Friday, February 12, 2010

12 February 1956 “Lucy’s Connecticut Kitchen, More Kitchen Ideas, and Some Bread Recipes and Results.

After my last post I didn’t want anyone to think I don’t enjoy and appreciate the value that entertainment, such as TV and movies, can have. I do enjoy that form of entertainment, but before 1955 I found myself using it as a means to ‘forget about not doing anything’ rather than as a means of pleasure and learning.
On my kitchen post the other day, someone reminded me of one of my favorite I Love Lucy episodes, where she raises chickens. Those episodes, when Lucy  and Ricky move to Connecticut, are my favorite. It also made me realize how I DO want to use mid-century Early American in my own Kitchen Redo. Here, let’s look at part of the show.
Obviously this IS a 1950’s kitchen, as this is the 1950’s and they are in a designed kitchen space. I love the toile work cannisters on the window sill. The fabric is very Early American. The shelf paper in the open cabinets and clear glass jars. The old cookstove for heat and ambience. The lovely big round farmers table with a built in lazy susan. Even the wrought metal “L” brackets and handles on the cabinets. I would LOVE to know what color those cabinets were painted. I bet either a ‘colonial Blue’ or a ‘Buttercup Yellow”.
In one of my American Home magazines from mid 1950’s there was a lovely article about just such an “Early American” style kitchen. The owner was a happy grandmother, who collects Colonial antiques adn so wanted her kitchen to be authentic looking but modern and functional. It is an interesting look on their take on mixing old and new in mid 1950s.
countrykitchen1 Here you can see her with the item I have been contemplating, wall ovens. It is true you would need to stoop for the bottom oven, but for the most part you would use the top. It would be nice to have a cake, roast and bread all cooking at once and this does happen to me at times, though I have to have things wait ‘their turn’ to bake. I love that she has a working fireplace in the kitchen.
countrykitchen2 This same kitchen also has a main working area for dishes and ice box, table and where the cook top resides is a darling bar where she served her grandchildren lunch. This sort of separation between the cooking and prep areas with a view of the fire at the kitchen table is rather a nice set up. I love the wall and trim color she used and you can see it is matched in the Formica counter tops. I know they are Formica, because as I was thumbing through another magazine, I saw what looked very familiar to this kitchen. So, I compared the two and it was. They used the kitchen in this ad.formica ad You can click to see it enlarged. It gives a better view of the counters. It even shows a slip of the other aspect this kitchen has that I love, a Greenhouse.countrykitchengreenhouse Here is the picture from the original ad with the lovely lady in a darling blue flowered dress as one of her grandsons comes down the back stairs into the kitchen. I particularly like this kitchen, as it has the ‘Early American’ hardward on the cabinets. Even the doors to the powder room and the built in pantry (located next the wall ovens) have the actual old Colonial type hardware.countrykitchendoors You can see the latch style door handles on the powder room, this is the type of doors and handles in our 1718 cape we now live it. The doors are very thin but made from wide old hand planed planks and no knobs but these latches. So, this form of a 1950’s kitchen is beginning to be the ‘model’ of ideas I will most likely use in my own remodel. I have more photos and info on this kitchen that I will be sharing in the future as we discuss kitchens and my eventual remodel.
Even if you do not love the mid-century version of a Colonial kitchen a very ‘Country’ air can be had while still making a Vintage Mid-Century look and still have it feel rather modern. For example:bluecountryktichenThis kitchen has a definite country feel, though not necessarily Early American. It is rather ‘country modern’ Country in its paneled doors and use of blue and things like the potato bin. But, the sharp red contrast interiors the the bold wallpaper give it a very modern feel. I have to say, I am really beginning to love the idea of wall ovens, but not sure one tucked in the corner like this is such a great idea.
Perhaps it is because I am a New Englander, but there is something about the Cape Cod style house or it’s bigger cousin, the colonial, that has a ‘homey’ feel. In America’s early days as an English Colony these were the styles of choice, as they were easier, inexpensive to build and had the advantage of being easy to add onto. The Saltbox was often the result of a Colonial with an added room off the back giving it the steep roof in back. saltbox colonial  These house styles were  also familiar to the transplanted Englishman from the hamlets and shires of his homeland.
After WWII, the baby boom also meant a building boom. Many returning soldiers were becoming families and there was a housing shortage. So, in steps  the Cape Cod style. It’s efficiency in building and its ability to have an unfinished attic or 1/2 story that can easily be ‘done over’ when money permits and the family size increases, made it again the perfect American House style.
If you were not lucky enough to have the ‘real deal’ and live in a colonial original cape style, then the coveted architect of the period Royal Berry Willis was the man for the job. His firm still exists today and the esthetic of the ‘Early American’ house still lives on. This bit about him on Wikipedia does a good job of describing  him:
Royal Barry Wills (1895 – 1962) was a preeminent Boston architect and author. He was the master of the Cape Cod style house, in its Colonial Revival incarnation (1930s to 1950s).
The "cape" house is ubiquitous in New England and elsewhere, due in part to its simplicity which sometimes simply means "inexpensive" but also allows for versions that are pure elegance due to their distilled, crystalline nature as a perfectly refined product. Will's unmatched talent was that of bringing a level of refinement to every level of planning and detail for the cape model.
In 1938 Life magazine selected four modern architects and four traditional architects and had them prepare home designs for families in four income categories. In the category for people with $5,000 to $6,000 incomes, the modern design was by Frank Lloyd Wright and the traditional one by Royal Barry Wills. The family chose the Wills house over the Wright design, and the home was built in Edina, Minnesota.
Houses built to his designs still fetch a premium in the Northeast.
So, rather you have a hooked rug, or some copper pots, that old coffee grinder or even a lovely 19th cook stove in your kitchen, there is much to be said, modern or vintage, for infusing ‘Early American’ elements into your kitchen design. I am going to continue to discuss and show images of this Early American movement in the 1950’s in future posts and to highlight in on the website in the future.
Now, again, what happens in kitchens? Exactly, recipe time…
I tried two new bread recipes the other day. The first is a lovely oatmeal and honey bread that is so divine, you must try it. This was the first time I had done this bread and in the future I belive I will let it rise a little more the second time before I bake it, but it is very moist and dense and is a great sweeter bread.
oatmealbreadfirstrise This is after it’s first rise, before you punch it down and shape the loaves for the second rise. Here is a slice, you can see I wish I had let it rise a tad more, but it still was a good size and an AMAZING taste.oatmealbreadslice Here is the recipe:
2 1/3 cups water
1 cup rolled oats
2 pkgs dry yeast
1 T salt
1/2 cup honey
2 T melted butter
4 to 5 cups flour
Pour 2 cups boiling water over rolled oats; let stand for 1/2 hour. Then, soak yeast in 1/3 cup warm water. Add salt, honey, and melted butter to oats, then add yeast. Gradually add enough flour so the dough is knead able. Knead 5 to 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary. Rise until doubled; punch down and divide into 2 loaves. Let rise again. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes.
It would be lovely rolled out with cinnamon and sugar and raisons put it and made into a swirl bread and would make a wonderful French toast.
Now, the other bread I tried is a good all around EASY white bread recipe. I think it would make a good Wheat bread as well, just use 1/2 wheat 1/2 white flour. Even if you have NEVER made bread, this is an easy and inexpensive one to try:

  • 3/4 cup warm water

  • 1 package active dry yeast

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1-1/2 tbsp sugar

  • 1 tbsp butter softened

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, approximately

    1. In large bowl, add the warm water. Slowly stir in dry yeast. Continue to stir until yeast is dissolved.
    2. Add salt, sugar, butter, and milk to bowl. Stir.
    3. Mix in the first 2 cups of flour.
    4. If needed, begin adding more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough chases the spoon around the bowl.
    5. You do not need to use up all the flour called for in this recipe, or you may need more flour than called for. The amounts vary depending on many factors, including weather, which is why most bread recipes only give an approximate amount of flour needed.
    6. Turn dough out onto floured board and knead, adding small spoonfuls of flour as needed, until the dough is soft and smooth, not sticky to the touch.
    7. Put dough in buttered bowl, turn dough over so that the top of dough is greased. Cover and let rise in warm spot for 1 hour.
    8. Punch down dough. Turn out onto floured board and knead.
    9. Preheat oven at 375 degrees F.
    10. Form dough into loaf and set in buttered bread pan. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
    11. Score dough by cutting three slashes across the top with a sharp knife. Put in oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.
    12. Turn out bread and let cool on a rack or clean dishtowel.
    Here is is after its second rise, slashed and ready for the oven.whitebread1 and fresh from the oven. It rises a treat!whitebread2 And slices wonderfullywhitebread3 And, of course, I do like my close up shots. This really shows the texture of this easy bread.whitebread4 So, even if you have NEVER made a bread before they this one first. You will feel a success and then this recipe can be easily made different ways. As wheat breads with grains and nuts. As a cinnamon swirl bread etc. Really, homemade bread is so good for you and rather inexpensive. Once you get the ‘hang’ of it, you can simply set aside a bread making time, much as you have a laundry day etc. You can even, if you chose, bake your bread for the month and either freeze the dough or bake it all up and freeze it already made. I prefer to do it weekly, as it is part of my overall schedule now. So, give it a try.


    1. Donna I just love that blue kitchen though I agree the oven is in a strange place and I would have the kitchen sink under the window. But I do love the colours.

    2. I'll have to try both bread recipes!

      I didn't really care for the living in the country episodes for the most part. Some of the magic is gone IMO. However, the tulip/lawnmower episode is one of my favorites.

    3. Love it! Our church THREW one of thoes wall ovens to the curb, no questions asked and NO ONE wanted it this was maybe 3 years ago... OH how i wish I had picked it up!!! Its twin is still in use up at the church and im watchign it like a hawk!

    4. The blue kitchen is interesting with all its well organized storage but the curtains right next to the stove is a fire hazard. The oven, while nice to have on the wall, is in a odd spot. What's nice for you, 50's gal, is you can take the style of the 1950's and the safety and functionality of 2010 kitchens. I think wall ovens are in your future. If I'm not mistaken Heartland or Emlira makes vintage looking wall ovens. If I can find a link I'll post it for you in case you're interested.

      The panelling in the Grandmother's kitchen is cute. We have similar panelling in our basement "rec room". I've always wanted a fireplace in the kitchen too. The only thing I don't like is having the cook top near the snack counter because oil splatters and other cooking hazards are close to the diners. It always surprises me that this design is still used. I think some people like the idea of playing tv chef and having an audience while cooking. There's no way I'd do that with my children. I'm not one for bar stools anyway. Love Lucy's farm table with the "lousy Susan" though. Ha ha.

      The bread looks delicious. I can't wait to get cooking again.


    5. This intrigues me quite a bit as I have always been drawn to this style of decorating. I have primitive things in my home and a few touches of colonial. I love history so perhaps that is why. I've always loved a saltbox but alas that isn't a look that my DH likes as much. I am anxious to see more posts on this subject.

    6. 50s gal,

      Thank you for sharing you bread recipes. Each week I bake 4 loaves of bread, for the week, 2 Irish breads for Sunday callers, and 2 batches of scones for tea. I think that things taste better and are much more nutritious if they are baked at home - if one has the time, of course.

    7. Mick-Lucky you, I'd nab that stove as soon as possible. Maybe you should drop some hints such as, "Oh, wouldn't it be nice if we could afford a new oven for the church?" wink wink.
      Jenny-The colors are pretty, aren't they
      Rachel-I always liked the country episodes, but I also have kept chickens (will again soon) love gardening etc and love the 'Early American' look, so it was probably more about the setting than the 'craziness' I know the earlier episodes were so funny. Although, little 'Ricky' in the country is darling. For me, it was the California episodes that lost my interest.
      Sarah-yeah, I also felt that stove in an odd place and the kitchen I highlighted ,as well, I thought the cook top strangely put in the eating bar.I would not have a bar in my new kitchen, as I see no purpose for it for the way I cook/entertain.
      American girl primitives-I, too, love a saltbox. Hubby and I lived in a salt box when we were first married, in the outer cape. It is a rather smart design and can look so well planned with little money. There is so much in Colonial design that is very modern. The simple lines of the furniture and purposeful use of objects are very 'modern'. If you and hubby decide to build, you could easily point out how affordable and spacious a saltbox can be. The reason they came about was the need of those in them to add on or often connect the house to an addition or building and the roof line had to come down in a shed style shape to meet it. Thus, its odd short front roof and its long back angle resembled the boxes which they kept salt in (no salt and pepper shakers in colonial times) I love architectural history and have, both at university and continually on my own, studied it as I find it so fascinating and interesting. What better way to understand a people of the past then to see what they are looking at/making (art) and what they lived in.

    8. Thank you for sharing the pictures and the recipes. I LOVE looking at old houses and pictures of them. :)

    9. Ooh your bread looks so yummy!!!! My MIL used to make bread in her bread machine, and I could probably eat the whole loaf.

      The Colonial kitchen is intriguing, my parents collected antiques (have several family heirlooms) so that look is very neat.

      But I do have to admit I prefer the modern 50's appeal with the formica countertop/ chrome around the edges, chrome chairs/table to match, you get the idea.

      My hubby thinks i'm nuts (probably am :) ), but I would if I could redo my kitchen to resemble the above, and my bathroom would look like something from the 1920's with black/white small tile floor, maybe even a claw tub and a pedastal sink.

      I have a country bedroom with my amish furniture which includes a sleighbed, highboy dresser, and a long dresser with an oval mirror to it, love it :)

      Mom in Canada

    10. Well, actually Mom in Canada, the kitchen above (if you are talking about the one with the grandmother) is actually the 1950's early american kitchen. The formica countertops were just considered the thing as they were easy to clean and the new thing, but the over all desing, the wood cabinets, the patined curvilinear trim at the top, the wall ovens in brick,that was all a 'country look' of the 1950's. Though I see what you mean about more chrome. I always laugh when I hear women say, "I would do this, but my husband doesn't like it" etc, only because my hubby so doesn't care. Perhaps because he is just used to my crazy ways and trying and doing so many odd things, but I coudl redo the kitchen all in black with orange cat cutouts and he probably wouldn't care. I am lucky in that he has no say in our homes decor because he just doesn't really think about it. I have a similiar style to his mother (antiques, decorated but thoughtfully with family pictures and heirlooms but things in their own place, not just piled) so he is comfortable with that becasue it is what he grew up with what he is used to, but when we lived in the city, I did a more modern theme and he liked it but didnt' really care one way or the other. I say gals, say to your hubby, "Do you really care if that doily and those drapes go together?" The whole concept of an esthetic is merely affected by the time and other factors. IF it were 1955 he would not think you are 'crazy' because that is what is in the shops, so who says that our esthetic, our own personal taste, MUST be dictated by the shops? Why do those who decide what is IN now get to decide what is IN for me?
      I say, if you can do it affordably and you want to redo your kitchen and YOU are the one who uses it, get to work! Hubby will probably like it when it is done and say, "You know, you were right all along".
      I had a bathroom like that in a flat I had at univeristy. The little hexagon honeycomb bloack and with tile that ran up the wall to almost a chair rail height. The old sink and clawfoot tub. Whenever I 'do over' something I always go to a salvage yard to get the old fixtures it is TONS cheaper, better made and if you have a good plumber, not that much has changed in the basic hook up of the thing. When I redo my kitchen it is going to be ALL MY labor and with things bought second hand, salvage yard, or made new by me. We can, qutie hoenstly, really do anything we want. That is one of the advantages of the modern age, we just have to make ourselves do it, but there is so much out there going to waste waiting to be saved and used again that is better made, cheaper and better design, in my opinion.
      Wow, that was a long response! I also mean no disrespect about the hubby comment, just an observation about my own crazy life.

    11. Hubby will probably like it when it is done and say, "You know, you were right all along".

      I'm hoping to hear this soon! Our renovation's end is still a few weeks away but it's looking more like a kitchen. Hubby has had some strong opinions about the style, as do I, but he compromised a bit more. I really hope he loves it when we're finally done.


    12. You will have to share photos. I am going to start doing 'guest blogs' on the website. That would be a good one, you could write about your experience, share before and after photos and of course a link to your blog. Are you interested?

    13. Sure, but I don't have a blog. But I could start one. I've been taking a lot of pics during the project too.

      Just let me know how to proceed.

      And thanks. I'm honored you asked.


    14. Well, a guest blog could still be written by you for us on your remodel (or what have you) without your own blog. You could email it to me with pics and I could put it up or something along those lines. I think your 'post' on the interior design page would be fun. I am tyring to redesign some things, though you can't see it as of yet, as I am doing it before I upload all of it, we have at least made the change of making my blog the first page of the website, which I wanted and thanks to hubby for that one.


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