Now that we’re deep into autumn, we start thinking about the things we’re thankful for, like family, friends…and modern appliances. And not having to cook our food on a wood-burning stove.
Heritage Park Historical Museum and Carriage Barn has an exhibit called “Keeping a Home”, which showcases items such as a wood-burning oven and icebox cabinet. The kitchen then, much like today, was the central place in the home. A lot of time was spent in there with family as meals were being prepared, because cutting, beating, and mixing were all done by hand. The stove was typically filled with eucalyptus branches – a local tree – and that had to be chopped by hand as well. These days we are thankful for modern gadgets that can help us with these tasks!
A lot of the food came from the family’s own backyard, not the store. Basically because there weren’t very many grocery stores like there are today. Eggs, fruit, vegetables, milk, and meat all came from the family’s garden and livestock. To keep it from spoiling, the food was kept in the icebox (now the modern day refrigerator) with a block of ice to keep the box cold. As the ice melted, the water would collect in a tray that was later emptied. The one here in the Carriage Barn is a tall cabinet made out of wood, with metal hinges and 2 doors. On top are two grinders, either for spices, coffee, or wheat. We should be thankful we can easily buy these items pre-ground from the store!
The oven is by Royal Enterprise, manufactured by Phillips and Buttorff from Nashville, TN. It has no dials to turn the heat from low to high, no timer to set to remind you when the turkey is ready. It just has one door for the oven, the stove burners, and two doors on top. Also visible are various cooking items: baking powder and bowls, wafers and tea.
So when you’re sitting down to a delicious meal, ham or turkey, with mashed potatoes and stuffing, with your family around you, think of how much harder it could have been to store all those dishes in the icebox or prepare it on a wood-burning stove…and be thankful.