300: Tejas Club house cook Kristen Van Nostrand’s helping hands

Kate Dannenmaier

In the kitchen at the Tejas Club house on any given day, Kristen Van Nostrand is cooking dinner for the boys, but there’s someone else on her mind. 

Two years ago, Van Nostrand didn’t have anyone to care for but herself and the people she cooked for at Tejas Club. She would wake up each morning and make her breakfast alone — there wasn’t a sous chef to help her whisk together milk and eggs for French toast.

Two years ago, Van Nostrand would leave the kitchen without a second thought, leaving knives on countertops and burners left on within reach of
any passersby.

Two years ago, Van Nostrand walked the aisles of the grocery store alone to find ingredients for the Tejas Club’s boys’ meals. 

Then Van Nostrand had a baby boy, Jackson. 

Now, she wakes up to her 2-year-old sous chef’s voice calling for her to help cook breakfast: oatmeal, pancakes, French toast — she’s taught him how to make it all.

Now, she worries about Jackson accidentally hurting himself if she leaves him in the kitchen unattended, so she has to make sure there aren’t any knives within reach and the burners are off. 

Today, instead of shopping for groceries alone, she now shops with Jackson, following patiently as he runs through the aisles, picking out his favorite foods and saying “hi” to each stranger who passes. 

Two years ago, Van Nostrand only had herself to worry about. Now, she has Jackson. 

“It’s not about me anymore — that’s a thing you don’t realize when you have a kid,” Van Nostrand said.

Van Nostrand said she was never a “baby person” until she had her own. She never understood what it was like to have helping hands everywhere she goes or the importance of keeping those hands safe. 

Two years ago, Van Nostrand’s only job was to be a cook. But she’s found she enjoys her new job more than she was expecting.