Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Memory of a Farmhouse

It took a brave heart to attempt culinary endeavors in the small farmhouse kitchen.

It wasn’t just because there was only about four feet of 1940’s linoleum covered countertops or a giant, single chipped-up porcelain sink.

It wasn’t just because there were only six cupboards in the room or because the four drawers sticked unmercilessly requiring herculean strength to open.

And it certainly wasn’t just because the two exposed outlets would short circuit amidst a shower of festive sparks each time you tried using something more powerful than a pathetic hand mixer.

The brave heart was required because of the old gas range left in the kitchen when we bought the house.

When I first laid eyes on it, I was enchanted. Sure, the white enameled surface was chipped and scratched. Sure, the biggest oven box was the size of a large casserole dish.

(Trust me. This is not a picture of my old stove. It looked a bit like this but in much, much worse shape!)

But it was cool. And old. And I pictured myself wearing an apron and taking hearty old fashioned dishes from the black speckled interior.

My then husband, a man always motivated by massive quantities of home-cooked food, told me he would remodel the kitchen right away.

“Sure, go ahead,” I said, “But I want to keep the old stove, just leave it alone.”

He raised his eyebrows at me, but agreed.

The first week of cooking I learned that lighting stove-top pilot lights every single time you wanted to cook is a bit annoying. And a little frightening. When the tiny little flame from the match came in contact with the gas, the subsequent ‘whoosh’ and excited flames always made me jump back. I also quickly learned that when you re-lit the pilot lights inside the small ovens, you needed to duck and jump back simultaneously to avoid hitting your head and/or catching your hair on fire.

I perservered, though. Did I tell you that the range was cool. And old. And I pictured myself wearing an apron and taking hearty old fashioned dishes from the black speckled interior.

The range remained old, but rapidly became less cool as I learned that old gas ranges are not super reliable and that oven temperatures are usually more of a suggestion than a reality.

I persevered, though. I still pictured myself wearing an apron and taking hearty NON BURNT old-fashioned dishes from the black speckled interior.

I persevered right up until the day I forgot to duck my head and jump back simultaneously when I lit the bottom oven pilot light.

A goose egg on the top of my head and burned off bangs, eyebrows and eyelashes finally convinced me that having an old gas range that didn’t work right was most definitely NOT cool. And I finally figured out I could still wear an apron and take hearty old-fashioned dishes from the interior of a nice, newer gas range.

When I think back on my years on the old farmstead I remember so much of it fondly.

However, the eccentricities of a cool, old gas range in my decrepit little kitchen are not among those memories that I hold most dear.

This little memory is written in honor of the letter “K” for Alphabe-Thursday. K is for Kitchen!

To read other 'K' offerings, just click here.

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Maureen Wyatt said...

I had a cool, old gas range that you had to light with a match. It had a lid that covered the burners to make more counter space. Big improvement on the one foot of counter I had! I was terrified of that stove and happy to move away from it permanently! ~ Maureen

Anonymous said...

That kitchen certainly does sound like it presented some very dangerous challenges. Glad you finally realized that new gas ranges are the way to go!

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

I leaned to cook on one of those duck and run gas ranges.

I adore this nostalgic story sweetie.

I've got a feelin' you've got kitchen on the brain right now.

God bless ya and have a joyous day my friend!!! :o)

Susan Anderson said...

I had one of those in my first apartment. Scaaary!


Judie said...

When I spent every summer in Maine, I had to cook on an old wood stove! It was trial and error, and mostly error. The only things that came out right were coffee, corn on the cob, and lobsters.

LuLu Kellogg said...

An apartment I used to live in back in my younger days had one of these stoves and that "woosh" always skeered me!!!


Lola said...

A fascinating post which brings back memories for so many of us!

XOXO Lola:)

Betty said...

Growing up my mother always had a gas stove. When lighting a burner she'd always tell everyone to stand back. I was always waiting for that thing to explode. We've always had electric everywhere we've lived except in Sicily. I've gotten used to electric and would probably still be scared if I ever came across gas again.

Pat said...

A great reminder of how fortunate we are to have more reliable appliances these days...(for the most part!)

Our RV has a propane powered stove top and oven and I am okay with lighting the top burners, but lighting the oven falls to my intrepid husband who thinks I am just scares me for some reason...and it is also about the size of a large casserole dish :o)

anitamombanita said...

reminds me of my friend who was putting on a little "hey look at me aren't I wonderful" show and singed off his eyebrows and eyelashes and what little hair he had above his forehead when lighting one of those lovely old's funny now, but it was pretty frightening when it happened. Love these old farmhouse memories of yours.

Unknown said...

I don't think I could have cooked anything on that.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Good story! I had a gas range once I had to light and it always scared me to death!

Pondside said...

Anyone thinking about the romance of an old-fashioned kitchen should read this. The thought of the goose-egg and burn hair is too, too awful.

To the Toy Box and Beyond said...

ahhhh the smell of burnt hair. We used to live in an old farm house too. The stove and oven worked though. We did however have a burn barrel for our trash. My hubby was in charge of that but would never burn it fast enough. So one day I tried. How hard could it be? I used too much lighter fluid and caught my hair on fire. I never again burned trash.

When I was about 20 I lived in this apartment where you had to shut the gas off after you used the stove. There was a leak and we had a crappy landlord. So you always had to relight the stove if you wanted to use it. I barely did.

storybeader said...

I hate to light the pilot lights, let alone the oven. Since I'm not that into cooking in the first place, no dishes would be coming out of the oven for me! It is cute, though! Glad I could inspire you with the stamps. Ask me any questions if you need to. {:-Deb

Jan said...

Enjoyed reading about your endeavours with the gas stove. I've only had a gas stove in the last year or so, so not the worries you had. Trusting you have a very satisfactory stove now!

Ms. A said...

I prefer a gas stove, however, not one that would require constant lighting! I did have a similar experience with lighting the gas wall heater and being without bangs, eyelashes and eyebrows, thanks to my little sister turning it all the way up, instead of down!

The Old Parsonage said...

Hi Jenny

this post brought back memories from our first home too. Loved that little stove I remember turning the burners on before giving our kids a bath in the sink when they were small so that the kitchen would be nice and toasty.

Enjoy your weekend!

The Poet said...

Hello Jenny.
This stove sounds like it was a nightmare.
Thank goodness things have improved since then!
I feel as if I'm existing in this period with you.
Keep the stories coming.
Thanks for sharing.

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

I used to have a cool old range just like that and I was absolutely in love with it at the time. I had many of the same issues though and I'm glad to have a little more modern one now although, I wish it looked like the old one. Its true, there is something about the look that just makes one want to cook good old fashioned meals on it!

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

Cool memory, Matlock! You painted a great picture. But tell me, what is a kitchen?

Steph said...

A new gas range sounds great to me! And I'm sure the meals were full of home-cooked love.

21 Wits said...

Jenny I too know that gas stove (that's all I had for years) but I feared for my life every time (no matter which stove it was) I truly feared for my life! Hey, I was super young and it was all new to me! I so enjoy your farmhouse stories, and it's funny I was thinking of doing Kitchens, various kinds....but glad I didn't...yours really rocks, straight from the heart!

H said...

My Grandmother had a York Seal, which is a kind of larhe Aga range; coal fired. In addition to cooking delicious meals, it kept their home toasty warm.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this.

Splendid Little Stars said...

Your story made me think of this: Oh how I loved the Little House books! to live in pioneer times! It was a long time and well into adulthood before I realized those times were not really so romantic, that I depended on my modern comforts.
But the stove does look cool! 4 ovens has it?

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