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Posts Tagged ‘kitchen ideas’

Random#25 084

This is the mudroom as it has no doubt stood for many years (minus K-10 the German Shepherd). It is a nice mudroom.

Random#25 099Only problem is, the attached kitchen is rather small. It has a nice propane stove, however, with six burners and two ovens. I would like to put our Dixie wood-and-coal cookstove in, though, as we use it most of the year, and prefer it to any other kind of stove.

With my favorite shelves added along the wall between the dining room and kitchen, and the south wall full of cabinets (hurray!) that leaves not much but a walkway from mudroom to dining room.

So…I would like to build a new mudroom. Nothing fancy; just an unheated space across the whole front of the house, about 10 feet deep, divided into two sections. On the right hand would be a space with a laundry sink, in which I could also put my wringer washer. (Wringer washers can be amazingly efficient.) There would be a place on the ceiling fitted to hoist up a deer or whatnot, for butchering or hanging. There would be a floor drain, for…messes. Will could also process all his raw dog food mixtures in here. Along the east wall (front), there would be quite a long space in which to stack a supply of dry firewood. In the other section, to the left of the front door, would be a summer kitchen/canning kitchen.

Here the old propane stove from the current kitchen would go, and I would want a wide bench, with shelving underneath, suited for processing large batches of food, and storing large cooking pots, canners, and so on. A potting bench, for the spring planting season, would also be highly desirable. Ideally, I would want windows along the north and south walls, which, if done right, could even facilitate getting baskets of produce into the house, without having to track through the front door continuously. There would be a nearly straight shot to the basement, and hence the cellar, from the front door, however.  This summer kitchen would be twice as deep as the butcher/washing section, as the house is not even across the front. This means that a winter clothes closet would fit nicely along the south wall, where it wouldn’t risk getting spattered with blood from butchering. Of course, all floors would be cement – easy clean, few worries.

I’ve introduced these ideas to Will. He thinks they sound nice. (Translated: He has no commitment to the plan, but wouldn’t mind if it magically put itself into action.)

Naturally, that would leave the old mudroom as a place to spill over from the true kitchen. This is important, as, if we choose to have electricity on-grid (not much of a probability), I will keep two refrigerators in the “mudroom”, along the south wall. One would be for household use, and one for dairy. A herd of milking does can produce several gallons of milk a week, and I prefer to make cheese in five to ten gallon batches.  At any rate,  on-grid or off, I’ll need someplace (with controlled temperatures) to deal with the milk.  Also, it would be great to have someplace to put a work table, as the counter space is limited. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Then – ahhh…at last. With these improvements, I’ll have a kitchen where I can cook without working around every project and family member in the house. Actually, two kitchens.

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home-0871

Peppers, from seed to salsa.

 

 

 

Squashes, from vine to custard.

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Milk, from goat to glass.

Goats - Morgana, Lancelot - 2008I love to handle most of our food as thoroughly as possible.

Still, there are times I can’t. I am forced into bartering for something that did poorly in my own garden, or I find myself in a zone or situation that makes it impossible to grow or raise what I want.

What do I do? I know that my family’s health depends in part on the attitudes with which our food has been handled.

So I redeem the time. I use what I’ve learned about attitudes to give our food the best chance to be profitable for us.

I’ve taken at times three different steps to ensure our food is healthful and appropriate. Some of these steps can be taken at the place of purchase, and if you don’t like the results, you can choose to buy something else, saving you and your family time and trouble.

 

Step One

First, if possible, I take stock of how the food, whether beef or barley, has been handled already. Who grew the grain? How was the calf raised? Did the owner of the chickens enjoy caring for her layers, and give them smiles as well as feed?

If I don’t know, I don’t worry about it. I just lay my hands on the item in question, and pronounce it reserved for my Creator’s use, and used to His honor. Sometimes, strange as this sounds, I can ask the item how it was handled or raised, and know in my spirit its true condition. I especially do this with produce that looks too good to be true – I’ve opened way too many lovely apples, only to discover they have mushy cores, are tasteless, or obviously were overdosed on pesticides (organic doesn’t happen around here unless I grow it myself).

 

Step Two

Next, I make sure the item is properly packaged, which seems to make it feel welcome and useful (more on this in a future post). I find this step is important, as something that has not been treated with sufficient regard wilts and decays, or stagnates, just like a human spirit. It also attracts filth. Therefore, if it is a grain, I put it in a convenient, bug-proof container, and make sure to label it clearly. When Will and I butcher, I undertake to label the packages accurately, and wrap them securely in paper and plastic, where they won’t get freezer burn and won’t leak, should they experience an untimely thaw. Labeling accurately can be a big deal, just like getting somebody’s name right that you’re trying to get to know.

Normally, the longer you can keep a food in your home before using it, the more likely it is to adapt to your needs, both spiritual and physical, and benefit you. That is one of the many reasons I buy “raw” foods in bulk, and have made special efforts to arrange suitable storage areas in the house.

 

Step Three

Handle the food, and even tell it what it is for. Tell it what results you expect from it – what it is to do for your health, how it is to act in your recipe, how it is to improve or maintain the attitudes of those who eat it. Be specific. “You’re to make the children good,” isn’t half so instructive as, “Cabbage, you are to bring beautiful color to my table, provide our bodies with pure and abundant nutrients, and cause us to act humbly and in one accord, because we agree you radiate joy and unity.”

See the difference?

With practice, you might be able to tell what sort of handling your food has had already, and know exactly what you need to tell it.

Next, get proficient at really handling food. It is faster for me to chop most things with an Alaskan knife, than to wash up a food processor. If you are truly pressed for time, decide beforehand which parts of the process are best done by hand – think about which steps to getting the meal on the table will allow you to put maximum emotion into the food. Depending on what the food has already been through, sometimes it doesn’t take much.

Other times, it’s almost impossible to undo the damage caused by someone else’s carelessness or ignorance. (More about this in future.)

 

Some specific steps that I often do by hand are:

Chopping of vegetables and fruits

Mixing of breads and batters

Kneading (whether by knife or by hand)

Grinding of grains

 

Other Tips

I take care to soak and sometimes malt grains (more nutrition), and I make many of our dairy products.

I avoid use of microwaves (I haven’t used one in over eight years), because they destroy nutrients and harm the molecular structures of foods.

Frequently, Will and I work together in the kitchen, or I make things with the children. Many hands make light work, and many smiles make things taste better.

Lastly, if you really want to improve the quality of your food, forget your conventional stove and cook over a real, lit-with-a-match fire. I have never yet come across a scientific explanation, but just ask any old-timer whose family used  a cookstove, and they’ll tell you the food tastes and digests better. My cookstove isn’t for sale.

Cookstove pink-and-purple flames coal

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