Won’t you take this magazine and a pencil and paper into your kitchen right now, and as you read and consider this article, look around and make note of any changes you yourself could make, or have made, that might save steps, and thereby time and energy, as you do your daily tasks?
An ordinary kitchen table can be improved by building a shelf over it, on which to keep measuring cups, small bowls, etc while on hooks beneath hang the cooking utensils in consistent use.
Do you appreciate how much easier it is to roll cookies and pastry on a cloth than on a board, and with a rolling pin that revolves on the handles than with one that has solid handles or none at all?
Do you know the space value of narrow shelves built between wide ones; and of shallow drawers for holding wax paper, cheesecloth, dish towels and so on?
Have you a shelf for cookbooks, card catalogs, etc and a folding table beneath ot where you can write menus or check bills, while waiting for something to cook?
If you freeze ice cream at home, have an arrangement of this kind of on castors. Note the ice mallet and the ice pick. (see illustration below).
A corner jog may be used for the ironing board and for narrow shelves on which to keep laundry supplies and household tools.
How high is your sink? Does it tire your back to wash dishes there? Few sinks are too high. The bottom of one of ours at school is thirty-two inches from the floor and we like working there very much. If yours is too low, have it raised to suit your convenience.
Is there good light on your cooking table, range and sink, both from the windows and from artificial light? Have you a clock in sight of the range, for timing dishes that need to be cooked just so long, and are pot covers and salt and pepper shakers handy?
Checking Up Your Kitchen
The magic of having the right thing in the right place.
By Alice Bradley
Principal of Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery
A Kitchen should be planned primarily for the preparation of food. When used for cooking only, it should be a small room with the large equipment correctly placed, with the tools and utensils that are used daily kept where they are most accessible, and with a storeroom where seldom-used supplies maybe be kept. If the kitchen must serve as a dining room as well, a pantry is desirable.
First, on your questionnaire: Are the floors and walls of your kitchen so finished as to be easily cleaned?
An “all white” kitchen sounds well, but shows the dust and dirt easily, and is not so comfortable for the eyes as the light yellow of buff smooth-painted surface. Oilcloth wall fabric also is easily cleaned; tiles are lovely for wainscoting, but expensive.
The ceiling should be white, painted or salsomined. The woodwork maybe oiled, or painted a shade or two darker than the walls.
For the floor, there is nothing better than inlaid or battleship linoleum; this does not absorb grease, has no cracks or splinters or grooves, is easily kept clean, and wears for years. Even if you have one of the modern kitchen floors permanently laid of some composition materials, you will find it much easier on the feet to have it covered with linoleum. Smooth, hard gray paint, or waterproof varnish, waxed may be used on the floor, but these require frequent renewal. A poorly laid floor, or one that absorbs grease and requires much scrubbing, should be replaced, or refinished at the earliest possible moment, for right here is where many housekeepers expend a maximum of time and energy that might be put to better use.
Can you ventilate your kitchen easily and quickly, to prevent overheating, or to get rid of odors in case of an accident on the stove? Two windows, or a window and an outside door, on opposite sides of the kitchen are desirable. Windows should be so screened that they may be let down from the top and raised from the bottom, at the same time, so that heat and odors may go out from the upper portion of the room while fresh air comes in to take their place. A hood over the stove and an electric blower are desirable in many kitchens.
And how about light, both daylight and artificial? A single center fixture for evening work is apt to put you in your own light. Several side lights (only one of which need be on at a time), or small shelves for lamps, or hooks for good lanterns or reflectors, will take away much of the dislike of working after dark.
Speaking of windows, have yours a pleasant outlook? Could you hang near one a feeding shelf and a piece of suet for the birds in winter? Would the planting of some hollyhocks or dahlias, or a window box, help in the summer? It is time now to plan your garden. Plan part of it for your own pleasure where you can see it grow as you prepare your meals and wash the dishes, and hang out clothes.
Do It Now
There are certain pieces of large equipment that belong in kitchens everywhere-city, town, or country. Have you a good range? We need not discuss the different kinds or their care, here and now. Many varieties were treated last year in the Companion. If you decided then upon something that would make your cooking processes easier, and have not made the planned for purchase, or had the damper repaired, or the stove or chimney cleaned out, why not “do it now”?
By the way, have you one of those clever devices for lifting off worn stove covers without dropping them on your toes? Is there a good arrangement for warming the serving dishes and plates? A boiler that insures plenty of hot water, so necessary in every household? There are heaters of several varieties and at no great cost, that are a joy when the coal stove is not being used to heat the boiler.
Is there just one place in your kitchen where a stove can be placed? The best location seems to be not far from the dining-room door. The other equipment should be arranged in relation to the stove. Can you have a table just between the range and the dining-room door? You will find it very convenient. On it you can place platters and vegetable dishes when serving the dinner, the wire cooler for receiving cake and cookies. Here you will strain soup, serve cereal, butter the toast; in fact, put the finishing touches to whatever has been cooked. A movable table on wheels may be used here by the stove, if there is no room for a permanent table or shelf.
Do you own, and have you learned the value of a good oven thermometer? A card pasted on the wall near the range giving the time and the temperature for cooking the every day dishes will be found a great convenience. You will be surprised to find how quickly you will learn to depend upon it when baking bread, cake, and pastry.
Save Money on Something Else
Have you a kitchen cabinet, or built-in cupboards with a table or shelf underneath, just one step away on the left-handed side of the stove?If not, can you arrange it? This cabinet or table should be of correct height, so that it will not tire you to knead bread, or roll out cookies, or beat cake. A table or cabinet can easily be raised with casters or blocks of wood if it is too low. Have this done before you consider your kitchen standardized.
Some kitchens are large enough for the table in the center of the room. The tops of all the tables should be impervious to moisture, heat, and grease and easily cleaned. Porcelain, marble, monel metal and zinc are excellent for cooking surfaces and for receiving dishes. Separate enamel table tops may be bought in department stores to fit over ordinary wooden kitchen tables. Save money on something else, and spare yourself hours of of unnecessary scrubbing by having the right kind of work table.
A refrigerator is a necessity in most homes. Is yours conveniently near the cooking surface and the dining-room, or near the outside or back entry wall? If the latter, can you arrange, or have you arranged to have it iced from the outside? A similar outside door opening into a small closet, and with another door into the kitchen, is very convenient for receiving milk, groceries, etc., as they are delivered. Does your refrigerator drain into a carefully trapped sewer pipe, or out of doors? It saves much mopping of the floor, because you do not have to remember to empty the pan.
Keep the ice pick in a definite place close to the refrigerator.
Have you a canvas bag and a wooden mallet for cracking ice?
Do you freeze ice cream at home? A convenient arrangement is a stand 16 inches square and 24 inches high to which the freezer can be clamped, a shelf 10 inches below the top for the small wooden tub in which ice may be chopped and another shelf 10 inches below that for a box of ice cream salt. If the stand, the freezer, the ice tub and salt box are enameled white, they do not look out of place in any kitchen.
Have You These Things?
Have you a fire less cooker? Even a homemade one saves fuel and the time spent in needless watching of a dish, or replenishing of a fire. A three-shelf steamer and a pressure cooker are also fuel savers, and the latter saves time as well. A covered roasting pan saves time used in basting a roast in an open pan. There is little room for these pieces of equipment in a small kitchen, and since they are not in constant use, they should be kept in a convenient closet.
What kind of sink have you? Don’t be like one woman we knew, who did all her kitchen work for years without a sink, although there was one in the yard waiting to be set up! An iron sink will do, slate or soapstone is better, white enameled iron is most attractive and easily kept clean. If you have not running water in the house, go over your budget very, very carefully and see if you cannot devise some method by which there shall be both hot and cold running water in the sink. The farm tractor will pump water into a tank over the kitchen.
Gasoline pumps and others are not very expensive, where there is no city water, and very much of the labor of housekeeping is reduced where there is an abundance of water. If neither faucets not a pump bring water to the sink, have a broad low shelf at one side, one foot from the floor for the water pails.
The ideal sink has the back in one piece with the sink, and there should be a shelf or drain board on each side of the sink at the height of the top of the sink- at the right side for soiled dishes, at the left side for clean dishes. A low stool or box can be provided, if it is too high for the children or other helpers.
Many people have found an electric dishwasher a great convenience and once used do not wish to give it up. There are several excellent makes on the market. In a small family, the dishes may be put in from each meal and washed all together once a day.
If you have not a dishwasher, have you a dishpan of the right size for your sink and the number of dishes you have to wash, a strong wire drainer in which to rinse your dishes, a handled dish mop to keep your hands out of the water, a tinsel dish cloth or other device, for removing food that adheres to pots and pans, two good whole dish cloths, not dish rags, a bottle washer, sink brush and shovel, soap shaker, cleaning soaps and powders, all conveniently located close to the sink? White enamel closets like medicine closets, may be purchased to be fastened over the sink, but it takes more time to open and close a closet door several times a day than to take from an open shelf pr hook what you need when you need it.
Have you a sufficient supply of dish towels kept conveniently near the sink? With the modern method of drying dishes by rinsing with boiling hot water and leaving them in the drainer, fewer towels are required than formerly, and much time and energy are saved.
You probably wash and prepare vegetables once or twice a day, near the sink. Do you keep right there, where they are handy, your vegetable brush, vegetable knife, saucepans and kettles, a basket or colander for draining lettuce, an apple corer, board on which to cut vegetables into strips or cubes, orange squeezer, grapefruit knife, and garbage pail? Have you a stool, or low comfortable chair, on which you sit when you prepare fruits and vegetables?
If you live on a farm and use a great many apples, have an apple parer that saves hours of time? If you are cooking for a large number of people, have you a vegetable parer which is like an animated grater throwing the potatoes, etc round and round until the skin is all scraped off? If you are fond of potato chips and coleslaw and marmalade, have you a cutter for them? There is one that can be used also for French fried potatoes.
Small electric motors as well as large machines can be purchased with attachments for beating eggs, mayonnaise, dressing, cream and batters, for freezing ice cream, chopping meat and other foods, sharpening knives, polishing silver, etc.
Some time and much muscular energy are saved by their use. They should be located conveniently near the cooking shelf.
Have you discovered the advantage of rolling out and kneading things on a coarse, heavy piece of duck or sailcloth instead of on a floured board? A large crash towel works very well if held in place with thumb tacks. Shake it out the door and fold it up when through using it. It should be washed when soiled but it does not need the scrubbing that a board requires.
Handy Places for Things
Have you enough shelves, and drawer space? Shelves should be just wide enough and near enough together to hold the things for which the are intended. None should be lower than a foot from the floor, for ease in cleaning underneath. None should be higher than six feet, for ease in reaching what is on top. Do you know the value of shelves three or four inches in width built between wider shelves? On them can be kept spice boxes, extracts, seasonings, small package things like gelatin, beef extract, and junket tablets, salt and pepper shakers, small bowls and tin molds, so that they do not get hidden behind something else. In the china closet they may be water glasses, sherbet cups, and other small things. Much time and energy are wasted if you have to poke behind things to find that for which you are looking.
A drawer is a poor place for large spoons and beaters and measuring cups. They should be in sight and within reach of the table on which all mixing is done. Small spoons may be kept in the table drawer in the kitchen cabinet or in a spoon holder on a shelf near the work table.
Where do you keep your knives? There is little danger of getting cut on sharp knives if they can be slipped up to their handles between two narrow strips of wood screwed to the wall, leaving just space enough between for the knife blades.
Do you keep the bread knife close to the bread box, and have a bread board right there also? Or is it necessary to tale several steps before assembling these things?
Canning equipment should all be kept together but out of sight because it is not used daily.
Candy utensils, too, should have their special place behind closed doors.
If you haven’t a place for a folding ironing board, have you a corner jog just back of a door, perhaps that you can utilize as shown in the above illustration? A small shelf or cleat supports the ironing board at the bottom, keeping it away from the dust on the floor. At the top a piece of elastic is tacked to the wall at one side, and fastened by a buttonholed opening over a cup hook on the other side. At right angels to the board very narrow shelves are built, and on these may be kept all he laundry supplies including the electric iron, and also the necessary household tools in almost daily use-such as hammer, screwdriver, pliers, crate opener, nails, and screws, cup hooks, spool of wire, file, etc.
Are there convenient hooks for the sales slips that come with your groceries and meat, so that they do not get mislaid before the monthly bills are checked p?
Do you keep in pantry or cabinet or drawer a large needle, spool of coarse thread, and a thimble for sewing up chicken or fish (or attaching a button), or do you waste time and steps going to the sewing room every time you need it? A pincushion is a necessity, holding both common and safety pins-and also a pair of scissors.
Have you shallow drawers in your kitchen for wax paper and brown paper to use in lining pans, squares of cheesecloth for straining sops and jellies, wiping meat and fish; narrow strips of cheesecloth or cotton to bind around fruit pies to prevent juice from running out; paper bags, wrapping paper and twine, so that a package going out of the home can be quickly done! Sometimes an old bureau painted to match the kitchen will be found quite as useful as built-in drawers.
Are your coffee pot and teapot, the coffee and tea canisters, a quart measure, a measuring cup and spoon and clock kept as near as possible to the kitchen stove?
Perhaps you could put up a shelf close to the range for them, if there is none there. Other equipment that should be kept near the range include the iron frying pan, toaster, oven cloths, pan covers, potato ricer, wire whisk, gas lighter, matches, strainer, ladle, and trivet. On a shelf over the stove may be conveniently kept salt shaker, pepper shaker, and paprika.
Do you grease your pans with a piece of paper, and throw away much grease with the paper, or do you use cooking oil and a rubber-set pastry brush that is always ready for use when you need it? The brush can be kept sweet and clean with occasional washings and the hairs do not come out of the best brushes.
What becomes of your garbage? An incinerator is desirable, if you have neither efficient garbage collection nor pigs! An old garbage can on a couple of bricks, with an open bottom covered with a screen may be used in an out of the way corner of the yard for burning paper and other rubbish.
What does your list Show?
Have you now made a list of what you can do, and what someone else could or might do to make your kitchen a more convenient workshop?
It may not be convenient or necessary for you to spend very much money in order to standardize your kitchen. The important thing is to have an ideal in mind, and work toward it. Each new thing should be studied before it is purchased. Your aim should be to have the best tools made for each particular kind of work and those that add to the well being of the family, but your housekeeping money should be spent first for what you will use every day and for furniture and tools that are constructed on the best mechanical principles and are strong, durable, simple and well made and at the same time attractive to look at.
Having secured standard conditions and an adequate equipment, you should endeavor to prevent accidents, failures, and misfortunes by learning how to take the proper care of your tools. Prevention or instant attention is less expensive than calling a mechanic when something gets out of order.
The modern housewife needs to know enough about electricity to put in a fuse if one blows out, leaving the house in darkness, how to run the furnace, where to shut off the water or the gas in case of accident. If you do not know, then get the man of the house to show you tonight.