A Cook’s Things

Things, such a wonderful word. It encompasses all manner of…(for want of a better word)…things. This post is inspired by a number of recent posts from blogs I follow on gadgets, kitchen utensils, objects in kitchens…well, a cook’s things. But, most of all, it was sparked by a really lovely post, In My Kitchen, by a fellow blogger in Australia, Please Pass the Recipe. Her post reminds us that the things in our kitchens are reflections of the cook.

As an archaeologist, I’m attuned to things, even if we call it material culture and what we dig up, artefacts. I was reminded recently after posting Kitchen Archaeology of an old academic book, In Small Things Forgotten by the American historical archaeologist James Deetz. The main gist of the book is that small, sometimes inconsequential, things (pottery sherds, grave markers, musical instruments, eating utensils, etc.) reflect the web of daily life in the past, but also connect to larger historical patterns and events.

To give you a little flavour of the web of my daily life, here are a few of the “small” things in my kitchen. Although, I haven’t a clue how they connect to larger historical patterns and events. 🙂 Only time will tell.

cinnamon_sugar_shaker
1. Tin shaker for cinnamon sugar that used to sit on the kitchen table of my grandmother’s house and was passed on to me. I still remember how she would feed us hot buttered toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

cheese_basket
2. A Cretan cheese basket (left) I got while working on excavation in Southern Crete too many years ago – a kind of ethnographic object to show how cheeses are traditionally made. Rounds of hard cheese – kefalotyri – found in the markets (right) show the impressions of the baskets.

pottery
3. Hand-painted Greek, Portuguese & Italian ceramics we acquired while travelling and remind us of the places we have been. And, they’re pretty!

candle_holder

4. A pottery candle holder made by my son in the 2nd grade. It can almost be classed as vintage – he’s now working on his Ph.D.

kitchen_witch
5. My Kitchen Witch – the focus of one of my early posts, Burnt Toast in the Morning. I love the folk superstitions attached to it.

And, here’s my roundup of those recent posts on A Cook’s Things. It’s not a comprehensive list as I’m sure there are many more out there in the blogosphere, but these are the ones that have taken my fancy.

In My Kitchen
The post that inspired me to write this post – a description of what is in Please Pass the Recipe‘s Melbourne kitchen.

Dimple In Depth
Strictly not a post, but about a fellow blogger, Shivaay Delights. I found the story of her chipati board and rolling pin incredibly moving. This is a real biographical object – an object whose history is known that tells a story, often an heirloom passed from one person to another as Dimple’s was from her aunt to her. I have no doubt that the object’s story will continue when this object is passed on to the next generation.

The Great Canning Jar (and all its many uses)
I privately think of this as the “Ode to the Canning Jar”. (Hmm, I really must remember that for the title of a future post.) I’m really glad to find a fellow enthusiast of the canning jar with blogger Farm Girl School. I have many canning jars – both antique (used for dry goods storage) and functional which I still use in jam, jelly and pickle preserving.

Got Gadgets – part 2
A wonderful compendium by fellow blogger, The Vintage Cookbookery, of antique kitchen gadgets culled from 300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles by Linda Campbell Franklin. I dare you to identify the rather bizaare looking objects. I think one is a sausage extruder.

Thrift Shopping in Italy Rocks!
Just like my fellow blogger, Italy Take Two, I was drawn to these stainless steel stemmed gelato bowls from a thrift shop in Florence. Lucky blogger! Italy, gelato, second hand shops!

And, lastly, one I ran across by accident when writing my post Soup’s Companion, waxing on about my cobalt blue KitchenAid mixer: Things I Love in My Kitchen by blogger, Life’s Little Rants and Raves.

The question is: What “small” things are in your kitchen?

Check out Fig Jam and Lime Cordial (www.figjamandlimecordial.com) who has a monthly In My Kitchen post and lists others around the world who do the same.

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30 comments

  1. I have this long plastic scraper that my Mum always used to scrape yoghurt from the bottom of a tall carton, it’s yellow and white and I’ve never seen one anywhere else. I use it to scrape the bottom of slim jars of passata and always remember her using it ☺️ I’ve got my Grandmothers cake plate too which is lovely 🌸

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  2. Thank you for the mention and I am loving my gelato bowls!! Thanks also for some new blogs to read, they are fab. There are so many pieces of my kitchen I miss, however, if am happy in knowing I’ll have them all back next year on our return home…..but I could never live without my knives!!

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    • I know what you mean! Sabbaticals and visiting professorships are wonderful ways to live in and experience new places, but you really do miss your own kitchen at times. I have wonderful French and German knives inherited from my father-in-law, but (being loyal to the home town) my Sheffield knives are the ones I miss when cooking away from home. You’ll have your own back soon enough. Meanwhile, from your blog, it looks like you’re having a wonderful time in Italy!

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  3. Enjoyed the tour of kitchen things. My mom and grandma could not pass a display of kitchen things without stopping to handle them all. My sister and I are the same. ESP about dishes. Loved your scholarly approach to topic. Sue
    Womenlivinglifeafter50.com

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  4. Debi, thanks for joining in! I’ve added your post to our November listing. And cinnamon toast! It’s been a lifetime since I’ve had that – I wonder if it’s a distinctly American dish, as we only ever had it with Aunty Marty, who was from Maine. Love your collection of ceramics! 🙂

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    • I don’t know if cinnamon sugar is specifically American, but I suspect so. It may even be regional – Atlantic States & New England – like ketchup on scrambled eggs. I’m really glad that blogger Please Pass the Recipe mentioned you. I think IMK is a fabulous idea. Expect a post in December! 😄

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  5. Lots of Good Things in your kitchen… like Celia, I haven’t had cinnamon toast forever too! Great round up and lovely to meet you Debi.

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    • Oh, I really must look into this cinnamon sugar question. You and Celia both have got me wondering. It will nag at me – American? Regional? Generational? Vaguely, in the back of my mind, I think there may be a connection to snickerdoodles – those cinnamon sugar cookies that are thought to be of German origin, but coined the term in New England. Glad you liked the kitchen things!

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    • I love it, too. I had always wished I had been able to observe traditional cheese making high up on Mount Ida in central Crete, but it always takes place in early spring when we’ve not been able to travel there. I also have a smaller basket that is used in making mizithra – a kind of ricotta soft “cheese”. Love your blog and understand why the cheese basket might appeal to you! Thanks for looking in.

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  6. This post got a lot of folks thinking about their kitchens in a different way. And that is great when it happens. Sue
    Womenlivinglifeafter50.com

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