A downsized island kitchen means less work, more fun and laughter
With their six children grown and no longer living at home, Heidi and Chip Fenoglio decided to downsize and move to a waterfront community.
Their 4,000-square-foot Dickinson home had served its purpose, so two years ago, the Fenoglios found a lot in Galveston’s Spanish Grant area and built a 2,000-square-foot bay house on a canal.
Downsizing the kitchen meant less work for Heidi and fewer meals to put together, she said. The outdoor kitchen downstairs meant Chip would have more room to grill and use his smoker.
“I went from having three ovens to one,” said Heidi, who enjoys the simplicity of a smaller kitchen.
The open concept of their dining room, living room and kitchen allows everything to flow, she said.
The countertops and island are white quartz with veins of black and gray. A trio of galvanized pendant lights hang above the island.
“The island drawers, cabinets and walls are all painted a slightly different gray,” she said. “Combining light, medium and dark grays to blend in with the white countertops and island provided the clean look I wanted. Plus, it’s a good contrast with our dark floors. I especially like the picture window over the farm sink, allowing for natural light.”
Except for the Bosch dishwasher, all appliances are KitchenAid. The backsplash above the stove is an arrangement of Delft blue ceramic tiles.
“My sister and I spent a part of our summer vacation every year with my grandparents in Marshall, Texas, and I remember my grandmother always cooking large meals,” she said. “We had lot of fresh purple hull peas and those peas stick out in my mind because we would shuck peas until our fingers were sore. I have memories of cornbread cooked in a cast-iron skillet, homemade chicken and dumplings, and a pitcher of sweet tea always on the counter.”
Over the years, Fenoglio has compiled a loose-leaf notebook overflowing with recipes from the past, and her own favorite ones neatly sectioned by categories. She even has recipes for the famous Olive Garden soups.
“With our adult children, grandkids and a great-grandchild, I still do a lot of cooking,” she said. “Grilling is also a big part of our lifestyle, especially on the weekends. Downstairs we have a grill, large fryer, griddle and smoker, so we fix a lot of fajitas, burgers, hotdogs, brisket, crabs and fried shrimp.”
Although the kitchen on the main floor is certainly nice and used for smaller meals and holidays, downstairs is where all the action is, she said.
“We have a table and eight chairs under a pergola, plus our boat, fishing poles, crab trap, kayak, and we’ll be building a floating dock soon,” she said.
A poster from a Jimmy Buffett concert, Tiki Bar and Margaritaville neon signs, as well as other beachy décor, are just a few items that portray the couple’s casual lifestyle.
“My dad threw me in the water when I was about 2 years old, so I learned how to swim pretty quick,” said Heidi, who went on to participate in competitive swimming for 12 years. “I grew up in Houston, but my family came to Galveston a lot, so I always knew I wanted to live here.”
The couple, now retired, also spend time in Mexico when possible, but preparing dishes either upstairs or downstairs is their favorite pastime, they said.
“We get up pretty early between 4 and 5 a.m., go out and catch trout, reds and catfish that we often fry for dinner,” Heidi said. “We love our no-frills, simple life here with lots of fun and laughter.”
Tip: Use herbs de Provence as a rub for brisket
Chip’s specialty: Homemade sausage from scratch with biscuits and gravy
Crowd pleaser: Garlicky Shrimp Dip
Garlicky Shrimp Dip
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic minced
Ground black pepper
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup shredded mozzarella
¼ cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, divided
Pita chips for serving
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add shrimp and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Cook until shrimp is firm and pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, then coarsely chop.
In a large bowl, mix together lemon juice and zest, cream cheese, mayonnaise, mozzarella, Parmesan, 2 tablespoons parsley and cooked chopped shrimp. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a small baking dish and bake until bubbly and golden for 25 minutes. If desired, broil on low for the last 2 to 3 minutes for a more golden look. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve with pita chips.