Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Ideal Kitchen

“Considering that the kitchen department is largely responsible for the health, comfort, good temper, and general well-being of the entire household, it is remarkable that so little time, thought, ingenuity, and money are spent upon it.

The newly-married couple throw themselves heart and soul into the style and decorations of the sitting-rooms and bedrooms, and criticize the architecture of the whole establishment, except that of the kitchen and what are termed domestic offices, which include a stuffy little larder, a cupboard-like place dignified by the name of scullery, and a badly built, badly lighted and ventilated for the kitchen and living-room of the unfortunate maids.

Now, an ideal kitchen is one in which the necessary cooking can be done expeditiously and with the least possible drudgery.

There is no need for a huge kitchen; on the contrary, a large room, much furniture, and many utensils are not easily kept spotlessly clean and tidy.

However, if there is not even a tiny room in which the domestics can sit and have their meals, it is advisable to have a larger kitchen, because, otherwise, the valuable maids will soon leave, and the worthless ones, who may condescend to remain, will work especially badly.

WALLS AND CEILING. If possible, therefore, avoid a sitting-room kitchen, and if you have the opportunity of planning your own kitchen, see that the walls are built with rounded corners, like modern hospitals, and with hard, washable surfaces. These can be prettily tinted with light, bright colours in strong, washable distemper or enamel paint.

The ceiling should be painted white, and washed at least once a year. It can, of course, be whitewashed, but if so treated should be renewed annually.

THE FLOOR. The floor is one of the most important parts in the kitchen, and must, under all circumstances, be washable. It should be made of wood which can easily be stained, or covered with an inlaid linoleum, either of a carpet-like design, or in the parquet pattern. The former, perhaps, is more suitable if it is necessary for the servants to sit in the room. Linoleum is warm for the feet; and if it is inlaid, the pattern does not wear off, even under the strain of constant friction.

Cocoanut matting is strong, but it harbours dust, and the same objection applies to rugs; but, if the latter are used, the edges should be stoutly bound.

The floor of the scullery can be treated like the kitchen, for the usual stone floor is hard to keep clean, and is very cold and cheerless. At any rate, a wooden scullery mat should be provided, since stone floors, damped perhaps with splashings from the sink, are responsible for many chills.

The wall around the sink, behind the gas-stove, and on either side of the kitchen range, should be lined either with tiles, galvanized zinc, or a substance now much used, composed of zinc enameled so as to give the effect of tiles.

Curtains are out of place in the cookery department, but a bare, comfortless look may be prevented by using pretty reed and bead curtains. These keep out no air, and every now and then can be taken down, dipped into a tub of soapy water, rinsed, rubbed down, and hung up again, all within the space of ten minutes.

THE RANGE. Never grudge money spent on a good cooking range, for on the efficiency of the range depend the amount of fuel consumed, the supply of hot water, and the quality of the roasting and baking.

Nowadays there are numerous makers who build stoves with every modern contrivance and which ensure economy and good results. Moreover, such ranges are moderate in price and procurable in sizes suitable for a family of two or twenty. A gas stove, in addition, is of the utmost value, since it saves much unnecessary coal, labour and heat during the summer months.

THE KITCHEN TABLE. The height of the kitchen table should be adapted to the height of the cook, because, if this is done, she can be spared much backache and weariness. If the table is too high, supply a wooden mat to stand on; or if the cook is too tall, the table can be raised on four blocks.

The modern housewife no longer worries about the snowy boards of the dresser and table, after the fashion of her grandmother. It is not that she is less cleanly—on the contrary, she is infinitely more hygienic—but she has learned that time may be spent more wisely than in scrubbing wood. She covers her table and other much-used surfaces, therefore, with pretty imitation tiles of galvanized zinc, which can be kept as bright as any silver, or tiled oilcloth. Moreover, this substance will not be injured if a hot saucepan be placed upon it, and after it has been wiped over with hot soda-water, it looks the picture of cleanliness.

When cooking is over a cheerful coloured tablecloth can be put on the table, and this will add considerably to the comfort of the room.

It is advisable to have drawers fitted in the kitchen table; one built like a writing-table, with drawers down each side and screw-hooks at the ends on which to hang rolling-pins, pastry brushes, etc., is invaluable, but not suitable if the maids have to use it for meals.

KITCHEN UTENSILS. All kitchen utensils should be light, durable, and made of such ware that they can easily be kept clean without laborious scouring and polishing. A few good enamel saucepans are useful, but they are only suitable for light work. Very cheap enameled ware, though pretty and clean-looking, is not economical, as the lining soon chips off. Aluminium utensils are very popular, being light, durable and easily kept clean. The initial outlay is, however, heavy, and as the heat penetrates very quickly, owing to the thinness of the metal, they are not suitable for every kind of cooking – e.g., stewing.

Copper is, of course, everlasting, but the initial outlay is considerable; it is heavy for constant lifting, and needs thorough cleaning and burnishing, and unless the tinned exterior is kept intact it soon becomes a serious danger to health.

Tin utensils are useless except for spirit lamps, although good block-tin answers well for gas-stove cooking, or for such utensils as fish-kettles, steamers, etc. The seamless steel pans, are, perhaps, the most serviceable. They are very strong, easily cleaned, and can be re-tinned, if necessary.

Nowadays, no kitchen would be considered properly equipped without a supply of earthenware utensils, casseroles, marmites, and such like, for they are so cleanly, and there is never the least risk of their spoiling the most delicately flavoured foods, if they are kept properly cleaned.

LABOUR-SAVING APPLIANCES. Although there is a vast number of really useful labour and time-saving appliances in the market to-day, it is a remarkable fact that there are but comparatively few houses into which they have been introduced.

The British housewife is apt to be distinctly behind the times in her kitchen; if her mother’s cook was content to do all the chopping by hand, pound away at the bread-dough, etc., why should she spend her money and pamper her domestics with mincing machines, bread mixers, forcing bags, wire and hair sieves?

The daintiest little moulds can be obtained, and other contrivances that put joy into the heart of any cook. Of such kitchen treasures there are scores such as; The frying basket, vegetable pressers, trussing needles, cutters, egg poaches, egg whisks, apple corers, pastry brushes.

Many of these things can be bought for less than a shilling, and yet the cook is grudged these helpers, although, maybe, she is allowed a “char” at 2s. 6d. per day and her meals, plus her wonderful skill for producing the muddle and dirt which she is supposed to be eradicating.

SYSTEM IN ARRANGEMENT. Wall space should not be wasted; if utensils are kept in sight the easier it is to find them, and the more likely they are to be kept clean. Each new cook, however, should not be allowed to hammer in nails at her own sweet will, but strips of painted wood should be fixed properly to the walls, and into these brass hooks screwed.

Pans of all sorts should be arranged in one group, iron spoons, fish slice, and skewers in another. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is one of the golden rules for the kitchen. An orderly cook should be able to find the merest trifle in the dark.

Provide white-glazed earthenware-covered jars for ingredients, with the name of the contents on each in black lettering. Enamelled tins of a similar kind look bright, although the former are really preferable. Bits of groceries should on no account be left lying about in paper bags since, if they are, they merely invite mice and beetles. Jars and tins should be arranged on a shelf at a convenient height; this facilitates work and avoids hunting for things in a badly lighted cupboard.

In the scullery it is useful to have fixed wooden grooved draining boards, sloping towards the sink; slate, marble, or tiled sides are very cleanly and look well, but plates are easily chipped against the stone when laying them to drain.

DISHCLOTHS. In many households dishcloths are a thing of the past; they are considered, and correctly, as non-hygienic, and indeed, often are greasy and slimy, and contain fragments of food. In their place large, stout, round brushes are used; something like, only superior to, the brushes used for putting on enamel paint. These brushes are easily washed, the bristles penetrate well into any crevices in the crockery, round the handles of cups, and so forth, and remove dried substances far more quickly than cloths.”

By Gladys Owen. From Every Woman's Encyclopedia, Vol I, (1910).


Anonymous said...

This cracked me up.. especially the remark about not using dish rags.. and the one about having the table appropriate for the height of the cook.. LOL

TypsTatting said...

I agree about the dishrags but what can we do? also love the cat

Packrat said...

This is great! We get to have a cook and other kitchen help? Wow!

The dish rag comment got me,too. I can remember my grandmothers boiling theirs. Mom would pour boiling water over hers. Hey, I did that yesterday! LOL

Short kitchen story, if I may? When my mom and dad built their new house in 1961-1962, Mom had a built in stove top installed at a height comfortable for her. Everyone just had a fit. "If you try to sell the house, no one will buy it!" Well, eight years later when my parents sold the house, the *first* couple that looked at the house bought it because the stove top was just right for his short wife.