We would be toast if we had to deal with a prairie kitchen!
Most of us, anyway.
You know it. I know it. We look around our very usable kitchens and long for beauty. We want pendant lights and food processors and espresso machines with built-in water lines and self-cleaning ovens, dishwashers and big, bold refrigerators!!! Even a small house tends to have a great kitchen if you consider the alternative of the prairie… and if Chip and Joanna would come and give us a makeover, we’d be over-the-moon!
A hand-made wooden table, not always sanded to our current super-smooth niceness. Wooden hooks on the wall to hold things. Rough-hewn shelves, tacked to the wall. Maybe a dirt floor, at least the first few years… a fireplace that didn’t keep things warm or a Franklin stove when times got better! Dried herbs and smoked sausages and leatherbritches (dried beans) and dried fruit (if there was time and some was available because fruit trees weren’t exactly abundant!) Can you imagine the art of cooking and baking over an open fire or a Franklin stove???
Barrels for supplies… if you could afford supplies! Flour… brown sugar… lamp oil… oats… a jug of molasses. If you have a root cellar dug out, some potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, saleratus, salt… what else would they have? Need? Can you imagine planning and implementing everything you need for a WHOLE WINTER? And here in the northeast, ice houses were prevalent, but then we live along big lakes…. Not always available on the prairie!
Oh my stars.
I love reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Farmer Boy” and how they prepared for winter for months… every month, every week had a chore to do to put enough food by to get through a year. And that was easy compared to the prairie because the Eastern Woodlands have nut trees… fruit trees…. berries…. maple trees for syrup…. great soil for vegetables….. and porkers could be either shot in the woods or raised in pens….
The prairie had grass and gardens planted in thick sod initially…. it often took two years of turning and killing grass to get plots of garden land for veggies and you’d need a one or two-bottom plow to break sod…. and then it took a lot of work to turn it enough to keep the roots dying. That grass is strong!
Carving an existence. No matter how you look at it, it had to take a huge measure of strength to maintain through those first two years especially. No towns. No shops. Few neighbors to speak of.
And the prize of 164 acres of land.
No running water… maybe a well… maybe trips to the creek. Wash tub outside in nice weather and you’d stir the clothing in the hot soapy water over a fire…. in the winter the tub was inside, probably not used as much, and the clothes were often “freeze-dried” in the cold, harsh winds… how good spring must have felt to those brave souls!
I think of them often… when I whine about what I’d like vs. what I need. When I grumble about having to load the dishwasher three times a day… 🙂 When I let laundry… washed and dried by MACHINE!!!!… sit, waiting to be folded.
You want to know why women never waited to fold laundry?
There wasn’t time to wait. Time to sit. Time to do much pondering life’s injustices…. because they were so busy building a nation!
Those women had to use their time wisely… we’re different. Modern medicine has given us more time. Healthier time. And we know that… so I wonder if we’re a little less careful about it? A little too relaxed about what needs to get done or about appreciating how good our lives truly are?
Something to talk about!
Good morning, all… My name’s Ruthy and I’m just sittin’ here, wonderin’ how we’d all fare in the prairie kitchen… what would you miss the most?
What might you love???
And for those of you who’ve never read my beautiful women’s fiction/romance stories, I have a copy of “Refuge of the Heart”, an absolutely beautiful 5-Star book that touches your heart… and stirs your soul.
Chatter a bit with me to have your name tossed into the prairie tea kettle!