Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Victorian Kitchen Revival – Part 3

Before I begin this post, I’d like to tell you about this antique shop on the corner of Main and Bird in Hannibal. It’s called Hyland Antiques and it’s one of our favorite shopping spots in the Hannibal. It’s also a professional pitcher’s stone’s throw from Laura’s house. How better to furnish the kitchen than with locally acquired items, many similar to what the Hawkins household would have used “back in the day”. Items are salvaged from old homes in the area, and the asking prices are not too hard on the pocketbook either.

 The Hyland Antiques on the corner of Main and Bird 
(223 Main Street)
Here’s a view of downtown Hannibal
looking north from outside the shop.

 Here’s the view looking south on Main.

So what would the kitchen in the Laura Hawkins House have looked like in 1928, the year of her death?

Below is a model kitchen any housewife in 1928 would envy with its compact, yet spacious shelving against the walls (keeping things tidy and out of sight) and of course, modern running water from a sink with legs. It was the Cat’s Meow back then.

 A model kitchen circa 1928

Below is a 1922 photo of Laura in front of the Star Theatre on South Main. She’s the model of a woman who’s obviously chosen to retain her Victorian identity. “Hello, it’s the 1920’s!” Like, sure “I’ll embrace the flapper (read: punk) concept of streamlined furnishings and fashions that’s all the rage now-a-days.” NOT!

Let’s peer into period kitchens of America’s restored home and museums between 1860 and 1928. Below is the kitchen in the historic Bingham-Waggoner House in Independence, Missouri. George Bingham was a famous Civil War artist. The kitchen is circa 1860.

Bingham-Waggoner House kitchen

Circa 1870, the kitchen below is from Magnolia Manor in Cairo, Illinois. Very Civil War like in appearance, wouldn’t you say?

This 1890’s kitchen in the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum in Massachusetts is one I find utterly fascinating.

Here was the idea 1900 kitchen according to the marketing folks from Campbell’s.

 The next kitchen, circa 1910, is in the Mahler Museum in Brea, Ohio. It would be an easy one to emulate for the Laura Hawkins House.

With the 1920’s came a more streamlined kitchen. Here is a typical model located in the Hamilton Street House in Washington, D.C.

I could be mistaken, but except for minor details, it doesn’t seem to me that kitchens advanced much in their appearance or utility between 1860 thru 1928.

Flooring for the most part was hard wood with hand-braided rugs or oil cloths, walls were painted, sinks were made of iron as were stoves, and a large work table occupied the center of the room. Walls were covered with shelves and hooks so pots, pans and utensil would be within easy reach. In addition to a pantry, storage of food was supplemented with cupboards, pie safes, and more shelves.

If Americans were to follow a standard list for furnishing a kitchen around 1900, it would be from a list out of The Modern Householder written in 1872 (this book gives an English list, but is similar to what was used in the USA). The list includes the following:
wooden chair
floor canvas
coarse canvas to lay before the fire when cooking
wooden tub for washing glass and china
large earthenware pan for washing plates
small zinc basin for washing hands
2 washing-tubs
yellow bowl for mixing dough
wooden salt box to hang up
small coffee mill
plate rack
knife board
large brown
earthenware pan for bread
small wooden flour kit
3 flat irons
an Italian iron and iron stand
old blanket for ironing on
2 tin candlesticks
snuffers, extinguishers
2 blacking brushes
1 scrubbing brush
1 carpet broom
1 short handled broom
cinder sifter
patent digester
tea kettle
toasting fork
bread grater
meat chopper
block-tin butter saucepan
3 iron saucepans
1 iron boiling pot
1 fish kettle
1 flour dredger a sifter
1 frying pan
1 hanging gridiron
salt and pepper boxes
rolling pin and pasteboard
pie pans
1 larger tin pan
pair of scales
baking dish

So readers, we have out work cut out for us. Stay tuned for more updates on the Laura Hawkins kitchen.

Meanwhile, I’d like to share a time-honored recipe cooked up by my long-gone relatives in Hannibal. My folks came from Kentucky and the Ozarks before settling in the “big city” of Hannibal around 1900. My grandmother was a cook at the now-restored Mark Twain Hotel for many years between the 1940’s thru the 1960’s. She measured nothing in her recipes, opting instead to throw in a handful of flour here, a couple of shakes of salt and pepper there. She then fried everything with lard in a cast iron pan or in a large pot.
In the Ozarks around the late 1800’s thru much of the 1900’s, many families kept hogs. They allowed them to run wild and forage in the woods. Come winter, they’d come back home where they were butchered. Every part of the hog was used and the fat (lard) was used for frying. Pickled Pigs Feet was one of my favorite meals from this household. 

The recipe is very simple - just toss disjointed and cut-up pig’s feet in an iron kettle full of water, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, pickling spices and chopped onions. Cook covered over medium heat for at least an hour. Length of cooking depends on how chewy you like your meat.

I like to doctor my food and will throw in secret ingredients to make this dish more savory. So in goes a bay leaf, a tea bag of mulling spices, garlic, liquid smoke and a couple of dashes of Kitchen Bouquet. I serve the pig’s feet with collards & sliced carrots fried in bacon fat, salt & pepper, onions, red pepper flakes and a secret ingredient that will remain secret (hint: it’s not a spice from this country), buttered jasmine rice, and maybe some back-eyed peas. Viola – a meal that feeds the soul!


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