My cousin once told me that looking at the photos on this site gave the impression that I live in a vast, high-ceilinged, impressively white space, filled with gauzy, billowing curtains, white furniture and polished wood floors. It was totally inaccurate, of course, but it was flattering that my photographs provided such a dreamy illusion. And it reminded me of the time, years ago in art school, when a lamp that I had made was dismissed for trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. It was fashioned out of old, cheap Ikea parts and fancied up with a handsome walnut veneer – and the person critiquing the work found that dishonest. I’ve held on to that phrase ever since that sharp critique, almost in defiance: heck yes, I will make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, damn it.
So when my sweet friend Leela Cyd emailed in January wondering whether I’d like to have my kitchen featured on the Kitchn, I kind of panicked. My kitchen is the opposite of fancy – if my photos are the silk purse, then my kitchen is the sow’s ear. Thinking about documenting its imperfection gave me a tight-chested, sweaty-palmed, straight-up anxiety. There is so much that is edited out: our ridiculous brown shag wall-to-wall carpeting that has been teleported from 1979 (it pairs very well with Fleetwood Mac, though), the abundance of unsightly sprinklers attached hodgepodge all over the ceiling, the cheap cabinets, unattractive paint and generally imperfect state of our very real apartment.
That’s not to say that I don’t like this place. I do. But sharing its imperfect face on the internet is another story. There is no silk purse to be made out of this sow’s ear. I suppose, at the end of the day, it illustrates that a normal, awkward, dark kitchen should never be an excuse to not cook. I’ve made a life around food, in this wonky kitchen with its two front burners that never light, its ghastly overhead fluorescent tubes that are never turned on but oppressive in their central overhead spot, its falling-apart cheap cabinetry and pockmarked linoleum. This is where I work. It’s where I do what I love.
It’s a funny coincidence that I first learned about these gorgeously-hued, intensely magenta deviled eggs from Leela’s post last year on the Kitchn. I finally got around to making them this weekend, and bring them to you today, the day on which Leela has run the feature on my own kitchen on the Kitchn.
Deviled eggs are already a perfect party food. Add this bright shot of color to the mix and you’ve taken them to another level of wow. In researching these guys I learned that the tradition of beet-pickled deviled eggs is a big one in Pennsylvania. You take a half dozen eggs, plop them in the pickled beet brine, let them sit overnight, or longer, depending on your desired hue. The lovely Ashley of Not Without Salt is on the same wavelength: she also showcased some of these gorgeous pink eggs this week, along with three other fine ways to go about a deviled egg, one of which smartly incorporates preserved lemons. Go check it out.
PINK DEVILED EGGS
8 medium or large pastured eggs
1 cup reserved beet water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 tablespoons mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon whole grain or Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon salt
handful of finely chopped chives or parsley for garnish
First, cook the beets in one or two cups water until soft.
While the beets are cooking, prepare the eggs. Place the eggs in a pot and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, turn off heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes. Drain eggs and place in an ice bath to cool. Peel when cool.
When the beets are soft, after about an hour or so, remove from heat, reserving the liquid. Peel skins from beets.
In a wide-mouth quart jar, combine the beets with one cup of the colored water, the vinegar and the black peppercorns. Add the eggs. Let the eggs sit at least overnight. Longer sitting will more deeply color and pickle the eggs.
For the deviled eggs:
Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a mixing bowl. Add mayonnaise or yogurt, mustard, relish, salt and mash with a fork. Using a small spoon, scoop the mixture into the yolk cavity.
Best served soon after preparing but may be kept, covered, in the fridge until ready for use.