'Less is more' is among numerous quotations attributed to English poet and playwright, Robert Browning (1812-1889). As I hunt through one of my cupboards for an item that seems to have mysteriously buried itself amidst all the other stuff, I'm thinking to myself that he must be have been a wise gentleman.
'I have way too much stuff,' complained one of my nearest and dearest recently. 'I know just what you mean,' I replied knowingly. For my home, too, is groaning under the weight of the many things that Peter and I have accumulated over the years. It's time for another clear out, garage sale or massive donation to one of our local charities, such as Lifeline, St Vincent de Paul and the Salvos.
But there are some old and treasured items that I simply cannot bear to part with. Some of them have been in my family for years and have been used almost to death by their previous owners, but still I hang on to them. And, yes, I still use them too!
A long time ago, a friend told me that her mother-in-law had stuck labels on the base of things so that when she departed this world her children would know who she had bequeathed each item to. Hmmm. Sounds a little crazy, to me, but there may be something in it, in a weird sort of way. Another friend and I were discussing this topic recently and noted that some of the old things that we treasure so dearly will most likely mean nothing to our own offspring. 'I've had a little purse that was given to me about fifty years ago, when I was just a little girl,' explained my friend. 'My kids aren't going to know how much it meant to me and, really, why am I even hanging on to it,' she asked. True, true. Will our children know, or indeed care about, the stories behind the paraphernalia that we have collected? Does it matter? Should we really care?
Likewise, I have loads of 'things' gathering dust, including some of the baby clothes, books and toys kept from when my own children were little. Actually, I have two boxes of my own books, toys and ephemera, almost antiques now, like me! And there's an assortment of ornaments on display in a type of 'china cabinet'... 'saved for good'... whatever that is. Some items belonged to my late parents, some to my two brothers, also long gone. And some were given to me as wedding gifts in 1978. And there they shall stay, I suppose, because they are 'ornaments'. Who knows what will become of them when I'm gone.
When my marriage broke down years ago, I promised myself that I would no longer keep crockery, cutlery, china and glassware in a display case. Instead, I would use and enjoy them, while I could. That philosophy also goes for the old and treasured cook's tools in my possession, some of which I have pictured here.
I'd love to know your thoughts on this, dear readers. Are you a collector or hoarder? Or are you more of a minimalist? Are there 'things' you cannot discard? Or have you been ruthless in decluttering?
Old and treasured things in my kitchen...
The enamelled baking tray (pictured top) belonged to my mother and is one of the most treasured 'old' pieces in my kitchen. I have distinct memories my mother using it when she crumbed chicken drumsticks and veal slices for schnitzel.
Another of my mother's pieces is this now vintage rotary whisk (below). I use it weekly, sometimes daily, and pop it into the oven briefly after washing it to prevent it from rusting. These types of whisks can be found in antique stores and usually sell for upwards of $20 AUD. One thing is certain, they do not make them like this any more!
An aunt gave me her old potato ricer (below) when I was visited Budapest in the 1990s. It works perfectly and is used often.
This little enamelled pot (below) is another of my favourite pieces, although I bought it from a thrift shop a few years ago. In case you didn't notice, I have a thing for old enamelware.
This old fork and fish knife (below) were thrift store purchases too, because I loved the look of them. They are used by me and loved.
This enamelled bowl (below) once belonged to my mother. She used it mix warm milk with fresh yeast when she was baking.
This little Corningware piece (below) is old and yet very well used in my kitchen. It's perfect for melting butter and making sauces.
And finally, the Salter 'Family Scale No. 45) was bought for a bargain price from an antique dealer in Newcastle. These scales are more ornamental than anything, but I just love them!
This post has been compiled as part of the monthly In My Kitchen series hosted by my dear friend, Celia, at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Pop in and say hello to Celia and all our friends.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.