on the site very often:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_28671,00.html

Mrs. Blandings said...

Jessica - I love this story - and it makes me long for Swansons!

Mrs. Blandings said...

Inspire - I gave Mr. Blandings a La Creuset dutch oven for Christmas! Carribean Blue! (I got to pick the color - he didn't care.) I will try the cupcakes. As an aside, I made the orange choc. chunk cake for my big city friend when his dad died last spring. After having one, he warned his mother and sister not to eat one - "loaded with alcohol." Not an ounce. Not one drop.

halcyon said...

I love Ina Garten and her home. She's so warm and speaks right to the camera as if she's talking to you. At the risk of sounding snobby, I like her because she does what she wants and doesn't play the idiotic Food Network Games like Giada *tho I love her* and Rachel(I had a stroke) Ray.You'll never see Ina on Meatwagon throwdown or whatever they call that challenge program. But my favorite is her partiered gardens, her wisteria covered pergolas and that kitchen. Man who wouldn't love to cook with her in that kitchen. She's got enough liquor in that pantry to staff a bar....How bad can THAT be? I had never seen some of those E.Hampton photos!

Anonymous said...

Love this post!! I'm a first time reader. I have the original House Beautiful that these pictures of Ina's house are taken from. Long before I knew Ina as the author of the cookbooks, I loved her style in decor. Just for your information, she built a brand new house that looks very much like the house pictured in HB about 12 years ago. Her garden is designed by Edwina von Gaal. She has built a new barn and is now filming her show in that. I would love to see her Paris apartment pictured in the pages of HB as well as a full spread on her house AND garden!
Thanks for a wonderful read!

Mrs. Blandings said...

Halcyon - How good are YOU? That made me laugh. I enjoy her for all the same reasons. When I was clicking around I found a great article in the NY Times - she talks a bit about how she doesn't want it to take over her life. She's preaching a "work a little, enjoy a lot" lifestyle and it seems she is living it. Sounds like they are begging her for more shows and she is happy with her current schedule. So smart.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Anon - So glad you found us as you are a wealth of information on all things Ina. I hadn't even thought of the Paris flat! Great idea!

Anonymous said...

I too have fallen in love with all things Ina: her home (especially her kitchen -- and that pantry!), her lifestyle that includes good friends and good times in a way I wish mine did (where, oh Lord, is the energy to entertain weekly?), her garden, her love of France, and especially her joie de vivre.

I wonder if the network execs are paying attention? They put an enthusiastic, intelligent woman with great taste on TV and the public can't get enough of her. So why do they keep creating shows featuring the plastic people?

I know what you mean about falling in love with the "set dressing." I too peek around her corners, trying to figure out the layout of her home, admiring its decor. It's happened to me before: I fell in love with the home in "Something's Gotta Give." I liked the acting too, but I adored the set. Actually, I think I fell in love years ago with the New York townhouse in a Neil Simon film and did the same thing. Maybe that's where it started?

Thanks for making me feel like I'm not the only quasi-peeping tom, who freeze-frames Ina's show to check out her tablecloth.

And I love your blog.

Splaneyo said...

I am with you - she just seems to have great taste. I watch her program and drool over the house as much as I drool over the food. Her garden is magnificent too. FoodTV had a program on her life a few days ago - she is a very interesting woman.

Hope your new year is off to a good start.

Heather

pve design said...

she is so real and such a hard worker.
thanks gladys for getting a "barefoot" into Ina's door!
again, another clever post.

SGM said...

Love Ina's orange velvet curtains and her books! She changed my life when she said to answer the door with music blasting so that guests will know that their in for a good time (and arriving on the right night!).
Rock chalk Jayhawk--just saw them win the Orange Bowl. Wooo!

Mrs. Blandings said...

SGM - the curtains are fab! And I remember her advice about the music as well - and have followed it often. And, yes! Hooray for those Jayhawks - we sure waited long enough. :)

Liz said...

This made me laugh out loud. I feel the same way, glad to know I'm not the only one! I love her house, and would be SO excited to see updated pictures of it. I myself find it hard to be 'simple' when I decorate, but oh how I wish I was. Thanks for sharing these pics.

CB said...

First, Mrs. Blandings, I love your blog, as well as Peak of Chic and Style Court. While I blog about food (in theory….it’s been a while), I spend an inordinate amount of my free time decorating. So, you are all an inspiration to me -- thanks!

Now, onto Ina. Over at What a Mouthful, we love, love, love her! She's great for beginners, as she concentrates on basic technique: roasting, pan frying and not-too-complicated baking. And for the more comfortable cook, she is a lifesaver for entertaining and the weeknight meal, as most recipes are pared down but don’t sacrifice flavor. And, the house in East Hampton is amazing…I’ve had a super-big crush on her Otto Wagner desk chair for years. Years.

Well, sorry for a lengthy first comment here…thanks, again for the inspiration! And Happy New Year!!

Mrs. Blandings said...

CB - I'm checking your blog next - I've been trying to line Mr. Blandings up with some cooking blogs. As for Ina, I agree with your assessment - if it weren't for her we'd be eating tacos and spaghetti (Ragu) every other day. If you don't learn from someone in your family, I think you are at such a disadvantage - she helped me "catch up" a bit.

CB said...

Dear Mrs. Blandings, Thanks for checking out our blog. (Warning: we are a little over the top sometimes.) At any rate, I haven't posted since September on account of just getting back to the city after a six month renovation. (And they said it would only take ten to twelve weeks!) But I am working on some new posts that I hope you will enjoy!

halcyon said...

Mrs.Blandings, may I please point Mr.Blandings to my dear friend Casey Ellis' food blog, Margin Notes
http://caseyellis.blogspot.com/
Casey is a decor and food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications including HB, Bon Appetit, and more. She is also the author of a book on organizing with her friend and cowriter Randall Koll, called The Organized Home. Food is her main love....Check it out.(shameless plug)

Mrs. Blandings said...

cb - totally understand the absence - and you simply can't offend me, I promise. We will "stay tuned."

Mrs. Blandings said...

Halcyon - thank you for the valuble referral (not shameless plug.) We will check it out - any blogging friend of yours will surely be a friend of ours. Could we tempt Mr. Blandings into the mix? We'll wait and see.

Cote de Texas said...

I love her NY apartment. Just love it - the curtains - the white furniture, beautiful. I hate food though, so I've never bought her cookbook!

Joni

Mrs. Blandings said...

Joni - I know how you feel, I just have all these MEN to feed!

Marie said...

I once saw Ina in EastHampton..I was so excited. Her recipes are fabulous and I understand she has a new book coming out this October. What about pictures of her Paris apartment?