Thursday, April 12, 2018

A to Z April Challenge: K is for Kitchen Tools


When my sister and I cleaned out our parents’ home, we had to make many decisions about what to do with all the stuff. Which things are truly “valuable” and which have only sentiment in their favor? Should we sell it, keep it, or throw it away? To help ensure a future for our family’s heirlooms, I plan to leave a booklet for my daughters telling the stories of what they will inherit one day. (Not TOO soon, I hope!) With this challenge I begin my book of Heirlooms.


is for kitchen tools.

Kitchen tools from Mary Frances Jollett Davis https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Most of these tools came from my great-grandmother
Mary Frances Jollett Davis









This basket of antique kitchen tools has been a faithful member of my kitchen dĂ©cor for many years. Sometime in the 1980s my grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan asked me to select items that I would like to inherit from her. My reply was not to get the most expensive or valuable pieces but the everyday. Of course, I received both, but these kitchen tools, most of which came from my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis, are among my favorite things. These tools conjure up images of “woman’s work” and what my great-grandmother’s everyday life was like.  

Egg beaters - These still work easily, but you’d have to crank a long time to conjure up a meringue.

Egg beaters from Mary Frances Jollett Davis https://jollettetc.blogspot.com

Potato mashers - I believe the red one was my mother’s. In my mind’s eye I can see my mother at the stove mashing potatoes with a red-handled masher.

Potato mashers from Mary Frances Jollett Davis https://jollettetc.blogspot.com


Meat tenderizer? - I am only guessing. It’s a solid hunk of wood, heavy too.

Meat tenderizer from Mary Frances Jollett Davis https://jollettetc.blogspot.com


Rolling pin and pastry cutter -
Rolling pin and pastry cutter from Mary Frances Jollett Davis https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
I cannot remember the last time I saw “rolling pin” or “pastry cutter” on any bride’s gift registry. I own both and actually use them. I can picture Mary Frances right now combining the flour and shortening with her pastry cutter, chilling the dough, patting it into a proper circle, and dusting it with flour before rolling out a perfect crust. Judging by recipes penciled on scraps of paper and backs of envelopes, Mary Frances must have preferred creamy, pudding-like pies whereas I’m a fruit pie girl.





Other tools -
Ice tongs, scale, wood stove lifter from Mary Frances Jollett Davis https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
I guess these tongs carried ice although most had a stationary handle whereas the chain makes this handle flexible. Maybe it was used for hay bales.
The scale was likely from my great-grandfather’s store.
The lifter is from a Majestic wood-burning stove. It was used to lift the stove plates that covered the holes in the range top.  With this simple tool, Mary Frances could lift the plate to stoke the fire or stir the ashes with the flat end. Not very glamorous or particularly valuable, but certainly it was important to keep it handy and not let it get lost.


Ball jars
When Barry and I married, we moved into a basement apartment in Violetta’s apartment building. Just off the kitchen was an enclosed backdoor entrance plus a storage room. That is where I found dozens of old blue Ball jars, still filled with the harvests from MANY years past. 

I asked Violetta about them, and she was surprised. She said, “Well, they must be Momma’s jars. You can have ‘em.”  Of course, the gross part was cleaning them. It was 1973, and Mary Frances had died in 1950, so the contents were at least 23 years old, if not older. Ever since then I have used those jars as canisters. 

Blue ball jars from Mary Frances Jollett Davis https://jollettetc.blogspot.com


I never knew my great-grandmother, but I rather like having this connection to her.

Wendy
© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved

14 comments:

  1. The jars are so pretty. My mom had egg beaters like that and I had to make whipped cream with them, and meringue cookies.... I was so happy when she finally got a mixer!!! I like the squiggly masher rather than the round one, a little easier. Do you use any of the tools? They are a lovely reminder of your ancestors lovingly cooking for family in days gone by.

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    1. I am sure you were glad for the electric mixer. I remember cranking the old egg beater and it would slide all over the bowl - it's a wonder I didn't send the bowl flying!

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  2. I found myself noticing which ones I have from my mother - rolling pin and potato masher - used to have a red handle too, but it's worn off. I use both of these all the time. The other day I wondered what happened to the pastry cutter. I remember the egg beater and using it often. I don't think I have one now.
    http://findingeliza.com/

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    1. Yeah, that paint did not stick to those wooden handles very well. I'm sure it's a health hazard - probably has lead in it.

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  3. I am really enjoying this series you're doing! While I have some of these items of my own (hey, maybe my grandkids will be happy I've hung on to them all these years), I don't have any of either of my grandmothers. When we cleaned out my mother's house nearly 5 years ago, my niece was just getting her first apartment so any kitchen items went to her to start out her new life. I love how you have those stored in the basket - very nice!

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    1. We gave a lot of things to our daughters also for their apartments. Years later, Jordan will sometimes ask, "Do I need to keep this?" HA!

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  4. Those egg beaters and potato mashers brought back memories of my grandmother's kitchen. I have only one of her kitchen tools - a noodle cutter.

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    1. Noodle cutter?!?! I will have to Google that. I am guessing it reflects some kind of ethnic heritage - Italian? Polish?

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  5. My wife tells me regularly that some of her kitchen tools belonged to he mother. An electric mixer seems to be the oldest - if that counts.

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    1. Electricity is old - of course it counts! And if the beaters are rusty, they count double.

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  6. What a special collection of kitchen tools. Fun to imagine ancestors using them to actually roll out pie dough. That chipped paint is priceless these days on the antique market...that is to collectors not users.

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    1. I guess that chippy paint speaks to the age and helps collectors feel confident that an item is as old as it looks.

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  7. There's a kraut cutter in my parents' basement that my mom once hung on the wall and my grandmother used to use to make kraut. There's also a big crock that holds newspapers that was for kraut.

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    1. I need to look up a kraut cutter to see what one looks like.

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