The kitchen is the heart of your home – and home is where your heart is.
My friend Elle taught me this: just the way you can create a home inside your heart for everyone and everything, you can create a kitchen anywhere you want it to be.
In today’s super-fast-paced world, the endless barrage of technology can sometimes make folks feel a little crazy.
But Elle cooked up a special way for technology to bring us together.
Elle helped inspire a happy community of food lovers to gather in kitchens anywhere, anytime.
With her inimitable food blog, she was one of the first-ever cooks to create a digital kitchen—a place that welcomed anyone who might be feeling hungry for recipes, laughter, friendship and advice.
Even though I’m just a zebra who’s only beginning to explore the world of cooking, I knew that I could always find exactly what I needed in Elle’s New England Kitchen.
I still go there often—but it’s different now.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit Elle on her Facebook page and found this message:
“This is Elle’s daughter. I’m very sorry to have to tell you all that my mother passed away early yesterday morning. She was such a wonderful woman and we miss her immeasurably. She cared about all of you very much…”
And so we learned that the kind, funny, generous woman who’d nourished so many people was gone.
In kitchens all over the world, Elle’s in-person and digital friends sat with cups of tea or mugs of coffee and wondered, “Where is the recipe that tells you how to go on when you lose someone you love?”
For long, sad, empty moments, it seemed like an impossible recipe to find.
But you know what? Elle left it for us: the way we go on is by opening our hearts – and our kitchens.
Inside of both, we can welcome and nourish the spirit of Elle, with all her irrepressible laughter and hilarious wisdom and delicious advice.
We can keep coming together in our real and virtual kitchens to learn and laugh and swap stories.
Just as Elle did, we can nourish one another. Learn from one another.
We remember by cooking up memories—and keep the love going by creating new ones.
Because when you keep someone happy and vibrant inside your heart, their spirit is alive in the world forever.
We keep cooking up comfort food—and know that the secret ingredient is always love.
This weekend, Elle’s friends are celebrating her beautiful life, family and spirit by cooking and sharing her recipes at a tribute called #ElleAPalooza.
I know Elle would agree that part of the joy of learning to create special foods is sharing them with people you love – and inviting new friends to join you around your kitchen table.
Since I’m a kitchen beginner (who’s cooking with hooves), I chose the simplest of Elle’s recipes for comfort food: tomato soup.
It’s as cozy and soothing and rich and red as love itself. You can feel the creamy tangy sweetness warming you from your taste buds to your heart and back again.
And inside every comforting spoonful is my heartfelt message to Elle:
“Thank you for giving me the confidence to find my way around the kitchen, Elle – and for encouraging me to nourish the world around me with all the heart and soul and stripes a scruffy little zebra has to give. Love, ZeBot”
And to Elle’s family: “Thank you for sharing Elle with the food world — she will always makes our lives (and kitchens) a happier and more delicious place!”
And here’s my other present for Elle and everyone who loves her: A music video of me & my buddies cooking up our humble, found-what-we-could-in-the-pantry version of her amazing recipe.
To paraphrase Hank Williams: “‘Hey, Good Looking’ is a song is about a zebra who feels like he’s got what it takes to cook up some homemade love.”
We love you, Elle!
If you’re feeling hungry for some home-cooked comfort, here’s Elle’s original recipe: