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TV chef right at home stirring up creations


Jenny Baxter has a whole new house, but it's the kitchen that's a showstopper.

The hostess of "Jenny's Kitchen," a public-access TV show, designed her new 21-by-26-foot kitchen to accommodate TV cameras, lights and microphones.

Baxter, who also is a special education teacher in the Vallecito Union School District and owner of "A Catered Affair" catering business, has been taping her monthly half-hour cooking program for three years.

"Jenny's Kitchen" airs several times a week on Channel 7, the public access channel for cable TV subscribers in Calaveras County.

Baxter's new kitchen — with its hardwood floors, warm yellow walls and generous windows — is the result of much planning and dreaming.

"I knew I'd spend the majority of my life here and so I wanted it to be open, airy, well lit and have all the chef's toys within close reach," Baxter said.

Baxter's "chef's toys" include two sinks — one for vegetables and one for washing dishes — a commercial refrigerator and freezer, a free-standing ice maker, an antique bin table with a marble slab for rolling out pastries, a wine closet, an industrial stove with two ovens and a grill for roasting peppers, a warming drawer and, above the rangetop, a long, slim spout for filling large cooking pots with water.

"I needed a pot filler over the stove because I don't want to lug big pots of water," she said.

Her kitchen also has a fireplace.

"When the rains come, I love to sit in front of the fire, drink tea and go over my cookbooks," she said.

She has created the perfect spot to do just that.

Baxter was bitten by the cooking bug while still a child. Her Lebanese grandmother taught her many ethnic dishes, such as stuffed grape leaves and tabbuli salad.

The oldest of four, with two sisters and a brother, she tells the story of being 11 and thumbing through her mother's Sunset Magazines and wishing she could cook something spectacular enough to be featured on those pages.

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