Saturday, February 7, 2009

Grandma's Kitchen

I spent quite a lot of time in Grandma's kitchen over the years. There are pictures that were taken in the living room and dining room but thus far I haven't found any that were taken in the kitchen. That is probably because it was a fairly small room.

The kitchen was at the back of the house on the driveway side and there was a pair of windows that overlooked the driveway. There was a small drop leaf table pushed up against that wall. If you were looking at the table there was a door to the left that led out to the back porch. To the right was a door that led to a few steps down that took you to the side door and the driveway. Between these two doors was the milk box. An opening was made between two studs there was a door on either side. The milk man would open the outside door and leave the dairy products Grandma had ordered and we could open the inside door to retrieve them without having to go out in the cold as we did at home. The latches on those doors were really nothing special but they always fascinated me as a child.

Continuing our tour of the kitchen around from the door to the right was a wall of upper and lower cupboards with the sink set into the counter in the center of the wall. At the far end of this wall continuing to the right was the doorway to the dining room. This door was on a two way hinge so that the door could be pushed and opened into either room and we always called it "the swinging door" and probably drove Grandma nuts with our coming and going through it. This was a short wall and just past the door was a freestanding electric stove with a small open space beside it.

The last wall was the neatest! Grandma remodeled the kitchen in the 1950's and had a wall mounted refrigerator installed. There were three "cupboards" in the unit with one being the freezer. Below the refrigerator there was a counter and lower, regular cupboards. It was on this counter where Grandma taught to me use the electric mixer and to make the frosting that is a favorite of my friends and family.

Grandma was Canadian and held tight to her green card. She was never interested in US citizenship. There isn't much difference in the foods or meal customs between Ottawa and Syracuse that I've ever found except Grandma's custom of tea. I was given tea at an early age and taught how to properly drink it - hold the cup right and no slurping! (Grandma had daydreams of my one day meeting the Queen and I was also taught to curtsy properly!) Grandma did have a coffee pot for those guests who had to have it but Grandma always drank tea and not just any tea! Her tea was Red Rose and out of loyalty to Grandma it is the brand that I still buy today.

My sister has some of our grandmother's tea cups I believe and she has the most delightful tea parties in her garden.

These days I drink my tea out of one of my coffee mugs and the only tea cups I have are the ones that came as part of my set of good china. I do however cherish one of Grandma's silver sugar and creamer sets that is in dire need of polishing!

Breakfast was the meal consumed in the kitchen and soft boiled eggs were served several days a week. The egg was placed in an egg cup and you very carefully took aim with a butter knife and with skill you neatly lopped off the very top of the shell and then ate the egg with a special little spoon. I never quite mastered cleanly taking the top off and usually had bits of shell to pick out but oh the fun of being handed a knife at an early age and giving it a try.

This is one of Grandma's china egg cups and one that I was rarely trusted with!

This is the one that I was usually given to use. I don't have one of the special spoons that we used but it was very similar to the baby spoon shown here.

There was a very special sugar bowl that was always on the table but it did not hold sugar. Instead, it was kept full of orange marmalade to spread on your toast. I have no idea if this was a custom that my grandparents brought with them from Ottawa or if it was simply a family tradition that started with them. The bowl itself is a hand painted piece of Syracuse China.

My father was always very funny about foods, how they were prepared and how they were eaten. For example it was OK to put ketchup on a hamburger but not mustard. Mustard was fine for hot dogs but not ketchup! I thought he'd just about die every time one of my step-sisters covered their scrambled eggs with ketchup. He must have gotten this from his father. I remember being at my Grandparent's for breakfast one time when my cousins were also there. One of my cousins got into an argument with Grandpa over whether the sugar should be sprinkled over the cereal before or after the milk was added! Why this should have been a big deal to Grandpa I have no idea but if I were to add sugar to my cereal these days it would certainly be after the milk was added!

As long as I'm sharing treasures from Grandma's kitchen I'll share a couple that I don't remember from my childhood.

I have three of these little oriental bowls. I have no idea when Grandma got them or what she used them for. They came to me after Grandpa died. When we were going through everything I fell in love with them.

The toothpick holder and celery salter were given to me by my father after my step-mother died. I assume he hung on to them after Grandpa died and he wanted to make sure that they stayed in the family. I have never used them, they sit, vying for attention in my china cabinet.

This was written for the 3rd edition of the Canadian Genealogy Carnival: Around the Kitchen Table, to be hosted by Kathryn Lake Hogan at Looking4Ancestors. When I first saw the topic for this edition I was a little stumped as to what I'd write about. As I've already said, I never noticed any difference in the foods we ate at home or the food we were offered on our trips to Canada, perhaps because we live so close to the border. The dinners of my youth were mostly simple meat and potatoes fare and rarely were any spices other than salt and pepper added. My memories may not be uniquely Canadian but I enjoyed the trip down memory lane.


Anonymous said...

Neat post! Made me feel like I was really in your grandmother's kitchen.


How cute that your grandmother taught you to curtsy along with the correct way to hold your tea cup. Your memories are so vivid. They are a nice tribute to your relationship with your grandmother.

Miriam Robbins said...

It was a pleasure reading this post, Apple. Thank you for sharing your treasured memories.

Tex said...

I kept going to my own grandmother's kitchen as I read your wonderful description. A wall-mounted 'fridge--I didn't know there was such a thing. How interesting. We have friends who used to bring us Red Rose tea from Canada--it was a treat. Great post--I enjoyed it very much.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Tipper, Terry, Miriam and Tex,
Thank you! I'm happy you all enjoyed it. I'm now wondering what memories my grandkids will have of my kitchen 40 years from now.

BDM said...

It was nice to see how many family treasures you have been able to care for!

Evelyn Yvonne Theriault said...

Thank you for the "virtual field trip" - inspires me to write one of my own!
I remember the fifties as an era of modernization as well. I remember how proud my Mom was to have a refrigerator with a modern freezer section with the separate door, instead of the old freezer with the inside door. With the old one the ice would build up quite thickly on the walls and I can remember that from time to time she would take everything out and start scraping down the walls.
Evelyn in Montreal