After couple builds dream kitchen, they have space and time for what they love
When Bonnie and Collin Stanton decided to remodel their Dickinson kitchen after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Bonnie had three things in mind — new cabinets, a wall of pantry doors and self-closing drawers, she said.
“Drawers were really important for me because getting down and trying to get pots and pans out of low cabinets was a chore, so we added as many as possible — well over 25,” Bonnie said. “I wanted a farmhouse look, so custom birch cabinets with beadboard inserts took the place of the older dark ones. We had them painted Sherwin-Williams Gray Screen and repainted all the walls a sunny yellow.”
The Stantons chose COREtec enhanced floor tiles, which are easy on legs and feet, Bonnie said.
A wall dividing the kitchen and dining room was removed and an island was added with multiple drawers.
“We chose Blue Pearl granite for the island and countertops to match the existing granite on the breakfast bar,” she said. “Pearly white subway tiles added a nice contrast. Overall, everything was a vast improvement over the original lime green Formica.”
Now that she has the kitchen of her dreams, Bonnie can get down to business and do more of what she loves best — canning.
“My father-in-law grew field corn in South Texas and when we visited, I’d watch him can the corn, so it became my hobby and I’ve been doing it since 1990,” she said. “My mother-in-law, also a talented canner, was a home economics teacher, so we’d go to her school and can in the school’s kitchen. I mostly can salsa, tomato purée, pickles, Spanish rice sauce and mint to make mint syrup.”
The Stantons have grown other produce in their garden, but lately are growing tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, green beans, basil and mint.
“I usually have several jars of salsa canned because they seem to be a favorite with many of my friends,” she said. “I use a Farberware canning pot for cooking the salsa and as a water bath when canning other things, but I mostly use a 42-quart aluminum pot on our outside burner in the backyard.”
The backyard garden is mere steps away, so Bonnie only has a short walk to pick fresh vegetables for dinner or gather peppers for her salsa, she said.
Because her mother worked, Bonnie didn’t spend much time in the kitchen when she was growing up, so she didn’t know a lot about cooking when she and Collin were first dating, she said.
“I invited him over for dinner and had a cookbook opened on the counter on how to make mashed potatoes,” Bonnie said. “Collin laughed that I had to look in a cookbook to make something as simple as mashed potatoes, but I learned and eventually got good at it. I’m now famous for my banana bread, chicken Parmesan, tortilla soup and lasagna.”
One of the things Bonnie considers a valuable time saver is how she has arranged a corner of the kitchen she calls her “go-to area.”
“I keep my slow cooker, air fryer, Kitchen Aid mixer and blender all visible because I want those appliances in view and ready to use since I use them so often,” she said.
The Stantons, married 45 years, are retired and enjoying life’s pleasures, especially when their garden is lush and the bounty is plentiful.
“Canning becomes a family affair, especially when my four granddaughters get involved,” Bonnie said. “They like to pull the tomatoes off the vines, plus I have to give credit to Collin, because he’s basically the gardener and salsa processor — he does the hard work and I have the fun part.”
Heirloom items: Grandmother’s 1930s hand-painted MarutomoWare honeypot, made in Japan; grandmother’s etched goblets; vintage Fiesta dinnerware
Favorite herb: Basil, right out of the garden
Best kitchen story: Bonnie’s grandmother was known for her herb breads. Her husband would come in from the fields and smell the aroma and try to guess what herbs she had put in the bread that day.
Bonnie’s Spicy Salsa
Makes 18 pints
20 large tomatoes
15 serrano peppers, seeds removed
10 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed
5 large onions
½ batch fresh cilantro
11⁄4 cups white vinegar
4 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
9 tablespoons brown sugar
5 tablespoons non-iodized salt
5 tablespoons cumin
4 tablespoons garlic powder
11⁄2 tablespoon chili powder
6 tablespoons Ac’cent
Place tomatoes in boiling water until skins pop; cool, core and peel.
In food processor, chop onions, peppers and tomatoes, using pulse setting. Don’t over process to avoid mushy consistency. Add rest of ingredients, put all in a big pot and cook for 30 minutes.
If you’re canning in jars, process them in a water bath for 45 minutes.