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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). http://www.flickr.com/photos/27413256... 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 http://www.thejoykitchen.com/history.... 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 an...um...lacklustre 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.

                1. #1 Great grandmother's Settlement Cook book from the very early 1900s
                  #2 Great great grandmother's brass mortar and pestle

                  both are use regularly

                  1. my mom's collander it's got to be about 50 years old, a wooden board I bought in NC about 10 years ago which is just stunning with different colored wood,a pair of wooden salad servers made in spain each carved in one piece which I keep oiled and put away after use, and 10 stainless mixing bowls from small to huge which stack inside each other.

                    1. I'd have to say my cast iron pans, two from the Marin flea market and one from my aunt. Wooden salad bowl and spoons, collected from all over, and the recipe book my mom gave me, featuring some of her favorites cut mainly out of Sunset magazine (60's and 70's) and LA Times. And Peg Bracken's "I Hate to Cook Book" which my mom recently picked up from a library booksale because she made so many dishes from it when I was a child, most notably Pedro's Special casserole.

                      1. My Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I got when I moved into my first apartment junior year in college. My late Mom gave it to me as a general beginner cookbook and included handwritten copies of recipes of my favorite foods holepunched and put in the front of the book.

                        1. Wine glasses from the first time hubby cooked for me, when we were dating.

                          MIL's green Fire King bowl, gifted to me.

                          A pair of measuring cups from my grandma. She used to put syrup in them for when she'd feed me pancakes, if she didn't I'd squeeze out half a bottle.

                          1. I've still got my grandmother's original Revereware set and a very old peppermill that she had brought with her when immigrating from Italy. It's hand-carved, bound in leather, and hand painted with goldleaf...and still works like a charm!

                            1. my Gaggia Classic. (not sure if it counts)

                              1. My grandma's cast iron skillet, which she got when she was a young bride during WWII. I was so nervous when my mom gave it to me after Grandma passed and questioned my mom about not using soap to clean it. She laughed and rightfully said that there's no way that Grandma (a noted clean freak but amazing cook) didn't use soap.

                                I love the way the pan is nearly a living thing. It has good days (non-stick) and bad days, but nothing a little bacon can't fix (like me too!). If I make something particularly perlious in it, like a tarte tatin or tortilla, I say a little prayer to Grandma before flipping said item out. 9 times out of 10, it works!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: imsohungry

                                  . She laughed and rightfully said that there's no way that Grandma (a noted clean freak but amazing cook) didn't use soap.

                                  Same in my family. Cast iron is all my grandmother's side of the family had until she married out of the house and I know they (there were 10+ sisters, not all lived to adulthood) didn't scrub those things every day until their fingers bled.

                                2. When we put my father's house up for auction and before I left for the last time, I took his wooden cutting boards. He liked wood and was a skilled funiture maker so when he found an interesting piece of scrap, he would turn it into a cutting board/serving piece.

                                  I also took all the German beer glasses we brought back from family visits. I had not intended to use them for everyday use but my son is obsessed with them and loves using a different one each night at dinner. I am sure they won't last long but I know my dad would want my son to enjoy them daily rather than let them collect dust on the top shelf.

                                  1. I've got my mom's old Better Homes and Garden's cookbook - still make a great apple pie from it. I have my Grandmother's Joy of cooking. Doesn't everyone need to know how to render lard? I also have Grandma's everyday china, which is my good china - Spode, Blue Tower ('everyone' had Blue Willow, she wanted to be different.) Her good china sits in a box in Auntie's attic. She threw away her cheap china without telling anyone - a sizeable collection of original depression-era fiesta ware. It was old, she never used it, so she threw it in the trash bin. I thought my aunt was gonna have a stroke on the spot when she heard. And I have an uber-cheap gold/brass anodized aluminum tea pot that I got in Korea. I almost never use it any more, but it sat on my burners all winter for three years when I was in Seoul, gently simmering morning and evening, ready to make borey-cha (barley tea) and humidifying the air. Maybe I should make some borey-cha today, it makes great ice-tea.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                      K'man.....I thought my husband was the only person to leave a tea kettle on day and night ! And he doesn't even drink tea ! Always enjoy your Hawaii reports and have lurked through your various posts. You're the go-to guy on island cuisine. I've been a travel agent for 30-plus years, have been to the islands at least 20 times on land vacations and three times around on cruises (American Hawaii, Aloha Pacific and lastly on NCL's Pride of America) and if it were up to me, I'd sell everything and move there. But hubby won't hear of it ! He won't move more than an hour or two from family and I get it. Mahalo for all the great advice you give to island visitors. You're appreciated!!

                                    2. Mine is nothing handed down, I came from a long line of self professed bad cooks.
                                      But there was a small ceramic bowl in an odds and ends shop in Russia that blew me away. White, with very intricate scroll pinted in blue. It was a bit pricey, but I needed it. That trip (me and a friend) was a disaster. She became very ill, I was mugged (credit cards!!), the heat conked out in our "cozy guesthouse", etc. But I had my little bowl, and carried it on the plane and tucked in close to me all the way home. I put lemons in it to contrast the blue painting and it's beautiful! There are more memories in that bowl than a thousand pictures could provide, and now I can look back and smile, because the "disasters" were minor in the end.

                                      Oh, and don't not go to Russia, it's actually really great :D

                                      1. If I could order a last meal for life on this Earth, and I could have it cooked by my mother, it would be her delicious chicken and homemade noodles. I remember her making them for receptions after funerals, for church potlucks, family casual dinners, etc., from the time I could walk. She used her mother's noodle cutter for years, the green paint chipping from the handle. They are fairly easy to find now, what with the proliferation of gourmet cooking stores and online outlets, but they were a rarity in my youth. But I remember a family trip to San Francisco when I was in high school and she and I made a special trip to a kitchen specialty shop on Union Street in search of a replacement. Today they are marketed as herb cutters. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about: A handled tool with six parallel wheels. The shop actually had them and I think she bought about four...tee hee. But I still have the old green-handled one and use it over a newer one I also own. I've inherited no fewer than eight sets of china, beautiful flatware, Fostoria glassware, vintage aprons, etc., but that silly lil noodle cutter would be the last thing you'd pry from my cold, dead hand!!

                                        1. I have a wooden spoon that belonged to my Nana (great grandma). Some of my earliest cooking-related memories are sitting in her kitchen on "my" stepstool/chair, watching her stir with gusto while cooking/baking.

                                          Another treasure (oddly enough, also a spoon) is the silver baby spoon from Tiffany's that my husband got monogrammed with our son's initials and gave to me before "JTM" was even born. My son is close to 7 years old, but the spoon, in its blue felt sleeve, is still in the silverware drawer, and still gets pulled out to be used as a tiny serving spoon for things like horseradish sauce and other condiments were you need just a small amount.