Saturday, December 24, 2016

Graniteware and Wooden Spoons

When I make soup, I want my gray grantiteware pot. And I have to use a wooden spoon.

I have bigger pots, and probably better ones. Lots of other spoons too. But soup, or chicken and noodles must have these two ingredients to make it right. At least, that's how it is in my house.

I grew up in the 50's and 60's. Mom used stainless steel utensils and aluminum pots usually, although she did have one nice big wooden spoon that was used all the time. Our kitchen was pretty old-fashioned when we moved in: one of those old gas ranges with the top thatfolded down over the burners and with little legs that kept it up off the floor. It had to be lit with matches. The sink I can barely recall, but I believe it was a white porcelain single bowl with an old arched faucet. Above the sink I remember well--large, tall brown cabinet doors with deep shelves inside. I think there was some glass in the doors. Under the sink were more of these doors, with those little twist-open latches so common on old cabinets. It was scary under there--dark with pipes and the faint smell of mice that never went away.

These cabinets were gone within a few years. Dad tore them out, put in a double-bowl sink with a deep window over it for Mom's African violets. He built another cabinet with sliding doors for the dishes on the wall to the left of the sink. The old stove left pretty soon too, to be replaced by a more modern version. The Hotpoint refrigerator with its domed top and small freezer compartment was around until I was in my early teens, I believe. We broke the handle and Dad replaced it with  a pipe bolted to the remaining stub. I seem to recall that he put a latch of some sort on it too.

The kitchen had only those big brown built-in cabinets by the sink when we moved in. Mom got a pantry cupboard--a double door flatwall cabinet-- and a smaller single-door white metal cabinet for storage. Later Dad added a cabinet for pots and pans beside the stove, and he built in spice shelves, shelves for bread and bowls and a pretty corner cabinet for Mom.

But I do not recall Mom having many vintage dishes or kitchenware. We drank out of Jadeite mugs but she didn't like them, thinking they looked like restaurantware. Dad probably got them out of the dump at Fort Belvoir, where he worked. Later we had white Fire-King mugs and some brown Army mugs, and then Melamine replaced most of our dishes. Ugly stuff, I thought then, and my opinion hasn't changed. Eventually, after I left home, Mom got Corelle. She got into gadgetry too, always wanting to try the latest things to hit the market.

She also had one yellow Pyrex mixing bowl that I can remember but I don't remember any other Pyrex or even neat-looking old bowls. By then, with 13 children, Mom was going for functional and durable, I guess. The china cabinet in the dining room, however, was a different story. It was filled with pretty English cups and saucers. crystal serviing dishes, and delicate wine glasses. Those things were used only on holidays and very special occasions. The door locked, and it's a good thing because we spent a lot of time looking at all the pretty sparkling glass and painted flowers.

My china cabinet is almost identical to my mother's and like hers, it is filled with sparkle. My kitchen, however, is in many ways far different. It's full of things made in in the 20's, 30's and 40's with a few later items in the mix. I love bright flowered bowls, chalkware, painted metal canisters and ball pitchers (we had one of these when I was young, a white one for Koolaid). I use old utensils and have only a few modern gadgets. I just prefer the old things. They work well and last longer. And look way cooler, at least to me.

I wonder why I am attracted to a period of time older than me. I guess it has to do mostly with Aunt Eva, my ex-husband's great aunt. She had an almost perfect 1920's-1930's kitchen, complete with Hoosier cabinet, old timey sink and all of the most glorious dishes and kitchenware. I still have her old red Ransburg cookie jar, and it reminds me of the brisk, busy lady who lived alone in her own home until she was 97, always keeping a male boarder for whom she cooked the most delicious food. I loved her kitchen, and admired her.

Whatever the reason, my kitchen is about as un-modern as they come. But the soups I make, stirred with a wooden spoon in the gray grantiware pot, taste better to me than if they were made in any efficient white kitchen. That is probably all in my mind, right?

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Brig said...

Funny the things we remember.
My mother had apple pattern dishes, and Granny Mid had the ivy pattern ugh to both. We did have Fiestaware dishes at my granny's cabin in the Sierras, great memories there. I have slowly replaced most of mother's white dishes with my brightly colored Fiestaware.

Mac n' Janet said...

I'm just the opposite, I want modern in my kitchen, vintage serving pieces, but that's about it. My wedding China, a gift from my parents is 51 years old so I guess it qualifies as vintage. I hate Melamine too, just awful.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Quinn said...

I made a big pot of carrot lentil soup in one of my Pyrex kettles this evening. Nearly all my cookware and bakeware is Pyrex - some of it older than I am. Heck, almost all of it is older than I am, come to think of it!

annie said...

I don't remember my Momma using her, for good, dishes. They were kept put away, and pretty much
languished behind closed doors. What a shame, I started doing the same thing with mine, but yard saled many pieces away. I kept a few specials, and have a fondness for English china. But for the most part, those smaller stock piling of glass ware gets used for me to enjoy, I hope to enjoy them as long as I'm able. Mixed in are old restaurant bowls, a few cute cups, dark glazy old platters, and some things cake stands. No huge stockpiles, just certain things I truly cherish.

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