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.
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