Sometimes, on cool afternoons in her kitchen, she opens the small window in the back left corner overlooking the glistening Tennessee lake to better regulate the oven-heated room. She keeps her favorite herbs potted on the windowsill for easy access and the occasional scented whirl of basil, rosemary, and thyme.
With a large family, the 16-ft island is nearly always covered with red onions, aromatic garlic, kerosene-sized tanks of olive oil, one-peel clementines, and French recipe books. Every possible neutral color speckles her room—from the terracotta orange walls to the pale yellow tiles on the island, my mom knew exactly what would make her kitchen not only stand out and amaze, but truly capture a French-influenced grandeur. That kitchen is Saturday waffles, Thanksgiving dinner for forty, and cocktails when the babies go to sleep. That kitchen is home.