It’s the most important thing in my kitchen.
It’s not food.
Nor a pot or pan.
Not even a fancy appliance.
Folks who have known me a long time find it funny that I treasure anything in my kitchen.
See, much to the disbelief of my husband and kids, the ones I now cook for on a nightly basis, the ones who enjoy my usually pretty darn edible, if not delicious meals, for most of my life, I couldn’t cook.
There really is no way to over-estimate just how bad I was in the kitchen.
My parents and siblings would allow me only to wash dishes on Thanksgiving.
There was that time I put an old boyfriend in the hospital with my cooking.
Yeah, I’m talking that kind of bad.
Funny thing is, somewhere in that pathetically, awful non-cook’s body, there apparently was a cook wanting to get out.
Albeit, very, very slowly.
Even as a single gal dependent on frozen dinners and canned soup for dinner, I would sometimes get a tiny bit of courage to try.
Like those times I would get hankering for a baked potato.
Each time the craving arose, I’d go to market, buy a potato, come home and call Cyndi, my best friend since kindergarten.
“How do you bake a potato again?” I’d ask.
She’d patiently tell me once again how to preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Meanwhile, scrub the potato, pierce it with a fork and stick it in the oven for an hour.
Sounds simple enough, but no matter how many times I tried, the how of potato never stuck in my brain.
And no matter how many times I would call Cyndi, she’d go over the instructions.
One year, Cyndi announced, “I’ve got the perfect birthday present for you.”
Days later, a small box arrived in the mail from California.
I opened the box to find tiny green wood frame. Behind the glass were her hand-written instructions on how to bake a potato.
“Baked Potatoes,” it reads up top with her perfect calligraphy-like handwriting.
She always did have the best penmanship.
“Scrub baking potatoes with a brush,” it begins. “Prick potatoes with a fork. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 60 minutes.”
There’s enough room for her to add, “Add butter, sour cream, chives.”
The frame has hung in my kitchen ever since.
It is my kitchen’s biggest treasure.
My daily reminder that a crucial ingredient for a happy life is friends.
The friend who is patient when you’re clueless.
The friend who was there before you were successful.
The friend who is always there. Even when she’s 2,400 miles away.
There’s been a lot of potatoes, cooking lessons, and a husband and kids that have happened since that frame arrived.
Each time I make bake potatoes, I check the frame and smile at the most important ingredient of all.
There in the bottom right-hand corner, it says “With love, Cyndi.”
I’d love to know who is your baked potato friend. Please share with me below.
Find more uplifting stories on my website, DarynKagan.com