The Soul of a Kitchen

I am never alone in my kitchen.

If I reach into my silverware drawer, my hand passes over the three iced tea spoons that are all that is left of my great-grandmother Julia’s silver service.The pattern is beautiful, elegant, 19th century.I never use the spoons, but their shape never fails to please me when I notice them.

Hanging on a magnetic hook from my stove is a pot holder my Aunt Helen crocheted in the shape and color of a slice of watermelon, complete with the shiny black seeds.I’ve had it since I was a kid and it’s now a little grubby from hanging on a hook near the stove.My aunt used to crochet wonderful little whimsies—my favorite being Christmas tree ornaments—little red and green wreaths, tiny ice skates of white yarn with paperclip blades.I do not know how to crochet and wonder if that skill, like hand-milking a cow, will be lost to future generations.

There’s a set of elegant wine glasses in a cupboard above my sink.They were a gift from a beau and despite their delicacy, proved more durable than the relationship.When I use them, I think of him and my thoughts are fond but not regretful.

The Revere ware pot I use for making soup was a wedding present to my parents, as was the tiny cast iron frying pan I use to make single-serving scrambled eggs.These two items are the backbone of my batterie de cuisine, enduring through the decades as cheap pots come and go.They’ll probably bury that cast iron skillet with me.

My brother gave me the pretty cut-crystal vase that sits on my kitchen table.He brought it back from a trip to Ireland.I love the way it catches the light and like to keep it there even when it’s not filled with flowers.Fresh-cut flowers make me really happy.My mother grew roses in our yard when I was a child, heavy, fragrant blossoms in sunset colors (never white).The scent of garden-grown roses is like an olfactory time machine for me.

I have a stack of platters on a back shelf.My sister made two of them on a visit to Color Me Mine.The designs are pop-art jolly, a stalk of bananas on an orange background, a bunch of grapes on a green background.I use the platters for summer barbecues and smile as I load them up with turkey burgers and chicken pieces.

My cookie jar is a mid-century McCoy in the shape of a pineapple.It is in perfect condition—bought on eBay to replace the one I took from my mother’s kitchen that had gotten chipped and cracked and fractured over the years as it was filled and refilled with peanut butter cookie and raisin cookies and chocolate chip cookies.(The only store-bought cookies I can remember eating as a child were Oreos and Fig Newtons.And Girl Scout cookies.)

I have many wooden spoons and even more bowls, some of them vintage designs from my grandmother’s mid-century kitchen.I don’t like a lot of machinery between me and my food and bowls and spoons, I find, are sufficient for most tasks.I won’t have a bread maker in the house.It’s not so much that I am clinging to the old-fashioned technique of hand-kneading bread as it is my fear that the machine would make bread-making so tempting I’d make a new loaf every day.And eat it.With butter.And unless you’re a farmer or a construction worker, those calories are going to catch up with you. But I love fresh-baked bread and butter.My paternal great-grandmother, Granny Franklin, made her own butter.It was ambrosial.You will never catch me cooking with margarine.

My kitchen is the soul of my house because it contains memories of all those who are dear to me.

I am never alone in my kitchen.

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