Get Rid of that Antiquated Kitchen – Modernize

Source: Good Housekeeping (November, 1915)
Source: Good Housekeeping (November, 1915)

The holidays are winding down and many of us have spent long hours in the kitchen preparing for large family gatherings. Perhaps now is a good time to consider what it was like to prepare meals in kitchens a hundred years ago.

This April, 1915 article in Farm Journal implored farmers to consider how difficult it could be for their wives to cook in antiquated kitchens—and to make sure that modern conveniences were equitably distributed across the farm and the house.

With families averaging 5.2 members in number, the housewife preparing three meals a day, provides in the course of a year 5,694 meals, a discouraging proposition under the best conditions, but cooked in the average kitchen, it becomes deadly monotonous.

The lack of running water, a poor stove, the empty wood box, the heavy teakettle and iron pots, insufficient towels, antiquated woodenware, rusty and battered tin ware, the lack of a pantry, the cold in winter and heat in summer, the lack of screens, –I wonder how many meals the men folks would cook under these conditions.

In these days, when efficiency is required along every line of work. I wonder how our women work against such heavy odds. If the men had to cook and keep the kitchen clean, they would want linoleum on the floor, they would have running water, the stove would not smoke and the wood box would never be empty. There would be good, handy and substantial tools to work with, the teakettle would be easy to lift and easy to clean, the knives would be sharp—oh, I am sure of that!

There would be towels galore, and they would be good ones; a pantry would be built to save running to the cellar, the kitchen would be protected in winter and shaded in summer, doors and windows would be screened, there would be a stool to sit on while doing some kinds of work, and a low, comfortable chair for other work, and a few minutes’ rest, now and then. There would be some good way to prop the ironing-board (no makeshift here) and irons enough to allow time for thorough heating.

As the work is almost entirely done by women, they get along with things as they are, renewing and replacing the old as they have the opportunity.

The farmer and his wife (or daughter, or sister, whoever does the work) should constitute a partnership, and for every convenience secured for his part of the work, there should be one for hers. It need not always represent an outlay of money, but it will represent love, appreciation, the desire to protect and willingness to cooperate, which is the foundation for family happiness and prosperity.

Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)

100-Year-Old Directions for Washing Dishes

washing dishes

Here are some hundred-year-old directions for how to wash dishes:

It is not difficult to wash dishes although many people make it a very disagreeable process. The necessary apparatus include a plentiful supply of hot water, a good soap, ammonia or borax to soften the water, a gritty soap or powder. Have a pan for washing and another for rinsing, and a tray for draining if there is no drainer attached to the sink.

Prepare the dishes by scraping and neatly piling articles of a kind together. Wash the cleanest dishes first, usually the glasses, next the cups and saucers, and the silver next.

Have the soiled dishes near the pan, and put in only one or two articles at a time. To pile in a number means the nicking of china, and scratching of silver.

Dip each dish in the rinsing water and then put in the drainer. Be careful not to use too hot water for delicate china and glass. Change the soapy water when it becomes in the least greasy.

Use dry towels to wipe the dishes dry.

Wash pots, pans, and utensils while they are still warm. Heavy pots and pans can be dried without wiping by placing on or near the stove. Do not put away until they are perfectly dry

When finished, wash out the towels and dish pan, and leave the sink and drain-board perfectly clean

Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts (1915)

Farmers Say, “Let the Women Vote.”

Source: Ladies Home Journal (March, 1914)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (March, 1914)

In 1915, times were a-changing.  Farm Journal asked readers to send in post cards telling them whether they supported women’s suffrage. A sample of the responses were then printed in the magazine (and every single response that was published supported women’s suffrage). Here are a few of them:

Yes, indeed, let the women vote.

J.C. Switzer (Carterville, Mo.)

I am strongly in favor of women voting. Hope the time will soon come when women will have the vote; and good-bye booze.

Morton R. Woodard (Dunsville, N.Y.)

You wish to know what I think about woman suffrage. Being a woman who naturally objects to being classed along with the rest of the farm’s livestock, I certainly shall vote when I get a chance.

Mrs. C. J. Colony (Lodi, N.Y.)

Yes, I am in favor of woman suffrage. I am sorry to say that I used to be an “anti,” but as a widow and breadwinner I have had my eyes opened. So I say, speed the day when this unjust discrimination shall cease to be.

Mrs. Ida L. Newton (Lakeport, Fla.)

Farm Journal (October, 1915)

This is how the magazine summarized the responses:

The straw vote called for in recent numbers of the Farm Journal is a revelation to us, for it shows a far wider and more earnest interest in this cause than we thought existed.

Of course the fact that our paper has always stood for this reform, as well as for all others that deserved and needed support, may have had an influence in bringing our millions of readers to the side of Fair Play and a Square Deal for women. But apart from such influence, it is astonishing how the demand for suffrage is sweeping over the country, promising a great victory for the cause in some, if not all, of the states that are to vote on the measure this year.

Farm Journal (October, 1915)

DO NOT Write Your Name and Address on Eggs

Eggs 2

I love to browse through hundred-year-old magazines. Sometimes I just need to smile. Today, is one of those days.

Here is an important “warning” in the March, 1915 issue of Farm Journal.

Warning Notice to Girls

It is time to put a stop to that silly, dangerous practice some girls have of writing their names and addresses upon eggs and packages of produce sent out from their home farms.

I once overheard a well-known man-about-town, whose character is not what it should be, boast to a circle of men friends that, in connection with the boiled eggs served him for breakfast, there was the name and address of a girl he hoped would prove a rustic beauty; and that he had already begun a correspondence with her.

Now is not this a situation to make all decent, respectable persons sit up and take notice?

Two Stylish 1915 Tea Sets

Picture Caption: A new idea in China painting that is rich in color and luster (Source: Ladies Home Journal; June, 1915)
Picture Caption: A new idea in China painting that is rich in color and luster (Source: Ladies Home Journal; June, 1915)

There’s nothing better than chit-chatting about everything and anything while having tea with a friend.

I wish that I could tell you that I serve the tea in lovely tea cups . . .but, I don’t.

We generally have tea (or coffee) at a nearby coffee shop. And, when I have friends over, I use mismatched, chipped mugs.

Sometimes I miss the matched tea sets that were used a hundred years ago.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1915)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1915)


Hundred-year-old Double Boiler Advertisement

Double Boiler Ad (LHJ, 1-1915)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (January, 1915)

Double boilers apparently were extremely popular a hundred years ago. I’m intrigued that the Quaker Oats Company apparently considered them so desirable that they were part of the company’s marketing initiative. Customers were given double boilers when they sent in a dollar plus several trademark pictures cut off the oatmeal packages.

When I made the Coffee Pudding recipe earlier this week, the hundred-year-old recipe stated that it should be cooked in a double boiler.

Since many people today don’t own double boiIers, I adjusted the recipe to say that it should be cooked “in a saucepan (use a double boiler if available)”.

Double boilers reduce the likelihood that food in contact with the bottom surface of a pan will be scorched. If a double boiler isn’t used when making puddings, and other easy-to-burn foods, it is important to stir constantly, and ensure the spoon goes to the very bottom of the pan and regularly touches every single millimeter of the bottom surface.

Hot off the Press—A Hundred Years Ago Returns!

SherylA new version of A Hundred Year Ago that focuses more on the foods and slower-paced lifestyle of the early 1900s will be rolled out later this week. I plan to do posts about twice a week.

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered that even when I’m not blogging, I still enjoy making hundred-year-old recipes that use seasonal, local foods. I also continue to be fascinated by the simpler way of life a hundred years ago.

And, I discovered how much I missed the blogging community. I met so many wonderful people during the four years that I did A Hundred Years Ago.

I finally realized that A Hundred Years Ago could continue without the diary. . . dah. . . I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to figure that out.

Over the next few days, I plan to update the look of A Hundred Years Ago. There probably will be moments when this blog looks very strange as I make the transition to a new template. Keep your fingers crossed that it goes smoothly.

See you soon!