Writer Sarah Manyika was working on a novel about a woman pining for Nigerian comfort food, so we made jollof, a West African rice dish loaded with tomatoes and peppers. That's the kind of connection we relish as cooks at Hedgebrook, a women's writing retreat on Whidbey Island in Washington's Puget Sound. We love our jobs. And we love our kitchen, a jam-packed but highly efficient space. It's got oodles of drawers, shelves, and nooks: Its revolving corner cabinets hold Dutch ovens and mixing bowls; blenders and measuring cups go in deep drawers beneath the island where we do prep work; and pots hang right next to the range, their lids propped on a pegboard. Along one wall, there's a baking area with a granite countertop, wall oven, and pull-out shelves for storing bins of flour. It's opposite the farmhouse sink and a wide picture window; while cooking, we watch eagles diving in the marsh. Afterward we sit down to a family-style dinner with the writers, who by nature, happily, are verbose in their gratitude.