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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kitchen Ode

One of the things that I love about our house is, despite its age (built in 1931!) it has never been seriously remodeled. There are a few chunks out of the woodwork in mysterious places but it is remarkably  unchanged, probably based on its excellent design. There are some layers of paint on the backs of the cabinets revealing changing tastes, but the structure is the same. This means that my kitchen, along with being tiny, is also the same as it was 80 years ago. I love it.

The first distinctive feature of the space is its size. It is, at its widest point, 9.5 feet wide and 10.5 long, but there is a chunk taken out of the room for the living room fireplace, so the actual space is closer to 85 square feet. There is room for a small table, two chairs, and a stepstool. We can stash the yogurt cooler under the table in the winter.


 This is the counter space. To the left of the sink is the dishes to be washed space, as well as a pull out cutting board for bread and cheese. To the right is the prep space-- about four feet square. As you can see, we keep the electric kitchen gadgets to a minimum-- kitchen-aide mixer, toaster, and electric kettle. I tried to put the kettle on the stove, but the plugs did not speak to one another. I can overflow onto the kitchen windowsill, as well as the table for a resting space. However, I've worked in professional kitchens where the personal workspace was not any bigger.

 Because of the tiny space, we have to special order our refrigerator. It is difficult to find a five foot tall fridge!   When we first moved in, I was concerned about the size, but now I love it. I do not lose food to rot in the far back reaches of the space-- there are no dark corners. Because we eat so much fresh food directly from the garden in summer, I do not need a huge storage space. And, in winter, we can leave greens and a big pot of soup in the larder on the way into the cellar, where they will keep for over a week. A small refrigerator cuts down on waste, both in energy and in food.

 The pantry is the best aspect of the kitchen. I loved really pantries when I was little. My grandmother, who lived in double-deckers in Boston and Somerville for years, often had a real pantry off of her kitchen. I would poke around, wiping shelves, sniffing spices, and talking about making cakes for hours whenever I visited. Although I would still love to have such a room, I am resigned to my very tall storage closet right in the kitchen. All of our bulk goods are stored on these shelves. It is very handy!

I am also blessed with an old stove. It has a huge oven and space on the surface to rest posts and pans. I never have to juggle  hot equipment while cooking or canning. Over the years we have had to replace the burners and the oven heating coil, but the stove is solid and beautiful. The old timer and stove light still work. In winter, it is the heart of our home; baking bread, potatoes, cookies, and dinner all at the same time.

I have an old cherry maple table and chairs which fit neatly into the space when the drop leaf is down. I found them while I was still in college. There was a used furniture store on my way home from the bus, which I often checked out. One day, they table and four chairs were there. Seventy five dollars for the set. That was a lot. But they glowed in the spring sunshine. I came back a week later and they were still there. The owner of the shop confessed to a friend that she was tired of them and was going to drop the price to  sixty to clear them out, not knowing that I was considering a major purchase. Hush, her friend whispered, but it was too late. I heard and offered sixty, and carried them proudly away.

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