Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Farm House Kitchens, A Favorite Spot

The grand-angels making cookies & memories in my farm-house kitchen
Last week I had the grand-angels over and we made home-made pizza and then cookies, and every time they come over, the first they ask is can we make cookies?  (yes, even before heading for the toys in the closet)  =)

No matter where I have lived throughout my life, the kitchen has always been the central spot for family and guests to gather. I have had exactly 4 houses in my married life-time, each time getting a fixer-upper, doing most of the work myself and then selling it and starting the process over again. That is until the final house, the one I am living in, I actually got to choose what I wanted.  It was pure heaven, and besides having a large kitchen, the 2 most prized choices for me was the walk-in pantry and double ovens.
 As this is the season that I bake more than usual (really!) and having lived through some really awful kitchen designs, I thought that my readers may benefit and enjoy the post from a guest blogger and his insights on kitchen elements.  Even rearranging the way your work area has its benefits.  Since I've lived in my home, I have rearranged my work-flow 4 times to accommodate how I use it.  And with that, please read on from the expert....

Kitchen Elements to Consider in Your Farm Kitchen 

I learned at an early age that no matter the design of our kitchen, if my mother was there, it was a farm kitchen. 

I helped (watched) my mother one summer, in a kitchen barely suitable for preparing a continental breakfast, freeze 200 quarts of corn, 250 quarts of peas, and bottle 400 quarts of cherries, peaches, and applesauce. 

We shucked the corn and shelled the peas in our driveway. Finally, my father realized that mom wasn’t going to adapt to city life in Boise, so he built her a home on a small family farm outside the city and designed the kitchen to her specifications. 

Mom’s city friends seemed confused by her innovative designs but even as kids, my siblings and I could see, she was a genius.
You Need To Know Why

After several kitchens that didn’t quite work, my mom knew exactly what she wanted and why. The “why” is important because when you get in an argument with your contractor and cabinetmaker, you can explain things with the fiery passion of someone who has bottled fruit for 14 hours straight while still managing three meals. 

In my mom’s case, the contractor and cabinetmaker was my dad. Even though my father was up on all the latest designs, those arguments were very short in my mom’s favor.
The most important question one answers is, "what your kitchen will be?" Is it going to be a family gathering place and meal center or will it also double as a little-known division of Del Monte where it occasionally becomes a sweltering food processing plant? Decide these things now, even if your dream kitchen is years away.
Get out your pencil and paper now, or your iPad if you will, and let’s start writing the important design elements you need to consider in proper order.
First: Preparation Areas & Workflow
Three words: countertops, countertops, countertops. Trust me. Whoever designs your cabinets won’t know what he is doing. If you don’t get this right, your kitchen projects will migrate to the dining room table and you will always be frustrated. 

Calculate all the countertop space you will need and then add more. Your typical cabinet designer will design the cabinets first and then add only the amount of countertop needed to cover the cabinets. Don’t fall for this trap. Design your countertops first, based on what your projects will be over the next year.
Second: Appliance Placement
I hope that you designed your countertop space around your personal workflow preferences. Next, based on your workflow, determine the best placement for your appliances.
Speaking of appliances, when you shop for your appliances, check out capacity and design based on your needs. Even if it embarrasses your husband bring a couple boxes of canning jars with you to Home Depot and load up your favorite dishwasher right there and decide right then if it is still your favorite.
Make sure your range and oven will fit your cooking style. Do you need room for a 28 pound turkey? Is one oven enough? Only four burners? Better look for one with at least 6. Gas or electric? Electric is inexorably slow. No matter. Get what works for you.
Your refrigerator isn't my mom’s refrigerator. If only my mom had all the options available today. A refrigerator that has easily adjustable shelves is always a good option. If you like to freeze your vegetables, a high capacity freezer is convenient if you want to flash freeze your vegetables right after you place them in the freezer bag.
The most important part of your kitchen is the sink. An inadequate sink punishes you everyday. Preferences on sink design will be according to your experience. My mother preferred a double sink where each side was big enough to bathe a toddler or soak the pesticides off a half-bushel of apples.
Back to your countertops, determine where you want your appliances based on workflow. After you know where your appliances are, you can design the cabinets. Silverware drawers and tableware cupboards should be close to the dishwasher. What do you want close to the stove? Where do you want to keep your flour? Stand in the middle of your imaginary kitchen and put everything where you want it. Write down everything.
Where Is The Pantry?
Your pantry should be close by and large enough to hold enough dry goods to last for at least a month or more. Don’t put your pantry in the basement unless you want your kids to have one more reason to hate you. Determine what you will keep in your pantry and design it accordingly as an integral part of your kitchen.
Flooring & Lighting
Nothing looks nicer than a Mexican tile floor. However, if you have to stand on it for more than three hours it starts looking like medieval torture device. Your floor has to do it all and do it well. It has to be easy to stand on for long periods, it can’t be slippery when wet, and it has to be easy to clean. Give those specs to your contractor and say you want no compromise.
Inadequate lighting is very fatiguing. In a kitchen, it is also dangerous. That wasn’t a carrot you just sliced, it was your finger. You should be able to achieve maximum lighting without your kitchen looking like your husband’s workshop. Make sure that your lighting is not only bright and effective but that it also doesn’t require a maintenance crew to change a burned out light.
Dream Options
What is the cost of your house? Better question; what was the cost of your last tractor? Of course, it was more than you wanted to spend but you felt it was necessary. Some options that I would propose to you may just seem like money flying out the door until you actually have them. After that you would never let them go for twice the price.
Dream Option #1 – An outdoor canning kitchen
Think about it. All you need is plumbing for a double sink and a stove along with counter space and maybe a few cupboards. Several roofing options can work for this facility to keep it secure during inclement weather. Nothing is more messy in your dream kitchen than a massive canning project. The option of moving it all outdoors could be a dream come true.
Dream Option #2 – A second dishwasher
It seems like such an extravagant option but during peak production hours, you wonder how you ever did without it. It is a few hundred dollars but worth it in the long run.
Dream Option #3 – A deep freeze
This isn’t really a dream option since every farm home needs a deep freeze. Whether you choose an upright or a chest design, a high capacity freezer is necessary for storage of vegetables, meat, and other items like mini ├ęclairs from Costco. If you mention the ├ęclairs, your husband will see the wisdom of this option.
Dream Option #4 – A computer and homework station
Nobody multitasks like a woman does in her kitchen. What could be more convenient than having your children do their homework right where you can keep them on task? And not only that; you can always go to the Internet for recipe ideas and other useful tips.
Everyone’s Favorite Room
In a written survey, the kitchen might not win a popularity contest since it just words on a page. Your young children might choose the TV/playroom, your teenagers might choose their bedroom; but when the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls or the aroma of Sunday dinner is in the air, everyone gathers in their favorite room. And if you plan it right, it will be your favorite as well.

About the author: Kurt Dowdle grew up in Boise, ID and is a published author and entrepreneur. He also writes for Hayden Homes, a home builder in the Northwest.~  Thank you Kurt for your tips!

And yes, just yesterday this farm-chick made one of my favorite cakes, White Chocolate Peppermint cake
and this recipe & more can be found on the Cake of the Month page (December cakes) - simply click on the cake link and print out the recipe.  I have some new yummy recipes in the works to share as well..... 

As always, thanks for stopping by and come on back soon, as I'll have another blog ready very shortly.  If you have any questions or  comments you can always email me at swheatfarmlife@gmail.com or leave a comment.  All my best, Gayle

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