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Jul 3, 2011 01:03 PM

Treasures in your kitchen???

I love reading "show and tell" threads like this and I know almost everyone has a few of them: Treasured items in your kitchen passed down from mom or grandma, that you can't do without. I want to hear about your treasures, the stories that go with them and the dishes you cook with them.

The "first three cookbooks" thread got me thinking about it because two of mine are books.

The first (and favourite) one is my great-grandmother's "Presto! The Magic Cook Book" by Standard Brands Limited (makers of Magic Baking Powder in the brown and yellow tin). It was a promotional booklet printed in Toronto around 1930 and was the source of a lot of her go-to recipes for tea biscuits, scones, cakes, cookies, breads and other "famous" baked goods. The book also has a lot of various recipes that don't contain baking powder - for soups, meats, salads and puddings. It's a great little collection of classic Canadian recipes with a beautiful cover. I love it.

I mentioned the 1943 (War Time Edition) Joy of Cooking that I found at a Flea Market in the other thread. Technically this book isn't a family treasure but I cherish it because my grandma was with me when I bought it. She was so excited to see it because her mother had the exact same edition, but her copy had been lost over the years. I don't know who Mrs. Russell Dickhout was, but I treasure her book with hand written recipes and notes in the back. There is a recipe that "comes from a young mother who pickles Hallowe'en pumpkin," and I really want to try it. This book is just a great all around reference and Irma Rombauer's original writing is so endearing to me. I can feel close to my great grandma when I use her favourite cooking bible.

Another non-book item I have is my mom's set of brown, orange and cream pyrex mixing and serving bowls. The colours and pattern are honestly not that attractive, but they have great sentimental value and I love pulling them out of the cupboard to mix up a batch of cookies! I also have the brown stoneware serving set with matching gravy carafe that she always used for Sunday roasts. I wouldn't serve roast-anything without it and it looks great in my kitchen.

What are your most treasured kitchen items? Sorry if this topic has been done before, if it has I missed it.

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  1. My Mom has always been cook and has never had anything kitchen-wise to pass to me so I have accumulated my own treasures. One of my very favourite things is my KA Professional Series mixer with pasta attachments. Other things are my 500+ culinary book library and global knives. My 17 lb granite mortar and pestle is just fantastic - I use it all the time. Same with my spice grinder that I treasure. My pantry is stocked with fabulous treasures including 85 exotic spices, black garlic, fabulous new olive oils we brought back from Europe, tons of preserves and condiments I have made, 25+ exotic salts, homemade vinegars and flavoured oils, etc. Often I just open my pantry to gawk at all the lovely things it contains. Then I look ino the fridge and see all the wonderful cheeses. Oh, man...

    3 Replies
    1. re: chefathome

      Oh, man indeed! I live in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment with about 4 feet of usable counter space in my kitchen, but I put all of it to good use. :) This sounds like my dream kitchen. I'm still in my 20s so it gives me something to aspire to. Until then, can I come over to your house? It must be a joy to cook in there.

      1. re: elysabeth

        It IS a joy! It is what sold the house for me. Our house isn't gigantic or fancy but the kitchen is indeed beyond functional! I love it. We will be downsizing to our house in Croatia - the kitchen there is like a closet and I am not kidding. Thankfully there is a huge outdoor "kitchen" with wood burning oven and such. So, for now I am taking advantage of all the space we have! :-)

      2. re: chefathome

        <tongue_in_cheek> I am ready to hear you break into song next! This is a Broadway Musical in the making-- "My Well-Stocked Pantry" including dancing sous chefs.</tongue_in_cheek>

      3. I make all of my own bread and my mom and maternal grandmother did as well. I have a pastry board that belonged to my grandmother. It has a lip that was added by a cousin years ago to keep it from moving around on the counter and you can see where it had been painted a few times in the past. The story is that it originally belonged to my great grandmother and it was one of the things she brought here from Poland. I don't know about that but I do remember it being in my grandmothers house when I was a kid. I use it for all pastry and bread and I use it every day.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Floridagirl

          That board sounds lovely. It probably makes great bread and pastries with so many years of love worked into it. Thanks for sharing.

          1. re: Floridagirl

            I love your story! That board must be priceless to you.

          2. I have my mother's pepper mill, which has to be at least 75 years old. The body is a barrel-shaped, bored-out wooden cylinder. I also have the only 2 cookbooks she ever owned, both WWII era. The recipes in the Better Homes and Gardens one were what I used when I first began to cook.

            I also have some small, very delicate crystal wine glasses (green bowls, clear stems) that my father, who worked on cargo ships, brought back from Germany during the 1930's, along with various items of jewelry. Eventually I realized that originally, these were almost certainly the possessions of Jewish families who sold them to finance escape from the Nazis, or were sold after their owners were sent to ghettos or concentration camps. I have been unable to bring myself to either use them or get rid of them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious

              Your post moves me, greygarious. I imagine that the rightful owners of your crystal would wish for you to use it and remember them. So many people just erased, the use of those glasses might be a way to honor them and be sure that they are not forgotten. But maybe that would be too painful for you, which I can totally understand. I just think I'd probably want someone to use them with love.

            2. I have my treasured garlic press. I used to belong to my parents, and I got it as a broke student when they upgraded to a fancy one. They've since been through about three of the fancy ones, and this very simple press handles everything I give to it, including crushing ginger.

              I also have a genuinely antique sandwich press. The press part is two pieces of shaped metal, with a hinge on one side and long handles on the other. You put one slice of bread (buttered on the outside), then your filling, then the other bread, clamp it shut, and trim off the edges with a knife. YOu then toast the sandwich over the burner, for a flying saucer shaped filled sandwich.

              I also treasure my battered 1960s copy of the Joy of Cooking, complete with squirrel skinning diagram.

              1. I have my mom's edition of "Betty Crocker", faded and dogeared and stuffed with newspaper / magazine clippings. Many marginal notes in her hand. I have her chili recipe in her hand. These two are very important, since my dad remarried and his wife de-mom'ed the house, including throwing away her recipe box containing countless recipes from her and her family and friends.

                I have a teapot that Mom was given by Jerry Lewis, when she was employed at the old RKO Albee cinema in downtown Cincinnati and he and Dean Martin were appearing between movies for a week, promoting an upcoming film. Mom and Mr. Lewis were the only tea drinkers on premises.

                I have several older cookbooks, review editions, from a cache I found at an antique store, each with its "please send tearsheet to" insert. Shrimp Cookery, Mrs. Brown's Southern Cookbook, The Supper of the Lamb, among others.

                I have my Mom's cookie jar, and some of her depression glass. A salt and pepper set in the shape of the "Tappan" logo guy, from her first stove.