Our kitchen is the center of our home, where we begin and end our days, where we gather to share meals, chores, stories, play games, visit and where I often find myself writing.
When we took on our farmhouse project the old kitchen had 6 doorways and 2 windows, which probably worked great in 1878 when a kitchen was more utilitarian and pantries, root cellars, spring houses and dining rooms were used. Because of the size and lack of free wall space we knew that we would have to make some major changes to the kitchen. When we started planning our renovation our number one goal was to preserve the historic look while making it fit our modern family. To do that we kept all of the period details that we could, found old sinks, appliances and had furniture custom made to look aged.
We uncovered the doorway when we pulled the old kitchen cabinets down off the wall, at one time it had had a swinging door and the arched doorway behind it was a later remodel. I think originally this doorway allowed them to serve in the dining room without using the door that opened directly into the kitchen. The Victorians were clearly not into the open floor plan concept. When we pulled up the carpet (yes, carpet in the kitchen, on a dairy farm – yuck), and then the linoleum that was under the carpet, and then the second layer of linoleum, and then finally we were left trying for hours to scrape what looked like roofing tar off the original hardwood floors. While we were trying to scrape this tar substance off of the floors we found that they had been patched, and had holes everywhere from previous gas and water lines. The patches were all pieces of metal cut from old tin cans and nailed down. The coolest discovery was the copper lined hole near the window where a pipe could have run directly from the well outside to an inside sink. Someday I’d love to put an old dry sink back in there with a hand pump hooked up again, you know just in case the modern world as we know it collapses and we need it.
I’ve been doing a lot of canning lately. We took a year and a little more off of growing and raising our own food while we were in over our heads with other projects. At our old farm we used to run an all-natural CSA , grew in high tunnels, raised bees, chickens, beeves, made maple syrup, made soap and sewed a lot. Our family goal there and here is to be as self sustaining as possible. And let me tell you what, we have a long way to go (cue New Year’s Resolution #1).
Even though we have been slightly off track from our usual make it/ do it/ raise it ourselves mantra, we had put up quite a bit the year before we decided to move and are just now feeling the need to really start restocking. In the picture above I’m canning ranch beans for a quick and easy meal on nights that seem rushed for dinner. I’m habitually late to get dinner started so having some home-made convenience foods on hand is a huge help! In addition to the ranch beans I did seasoned hamburger, and I love to can dried beans so that they are ready to go into a soup or stew.
Below is a brief and slightly out of focus video of our canning room. We still have a decent variety of items to pull from but next year we will need to make growing and putting up food a priority again.