Nothing like the enduring charm & warmth of an old wood-fired stove in the kitchen.
A peek here & you see our old Metters stove, the iconic Australian cast iron cooker & heater first manufactured by the Metters company in Australia in the 1890s & right up until sometime in the 1970s I believe. You can see this model is not freestanding & has to be set in brickwork to function. More on the Metters cook stoves later.
This cook stove is the work horse here in the colder months. These days we don’t use it as much as we would like, or should, because we are not here all the time. Yes, even at our age & dotage there’s a busy criminal law practice to run as well as Fat Lawyer Farm.
Ultimately, the walls in the kitchen area, were finished in a dark & moody hue . . . & I love it for various reasons.
One is that it reminds me of my early childhood when the family cooking, when meals were prepared using the exact same model of Metters wood burning cook stove. Generations of Australian families had a Metters stove. I specifically searched for this model because I knew exactly what this sturdy piece of iron could do.
Even though we had electricity when I was a child, frugality was the rule & wood was a cheaper energy source.
And although the cooking area in the old part of the kitchen was dark, the stolid old Metters always had a large pot of stew, a soup, or similar on top, or a roast in the oven, to satiate the hunger of us 9 children. Kettles & pots always on the boil, billowing steam. Our country family was large.
Another reason is that I remember, fondly, the stove alcove & surround was always dark if not somewhat sooty. While the sense of comfort & warmth that the darkness evoked stays with me to this day, I did make a change. Yes, I had our electrician install a light each side of the alcove so the cook or chef (usually me) would have no trouble seeing what they were doing.
Images at the end of this post show the alcove lit up.
Now, these images were taken back in the summer months when the stove was not being used. We are using it now. The colder months start in the autumn, in March, April & May & go right through the winter months of June, July & August & beyond. And, yes, autumn means removing some of the decorative items to make the stove area a functional space.
Nothing like slow cooking with this beautiful old piece. Nothing like embracing it for keeping the kitchen & family area warm & cosy, for filling the kitchen with the sweet & alluring smells & flavours of food cooking.
In the southern hemisphere high summer is in December, January & February which means we have no need for the stove then. And, yes, you got it, Christmas is in the middle of our long, hot summers when hours & actions are slower & watering the garden takes up a lot of precious time – for me anyway.
I have a small collection of rusty & not so rusty kitchen & cooking ironmongery more of which I will share as time goes by. Of course, we don’t use the old pots & pans, the kettles as they are worn, weathered & rusty & some may leak.
And I love them just as they are.
You can see the lit up alcove in the 2 images above.
The canvas style print on the mantel, ‘The Luncheon’, an autobiographical piece painted by Claude Monet in 1868, reflects a bit of fun & frivolity for now & may well not be there when I finish working on the kitchen. I may even put a clock back in the spot. The autobiographical piece:
The painting is autobiographical. An artist constantly plagued by financial straits, Claude Monet had the fortune to receive a small “salary” from one of his patrons in the summer of 1868. For the first time, he was able to offer his family a proper home. It was his family who posed for him here, though Monet excluded himself from the depiction. He is already awaited at the table, but for the moment he is still enjoying the role of the happy onlooker.
The scene is carefree and cosy. We can almost detect a longing for middle-class standards – there is even a maid.
As an artist, however, Monet did not conform to convention. Usually, a private setting such as this one would have been represented in a small genre painting. Monet provocatively painted it on the large scale reserved for historical events. The composition likewise contradicted every tradition. For example, the painter emphasised such matters of minor importance as the food on the table; indeed, he integrated an entire still life. He emphasised the emotional focus – his little boy – by casting the brightest light on him and on his mother; at the same time, however, he pushed the child to the far edge of the scene. What is more, the right hand edge of the canvas cuts harshly through the table and chair.
The jury of the conservative Paris Salon rejected the painting. It was not to be placed on public view until 1874, in the exhibitions independently organised by the Impressionists.