The “Summer Kitchen” is an wonderful concept that even modern-homesteaders can benefit from!
The “Summer Kitchen“, as it was called, was often a cottage, separate from the main house or dwelling. Sometimes, as I saw myself in an old farm house I once visited, it was a large screened-in area on the back of the home. However it was done, having a “Summer Kitchen” was a tremendous benefit for families who could afford it.
Given that cooking back then was done with the use of a wood stove or over an open fire, combined with the absence of air conditioning or fans, excessive heat would build up in the main home and obviously make everyone pretty uncomfortable. Therefore, the family’s wood stove was moved to the “Summer Kitchen” and kept there until it was needed again in the main house in the cooler months.
For the most part, the work that took place in the “Summer Kitchen” included cooking, baking and preserving. This was very important work as the family’s very existence depended upon it. The women needed to “put up” all the food and supplies that her family would need to survive the cold and bitter winters.
Activities like soap and butter making might take place around a large working table that was often in the “Summer Kitchen“. Chores like boiling socks and other undergarments would take place there. Baths might be taken there for privacy. The aroma of fresh baked goods and of drying herbs could be taken enjoyed in and around the “Summer Kitchen“.
The “Summer Kitchen” was not only a place of work, but a place of community. Women gathered to share stories, methodology and tips for how to be a better wife and homemaker. Older women taught younger women how to sew, quilt and raise children. Discussions of goings on within their churches, families and communities made everyone feel like part of something bigger than themselves. What a great time in history.
So what does all of this have to do with today?
As we finalize the plans to our new outbuilding this week, I am excited that it will include a new and modern “Summer Kitchen”! What should a modern “Summer Kitchen” include? More in tomorrow’s post.