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Lots Of Antiques For Your Kitchen
Today's kitchen is a far cry from the huge open fireplaces with their heavy iron pots suspended by a crane above an open fire. The decorators have said that the modern kitchen is so cold and white that it has the appearance of hospital. This is exaggerating things more than a little, but they have tried to soften the all-white appearance by giving us cabinets of knotty pine or birch in warm tones.
Great-grandmother would have loved the gleaming porcelain surfaces of our everyday appliances. She would have marveled at the ease of using smart white pots and feather-light shiny aluminum pans. She would have thought it a miracle, had she been able to use out modern stoves with their automatic ovens complete with look-through doors, inside lights, and even timing devices to tell us when the pie is done. And, honestly, we feel the same way. We might sigh for the gracious Federal days of Washington and Jefferson, but we would not give up our modern conveniences for anything.
There is nothing incongruous about antiques in the kitchen. Many of the utensils we use are the same as have been used by women as long as they have been cooking for their men. The changes have been primarily in material, today's lighter metals being much easier to handle and care for than those of the past. Despite improvements, many items have come down to us in exactly the same shape as used more than a century ago. Antique cooking spoons, forks, and ladles can be used today, needing only to be scrubbed thoroughly and scalded to be ready for making dinner.
Two-tined eating forks are handy to use as cooking forks when the smaller size is called for, thus saving your good silver. Iron forks may need sharpening, which can be easily done without diminishing their value.
Woodenware consists of many articles from slightly warped bowls and buckets through elegant burl bowls and down to simple paddles. The wooden paddle, such as the pudding paddle, is cross between a spoon and a stick. The paddle's shape is similar in outline to a spoon, differing mainly in that it does not have a bowl on the end. This is a great boon to the cook when stirring batter, for the paddle can be scraped clean against the side of the pan without that annoying bit of batter remaining in the indentation of the spoon's bowl which necessitates either vigorous hitting against the side of the pan or scraping with the finger. Once these quaint wooden items are used, you will realize that they are equal to, and in many instances superior to, their modern counterparts. The author would not be without them in her kitchen.
"Water on wood" is decried in many circles. Do not let wooden articles soak in water, but on the other hand there is no reason not to apply soap and hot water liberally. Wood will shrink and even warp slightly, but this is a small price to pay for sanitation with objects that come into contact with our food-after all, they are antiques, and therefore cannot be expected to be in mint condition. An occasional light oiling with any good salad oil will be beneficial to counteract the drying effect of repeated washings. Just pour a little salad oil on a soft cloth and polish the wood, let stand a few minutes, then wipe off any excess. The author was doing just this to her antique wooden utensils one Saturday afternoon when friend Husband walked in inquiring, "What're you doing, dear?" "Just oiling my woodenware," came the reply to which patient Husband stared in horror. It seems that he had been oiling some garden tools with crude oil just the evening before and thought . . . well you can take it from there.
Since so many kitchens have eating space, you might consider a hutch table (also called a chair table or a settle table). This handy kind of table will add extra feet of usable space to your kitchen. The hutch table is made with a seat in the base and a top which tilts, becoming the back for the chair. It requires very little space when the top is up and some even have a drawer in the base which can be used to store table linens, thus giving it a three-way use. In modern furniture this would be called functional; in antiques, just good sense.
If the room size permits, there are many attractive corner cupboards, Welsh dressers and cupboards of all sizes to give you storage space and show off your pretty china or that collection of colored glass or pewter.
Pierced tin pie-cupboards are generally shallow and take up little room.
Marble-top commodes and dry sinks by the door can be convenient.
Hanging cupboards are extremely handy. They are generally heavy, but can be attached to the wall securely by means of large picture hooks on the top and L-shaped brackets on the bottom.
Additional counter top space can be had in even the smallest kitchen by a little nagging of friend Husband. The simple addition is made by using a broken-off drop leaf from a discarded table or a small table top which is minus its legs, or even a fancy grained breadboard of ample dimensions. By attaching this to the kitchen wall with hinges and adding a small wooden bracket beneath, it can become an extra table, taking up only a few inches when not needed by folding down against the wall similarly to the drop leaf on a butterfly or gate-leg table. It is preferable not to put any finish on the wood, so that it can be used for foodstuffs and washed as often as necessary. A little salad oil rubbed in occasionally will keep the wood in good condition and will bring out the beauty of the grain.
Spice cabinets belong in the kitchen, but have you thought of using them for holding such items as string, rubber bands, tacks, safety pins, paper clips, extra collar stays where they will be handy when you iron, trading stamps, and all those little articles which are so necessary yet seldom handy when needed?
The black color of old iron compliments light or pastel colors -another reason that it has become so very popular in the kitchen. Such utensils as forks, both eating and cooking varieties, trivets, muffin tins, apple corers, chopping knives, and bootjacks all belong in the kitchen anyway. A cast iron pot or kettle can be used to hold a large potted plant or to keep paper bags handy.
Black iron muffin tins in their myriad of shapes are very decorative. Useful, too, they are perfect for baking small rolls, individual pastries, fancily shaped tarts, and petits fours which bake as easily as cookies (just pour your cake batter in to half-full, bake in hot oven and they will be done in about twelve minutes; cool, pour thin, tinted frosting over them and you are ready for the bridge club meeting). When you want to make a lot of baked potatoes at one time, stand them in one of the muffin tins for easier handling; it is quicker and there is less chance of getting burned.
Towel-dry iron articles thoroughly so they will not rust. If they should get a little rusty, kerosene and steel wool will remedy the condition.
Trivets are especially attractive surrounding a stove where they are most needed. Also various ladles, forks, and spoons hung in a grouping ready for use can decorate the wall back of the stove. There is always enough room for hanging kitchen utensils where they can be decorative as well as useful. A symmetrical arrangement is usually the most attractive.
Unusual or colorful plates and platters can be hung on special plate racks so that they resemble pictures. Sugar shakers in pretty painted china, silver, or pewter to suit your taste, can be used for sugar-cinnamon mixture on the breakfast table or for holding your cooking salt next to the stove. Colored sugars can be sprinkled on cookies more evenly with one of these dainty articles, as can flour for rolling out pastry dough. They can also be used for grated cheese at the table.
Master salts are as numerous as they are varied in design. They were made in quantity in any size, shape or pattern you could want. In our home we use these tiny containers for many items: heading the list is salad dressing-the boss uses it while his chief-cook-and-bottle-washer does not-it is simple to prepare one serving of mayonnaise or Russian dressing in a salt dish, using a tiny salt spoon for serving. Master salts can also be used for individual servings of relishes, ketchup, mustard, mint, apple sauce, cranberry sauce, tartar sauce, or melted butter. Use the master salt dishes; the individual salts are too small for a sufficient serving.
A small slate (blackboard) of the kind used by school children, hung near the kitchen door along with a piece of chalk suspended by some string from the same nail, is a good place to keep your shopping list. It can also be a constant reminder for that easily forgotten chore or special date, since it is difficult to avoid seeing it every time you enter or leave through the back door. (The printed memo of "fix doorbell" is a challenge which Husband soon answers without another word from you, just so he can erase the accusing words staring at him.) While you are near the back door with that hammer and nail, make a place for your bootjack; it will save you from ruining your manicure struggling with galoshes in the winter.
Pewter and silver porringers are as lovely to look at as they are to use, but alas, not always easy to find. Here is another of those times when reproductions are useful. There are several old silver companies that have been making the same style porringers for more than a hundred years, as well as other firms which make excellent copies in numerous sizes. The larger porringers adapt themselves readily to cereal, fruit and milk, soup, or candy dishes.