Those three words conjure up pictures of baskets filled with warm, fluffy biscuits spread with homemade jam and fresh eggs ; shelves filled with sparkly glass jars filled with fruits and vegetables grown outside in the kitchen garden; jams and jellies glistening with jewel-like colors so rich they are fit for royalty; crocks filled with the tools-of-the-trade, worn with use yet still relied-upon to do their appointed jobs; a well-scrubbed kitchen table, spread with snowy linens and a pitcher of wild flowers; a sink full of frothy bubbles, warm water and the breakfast dishes; a wooden floor, polished to perfection, gleaming in the sunlight.
Are any of these things found in my own kitchen? Somewhat, yes. But they never quite fit the picture that is in my head.
I love my kitchen, I really do. Wide, open shelves hold my dishes, glassware and mixing bowls, along with the everyday staples of flour, sugar, rice and salt. Everything is there at my fingertips, making cooking a snap.
Across the kitchen, along the long common wall between the living room and dining room areas is a large pantry cabinet, complete with a screen door. Built by my husband and me, it holds cans and bottles and jars of food. Things have a tendency to get lost in there sometimes but for the most part, it is well-organized, with neat rows and stacks of provender.
While I do have wood floors in my kitchen, as well as the rest of the house, it is neither polished nor gleaming. Instead, it is marked with the wear and tear of everyday family life. Scratches from the dogs and furniture being shifted about, make it look a bit shabby, but I love it nonetheless.
My floors get a weekly washing with Dr. Bronner's Eucalyptus Castile Soap. The scent is clean and energizing. During the summer months, it will be washed twice a week, as the dogs and family are spending more time outside and consequently bringing more of it in with them. In between, I sweep. I do own a vacuum cleaner, but I like the rythmn of sweeping and the homeliness of it. Plus, it is good exercise.
Once things are clean, I can get to the business of cooking. It is something I take great delight in doing, and I think I do it well.
Stews, soups, casseroles, breads, cookies, cakes and pies are churned out for a family that is sometimes not as appreciative as I would like them to be. Of my three children, two are picky eaters, and their father makes the scales tip out of balance in their favor. (Hmmm, perhaps that explains the lush padding that I have accumulated!) Against better judgement, I still try to entice them with savories and sweets, and probably will until I draw my last breath.
The only thing missing from my farmhouse kitchen is a screen door, solid wood and painted white, with a spring that slaps it against the door frame with a resounding "Crack!". That would truly complete my happy little picture.
Funny thing is, I have screen doors under my house, bought at yard sales for a song, and I have nowhere to put them! The French doors in the back of the kitchen-dining area won't accomodate them. But you can trust me when I say, that I will find a way to put them to good use. In fact, one of them now serves as the entry to the chicken yard!
All-in-all, I think that a farmhouse kitchen is more of an attitude than appearance. My little suburban kitchen is as much of one as a kitchen in a true farmhouse, surrounded by fields of wheat or corn, cows and chickens. It has become that way because of what occurs within its walls- hearty meals cooked with love, canning fruits and veg to carry us through winter, jams and jellies made to give us a taste of summer all through the year, pies and cakes made for bake sales and contests as well as a hungry family.
If that is not truly the case, then I have a sign hanging in my kitchen that declares it to be such.
I've covered all the bases.