Monday, March 7, 2011

Old Stoves

We don't think of it today, but our great-grandparents didn't measure their oven temps.  Their recipes didn't tell them to bake their cakes at 350°F.  They had to operate their ovens like we do our stove tops; warm, moderate, and hot.

I find this old stuff fascinating.  We have to admire our hearty kin. 
They worked hard and they had to know things. 
Today, we've traded that in for different stressors.  I'm not so sure they would've traded with us if they knew what we given up.

I have two of these old books. One is a "medical" book, if you can call it that.  It's an entertaining read, our family gets a few kicks and giggles from it on a "boring" winter evening.  The other is a cookbook.

We don't appreciate our obsolete volumes.  They're old and, well, obsolete.  But that is the wonder of mankind!  What does "obsolete" mean?  It means out-dated, old, aged, antique.

From where do we think our "living museums" glean their information?  From antique journals, aged medical books, out-dated cookbooks, old ledgers, etc.  These are enchanting and exciting places to visit, especially with children.

I'm always glad to find these antiquated books at thrift shops and garage sales.  It means that someone thought it too valuable to throw out, and I agree.  There are always those of us who enjoy them, and yet others who know how to benefit and educate the public.

Of course, at one time these stoves were sold as brand spankin' new and as shiny as Daddy's Sunday shoes.  They sure are a lot prettier than our modern, drab stoves today, however accurate.  But we must appreciate the ease with which we can toss in a cake, to which we've only added water.

I'd like to share an excerpt from this old cookbook that I'm sure you'll think is a stitch:

"Third - this is the most difficult task of all, and it is knowing how to manage the oven.

"If I say 'a moderate oven,' that may mean one thing to me and another to you.  The same is true of any other temperature and nine-tenths of the failures in cake making come through not understanding the proper relation of heat to the cake in the oven.

"Oven thermometers are coming into common use and will no doubt prove very helpful.  There is no such thing as luck in cake baking.  There must be accuracy in measurements with all the other qualifications named [ingredients and mixing]. 

"Cake baking is a science.  Science is exact knowledge.  Know the very best ways of doing, follow your recipe accurately and with some knowledge of the laws of heat in the oven and success is assured."


c.1910 stove and icebox


Renoir 1912

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As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!