My Cooking Spoons
A kitchen item I love to collect is cooking spoons. I have the enamel spoons? They are the steel red or blue ones with the white speckles in them. I pick them up at the Amish villiage, for about two bucks, or at garage sales in the summer. Some spoons are as small as regular spoons, then some a bit bigger. Then you run into the big stirring spoons. Yet, lately I found a spoon that is bigger than the little spoons but not as big as the long stirring spoons. It is now my favorite; it fits well in my hand, and it is great for mixing up pancakes or muffins. It just fits for what I like and I love it. I have the end of a rake that I nailed to my kitchen wall, and I display my spoons on this, on the prong part.
I get my mixing bowls at the Dollar Store. A few years ago I needed new mixing bowls and I looked all over town for some I could afford and that I liked. They were so expensive! But then at the Dollar Store, I got nice crock bowls for a song. The big mixing bowl, to make bread in, was like six bucks. Then, the next in size was $5 … then the next smaller was $4 … then the smallest was, I think, $3. I had birthday money and got them all. Now my daughters and daughters-in-law all say they love these and would like some like them. They are dark blue crocks, and I use them almost every day for something. I like them, as they are deep, and the next to the smallest bowl is great for pancakes — and my new cooking spoon fits great into it.
I don’t really like to get out my electric mixer for stirring cakes and cookies. I like to stir things. In the evening, I often get out my medium sized cast iron skillet and stir up gravy for Papa. There is something therapeutic about standing quietly in the kitchen in the evening, stirring, listening to my large enamel spoon gently stirring against the frying pan.
A lot of our chores as housewives involve running after little ones during the day or running to put the dog or cat out. So the evening in the kitchen, alone, stirring gravy is a nice way to end the day. With gravy, you can’t let it go for one minute and the family knows that, so you can’t run here and there. You yell from the kitchen, “I can’t come now. I am stirring Papa’s gravy.” The family is forced to be patient as Mother stirs and stirs.
When I was a young mom, in the 60s and 70s, the cooking things were expensive. I couldn’t afford to buy it. Yet, now in this age, as a whole, not many families cook at home. So the really nice simple cooking untensils have gone down in price. In the 60s, I longed for those crock canisters … the mushroom ones for flour, sugar, tea, and coffee. Mercy! They were probably fifty bucks or so back then. Well, now the same things like them at the buck store would be so much lower, percentage wise. If you are a young homemaker, you can pretty much have what you need for hardly a song. Also, we didn’t have the host of garage sales that you all have now. I mean, it was one or two, here and there.
Anyway, right after Jim got saved and we were adding three more children … mercy, I ran out of dishes. The older children helped with the dish washing and broke dishes on a regular basis. (John accidently hit David in the head with the frying pan as he was swinging it around to let it air dry — David had to get a few stitches.) But, anyway, I could barely afford dishes, so when I would go to a garage sale or wherever, I would pick up a dinner plate here and there. One day Jezabel looked in my cupboard. “Well, you don’t have one matching plate in this cupboard.” And I didn’t.
But, ya know, I always set a nice family table for my loved ones. None of my flatware matched, as the kids used the spoons to dig to China in the back yard, and to feed the cat. (Mary always fed the cat with a spoon in the highchair.) One time, I had Jez over for pie. I forgot to give her a fork to eat with. I asked the kids to get her a fork, and I wasn’t paying attention, and I think they got her the B-B-Q fork. Later on, she brought over new silverware, as she said she had to eat her pie with a cooking fork the last time she was here. She said the prongs were all bent, too. I am glad I don’t know, to this day, which fork the kids gave her to eat her pie with.
And the kids would play under the table with the dog when Jez came. She would ask me politely, as she would lift the tablecloth and look under the table, “Are you sure those kids are alright under there?” I would say, “Oh yeah, they are ok.”
But ya know I didn’t have much as a young mom to set my table with, but I just did my best. I had some nice cotton tablecloths and I would iron them and put them on the table. Then, I got some plastic place mats and put them down at each chair. And, if I didn’t have paper napkins or couldn’t afford them, I used some cloth ones. One time I bought some pretty dish rags and used them for cloth napkins. I always had some flowers to put on the table in the summer, and I would light a candle, if I had one. Sometimes I would use my kerosene lantern.
But the family table time was the time when Jim prayed over all of us before each meal, so I tried to make the table setting as nice as I could. Papa started out every prayer the same way. Back then, and to this day, he starts out always, “Dear Lord, please bless my darling wife Connie and keep her safe.” And then he prays for the children and granchildren, and then, if we have company, Papa prays for our guests and their families.
But, dear Mothers, I say all of this to say … just set a nice table for the family meal. It doesn’t have to be with fancy expensive things. Just make sure everything is neat and clean and that the children have napkins to use. Teach them how to pass the bread plate and to be polite at the table. If Husband isn’t used to eating at the table, just put a plate at his place by faith, and you and the children just sit at the table and eat quietly. Don’t fight with your husband about coming to the table to eat. Maybe his mom worked and he never learned to eat at the table. But the family table is important and has a lot to teach the children about manners and serving.