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Saugerties Historical Society Cookbook


An illustration and my contribution to the text . . .

stove2.jpg (45749 bytes)

Wood Burning Kitchen Range c1898

I first saw this stove in the summertime. It was outside on a pallet waiting for the workmen to install it. Memories of breakfast as a child, toasting bread on forks over the glowing coals in my Great Grandmother’s kitchen filled my head. Her stove was like this only bigger, or maybe it is only because I was little then that it seemed bigger, and the remembered smells of frying bacon, oatmeal with cinnamon, and partly burned toast nearly overwhelmed me as I stood in the driveway and touched the cold cast iron, half expecting to hear a shout, "careful, that’s hot!" from a woman now dead nearly 40 years.

Apple Pie flambe

        Once the workmen hooked it up, learning to bake in it was a trial. I know how to use it easily now, but then it was new to me and a complex, demanding mistress. For it to work properly, the heated air must be carefully directed through a maze of passages with the seemingly endless baffles and levers moved just so - to keep the kitchen from filling with smoke and insure that the oven heats evenly. Well, when I thought I had that mastered, I fired up the stove and was ready to show off by baking dessert for city relatives new to my country ways.

        For some fateful reason I decided to cook an inaugural pie inside a brown paper bag. Afterall, it works when roasting duck and chicken, and they always turn out golden brown. Besides, I didn’t want my fancy lard crust to burn in a temperamental oven. It was a big mistake. When the oven temperature got too hot the paper bag started smoldering in the stove and smoke poured out of the oven. Worse, when I opened the stove to take out the pie the bag burst into flames! The fire went out when I closed the door, but it didn’t stop the smoke. I ran to open the kitchen door to let the smoke escape and then opened the oven door again. The flames sprang back up so I shut it. Twice more I did that until, in a panic, I pulled the flaming pie from the oven . . . just as company came early to the open kitchen door!

        Believe it or not, I had the situation under control, it just didn’t look it. I tossed the flambe’ into the sink, and their concern turned to laughter as I alternately smothered the flames with a dishtowel and chased floating embers around the kitchen. Some people are so easily amused.

        The pie was quickly salvaged by scraping off the burned layer, and dinner was otherwise uneventful. I only regret that I wasn’t able to give my young guests the same nostalgic memory of an old-fashioned kitchen range my great-grandmother gave me. But, at least I know they’ll smile when they think of that pie.

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Copyright 1999 by Richard Frisbie -- All rights reserved.