Saturday, February 6, 2010

6 February 1956 “Planning a Dream Kitchen and some Recipes”

I found this wonderful film from 1949 about remodeling your kitchen. They performed various tests and studies at colleges to decide the best way to lay out a kitchen by using and studying homemakers. Take a moment to watch it as I discuss it below.

For some reason the whole movie may not show up, if it does not, then follow this link HERE.

I have been studying my various homemaker manuals, magazines of the year and keeping my own running list of my ‘wishes’ and ‘needs’ for my ‘new kitchen’. This film does a great job of an overall layout plan. I like when they show how to make affordable lighting for the farmer who has less money (and they use fluorescent bulbs, which might seem not as pretty but really, how green they were then and they didn’t even know it!)

I think the planning center so important.

The Cookbook holder in the door in the ‘mixing center’ is pure genius. Such a simple solution and yet, so many times I have had to juggle my cookbooks and how I hate to get anything on my nice vintage books.

The pull down bins for flour and such are just as they have in the old Hoosier cabinets (which these 1950’s ladies mother’s and grandmothers most likely used)

Even the spinning corner cabinet has the intelligent move of a smaller shelf on top.

It’s funny when you think how small, but effective, these kitchens were and how kitchens have grown so LARGE to the present day and yet how many of them sit unused or just to heat up premade foods!

You can bet I am going to make one of those pull out work centers. It is so nice and would be great when preparing vegetables for canning or peeling apples for applesauce etc. And I like that the worktable can be moved next to her. I wish I knew what she was doing while sitting there. It appears she is ironing some form of plastic that is sealing her food she is preparing. IN the 1950’s freezing food was all the vogue and canning thought rather old fashioned, so the new young wife was all about that. I, however, don’t mind freezing some things, but I prefer the idea of canning, as it will use less electricity than a large freezer and I am sure the ladies back then did not pay what WE pay for electricity today. Does anyone know what product she is using in that part of the film when she is ironing plastic at the work station?

When I saw the hole in the counter with the bucket underneath for vegetable prep I almost sprang from my chair! Yes, I want that. So smart and makes so much sense. And great, if you like to compost, as you can take your bucket and empty it into your mulch pile. Really wonderful. That is a definite for my ‘new’ kitchen. I like the idea of the potato and onion storage there as well, though I would probably have that much smaller or not at all. I will most likely have a dark space build in my pantry for those.

I like the bins over the stove (cooker) but not sure if tea and spices should be kept over the heat. I have heard that that can spoil their flavor, yet, it is nice to have them there. Maybe, as they are in little tins set into the wall behind wood, they are protected. I am definitely going to think about it. I have some cute little vintage milk glass bottles of spices (in one of my old blogs from last year I showed how I copied a pattern from my collection of corning ware bowls to decorate them) But it might be nice to buy the spices, empty the contents into a drawer with a little scoop (they sell these scoops at a local store that is a darling old place) and then just scoop as need be, then I wouldn’t have to fuss when the little holes in the jars get plugged from the spices.

I also like that in this area over the stove there is even a secondary place for flour which is used when thickening sauces and gravies, so well thought out! I also like that the counter space next the stove shares the wall with the dining room and then those dish cabinets have a slider that opens into the dining room. So smart and saves steps for setting the table, clever indeed!

I love the little cabinet behind the sink for the soaps and things you use most. I hate to have packaging out and sometimes put my dish soap in a cute decanter, but to be able to just keep that away in the closed cupboard but not have to stoop under the sink would be great. This built out area would also afford a great spot to have plants, such as herbs, on a good size sill and obviously to orient the sink towards the sunniest part of the kitchen.

I like the idea of cutlery and silver drawers being above counter height and that space to dry dishtowels, very smart as well. It would save on having to feel the need to wash the dishtowels more than needed. I would think a well dried dish towel would last a few days and still be clean, as it is just wiping off clean dishes.

The smaller storage closet would also be a boon to keep your broom and stepstool etc at hand but out of the way, this could really be a fairly shallow closet. I love that all of the cabinets are just built from basic lumber. I am going to have to try my hand at making simple drawers and such, as I want to really specialize my cabinets to MY needs. It will be so much cheaper than buying prefab cabinets, they will be of nice wood and I can finish them how I like! I also want to make space for a kitchen table, or breakfast nook area when I do our kitchen. Now, hubby and I eat our breakfast in the dining room and while it being darker is nice in the evening as you are winding down with dinner, not very good in the morning. Bright light and a view of the garden would be my hope. Maybe cheery white and butter yellow with display for my inherited collection of milk glass.

The ledge at the kitchen dining area is also so smart. Lately I have been wanting to make room on the sideboard to have the percolator plugged in while we are eating breakfast, but this shelf in the breakfast nook would be perfect and you could have the toaster there as well as the coffee plugged in. And of course some plants and maybe some light reading material to enjoy on a Sunday morning.

I like that the point, at the end of the film, is that the homemaker, due to the well planned kitchen, can actually sit down and enjoy the meal with her family. So important, I think. Even though I am the one doing all the ‘work’, I really enjoy mealtime with hubby. To be sat down at a nicely set table, linens, water pitcher everything at hand, is really enjoyable. We can sit and talk at our leisure and it really frames out our days together.

So, I am not sure if any of those ideas would apply to any of you, but I was really impressed with how well laid out that small space was. It definitely helps me to realize I do not need a kitchen much larger other than space for a table to eat and a ‘workstation’.

Now, that film was immediately post war and meant as a very efficient work space for a farmers wife (though I am going to apply many of it’s suggestions)

Now, gals, lets look at another film on Kitchen Design, this one is from 1957. You will see some differences, but still good ideas. Perhaps this film will be more helpful to you in your kitchen design. Let’s watch first, then discuss.

Again, if the movie isn’t showing the whole picture go to this link HERE.


Okay, first off, I adore her dressing gown! That might have to be one of my monthly dress making challenges, maybe March. And I love her high heeled gold slippers.

Now, this film is more about concept than actual practical know how like the first film. You can see how in only 8 years things such as washing machines/dryers and dishwashers as well as the kitchen ‘family room’ are becoming typical parts of the middle class American household. Still, some good advice and fun images and what a pretty dress too!

I found some more interesting films of the time that I will be sharing in future blogs.

50s countrykitchen  I am beginning to like the idea of wall ovens and a separate stove top. Although I really like many of the vintage stove (combined cooker and range top) I think, especially for me as I am tall, that the stoop to the oven would be nice to leave behind. I also like the idea of storage under the cook top. The only downfall will be that it must be much harder to find vintage separate pieces such as this.

I have, since I do love cooking so and want to further venture into that area in a more ‘gourmet’ turn, considered getting a modern commercial grade stove/oven, such as this.commercialoven It can be rather expensive and I don’t want it to be overwhelming for my little kitchen, but the idea of 6 burners and double ovens does excite me. However, how often would I need so much cooking space. I most like will stick with something vintage.  So, I think over the next month or so I will include more info and discussion on planning our dream kitchens.

Now, for what goes on IN the kitchen, some recipes. I promised a few posts back to share one of my pot roast recipes.

potroast For this roast, what I did was first heat a pan on the stove to VERY hot, but with no oil. Then, making sure you have dried off the raw meat (wipe it with a rag or some sort or cheesecloth). Then I use salt and pepper and thyme some dried rosemary and encrust the raw meat. Then, pan-sear it in the dry hot pan just until it browns. This should not take very long. Just turn it until all the sides are browned, then set aside. Now, into that hot pan with it’s lovely bits of meat/fat and seasonings from the roast, pour in some oil to cover the bottom of the pan (olive or vegetable). Then as that is heating up, cut up onions and garlic to cook in the oil until sweet brown. Now, to this add one cup of tomato sauce and bring to a boil, then cook to reduce it to about half the original amount. (I just eyeball it). When that is done, make a tinfoil boat and fill the bottom of it with half the cooked sauce and then put in the roast, pour the rest on, throw some fresh potatoes in there and tent it up tight. Now cook in a slow over (about 200-300) for a few hours. During the last 30 minutes, I add the vegetables. I don’t mind the vegetables being very cooked as the vitamins will be in the sauce.It is very good this way, I think.

I always say to save your grease/fat/drippings etc. You can make wonderful things with it. Last nights dinner was ‘stuffed chicken thighs’. I usually by my beat bone in, as then you can boil the bones for stock. I had some leftover drippings from something similiar to the above recipe, with tomato garlic etc that I had cooked chicken in earlier in the week. I just kept the fat in the freezer.

So, I deboned the chicken thighs (and set these aside to make soup stock). Then I spread them out and pan seared them in the heated leftover drippings until they were lightly browned. I made rice separately and as I had cornbread earlier in the week, I saved the crumbs and bits you sometimes get left in the pan. In the last few minutes of the rice cooking, I threw those in with some butter. Then I layed out two of the thighs, filled with stuffing and set another thigh on top and closed with toothpicks. SO, when I served it I used the toothpicks as little holders for some of the cooked mushrooms. stuffed chicken1I just love little touches like these as I feel they are part of the art of cooking and even if it is quaint, twee, or kitchsy, it seems rather vintage. It also elicits a smile from hubby, as well, and shows I put some thought into tonights dinner.stuffed chicken2This was really just to show how much can be made out of so little. Those bones got boiled yesterday with seasonings and will be soup with homemade biscuits for tonight’s dinner.

  I don’t recall if I ever showed my ‘birthday gift’ in action. Hubby had got me a vintage mixer with all the attachements and I was excited. Although I have two working handcrank meat grinders, the electric one really makes a difference. Here you can see it in action on some pork.grindingporkI am going to get an attachment that will allow me to stuff my own sausages. This grinder is good not only for raw meat, as I have here with pork, but with cooked leftover meat. You can grind it up and make patties or rissoles. For example, cooked pork, bread, apple and onion sent through this mixer to make the base, then form into patties or balls then pan fry or oven bake, so yummy. A mincer/grinder allows you to take leftovers and make so many great dishes.

I think I have shared my cheesecracker recipe before, but if not here it is. If you have never tried it, you must. They are very easy and you won’t believe the taste. Here they are rolled out and I simply use a pizza cutter to cut to desired size.cheesecrackers1Here are some I cut out longer and made into cheese straws and served with a dinner I had for friends. cheesestrawsThey look lovely on the table and are so good before the meal with salad and straight on through to dessert!

1 Stick of Butter  at room temperature
2 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese (also good with half cheddar and half Romano)
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon  pepper

1/8 teaspoon chili powder

1. Preheat your oven to 325°

2. Mix the ingredients in a large bowl until dough chases itself around the bowl.

3. Dump the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to bring it together forming a ball of dough.

4. Roll out dough to 1/8 or 1/4 inch.  If the dough is too loose to roll, toss it into the fridge for 15 minutes.

5. Once rolled out, cut the crackers.  You can use a knife, pizza cutter, ravioli cutter, cookie cutters, whatever you like. I like the rough texture of the hand cut, but for a tea or something, little shapes from cutters might be more appropriate.

6. Place the crackers onto a cookie sheet  with cooking paper. You can even butter the paper to make them yummier!

7. Bake for 11 minutes or until the crackers start to get just golden on the edges.

8. Place on a cooling rack until the crackers are no longer warm.

And then be prepared for you family to praise you and ask for the often!

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