Monday, November 21, 2011

The Heart of the Home

My kitchen has always been the hub of our home. I truly love to cook. Some years ago I was trying to figure out just why I spent so much time in the kitchen. I realized that when I spent time cooking for my family. I was not only feeding my families stomach but also nourishing their souls.

Since me moved 14 times in the first 21 years of our marriage I had plenty of opportunities to learn new things in the kitchen. If I went to a potluck through hubbies job or a church potluck and found something particular good I would go and find out who made it and then get the recipe. I have learned to make Greek Backlava, Korean broccoli and egg rolls, Guamanian shishkabobs, a Sweedish pastry called Kringler and much more.

With that in mind I could not wait to see how a group of women could prepare and cook food for a family without electricity. That means no refrigerator, no blenders for smoothies, no Kitchen Aides to mix dough, no coffee machine or toaster and certainly no microwaves.

These ladies are hard workers; without electricity they have to be. Let's take the stove for instance. This picture show a typical stove. The community actually makes the Cadillac version of wood stoves; it is called a Pioneer Princess. It is a mighty fine piece of equipment in my opinion. You simply put wood inside (that you cut of course), burn it and it heats up the top of the stove and the oven. Oven temperatures are a little tricky because you have to figure out just how much of a roaring fire is needed to get the temperature correct. They all hang a thermometer inside the oven so they can see just how hot it is. The stove top has no burners just a smooth top to put pans on.

There is a ledge over the stove that you can rest your food that you want to keep warm. It is their version of the microwave! The first family we stayed with had a water heater that they rigged up right next to the stove. The fire in the stove would heat up the water which was wonderful to have hot water coming out of the faucet. Our second family we stayed with did not have a water heater so there was only ice water coming out of the tap. She kept several very large pots on the stove to use for dishes which of course are done by hand.

Before visiting the community I had not worked out in my head the ramifications of no refrigerator. I was totally surprised at just how dependent I am on them. The community makes their own ice at the ice house. They are 50# blocks that each family can go and purchase when needed. In the summer they go through the block in just a couple of days but in the winter they don't need to get ice most of the time. They take the ice and set it inside a very large camping style cooler. One of the families showed me their cooler and it was bear proof so quite solid. The cooler will hold any leftovers and cheese if they have it along with milk. Things like ketchup and such would never be put in due to space.

So you might wonder what they do about meat. Where would you put fresh meat? I was so surprised, you can it! Yep they can just about everything and before you turn your nose up let me tell you a couple of things about canning. I didn't know about the meat until our second meal. We ate a delicious taco casserole. Our host brought out all the ingredients and set them on the counter and sure enough there was a jar and it was filled with taco meat. They prepare multiple pounds of whatever meat they do have all at once. They season it and then can it.

Most of the women have a summer kitchen on the backside of their house. In that kitchen they have a grate or an old burner up on a counter with a propane tank underneath. When you don't have air conditioning you don't want to use your wood stove very much so a summer kitchen makes a lot of sense. They make spaghetti sauce and then can it. They do bacon, ham, ground venison, homemade soups and even chicken nuggets. I still marvel at their resourcefulness.

One of the ladies showed me her root cellar. For those of you who are unfamiliar with a root cellar it is usually a dug out room either near the basement or off to the side of the house. The one I saw actually was cut out of the rocks on the side of the hill. All four walls were the rocks which made for perfect humidity and temperature to keep canning jar filled with good food safe.

There is so much more I want to tell you about from the kitchen that I think I will stop here for the day. Just for grins, spend the next 24 hours and see what life would be life in your kitchen without electricity. What would you miss the most?

Till next time.
Remember, it truly is with Christ Alone!

Jill




Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

2 comments:

  1. I just discovered you were writing about visiting a plain community so I read through your posts on it. Very interesting--what a neat experience!

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  2. I am so spoiled by an extra freezer and fridge in the basement. It would sure take a lot of relearning to now use them as normal. I love to bake things and freeze them for later and make meals for later or freeze leftovers for later. But, if you grew up not being used to these things, it would be normal for you then. These women are truly amazing:)

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