On any given day, the aromas of baking sweets and simmering soup seep out her kitchen door, past the henhouse, and up into the rare air of Hancock, New Hampshire. Passersby know what’s happening: Kin is cooking. Again.
Kin Schilling is known to her friends as smart, generous, artistic, and innovative — but most of all, as a great cook. The California native came to the Monadnock region of New Hampshire 25 years ago.
Her children were growing up fast by then. “I had always been a stay-at-home mom and I felt like it was time for me to do something,” she says as she nudges freshly baked muffins out of their cups. As if she had been saving it up all those years, she began this new life as an entrepreneur. “I have no fear,” she says. “I do everything on a shoestring. I’ve always said, ‘If you have an idea, do it!'”
She started with women’s clothing, but moved soon to her first love: food. A bookstore cafe, a lunch wagon out of the back of her Volkswagen, an ice-cream parlor that, as a novel aside, also sold French antiques. In between these ventures, she just plain cooked for people — for her friends, for an arts colony, for the local school.
And then she started to cook for handicapped children at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield. There, she not only cooked but gardened with the kids — a prelude to the kitchen activities and food preparation they would all do together after the harvest. Kin calls it the Cornucopia Project. “We need to teach our children about gardening — it’s essential,” she says.
She did once spend a couple of weeks working at a local restaurant. She backed away as if from a hot iron. “I’m not a professional cook. I never have been. I’m an intuitive cook. I think about what I want to make, and out of that comes something good.”
That’s where the zucchini muffins came from — something she dreamed up that became a favorite during the two years she ran that bookstore cafe. And they’ve been part of her repertoire ever since. That’s how she does it. No fear.