Grandma’s apple pie has reached legendary proportions in our family. With the promise of one of her apple pies, she can now entice any of us to do absolutely ridiculous things and she fills her home with the wafting aroma of cooking apples and the loud laughter of the crowd waiting to devour it. For his tenth birthday, my brother gave up cake in favor of Grandma’s apple pie. As a bribe for visitors, Grandma will often offer to make an apple pie.

We always walked into the kitchen at Grandma’s, and there were always good smells wafting through the air. It was a distinctly different feel than at home, where we walked into a vestibule. Walking right into someone’s kitchen is like going right to the heart of the matter, like walking in as the good stuff is unfolding, instead of going through extra steps to get there. While the suspense of a vestibule has its place, that place was never at Grandma’s, and I’ve never associated the warm feelings I have with a vestibule.

Grandma’s kitchen at the farm had brick-colored linoleum and a big, open feel. The dining room was right off of it, and I remember eating off the green-and-white flowered china with the rest of the family at holiday times. There was a counter with bar stools beside the oven, and as a small child, I would clamber up there.

The kitchen in my memory is full of smiles, and I find that as I struggle with cooking now that my kitchen is filling with smiles too. Something about those smiles makes it worthwhile to putter around and try things out. Something about the warmth, the reward, the people that cooking gives me access to…all of these things make me try harder.