In my Western Historical, KATIE AND THE IRISH TEXAN, A Brides of Texas Code Series Novella, Book One, my heroine, Katie, worked in the kitchen of The Eatery. Between researching for this and watching Mrs. Patmore at Downton Abbey, I've become interested in how women in Old Texas would've put their kitchens together.
"A Southern kitchen and pantry are a study for a Northerner. In the first place you notice three or four cabinets with doors of wire net. These doors are to keep out the flying cockroaches and the clouds of innumerable gnats and flies of 20 different species, which are blown heedlessly about by every breeze into all corners, or which deliberately follow their noses - if they have noses - in quest of bread, meat, pastry, sugar or anything good to eat or drink. And if you look lower, you'll see that every cupboard and every table there and in the dining room has a shallow tin dish set under each of its feet, and that each dish is full of water. That is to keep the ants which swarm over the floor from mounting higher." Excerpt from "Among the Insects in a Southern City" July 1885
A well appointed kitchen began with the proper furniture.
One of the first things a cook needed in her kitchen was a good stove or range.It was best to place a piece of hard, asbestos board under the stove or range because of its durability and easiness to keep clean.
|Possible kitchen set up in Old Texas|
Next on the list for the cook would've been ovens. Separate ovens were necessary for meats and pastries because delicate cakes and pastries would take on the flavor of meat cooked in a hotter oven.
A sink and a sink-side work table as large as the room would accept was indispensable. The table's edge would've overlapped the sink and would've been covered with zinc. This material was durable, easily kept clean and not burned by hot pans. When scrubbed clean, this could also be used as a molding board and dough could be scraped off with a knife. If covered with oilcloth, the kitchen table could've been used as additional work space.
The well appointed kitchen would've also had a tableware cabinet sitting just above the sink-side worktable to save time and steps lost in walking from the sink to the table. The kitchen cabinet would've had metal bins for flour, meal and other foods that entice mice. It was an investment that was a money saver in the long run.
Other items of importance were a stool, footstool, a washboard hung by the sink to keep dishcloths and towels clean and sweet smelling, a slate to write down needed supplies, dinner mats lined with asbestos to protect the table's surface from hot pots and dishes, pot holders, and stove mats made of asbestos. Match safes to protect matches, ash receptacles, sleeve protectors and dishcloths made from cloth sugar, flour and cornmeal sacks rounded out the necessities.
I'll be posting more about homes in Old Texas from time to time. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Carra Copelin Website, Carra's Blog , Carra's FB page , Carra's Twitter Page