Kitchen Memories

Last week I noticed that cottage cheese with pineapple was once again on the shelves. It used to be that was only available throughout Lent. I remember the dairy that my mom worked for was a pioneer in offering the tasty treat. They even gave a premium with its purchase.

Premiums were actually offered all through Lent with the purchase of cottage cheese. Our family got a whole set of metal glasses one year. I used those glasses all of the time. It was very convenient when the children had friends over or when the cousins came became each one remembered their color. That meant they used the glass all day long as they wanted a drink of whatever was available. It was great for the hayers, too. Once they had something to drink they could get their glass and refill it whenever they were thirsty.

My daughter liked the glasses so much that she began watching the thrift shops and garage sales. Our cousins from near Syracuse found her a set of those glasses out there. She even has a carrier for them. One of my glasses has a divot in the bottom my husband slammed it on top of a gold ball that was on our Franklin fireplace. That green cup was always his.

The drawback with these metal cups is they stick together if they are stacked when they are damp. Of course, we found out the hard way. I often had to fill one with cold water and run hot water over the other to pry them apart.

Another premium that the dairy offered was small bowls with handles. I remember having a blue one and a maroon one. I guess we did not get the whole set that time. I liked them for my cereal and for soup. The handle was perfect to hold on to.

On one of my shopping excursions I found a white bowl just like the ones I used to have. I bought it. At the time the young ones were living with me due to house construction. My granddaughter adopted it as her cereal bowl. When they moved back home I let her take it.

Thrift shops are great when it comes to buying back things from your childhood. When homes are emptied out the children do not see value in the old things so they part with them. That is the circle of life. What is valuable to one generation is insignificant to another. I know that many things that I cherish will be disposed of when I no longer need them. The children already have homes filled to overflowing. If the grandchildren happen to be moving into apartments or going off to college they may utilize some of the old stuff. It just depends on the timing.

My first kitchen, in the trailer, was loaded with things that came from grandma’s house. I did not have a set of dishes, only pieces that loving relatives contributed to the cause. That is how I happened to get my metal glasses. That is also how I happened to get those bowls.

When I moved to Hickory Heights I asked for a set of dishes one Christmas. I think I waited until after my kitchen was refurbished because the kitchen was a blank slate when we moved in. The only cupboard there was under the sink. I did have a beautiful built-in china closet between the pantry and the dining room. That was the first place I kept my new set of dishes.

Once my children got to visiting friends’ homes I found out there were three of us with the same type of dishes. One of the homes even had the same Twin Star silverware pattern that was a premium from Betty Crocker coupons.

It was just a couple years ago that I put the brown spatter dishes away. They were really heavy. I made up my mind to use “my good dishes” more frequently. What was I saving them for? The set was larger and the dishes were more convenient to wash and store away. Since I do not use a dishwasher I did not have to worry about whether the good set would withstand the temperature of the dishwasher. They do not go into the microwave because they have a metallic border. I solved that problem by picking up some Corning Ware dishes at a thrift shop not a set, but a few pieces just for microwave use.

I started this piece out with ideas about food and found that it led to many memories of the kitchen. I tell my children that if they want to give me something that I will use for one of those special occasions they should buy something for my kitchen. That is the room that I spend the most time in.

This past Christmas I received things for my kitchen that have all been put to good use. Actually, my one grandson noticed that my microwave was not working correctly and told his dad that I needed a new one. The other grandson gave me a handy little no-stick pan that I use for everything. My daughter gave me a small strainer one year that is perfect for those little things. I keep it out and handy.

Kitchens are the heart of the home. It is where the family gathers. They always say that if you want to change something to improve your home, remodel the kitchen. It never ceases to amaze me though how many people have beautiful kitchens but say they do not cook. As for me, my kitchen is not fancy, but it turns out a lot of meals that I am willing share with family and friends whenever possible.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.