Most of us would find it hard to fathom having two kitchens in our homes. But many old ranch and farm houses did indeed have two, and any farm or ranch wife would tell you she couldn’t get through her summer canning, pickling, and baking without one.
Often built at the back or side of the house, its purpose was strictly utilitarian. The main kitchen would likely be the gathering place for the family and had cabinets like any of us could imagine–holding plates, bowls, groceries, etc. The main kitchen would have a stove, ice box or refrigerator, etc., as well as the family’s dinner table.
The old farm houses from years ago would not have had air conditioning, and so the summer kitchen was intended to keep the heat from bulk food preparation away from the main part of the house. The summer kitchen would likely have had a ‘mother’s helper’ or more commonly known as a “Hoosier.” The Hoosier held shelves and drawers and crannies for cookbooks. The shelves contained bowls, utensils, measuring cups and spoons, spices, flour, sugar, and the like. Everything a housewife would need to prepare and preserve food for her family.
The summer kitchen would have a stove, likely a sink, and a table or counter top. They usually had two doors, some more, to open and let fresh air in. Windows were a must so they could be opened for the same reason. And oh, the smells that would drift into the yard and down the lane!
Although my Italian grandmother lived in the city, she had a summer kitchen in her old house. She called it simply ‘the back porch’, but it’s purpose was the same. The room was located in the back of the house, beyond the main kitchen (as small as a postage stamp!) and down a short hall. I remember as a little girl going out there, my memories vivid of the cracked linoleum floor, the pale green walls, and bright, ceiling-high windows. How my grandmother managed to wash them, I can’t imagine. She didn’t have a Hoosier, but instead this green metal cabinet which I was fortunate to have as my own now. (Alas, we keep it in the garage for garage stuff now, but I think of my grandmother every time I walk by.)
In addition to the metal cabinet, she had a nice-sized refrigerator. Once, I opened it and discovered a package of octopus from the meat market, which totally grossed me out. She would have boiled the octopus, sliced it, and served it as a salad with olives, oil, lemon juice, and celery and onions. Or she would have simply simmered the boiled octopus in sauce. Regardless what she did with it, she knew better than to serve it to us kids. We would have refused to eat it!
Next to the refrigerator was an upright freezer where she kept breaded zucchini blossoms (they are to die for!), homemade bread crumbs, sausage, and Italian bread. But the main star of the back porch was a big gas stove where she did her canning and prepped foods for freezing. Over those burners, she roasted hundreds (thousands?) of red peppers, then put them into bags for steaming before peeling and seeding. I tell you, I bet those walls still hold those smoky, mouth-watering aromas to this day.
Alas, she didn’t have sink, which had to have been inconvenient, but at least the porch was close to her garden–just down a few stairs and a left hand turn outside. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and onions grew in abundance, all in preparation for their time in the summer kitchen. Mama mia!
I think if I was a ranch wife, my summer kitchen would be my favorite room in the house – even in winter!
What is your favorite room in your house? Where do you hang out the most?
More than 1.5 million page reads on Kindle Unlimited!!
Trace McQuade has lost everything–his ranch, his brother, the woman he wanted to marry. When his quest for justice fails, he leaves Texas to head north, but he never expects an outlaw’s baby along the way.
Morgana Goldwater needs to be needed. After she endured a terrible tragedy, she lives in a narrow, protected world. When Trace needs help caring for the baby girl, she is quick to take them both into her heart and into her life.
But their troubles return, and Trace and Morgana must face their past to keep loving the little girl–and each other–in their future.
Sweet Romance. Book #1 Bachelors & Babies Series