Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grandma's Kitchen

Grandma's kitchen had no modern appliances, no fancy gadgets. It didn't even have electricity. It was a place that throughout my childhood, remained much the same.

As I stepped through the door of that room on a hot, sunny summer's day, the interior was cool and dark. The veranda at the side of the house kept the early morning sun from penetrating Grandma's sanctuary. When my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I would see the gas lantern hanging above the old, oak table. This was no ordinary table - nothing like the fancy chrome ones of today. It had two leaves in the center to accommodate the eight people that sat around it three times a day. In the summer kitchen against the wall, stood another eight leaves. This table was gigantic compared to the small drop-leaf table that stood in front of the window in Mother's kitchen.

I was thrilled when Grandpa offered me that old, oak table when he gave up his house to move in with my uncle. It now graces my kitchen and is my pride and joy. An oilcloth covered the coarse, grained top where scars had accumulated over the years. Around the table, like sentinels, stood six matching press-back chairs.

Besides the table and chairs, Grandma's kitchen was filled with other things that fascinated me. An icebox stood against one wall and a gingerbread clock perched high on a shelf nearby. I loved to listen to it chime out the time. Once a day, Grandma would climb onto a chair, open the glass door adorned with golden flowers and insert a key into the face. She would wind it several times, being certain not to wind it too tight, then lay the key safely in the bottom of the clock and close the door with a click. I loved that clock. We had hydro (Canadian term for electricity)at home and our clock couldn't hold a candle to the lovely, gingerbread that stood high on the shelf in Grandma's kitchen.

Against the south wall of the room, stood a monster cookstove. I would watch as Grandma blackened it with stove polish. Around the edges the chrome sparkled and a white porcelain circle in the center of the oven door bore the name "Hartland." At one end was a reservoir filled with water from the cistern. It held warm water for small tasks. But the warming closet was my favorite part of the old stove. Out of it came tasty treats - cinnamon buns, baked bread, and pancakes to be served with real maple syrup and cloverleaf rolls. Grandma made all of these with loving hands. On wash day water was carried from the cistern and heated in a copper boiler on the top of that stove.

Grandma's kitchen had many other things that were of interest to a small girl. The wainscoting fit tightly to the wall and was painted snow white - the top half of the room was always papered.
Behind the stove stood a woodbox and a butterbox for kindling. We children had the chore of seeing these were kept full - not one of my favorite jobs.

One cold morning, I entered Grandma's cozy warm kitchen to see a large, cardboard box covered with an old, flannel sheet sitting on the oven door. Grandma lifted a corner of the blanket, allowing me a peek. Eight piglets lay curled inside the box. They had been born during the night and the old sow, being an ornery critter, refused to let them suckle. Grandpa had put them in a box and brought them to Grandma, hoping she could save them. Nothing on a farm was wasted and the loss of these piglets would mean a shortage of meat and lard. Grandma did save them too. Many times a day, she sat in her oak rocker near the stove and fed those piglets with an eyedropper. Then, when they were old enough, Grandma made Cream Of Wheat and let them suck it off her fingers. The only one that didn't make it was the runt of the litter. He was just too frail.

Baby pigs weren't the only creatures that were raised in Grandma's kitchen. Grandma had an incubator. I've watched her clean eggs and place them gently into that odd looking contraption. She kept them warm for days until the wet, sticky chicks emerged from their shells. After a few weeks, I would find them in the yard, scratching up the dirt.

Most every memory of Grandma's kitchen is pleasant. There was only one exception that comes to mind. I must have broken one of Grandma's rules, though I can't remember what it was. Grandma sat me on a milkstool and told me not to get off until the long hand of the gingerbread clock was on twelve and the short hand on three. I sat there, for what seemed an eternity but in reality was probably about ten minutes. When the appointed time had passed, I was allowed to go. Never again did I goad Grandma into punishing me. Though I loved that gingerbread clock, I had no desire to sit and stare at it, watching the time pass ever so slowly.

My memories of Grandma's kitchen are happy ones and remain forever etched on my memory. I laugh now at the recollection of sitting on that stool and watching the hands of the gingerbread clock creep ever so slowly along the face. I can see the spirits of the men and women who sat around that table, laughing and enjoying food and conversation with my grandparents.

I haven't forgotten the good times Grandma and I spent in that room, or the aromas that filled the air. Homemade soup, freshly baked bread, cinnamon rolls, chicken and dumplings, fresh coffee and so much more. Whenever I encounter these smells, whether it is in a bakery or in Mother's kitchen, I take a trip back in time. Back to the good times shared by loved ones. Back to Grandma's kitchen were love abounded.

Dumpling Recipe:
Boil chicken pieces for 11/2 hours. Remove from the pot, cool and debone. Be certain there is lots of juice in the pot. If not, add water. Put the deboned chicken back in the broth.
1 cup of flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 cup of milk (you may have to use a bit more or less) Be sure they are thick enough to drop from the spoon in a large lump. When the broth starts to boil, put a lid on the pot, turn to medium heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. DO NOT remove the lid while the dumplings are cooking or they will be heavy.
Remove lid, lift out dumplings and serve.
Yield: 6 large dumplings


shopannies said...

my husbands grandmothers kitchen envokes your story of your grandmothers kitchen and boy did they know how to cook

Glenda C. Beall said...

Beautiful description of your grandmother and her kitchen.

Jackie said...

Oh, I can see everything you describe Mary. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

Yum, I love dumplings on beef stew.

God bless.

Donetta said...

Oh what a wonderful trip in time , thank you. So funny I was reading thinking I must make some dumplings trying to remember how I did that so long ago. I have some turkey de-boned in broth I think I just might make some turkey and dumplings for lunch tomorrow.

Mama M said...

OH, do I absolutely ADORE the jigsaw pic! I'm a jigsaw JUNKIE!! Where to buy that one??? Also, I do love the comfort of this page ;o).

Stacey Huston said...

My husband and I lived for 3 yrs when our oldest was only 3 in a cabin with no electic or running water while we saved to purchase our first home. People thought we were nuts as that just doesn't happen in this day and age, but when people came to visit they usually didn't even notice until they realized that there wasn't a tv. then it would dawn on them.. I cooked on a wood cook stove and we read ALOT, to eachother.. Still miss it.. and if I build another house I am going to try to work in another wood cook stove. they make the best bread.. thanks for refreshing my memories.. and for sharing.

Itahl said...

hi keith.. thanx for droppin' by at my page.. :) yes, I'm done with school. I've already graduated college and now, looking for a job.. :)

Mary / Mariah said...

Your memories are so sweet and remind me of my grandma's home . She didn't have electric and used oil lamps even an oil cook stove . Had an old out house out back . I have a letter Grandma sent Grandpa before they got matied and many old post cards , some I put on my blog this week and the letter some time back .
I love what you said about your grandma , so loveing .

Jan and Miekie said...

Your grandma's house sounds a lot like my Ouma's house here in South Africa. She was Welsh and a very good cook. I remember how hot the kitchen was, but no matter, she would slave over that hot black wood stove and create wonderful dishes, including dumplings! She taught me English. At night we had coleman lamps in the sitting room and paraffin lamps or candles in the bedrooms. The toilet was a long drop a distance from the house...quite a scary place to go to on your own.
I wonder what recollections our grandchildren will have of us one day?

The Vintage Kitten said...

Hi Mary, Thanks for stopping by. Im so sorry you lost your dog too, its heartbreaking when we have to let them go. I agree with you that the rules for adopting a dog can be strict, yet others are not so strict, so a happy medium would be better. My dog shelter was like the Gestapo, but I suppose it does mean the new owners are responsible and committed to rehoming. While we were out for 3 hours yesterday, Pippin managed to lock himself in the bathroom and he ripped apart a new book!!!

Your post was a joy to read, the table certainly does hold some wonderful memories for you. So much history and how many conversations were there over cups of coffee over the years. The stew and dumplings sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing your lovely memories X

Joyce said...

Hi Mary,
I WISH someone would make me some dumplings. HA!
I guess I will have to settle for the "Cracker Barrel"...HA! That is a restaurant down there that I LOVE.
Stew I can make...dumplings I have never tried my hand at. I'm not the great cook...but I can cook.
I just wish I didn't have to. HA!
Your story is very visual....thanks for sharing your memories.
I appreciate your comment today on my site....thank you so much!
I do write and I haven't had anything published for money yet. HA! BUT I am working on that issue. HA!
I wasn't sure which of your blogs to comment on so I hope it's this one!
Be blessed,
Joyce M.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

No better memories than of Grandma's kitchen, I hope I am creating the same good memories for my grandsons as I have of my grandmother.

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

You really broght back memories of my Granny's kitchen, you described hers to a T. But I'm afraid she didn't make them pleasant, but my Grnadpa did.
I enjoyed reading you account of you past.

Keith said...

My grandmothers both were born in the early 1900's. I remember all the little details of my grandparents' worlds. Amazing to think all the little things they had would capture my imagination, and become a record in my heart of a time long past.

A Joyful Chaos said...

Ahh yes. Grandmas' kitchen. What a wonderful place.
Enjoyed your post! Thanks for sharing.

Ann said...

Your grandma's kitchen has no electricity, my grandma's in Borneo too. But my grandma's was very basic with open wood fire.

I love the little pigs. What did you do with "Wilbur"? Charlotte?

My modern day children think that cute litle pigs shouldn't be eaten. Of course, with the swine flu, we have a similar discussion and they won.

You write beautifully.



Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

What a fantastic blog you have going here and what sotry telling talent you have!!
I followed you over from my pal Airman Mom....hope you don't mind?
I'm certainly glad that I did :)
If you have a moment or two to waste, please visit me at my blog and say hello.
Take good care and........

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Morgan Mandel said...

What wonderful warm memories you have of an earlier time.

Morgan Mandel

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

I love this description of your grandma's kitchen. It's a wonderful essay and reminds me a lot of my own grandma and her kitchen in the Matheson Cove.
Thank you very much for visiting my blog.

Garnetrose said...

this is wonderful. I do not have such memories of grandmas kitchen but my sil married a man who was raised by his grandparents and their kitchen was just like that one. In later years they did get electricity but the feeling of love and warmth everyone who went there felt remained the same.

Bluebirdy said...

Hi Mary! I'm a published Canuck writrer, as is my brother! Nice to meet another one, because I don't think there are many of us in Canada, and I've certainly never met one. I found you from "I love retro" blog. I have 3 blogs, one of them is retro but after seeing that one, wow, I need to work on mine a lot more! I like this post because it's retro/vintage. My retro blog is http://kindaretro.blogspot.com if you'd like to see it. My other blogs can be found if you click on my picture and look on the upper right where it says "my other blogs". Fun blog! I'm glad I found you!
Blessings, Sheila

Sarah Dawn said...

Your writing, simply delightful. Your memories of Grandma's kitchen scrumptious.

In our little home, my last hand crocheted dish towel hangs in honor of my Gram. Beautiful memories with each stitch.

Splashing for His glory,
Sarah Dawn

Sheila said...

WOW You really know how to bring a person into your story.. That was wonderful reading.. Now about the dumplins.. My grandmother made dumplings but she called them slickums.. she did not make the puffy kind, she made the flat slick ones. Which i make too.. Thanks for stopping in at my blog.

Gattina said...

that's really strange, we live so far away from each other on different continents, but my grandma's kitchen looked very much like the one of this picture. She also had this cookstove, which had to be heaten up with wood every morning. She had electric light but that was it no other electric appliances at least when I was a little child. I remember my grandma's kitchen as the cosiest and safest place in the world !

Gae said...

This sounds like such a rich and wonderful childhood.
How I wish I had had such an upbringing.
It is these kind of memories I strive to bring into our own home with our own family.
Thank you for writng this and sharing it. I have felt so comforted by it
God Bless

Martha (Menagerie) said...

What wonderful memories!

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

What a lovely story I have to reread it and pass it to my daughter.
I found your through Peas site and wanted to congrat you on your winning her giveaway.
Glad I found you

sunnymama said...

Wonderful happy memories! Thanks for sharing them with us. :)

Donna B said...

What a wonderful story. It took me back to my grandmother's Craftsman home in Pasadena, CA. Such treasured happy memories there. Thank you for planting a seed for me. You motivated me to write about my memories in her home...thanks!

Tallulah Antiques Closet said...

Hi Mary, Thank you for the vist to our blog. Im glad you liked the photos and the garden. Have a great weekend. Julian

Anonymous said...

Grandma's Kitchen scene reminded me of how our kitchen looked when i was growing up during the war years. We had a kitchen cookstove just like this one in your picture.

Southern Lady's Market said...

Oh what a wonderful recollection! I soooooo enjoyed reading about your grandma's kitchen! You certainly have a gift of story telling! Thank you for stopping by my blog! I wouldn't have found you if you had not!