Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sentimental Sunday - Old Country Kitchen

Some of my fondest memories from childhood took place in a kitchen. Sadly, I don't have pictures of either of my grandmother's kitchens, and while neither of them looked anywhere near as polished and nice as the images shown below, there are elements in each of them that conjure fond memories.

This first image reminds me more of my paternal grandmother's kitchen, though it lacks the slanting floor, a problem that I now realize was likely due to a crumbling foundation. My grandparents never seemed poor to me, but looking back now, I suppose they were. But that never stopped my grandmother from making things lovely, and in spite of their lack, everything was always clean and welcoming.
The image below reminds me more of my maternal grandmother's, though again, it was never this modern or pristine. It's the tall white cabinets that caught my eye, though hers were wood and these appear a bit more modern. What I really noticed is how tall they appear. And while childhood memories can often be deceiving, what I seem to remember was that they stretched high up on the wall and I often wondered how she ever got to anything that was stored on the upper shelves. Perhaps they were not as tall as I recall in my memory. She didn't have a fancy bar like the one shown in the picture, but there was a small table in the corner where my grandfather took his breakfast every morning, and if my memory serves me correctly it was one of those vintage formica tables that were so popular in the 50's. My parents had something similar. There was a larger table in the dining room that we gathered around every holiday. I can still see her traditional jello salad and dressing, which my mother insisted always had too much sage, adorning the table.
I treasure these memories, not only of the places, but more importantly the people who occupied them. Of the wonderful aroma of freshly baked gingerbread that greeted me often on trips to see my paternal grandmother, and of bacon frying in the skillet for my grandpa's breakfast when we went to visit my mom's side of the family. This poems depict some of those sentiments, and my mind was flooded with them the moment I read it.

The moment that you went inside,
Some fragrance came to greet you there,
New applesauce with cinnamon,
The scent of fresh bread on the air;

Johnnycake or gingerbread,
Mincemeat's simmering spicy smell,
And from the cellar's fragrant bins,
Apple breath in dark stairwell;

Checkerberry, balsams mint,
Baking beans in earthen pot,
Molasses, candy, lavender
Sadironed linens sweetly hot;

Hint of sage or caraway,
A potluck supper's savory steam,
Corn popping over glowing coals,
And birchwood smell, sweet as a dream.

- Ruth B. Field

Just for fun, I came across a few books at the Internet Archives that reflect upon the memories we hold of our grandmothers. I'm sure flipping through the pages will evoke memories for you as well.

All The Good Habits I Learned From Grandma
by Laurel Seilor Brunvoll

Grandmother's Are To Love
by Lois Wyse

The Wonderful World of Grandmother's

And finally, I want to direct you to these cookbooks by Jane Watson Hopping.  Her books have been among my favorites over the years, both for their recipes and for the lovely memoirs and poems that are scattered throughout. If you aren't familiar with her works, then I encourage to borrow a volume from the archives and sit back and enjoy! There are two other books in the series, which are actually my favorites, and while I thought I had them in my collection, I can't seem to put my finger on them at the moment. But if you like the ones I've listed and want to try track the other two titles down, they are The Pioneer Lady's Country Christmas, and The Pioneer Lady's Hearty Winter Cookbook, and if I do happen to come across them again, I'll be sure to let you know.

The Pioneer Lady's Kitchen
by Jane Watson Hopping
A Seasonal Treasury of Time Honored American Recipes

The Country Mother's Cookbook
A Celebration of Motherhood and Old Fashioned Cooking

The Lazy Days of Summer Cookbook
A Celebration of Summer's Bounty
by Jane Watson Hopping

The Many Blessings Cookbook
A Celebration of Harvest, Home and Country Cooking
by Jane Watson Hopping


pam said...

I see lots of red and green in those 2 kitchens! Swoon~ especially that first kitchen....

Kimberly Lottman said...

My paternal grandmother had a lot of red and green in her kitchen. Red was her favorite color. I think there may have been a little in my maternal grandmother's kitchen as well, and red was quite the fashion in the 50's and I was born in 61 so it was still hanging around! Maybe that's why I love the color combination so much, I've never really considered that there may be where it was rooted, but it just might! :)