Country Kitchen: Memories of a Family Kitchen

Country Kitchen: Memories of a Family Kitchen

By Mary Emma Allen

Think back to your childhood memories and recall where many of them took place. Was it in the family kitchen where meals were prepared and eaten, discussions took place, friends gathered, games played, and homework done?

The kitchen of my childhood was a large farmhouse one with wood burning stove, wooden table which seated eight, and a couch for relaxing or recuperating from illness. This wasn't a picture book kitchen. But this room was where the family spent much of our time.

Seasonal Activities

It was the heart of the house," where we ate, entertained, did schoolwork, nursed sick pets, stirred up new recipes, and worked on craft projects. In winter it usually was the warmest room in the house. Many an evening I sat before the stove doing my school work. Cats and perhaps a puppy often snuggled underneath for warmth.

Around the table we youngsters congregated with our friends for cocoa and cookies after skating and sledding parties on the farm. Often we'd end the day popping corn, toasting marshmallows, and making fudge over the kitchen stove.

In summer, the kitchen was the hub of canning activities. Mother, Sister, and I, frequently assisted by a neighbor lady, prepared fruits and vegetables for canning. Sometimes when the kitchen was so hot from constantly heating the canner on the wood stove, we'd have the menfolk haul the table under the trees in the front yard where we'd work and serve meals.

The Kitchen Couch

When a child wasn't feeling well, there was an old cot or couch in the kitchen where we could rest and be near Mother while she worked. There is something so comforting to a child to be around Mother when he or she is ill.

Here, too, the hired man, a surrogate grandfather to us children, told stories while he waited for the meal to be served. We children climbed up on the couch and listened to his never-ending store of fascinating stories about former times in his life.

Today's Family Kitchen

Even today, the kitchen often is the family gathering place. Children still work at craft projects, hang school papers on the refrigerator, learn to bake and cook, arrange bouquets of wild flowers in season, display their collections of frogs and salamanders in spring, and chat with Mom after school over cookies and milk.

This room is a learning place, a sharing place, the heart of the home, even though it may not be the picture book room you see in glossy magazines. It's a place for living and growing and cooking fun family meals.

Something to Prepare for Winter Meals

PORK CHOP CASSEROLE - Place 3 lean pork chops in casserole; sprinkle over them 4 tablespoons raw rice, 1/2 sliced onion, salt and pepper as desired. Place 3 more lean chops over this; and sprinkle with another half an onion, salt and pepper and 1 finely chopped green pepper. Pour 1 large can stewed tomatoes over all.

Bake 1 1/2 hour at 350 degrees F. If pork chops are not very learn, you may want to brown them lightly in a skillet first and drain off the excess fat before placing in casserole.

Article (C) 2005 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing cooking columns for 40 years. She and her family compiled a cookbook to preserve their food heritage. She teaches workshops to show others how to do this, along with scrapbooking their family recipes. Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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