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Grandma's kitchen--what do you remember?

12 years ago

So I am starting this new thread as an offshoot of deedles post about the vintage 1949 kitchen planning film since everyone started to share memories of their grandmother's kitchen.

My "nana's" kitchen was in a row home in northeast Philly. Square, with a window over the sink (overlooking the alley) and another window overlooking the street with the table underneath (they were on a corner). The house was purchased in 1939 and in the 50's my grandmother sold it to her daughter and new husband but she contintued to live with them until her death in 1978. All the cabinets were on the sink wall...painted white. That was it for cabinetry, except a free-standing little maple hutch on another wall. Another wall consisted of a freestanding stove and the refrigerator. There was never a change in the 60 years they lived in the house, except for the flooring and appliances when necessary. A big, white cast iron sink with integrated drainboard. White tile halfway up on all the walls with interspersed tiles with what I remember as the red or blue silhouette of a "dutch girl." I guess every so many years they would repaint the cabinets. Swinging door into the dining room with big, heavy, ornate mohogany furniture..also there for 60 years. No powder room on the main floor or central air conditioning!! Not sure I would have survived! But, wow, the wonderful food that came out of that little kitchen! My grandmother and aunt were always cooking and baking. Mouth-watering streudals, eclairs, cookies as well as hearty and savory meat and potato meals. Great memories of a time gone by!

Comments (69)

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I, remember my Grammy, which we called her, alway baked the best fresh apple pies. She had a large pantry. And I, remember her, telling me when she, got her first refrigerator she, was so excited that she would get up in the middle of the night just to look at the light in it.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    lynn, I remember accepting nickel bribes as a kid to not speak throughout the entire meal.

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  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    What a great idea for a thread and how fun to read all the different Grandma stories! I already described my Grandmas' kitchens in the other thread so I'll say that my Grandma Hulda (100% Swede)from Minnesota could bake like nobody's business. Breads, rolls, cinnamon rolls...she had a feel for yeast and passed that talent to my Mother and it just grazed me a little and missed both my sisters entirely. She came to bake for my oldest sisters wedding back in 1970 something and was apart from my Grandpa for a whole week while she helped with the preparations. I remember when he got there finally she ran! to hug him. Here they were in their 70s. Wonderful people. My paternal Grandma Della had been widowed when my Father was 14 or so, also worked for the phone company in North Dakota and then, being unmarried, moved home to Minnesota and took care of her parents and family members as they got sick and died over the course of many years. She thought she would inherit the family home, but still in those days a male decided and she ended up with nowhere to go but to come and live with us. I know she was really saddened by that but we loved to have her with us. I was only a 7 when she died but I have so many memories of her, not most of them in the kitchen actually but of going up to Woolworth's and sitting at the lunch counter eating pumpkin pie and sharing a soda. She had a wonderful sense of humor and I remember when the counter waitress had her back turned my dignified Grandma would blow the paper off the straw over behind the counter. I thought that was about the greatest thing ever. I do remember she made yogurt with lots of brown sugar in it and there is tape of her talking while I'm in the background laughing and eating yogurt. She calls me her "yogurt girl" and says she can't make it fast enough to keep up with me eating it. Also she made little fold-over sugar cookies with a prune filling and granulated sugar sprinkled on them. To die for. And my other food memory is her making toast for me, squeezing orange juice on it (from some straw thing she'd stick into an orange and squeeze and then the juice would come out the end of the straw), and then sprinkling it with sugar. I sure loved my Grandma Della and I miss her terribly too, after 43 years. Isn't that funny how one person in your life for such a short time can mean so much?

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My dad's parents (Nana Nell and Pa Will) lived next door to us in Los Gatos, CA (after we all moved from San Francisco to Smallville). I bounced back and forth from our kitchen to theirs. Like my other grandmother, Nana Nell was a fabulous cook but had a normal kitchen for the 50s. We always had Thanksgiving at her house and her stuffing has never been matched. I thought her best dish was fried chicken. She insisted that you needed a full cube of butter for frying. My only sorrow was that there were only two wings, the only part of the chicken I would eat. In those days, you couldn't buy an entire pack of wings.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My grandmother's kitchen was in a Minnesota farm house. She died the year I was born, having birthed 15 children, 14 of them in that house. She cooked four meals a day, to feed family and farm help. I remember the cabinets being white, with a white stove, and the big sink . There was a really large (obviously) table with bwnches, and in the corner of the room, a wash-up sink with a mirror, and shaving stuff. There may not have been enough light in the tiny upstairs bathroom to shave by.

    The hen house and eggs that were always stacked on the front ,screened porch, were also her responsibility....AMazes me to think about it to this day!!

    Nancy

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My grandparents bought an old farmhouse on in acre of land in the suburbs. Grandma had a huge old farmhouse kitchen. The working part was an ls shape with a gas stove, a refrigerator and a single white sink with attached drainboard. There was an old wood stove in the corner by the door but I don't remember it ever being used. The kitchen had a huge wooden dining room table in the center and all holiday dinners were held there. Sometimes there would be as many as 16 around that table.

    What my brother and I still remember are the meals. Several courses and there would often be 3 0r f 4 meats. Hot ones. Ham,pork chops veal and rabbit perhaps at the one meal. Sher would be hopping up and down from the table to reach into the oven to grab more food. It was like a clown car. LOL This was not a huge range. Just a standard gas with the broiler on the bottom.

    Somehow she managed to feed everyone to bursting with one stove, a small refrigerator and no dishwasher.

    They had enclosed the side porch into a breakfast room where daily meals were eaten even though the kitchen also had a nice dining alcove at the other end.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'd bet I'm alot older than most of you. My grandparents were born between 1870 and 1880! But I do remember a little about their kitchens. My Dad's Mom had a REAL farmhouse kitchen. I remember when the guys came in from their daily chores, there was a large "mudroom" with a huge wall mounted sink where they would use Lava soap and scrub brushes to clean up. Kitchen had one long wall with wood cabinets, and a sink. I remember helping do dishes by hand, drying them flour sacks. Her staples (flour, sugar, etc) were kept in big bins. Floors were wood...seems they were unfinished, just bare wood. There was a very long table with benches along the sides for all 11 kids. (mealtime was a zoo, as I remember, but always lots of delicious food). The stove was a HUGE wood burning stove. Boy did it get hot. It probably heated most of the house. I remember she used to hatch chickens in that stove, and I vaguely remember baby pigs being kept warm in the oven. To most of you, this probably sounds like a hard life, but everyone seemed happy and content. Everybody worked hard, helped their neighbors, and never expected a hand-out from anyone. I was a city girl, and I always loved visiting as Grandma spoiled me pretty badly, and I had such a good time there. I was the only grandchild for a long time. Oh, and it seems her kitchen always smelled like fresh baked bread!

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My maternal grandparents kitchen was in mushroom country in PA, an open kitchen with lots of windows looking out onto my grandfather's flower garden, with a wonderful squeaky black rocking chair that was just made for the black and white checkered linoleum tile flooring. The enameled kitchen table was the place homemade, hand cut spaghetti was made on Sundays with various card games after dinner, and a freezer on the bottom Refrig always stocked with ice cold Pepsi in glass bottles.

    My paternal grandparents kitchen was in a row home outside of Philly, looking out onto and physically connected to the family's bread factory. It had red tile flooring adjacent to the dinning room with the same flooring. When baking bread aroma lifted, my memories are of my grandmother's Italian pastries.

    In both homes, living was in the working kitchens...great memories.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    joyce--do you ever think the chickens and the pigs new that this might be their final spot too???

    This is nice thread.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Live wire oak......love that pic of the fridge with swivel shelves! Why did they stop making those......so practical! Just like some of the elements in that 1949 kitchen in the film from deedles post. Today's designers could learn a thing or two from yesterday!

    Enjoying all the "grandma's house" stories!

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I remember the trudge through the snow in the apple orchard to Grandma's big farmhouse from our little house. The kitchen was warm with a big round farmhouse table in the center, painted green cabinets. Fondest memories are of Grandma putting me in her apron to help make cookies. She would have me on the old stool standing up to the beloved kitchen aid mixer(that I very recently had to give up for a new one. Vividly, remember Christmas dinners and begging for just the hard sauce without the plum pudding.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Great stories! I relate to the farm families. Grandparents had been sharecroppers, then bought their own farm and raised a family. By the time I was a grandkid, there was linoleum on the kitchen floor, and green flocked wallpaper I (for some reason) liked to lick. There was only one wall of kitchen items in the kitchen: sink (with window), cabinets, fridge and range. Other side of the room had the old kitchen table. Grandma and the aunts would cook meals of meat/potatoes/veg, but didn't like doing dishes. Grandma kept big bottles of Squirt on top of the fridge, for the adults to mix with drinks after dinner when plates were cleared. Then out came a huge bowl of pennies, and the grownups played penny poker. Loser did the dishes, while the others taught the kids how to play gin rummy. There was a door from the kitchen leading to the bathroom. If it was closed in the morning, kids were warned not to go in because it was "Grandpa's alone time." One summer it was a big treat to visit Grandma and Grandpa because they let me pick out my own breakfast cereal. I picked Cap'n Crunch, which was never allowed at home due to sugar. Very excitiing. Until the next year, when the same box was in the same spot in the cupboard and I was expected to finish it off. Nothing like stale Cap'n Crunch. That's when my mom taught me the word "frugal."

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I remember most that it was small, galley like with a window over the sink and a window at one end. I remember wall paper with an ivy pattern, a worn red linoleum floor, wood stained cabinets, her 1950's table and chairs with vinyl covered seats and backs (do not recall the color), and especially the little ironing board that was behind a narrow door in the wall. There was always a new calendar towel on the wall every year. I'm not sure what they were called but they were made of cloth and had a picture on the front too. Plus the "weenies" (hot dogs) she always seemed to have in the fridge especially for us when we visited. "Do you want a weenie?" I can still hear her voice. lol She was a good housekeeper up until her late 80's when she slacked a bit and then her daughter would step in to help mop floors,ect.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My Paternal grandparents lived in Western Oklahoma.
    We would spend 2 weeks there in the summer. So hot!
    The main thing I remember about the kitchen was
    washing dishes in a sink similar to this. Of course it
    had a "skirt" made out of colorful feed sacks.
    {{gwi:1658011}}
    I loved that I could get water everywhere and no one cared haha
    I also remember the water was sulfer and we went somewhere
    and got water for drinking. Great memories for me.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    where is my brain?

    Did you see what I typed?

    "new' not "knew"

    I am not dumb. I am just a ding dong and type too fast.

    ugh, apologies to all the grammar police out there.....

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My grandmother lived in Minnesota. Her kitchen was a small galley kitchen. She had a cupboard packed with homemade blueberry jam--always a highlight of our visits there. I was also shoed out of her kitchen, but I remember the buzzer to call my grandfather to dinner.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I remember my Granny's Farm kitchen in Northern Ireland. There was a large cast iron range used for heat and it had multiple ovens and cook tops. The floor was quarry tiles and a large wood table sat under the window. There was always a Stew or soup cooking and it invariably had Pearl Barley in it. Each morning the baker's van would pull up the gravel driveway and deliver the most delicious bread and something called Barm Brack.. which was a currant bread.. The view from the Window of the beautiful Mourne Mountains and the Ocean made me think I was living in Paradise. In the evening all of our relatives would descend from the neighboring homes/villages and we sat around while our Aunts and Uncles recounted tales from their childhood, and took turns in singing ballads/hymns. I often think how much these wonderful memories of Granny's kitchen have enriched my life.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My grandma on my dad's side lived on a farm. The house was built by my great-great grandfather in the 1800s. Biggest memory of that kitchen was that the table was in the middle of the kitchen. There was a table in a dining room, but I never ate at it. Not ever. We only ever played cards at it.

    The kitchen had white painted cupboards. The thing that I remember best about the cupboards was that the kitchen had a tilt out tin-lined cupboard filled with flour. Conservatively, there would be twenty or more pounds of flour in there at any one time, and since she made her own bread, buns, cakes, and pasta, she probably went through it fast.

    I loved the smell in that kitchen from the flour.

    My other grandmother had a small galley kitchen in a 1930s house. Also with white painted cupboards. She had a room built off the kitchen solely for the full sized freezer.

    Neither kitchen had a dishwasher, except for my grandmas.

    This is a good exercise for me, because it makes me think that I was foolish to worry about white cupboards getting dated, because although they might in the short term, on a longer term, they have been around far longer than I have, and I am no spring chicken.

    Second, it stops me from fretting about how small my kitchen is. I realize that family will always find a place to gather. On my dad's side, we gathered in the kitchen. On my mom's side, we gathered in the dining room and living room. We found a place to gather no matter what.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I remember both of my grandma's kitchens. My maternal grandpa was a carpenter, and he built their house in 1911-12 from what I'm sure was a kit, ordered from a distant department store. It was about 1200 square feet, two storeys, built on a 30 ft wide lot on the "other" side of the river. His brother built a mirror image house next door (the surviving invoices show they paid $2500 for materials for both houses). Grandma's & Grandpa's house had 3 bedrooms, with a fourth added later, and one bathroom. They raised 10 kids there, and great-grandma lived with them for awhile until she passed in 1920. The kitchen extended the full width of the house, with cabinets only on one side. The range I remember, which may have been original, was a four-legged gas one, with the oven beside the cooktop. Because the counter space was limited, Grandma usually used the large square oak dining table for prep. Grandma could cook! I remember spending summers with her as a kid, and making bread, cookies, and all manner of kid stuff.

    My other grandma lived several blocks away, out on the bald prairie. Building lots were $35 each when they built, so grandpa bought three - one for the house, and the other two for their extensive gardens. That house was tiny compared to the other grandparents', but they only had two children. The basement was a dug-out - dirt floors, rough walls, accessed by the most rickety staircase I've ever seen. I remember a tiny white porcelain kitchen sink, smaller than modern prep sinks. The appliances were contemporary for the 60's, but Mom says she and Dad bought them, as the grands were too cheap to even get a fridge. That grandma collected fine china, much of which I own today, and her culinary specialty was puff pastry, which I tend to avoid.

    One hundred years on, both neighbourhoods are considered "inner city", and extremely desirable/expensive. I endeavoured to invite myself into the first house about 25 yrs ago, and it was a lot smaller than I remembered (I was last in it when I was 10). It has since been extensively renovated, probably worth twice my suburban pile. The second house was demolished by the city about 20 yrs ago for a roads project. Their sleepy little front street is now a freeway, and a multi-storey apartment building was built over their garden plots.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I was last of the grandchildren to be born. My grandmother was widowed young and brought up her 6 kids and then 4 grandkids all by herself in a little village in India. She basically made money catering food. It was a big joint family with lots of uncles and aunts and cousins all ruled by my grandma who had never been to school but could beat any one in the family on mental math (a favorite game after the oil lamps were turned down at night). I remember being scared and thrilled to enter the kitchen whenever I had some errand.. There were no wooden cupboards. The stove was wood and packed sawdust stove on the earthen floor where you would shove in the wood and flames would come out of 2 holes in the top. The stove was made by grandma.. Once a year or so, she would send some uncles or cousins to the spot by the river where there was good clay and she would shape it by hand. Talk about the BTUs. The wok and griddle was big cast iron. The pots were bronze lined with tin. No plastic or branded products anywhere. All supplies were kept in large stainless steel canisters. All the shelves were open. No running water and it was the job of one of the girls to bring water from the well in a large metal bucket. There were never any left overs. There was thick walled clay box where the milk, buttermilk, yogurt and butter were kept. Vegetables were mostly harvested from the backyard with some kind of greens everyday (cheapest). Rice was in a big wood silo in the corner that was filled once a year after harvest. There was a large morter and pestle to grind batter and another flat stone for making chutneys and a stone ground mill for making flour. Ah what memories! Here are things that used to be in my grandma's kitchen

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My maternal grandmother lived with Grampa in small-town Missouri and was blind for most of her adult life. I remember that she didn't like other people helping her in the kitchen because she needed to place things where she wouldn't have to fumble for them. Gram's was also the first house I was in where the butter stayed on the table all the time. Before that, I thought you had to refrigerate butter or it would spoil. Her kitchen had a huge bulbous white refrigerator, formica counters edged in chrome and a matching formica kitchen table.

    My paternal grandmother and grandfather moved around a lot, so I don't have memories associated with any particular kitchen. Grandma was not a great everyday cook, since she was a young woman in the Depression and believed in leftover leftover leftovers (*gack*). Nothing was ever thrown out, so everything had to be eaten. She did bake a holiday ginger-molasses cookie that was delicious, firm yet chewy with lots of ginger bite. I got the recipe from her but she was pretty forgetful by then and accidentally left out an ingredient or mis-wrote the proportions. My cookies never turn out as well as hers did.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    such a fun thread!

    My dad's family was/is a bit dysfunctional and his parents lived far enough away that we didn't visit often.

    My mom's parents lived nearby and we were incredibly close. The details of the size and colour scheme and layout and materials never mattered to me. Though I vaguely recall painting it once from 70's green to 90's pink beige. Instead I remember the smells and the food that was produced there.

    I remember the family dinners that spilled over into the living room where us kids ate on TV trays, then came back to the kitchen table when it was all cleaned up for some card games (during which my grandfather almost always cheated) and where we would play for dimes and quarters. And the (really awful, really raw) homemade red wine we would drink with these holiday dinners. Still makes my salivary glands cringe when I think of it!

    I remember the smell of freshly baked bread and the mountains of pizelle she would make to sell at bake sales, everyone always requested them.

    I remember birthday dinners, for every family member, which was always home made ravioli. Huge ones. With her own sauce simmered lovingly on the stove all day. With fresh grated romano on top. Mmhmmhmm. Followed usually by moist and yummy chocolate cake with quarters baked inside and fashioned into a shape of some sort.

    I only have good memories of my grandma's kitchen! Hopefully the same traditions of good food, family, generosity and fun continues for my children!

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    mmhmmgood: quarters? You mean as in change? She'd bake it into the cake for some lucky grandkid to find? So sweet!

    Lalitha - I so enjoyed that; thank you. I know a little of modern-ish Indian kitchens but having no historical background on where they evolved from, so to speak, makes for a not very deep understanding. This really helps!

    cooksnsews - your memories read like a lilting child's book; I have goosebumps.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My paternal grandmother had a tiny kitchen in a old farmhouse in WI. There were no countertops. She had a sink with a drainboard, a small OLD gas stove, and a hutch that covered one wall. The table was also in the kitchen. The refrigerator was actually in the adjoining room (the family room, with the tv). She was not a great cook. Most of the meals I remember her making were either 1)grey, or 2) came straight from a Jiffy box. She had many boxes of Jiffy stored the the back stairwell. A couple bought the house after my grandmother died about 10 years ago. They have made the kitchen a wonderful space, and it is great to think about the meals they will have there!

    My maternal grandmother was a farmers wife that made several meals each day for about a dozen hired hands. She moved from Texas to WI when she married my grandfather and gained 100 lbs. that first year. No doubt due to the introduction of a lot of butter into her diet, as well as having three full meals a day. She didn't have a big kitchen, but it was functional. I remember most her copper tile backsplash behind her stove. She was actually a wonderful cook, but was fairly sick by the time I have many memories of her cooking in the kitchen. I also remember her refrigerator, which was always heavily stocked with Tab soda. Connected to the kitchen was a open dining room that had a fireplace and the player piano. It also had the trestle table that my grandfather built, and that I own now. I hope to have my husband replace the top this year, as we use it in our home.

    From Gardenweb photos

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My grandma had one of those big sinks pictured above with a curtain below. She and my aunts were always canning food from the garden and making pies and apple sauce from the huge apple tree in the back yard. They could feed what seemed like hundreds of people that were always at her house. My aunt had 9 kids plus all the other cousins and we just all congregated at grandma and grandpa's. It was a shotgun house which was called thus because you could shoot a shotgun through the front door and it would go through all the open rooms and come out the back door. It had what I would later realize was a beautiful black wrought iron fence and gate you had to go through from the public sidewalk. Pretty funny to think of that now. But every street in her town had a big sidewalk, brick street and then the black wrought iron fence and gates to the houses. It was a skinny house with rooms placed one behind the other. You had to walk through them all to get from the kitchen in the back to the living room in the front of the house. It had big transoms above the tall doors that we kept open to get a breeze from the other rooms and very high ceilings. We were always staying all night at grandma's which was considered a treat. There was absolutely no privacy. But we didn't know any better. Everyone sat at the kitchen table where there was always something going on.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I didn't grow up near either of my grandmothers, but fondly remember my paternal grandmother's kitchen (maternal grandparents moved several times so I don't remember as much). My grandparents lived in a Tudor-style house on Cleveland's West Side. As a child, I always found the upstairs "scary" as it had an unfinished attic space on one side, and two bedrooms on the other with several walk in closets that didn't have doors. It spooked me for some reason, so despite sleeping up there, I spent the rest of my visit downstairs! The kitchen was somewhat spacious with parquet floors. There was a small nook off to one side where there was a table wedged in b/w two walls of windows. I remember sitting there eating her delicious breakfasts while my father sat reading the paper. My grandparents were Italian (grandfather left Sicily alone to come to US when he was 18) and my grandmother loved to cook. The things I remember most are the smelts (hated fish as a kid but for some reason I loved these!) and pizzelles. Her kitchen wasn't fancy, but it was well-loved.

    When my grandmother died about 13 years ago, my uncle ended up buying the house from her estate. Unfortunately, he changed the house quite a bit and did not keep it true to the architectural style. It's not my grandmother's house anymore. :( He did get rid of the hideous Italianate formal dining furniture, but as ugly as it was, it was comforting all the same. So many fond memories of that house and I'm glad it stayed in the family though wish my uncle had done better updating.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My grandmothers were born in the 1880s. One was not much of a cook and when I was a little girl the Depression had really taken the starch out of her. Widowed, she ran a small boarding house in 1940s and 50s and cooked adequate food for her 3 kids and 2-3 boarders, but I bet it was dull stuff and not lavish in proportions. She's the grandmother who scalded dishes with hot water (see the 1940s kitchen thread). That Grandma had an incongruous formica table with chrome legs and chairs with plastic upholstery in middle of room. She would lay out every single item from grocery bags and check it off on the receipt before we could put it away in 1880s cupboards of the kitchen. I played inside those lower cabinets when I was little--lots of canned goods and Jello and pudding packages to use like blocks. Kitchen had a speaking tube to upstairs--originally to call the maid, natch. There was a servants' steep back stairway as well as the nice front stairway. The house was a seedy bargain when she got it after her hubby died in 1942. There was always a little bouquet in a drinking glass on that table--she especially loved lilies of the valley. Decor was Depression green. Sink was an integrated white basin and drying area, with skirt below hiding rusty coffee cans containing cleaning supplies and boxes of Dreft soap flakes and cans of Bon Ami cleanser. Dishtowels had embroidered and appliqued designs. There was a drying rack for wet towels. Curtains at the window were transparent and starched.

    The other kitchen was a farm kitchen with a boot and coat area adjacent to the back door steps. It had an awful bare bulb fixture in center of room. This kitchen was also a widow's kitchen, but this was my eccentric grandmother who loved living alone and didn't clean up for guests. She read Zane Grey westerns--paperback with makeshift bookmark was somewhere in the room. Table at window had similar chairs but there wasn't much room for sitting because the table had houseplants and jars of cuttings all over it. To root a violet leaf, rubber-band a square of waxed paper over a drinking glass (or one of those juice glasses that originally held cheese spread) and stick the violet leaf through a a hole in the paper hold it. The room was never well scrubbed and the house smelled. Iron in the water left red streaks in the sink. But the windows were gay with blooms. This grandma loved to garden and can but no one wanted to eat her canned goods--sanitary issues. When we visited, I was never in the kitchen without my father yelling "Ma! How old is this ___?" and holding up a saucepan of something cold. She lived to 96 but had almost no income.
    __
    to Pal, your grandmother really came to life in that description. Thanks.

  • 12 years ago
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    Tons of pink Formica on everything.

  • 12 years ago
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    This is one of the best "getting to know you" threads ever. We are such a diverse group!

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    I'm having so much fun reading all these memories. Feels like I can put myself right into the spaces and times and like I have memories now of 40 some grandmas. Lalitha, from now on when I say I cook 'from scratch', I'm going to feel like I'm fibbing a bit. Always going to remember those pictures you posted. Now THAT was really from scratch. Wow. Thanks for sharing.

  • 12 years ago
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    My dad's mom lived in AZ. She had a small kitchen - but she managed to make the most wonderful cookies, and of course do canning and preserving.

    My mom's parents moved to CA when they retired to be closer to us. They had an apartment that you could *just* see the ocean if you looked out one window at the right angle. (About 10 blocks from the beach.) It was a small galley kitchen with part of it as a penninsula/breakfast bar open to the living room. Emphasis on small - maybe 8' by 10'.
    But we had formal dinners at the dining room table just off the kitchen - great food, always!

    My husbands parents lived in a row house in Northeast Philly similar to a few other folks descriptions. My MIL upgraded her sink/counter at one point to incorporate an all in one stainless sink/drainboard counter... Tiny tiny kitchen - but she had 6 kids so 8 for dinner was the minimum.

    My parents kitchen is exactly like my kitchen. I bought the house from them. Smallish. built in the 60's. We're changing out the counters and stove - but it functions well so we'll keep it the way it is.

  • 12 years ago
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    My dear old grama's kitchen wasn't much, but she knew how to get a lot out of it. She never had a kitchen of her very own until she retired at age 70 after a career of being the live-in cook for a number of NYC/LI families. Her last gig was for a couple living on 5th ave, where she cooked for Harry Winston among other illustrious guests of her employers.
    In '68 she retired, and rented as small apartment near my parents. We would have dinner there twice a month, otherwise she came to our house and cooked. Her apt. kitchen had a large (42"?) 40's or early 50's gas range with a stockpot, large oven and a warming oven, a tiny fridge, and a drainboard sink, I can't remember any fixed cabinets, so everything was probably on shelf units. Then there was a table and six chairs.
    She had a few secret recipes and a few "old country" favorites. Borsht, jellied veal, baked pierogies, (yeast dough filled with butter, onion & bacon mixture) and pocket of veal stuffed with wild rice and mushrooms are the dishes I will never forget. And the "lace cookies"!
    She cooked from pure skill and memory, never wrote down any recipes. When she was really getting on, my mom transcribed some of the recipes so they wouldn't be lost forever. God knows how anybody could follow them, they were very complex. Some of them ran over three days. I'm afraid modern attention spans and instant (if not sooner) gratification have pushed that kind of devotion into a very small curious corner of foodie-dom.
    Casey

  • 12 years ago
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    I just came across this thread. I loved reading it and getting a peak into everyones history.

    My grandmother was a hoot. She definitely was a product of the depression. She saved EVERYTHING for reuse. We had to hand wash the tin foil for at least 3 uses before she would throw it out. Her kitchen was also covered with roosters. She probably had over 100 roosters in there. Jello molds, salt shakers, coasters, tea cozies, you name it. . Ironically she said she hated roosters but since everyone thought she collected them and loved them she was always receiving them as gifts and her collection kept expanding. I keep a few of her roosters in my kitchen to honor her.

  • 12 years ago
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    Wow, I must be really old compared to the descriptions of grandma kitchens. Didn't know my grandmother, she died when I was very young. But I took a memory trip and visited her farm house which had the wood stove, separate pantry and long ceramic sink. There were few cupboards. Am a scale modeler and after visiting along with an aunt who helped me draw the interior plus having some old photos, I recreated the farmhouse. Oddly, it was torn down the next month after my visit.

    My favorite memories as a child was living in an old farmhouse built from sqaure hand hewed wood logs. They were clamped together with some type of plaster mixed with horse hair. Our kitchen was huge and had a wood burning stove right in the middle. A long sink on one wall and round oak table near the windows. No cupboards remembered other than a baking area. We had electricity, but no water. Dad pumped water for everything and hauled in buckets. I took baths in the sink, or we had showers outdoors when raining. At the bottom of the stairs was a slop bucket, gads did I hate that thing. And of course an outhouse, which I can't remember being an issue.

    I have gone back to the house many times, the original owners great grandchildren have lived there for years. Sadly they do not know where any of the original pieces went and made the kitchen into a livingroom. Everything is gone that was remembered and cherished, the old pump outside that dad used every day. The outhouse, barn, chicken coop and even the woods with pond that I learned to ice skate on. Greatfully I do have many photos of yore. I'd live there as it was in a minute.

    Oh the cellar attached was used for storing apple cider and all canned goods which included homemade sauerkraut which I can taste now and was beyond what we know of today. We used to ride the wagon full of apples to the mill and had an old model T to haul milk for processing.

    More memories and thanks for taking me back to the most wonderful place in my life. Catch me if you can, my age has something to do with this, but not as old as one may guess.

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    One thing I remember about my grandma was that when we called to say we were coming down she would always be standing at the door to her kitchen, the door held wide open with her little arm, waiting while we parked on the street and all got out and eventually made it up to the door. She could hardly wait for us to get out of the car. We could always see her as we were parking on the street. All the while she had a big smile on her face and hugged each one of us and was as excited to see us as if she had just been told she won the lottery. I miss her and my grandpa too : )

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    My maternal grandmother was partly formed by being on the poor side of the depression. She married out of high school (polish to irish) and they survived by marketing their own bath-tub gin. It left an impression!

    She didn't really care that much about cooking and had no specialties. She thought store bought cans were the best invention evah and was the only person I evah personally knew who cooked worse than my mother! They had 5 children on a 500 acre farm - and raised them all with store bought cans.

    The farm was for the amusement of my grandfather and because they came from farm people. As their children left home, they started renting out the fields instead of working them. They didn't need the money or the farm produce as they were fairly wealthy.

    Her farm kitchen was fairly large with a canning pantry that she used for store-bought can overflow only. At any given time, she would have about 100 cans of stuff. Luckily for me, it included some things I recognized - like campbell's soup - strictly a make-you-own household for most meals.

    It was all white w/white appliances that she had for close to 50 years. She never remodeled the 1930's kitchen, so drain board sink, few cabinets, white porcelain topped table, with white painted chairs and the "can pantry" - a special cabinet in the kitchen that contained the current cans and a few other dry ingredients.

    I'm pretty sure she made a pie once - either that or she forgot to remove the cardboard. Srsly! At least my mother had figured out that buying frozen pie dough already in the aluminum pan and a can of pie filling was the way to go.

    They have both passed now, may they rest in peace and have a good caterer.

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    My maternal grandmother lived in an 1890's 2 family they owned in Milwaukee. Her kitchen was similar to ours (in another 1890's 2 family) except she had a cabinet for the sink. Both kitchens had a large 2 basin white sink with drainboard and it was on an inside wall. Her sink had a metal cabinet underneath. Ours just had a curtain. Stove on another wall. Her frig on stove wall, ours on 3rd wall. Table and chairs in kitchen. No other cabinets or counters. Double window looking at the house next door (ours - next door house was 3' away, hers the next house was 4.5' away) Both had walk in pantry with window facing yard. Great meals from both. My grandfather came from a farm and one of his siblings didn't get running water and sewer until the late 1970's! They had a hand pump in the kitchen and the drain just flowed outside. They had to heat up the water on stove to take a bath.

    My paternal grandmother lived in an 1950's cape they built. The kitchen was set up as a wide galley with table at end next to back door. Only one wall had upper and lower cabinets with sink and window overlooking the yard. Stove and frig on other side but I don't remember any cabinets on that wall. Another good cook.

  • 12 years ago
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    Grandma's cooking from my 8 year old daughter's view (she's 37 now):

    Daughter (watching me make dinner): "Why don't you make really good dinners like Grandma?"

    Me: "What do you mean?"

    Daughter: "Well Grandma's dinner tastes really good"

    Me: "What is it that Grandma makes that you like so much?"

    Daughter: "You know, turkey, and stuffing, and mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie."

    Give me a break! She did come around later. In her mid-20s she had a boyfriend from the midwest who was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. One day she called and said, "Thanks, Mom, for feeding us good meals growing up, you know, lots of vegetables and fruit and whole grains and not much in the way of cheese sauces and gravy and fried stuff." What can I say? Mom's cool, but Grandma's the best.

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    SaraKat- That's such a great memory! My grandmothers' were both happy to see us, too...but I love the description of your grandmother acting as if she'd won the lottery, when her family came to visit :)

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    Thanks Lavender_Lass. I don't remember ever having to knock on grandma's door she was always waiting for us when we got there pushing the screen door all the way open no matter how long it took to park the car and make it all the way up the sidewalk. Sometimes I catch myself standing at the door looking out for a visitor I know is on their way and open the door before they knock!

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    Awwww... My grandma. Queens, NY attached row house in Maspeth, tiny white kitchen with the bowl of spoons on the Formica kitchen table(why I don't know? For tea maybe being the good Irish lady she was), open pantry in the corner that always contained mallomars in the Fall /Winter, dishwasher that was in the middle of the room that needed to be attached to the sink to work, the door off to the side that led to the ultimate cool cellar, and the stove that didn't create many amazing meals since I think the great depression stunted many a cook but she made the best
    hamburgers, grilled cheese, fried shrimp, gravy and homemade Mac and cheese I have ever had:( miss her so much as do her great-grand kids:(

  • 12 years ago
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    SaraKat- It's always nice to arrive somewhere, when you know people are excited to see you! Good for you :)

    I hope my nieces/nephews remember me that way!

    CK- Nothing wrong with mac and cheese! My mom makes a great one, too...with lots of cheese.

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    Lavender- not that she wasn't a good solid cook but she could have been a gourmet chef with her talents:) just think that she never got the chance since just having her family fed during the great depression(her mom was very ill and she was in charge of herself and brother) was amazing in itself:)

  • 12 years ago
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    This is a great thread! I missed it when it started because I was working a proposal and didn't have much time to spend on GW. I'm so glad this got bumped up!

    I was very close to my maternal grandma because she took care of me when my mom went back to work (teaching) when I was 11 months old since my dad was laid off (tool and die maker in Detroit). Grandma & Grandpa had a 3 bedroom ranch on a double lot. I remember her big stove - probably 42 inch electric, linoleum floor, a little peninsula with rounded shelves at the end. Those rounded shelves were my favorite thing because that's where she kept some of her salt and pepper sets. She would let me dust the shelves and shakers and decide which ones from her collection should be displayed. Food wise, what I remember most are the lunches she would make me. She would make me strawberry preserve sandwiches for lunch and always make sure there was at least one big strawberry on each half of the sandwich. Other times, she would make me Campbell's chicken noodle soup (my favorite back then) or Franco American Spaghetti (another favorite). Then after lunch, we'd play Old Maid or Go Fish (she'd frequently let me win). I also remember making cookies with her--she made it so much fun. She was a very loving and warm grandma in her cotton dress, apron, support stockings, and grandma shoes. We lost her to cancer when I was 7. I want to incorporate some rounded shelves in my kitchen reno in memory of her.

    My paternal grandparents had a tiny house. Gram's kitchen was a very small u with sink on left wall, large stove at the top of the u and fridge on right wall. It was about 6 feet deep (from opening in wall to stove wall) and 6 feet from front of sink to fridge door. Maybe 7 to 8 feet of counters (2 feet on each side of sink and maybe 3 feet on one side of stove). Gram & Gramps had a 1/4 acre garden. She froze and canned all the veggies and fruit they produced. Gramps made horrible wine from their grapes and raised rabbits. Grams made the best rabbit dinners with parsley potatoes, red cabbage, fresh green beans, and homemade sponge cake with fresh/frozen berries for dessert. Yum!! I used to spend time in the summer with them to help them with the garden and canning. Loved feeding the bunnies. Grams taught me to make her sponge cake, and I remember we made marble cakes from scratch for Gramps. I miss those rabbit dinners, sponge cake, and her bread and butter pickles. Grams and Gramps passed within 3 weeks of each other 20 years ago. I always think of them when I see Christmas bubble lights.

    Thanks for the memories!

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    My grandparents were all born in the 1880s and my last grandmother died when I was 12. She'd been in a nursing home for some time by that point so I was very young when I was visiting their homes. Both of my grandfather's passed before I was born.

    My maternal grandmother lived in an old duplex on Toledo, Ohio's south side--right near the big Haughton Elevator plant where my grandfather worked. Very industrial and I remember the neighborhood being very gray--dark, charcoal gray. There were railroad tracks that basically ran behind the house. During the depression, the homeless men who were traveling as hitchers on the train would stop and my grandmother would feed them--whatever she had--which wasn't much. Mom said that it was a daily occurrence. And there was a bar called The Showboat just a few doors down. Some time during my young adulthood, it morphed into a drag club. I never went there, but it was VERY important to my grandpa. LOL

    That grandmother had a small, dank kitchen with a freestanding gas (heating) stove, lino countertops with the banded edge, and (I think) green painted cabinets--and not many. It just felt dirty and old to me--much like that neighborhood. My uncle lived in that duplex apartment for more than 60 years. He had cerebral palsy and lived at home and never married. What I remember most about that house was the smell of his cologne, believe it or not. By the time he moved in the early 80s, the apartment had fallen into horrendous disrepair.

    My paternal grandmother was a charcter--my last remaining grandparent. Some time between 1915 and 1920, they sold their large farm in Tontogany, Ohio and moved to the "big city" of Bowling Green. Their house was a traditional 2 story, white, with a big front porch and two catalpa trees out front. I spent hours playing with the seed pods--"Indian cigars" as she called them. Her kitchen wasn't big, but it wasn't small. There was a wall of cabinetry that faced the country road to the east with a sink and symmetrical white painted cabinets. Certainly no dishwasher. LOL The floors were a speckled lino--all kinds of colors but basically white and the cabinets had black rubber toekicks. There was a typical 1930s wallpaper, red, blue, yellow with forks and spoons motif on all of the walls above white (?) ceramic tile. I want to say that it was banded in black tile, but...I don't know...maybe... There was a breakfast alcove with a wooden table and 4 chairs--always covered with a vinyl tablecloth. I remember a lot of red and white checks...LOL The stove and refrigerator stood by themselves on 2 walls, and there was a door in the back corner that led out onto a breezeway with a dirt floor that housed the old wringer washer and beadboard cabinets full of home canned goods. I grew up eating her quince jelly and peanut butter sandwiches. We had her jelly YEARS after she passed away. I can STILL taste it. And lebkuchen. Always lebkuchen. And on your birthday, she would sit down at the big upright piano in the living room and belt out the most raucous "Happy Birthday" you ever heard. She'd been a piano player in the silent movie houses and was quite good--sitting there in her flowered shirtwaist and gingham apron with her white-white hair pulled into a tight bun.... My mom always told me that I reminded her of that grandmother.... I like that.

  • 12 years ago
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    My grandma's kitchen was in Concord, MA - her backporch had a trellis with Concord grapes growing on it! Also, the metal container for the milk man.

    Linoleum flooring - table set between two big windows. Container of buttons inside one of the cupboards which we were FASCINATED with. My grandmother would play "find the button" with us - a simple game of hiding a button. She also had spelling bees for us in her kitchen. She was a wonderful woman named Julia.

    Also, she always had Fresca in the house - I always think of her when I see it... none of us liked it but that's okay.

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    My grandma's kitchen had carpet in it!!! Yuck.

    And she always had boring cereal. Lol.

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    I remember little about the grandmother I was old enough to know, but I don't think she cooked much in her older years. I wish I could remember her kitchen, but the only thing that comes to mind is the number of cats she had.

    Lalitha--my dh grew up in a small village in the south and remembers all you listed in his family's kitchen, except for the coffee grinder--they drank tea. He said they used a different leaf to serve as plates. I often wondered how his mother cooked and served 3 meals a day to her husband and 12 children, but finally realized that she had help from other family members and older children, and that she wasn't running said kids to this activity and that all day and evening. The preparation of meals was very time-consuming, (and still is, for that matter!) with all the chopping of vegetables and mixing of chutnies, masalas, etc. They were too poor to have servants to even wash the pots, so I guess the kids served in that capacity.

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    Sounds so very much like my great-grandma's house in Ohio. Thanks for the reminder of my own memories, sjerin! :)