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Hub of the home

On cold winter days, you may spend cozy hours in the kitchen, searching for your favorite rib-sticking recipes, or just warding off the chill with fresh refills of coffee.

Or maybe you escape winter's harsh reality with daydreams of modern designer kitchens. But the kitchen in my heart and mind's eye is the long-ago one in my grandma's house.

During large family holiday dinners, Grandma's long dining room table overflowed with extended family. My brothers, sister, and I were happy to eat our meal in the kitchen. After all, without any adults in sight, we didn't need to mind our table manners!

Afterward, my sister and I spent what seemed like hours helping wash and dry plates and silverware, and carefully putting away serving dishes.

Much has changed since those days. But one thing remains constant: The kitchen is the heart of the home.

If you grew up on a farm in the 1930s or visited your grandparents' farm home in later years, Memories of a Farm Kitchen by Bob and Rob Artley is a wonderful way to retrieve the sights, sounds, and aromas etched in your memory: the cast iron cook stove, ticking pendulum clock, braided rug in front of the sink, African violets on the window sill, and corncob pail next to the door. Sometimes there was even a newborn lamb warming up in a cardboard box nestled in the corner.

As the book reminds us, the kitchen was more than a food-preparation area. It was a hub for haircuts on a high stool, the first aid station for splinter removal, and a network for party-line phone calls.

Before the days of indoor plumbing, the kitchen, equipped with a large washtub, was the site of Saturday night baths. Before basements, it doubled as a laundry room.

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