There’s something for everyone in isle kitchen
Carved sea-blue mermaids, a clock shaped like an ice cream cone and child-level cabinets filled with toys help make every day a holiday in the kitchen of Pat and Lane Cobden’s home on Christmas Tree Point Road in Galveston.
“With three children and nine grandchildren — the oldest is 11 and there are three 2-year-olds — this had to be a family-friendly, working kitchen,” Pat Cobden said. “We also wanted it to be a special place for our grandchildren to visit while they were young, but one that could adapt to their wants and needs — and our retirement goals — as we all grew older.”
As the main cook in the family, Lane Cobden also had his own requirements for the recent remodeling that expanded an earlier, much smaller kitchen into today’s spacious combination of kitchen, dining and family areas.
Working with contractor Joe Ender, the Cobdens created a plan in 2014 that included a large scale expansion of the western perimeter of their existing Galveston home-away-from-home. The resulting room required the use of 15 steel beams weighing as much as 9,000 pounds each.
To further blend the new addition with the older structure, the Cobdens installed flooring of northern white oak in both areas. Today, the juncture is imperceptible. A 5-foot-wide deck, shaded by an extra wide overhang and equipped with misting fans, surrounds the exterior, providing additional play areas and a second food preparation center with a Fisher & Paykel grill.
The interior food preparation area is set off from the rest of the room by a 4-by-16-foot granite countertop with carved mermaid-shaped corner posts. Custom-built on site, the kitchen’s Shaker-style cabinetry is inset with small, rectangular windows that shed extra natural light on countertop work areas, and ceiling-high, glass-paned cabinets provide display space that’s out of reach of little fingers.
Stainless steel appliances include Wolf double ovens and a six-burner range top and griddle with a ventilation hood encased in weathered wood. A large double-door refrigerator and freezer combination features a see-through window inset.
Two dishwashers, two farmhouse-style sinks and two trash containers help handle cleanup. To reduce wear on the refrigerator, the Cobdens installed refrigerated “drink drawers” in perimeter cabinetry. There also are two separate family areas, one with soft upholstery and more feminine décor, the other with leather seating and a river stone fireplace.
“This way, we can have one side for Disney and the other for sports,” Pat Cobden said with a wry smile.
Special accent pieces include a pair of table lamps — one red and one green — made from the port and starboard lights off a Lake Michigan ferry, and paintings by local artists René Wiley and Gayle Reynolds.
Pat Cobden’s love of oysters is represented in her extensive collection of oyster plates and a Kim Hovell painting of three oysters nestled together, a piece purchased as a tribute to the couple’s three daughters. A chandelier festooned with oyster shells hangs over a centrally located dining table that can seat 20, and a children’s table and chairs set is nearby.
Despite the room’s eye-popping décor, the couple maintains that a certain amount of wear and tear is not only acceptable, but to be expected with small children.
“Two-year-olds, for example, are all over it,” said Lane Cobden, who is enjoying this phase of his retirement from the international specialty steel company he founded and ran until a few years ago.
Pat Cobden points out “everything is scrubbable” and that the many baskets of shells throughout the room have been strategically placed so they can be easily accessed and explored by small hands.
Such special Christmas Tree Point Road indulgences aren’t just for the young, however. Looking out over the kitchen’s panoramic view of Galveston Bay, Pat Cobden spoke of the almost magical feeling of relaxation she experiences on the island, and her husband described his joy in the quiet beauty of their home’s adjacent protected nature area.
“Anytime we get a break in the action at our full-time home in Katy, there’s no question about what to do next,” he said. “We just get down here as fast as we can.”
This is a popular dish among the Cobdens’ grandchildren. It was created for them by their grandfather “Boppa,” who sometimes goes by the name Lane Cobden.
Servings: 6 to 8
1 (4- to 5-pound) roasting chicken
1⁄2 large yellow onion
8 garlic cloves
Sprigs of thyme and oregano
Salt and pepper
Duck fat, butter or cooking oil
Vegetables of choice: the Cobden family’s favorites are fingerling potatoes, fresh mushrooms, carrots, onions, leeks and fennel.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Stuff chicken with onion, leek, lemon, garlic, thyme and oregano seasoned lightly with salt and pepper; truss chicken and set in large roasting pan. Pat the chicken dry, dry brush the entire bird with duck fat, butter or oil. Salt and pepper the skin well.
Add vegetables of choice to the bottom of the pan, and cook until the chicken’s juices run clear, about 60 to 90 minutes.