We operated a small bed and breakfast inn in Southern Vermont for 18 years, and as you can imagine, I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen, much of it looking for ways to save some of that time while still offering something memorable to my guests. We are now open only for special events, cooking classes, and a little catering to keep things interesting. I write a food column for our local newspaper, focusing on local foods and products and our fabulous southern Vermont farms.
Some of my earliest memories include cooking with my mother, or watching her cook and create feasts for our family and friends. There was always something luscious baking in the oven, or a pot simmering on the back burner, and there was always an extra chair at the table.
My mother had four children, a cranky, elderly mother-in-law, a hungry husband, and a full-time job outside of the home, and yet the food on our table was home-cooked, fresh, and creative. We had one car, few modern conveniences, and a homemaker who must have been more stretched for time as we are today. Of course, she had no options; she could not afford the pre-packaged fancy foods and had to cook from scratch. She managed time without batting an eye, and she did so wisely and with techniques that not only freed her from the kitchen, but ensured we had a full and balanced meal on the table every night.
She taught me how to spin gold out of straw, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
I cook from scratch as much as possible (yes, I’ll pick up something form the grab-and-go section in our local co-op on shopping day), using traditional tried-and-true methods, but certainly looking for the modern time savers available to us. My food processor, blender, and mixer remain on my counter ready for quick service, and if I end up kneading my bread with a machine rather than my hands in order to save time, I’ll not apologize!
Many of my updates lighten up the old standard fare, or add whole grains where none existed before. In the past few decades, the availability and understanding of foods from around the world has made it easy to jazz up the week night meal, and broaden our understanding of how we can feed our families using unique flavors and techniques.
The modern “vintage kitchen” includes a little of the old, a lot of the new, and an outcome that is sure to please – good food served up to family and friends with pleasure and pride.