“The smell of bruised apples reaches me of a sudden. And in that moment I am back in Miss Eliza's kitchen, rich with cooking odors: the nutty smell of roasting coffee berries, the syrupy scent of fruit upon the stove, the pierce of a fresh-cut lemon, the sweet warmth of a split vanilla pod, the earthy heat of a crushed clove.”
—Annabel Abbs, Miss Eliza’s English Kitchen: A Novel of Victorian Cookery and Friendship

Grandma Edna’s kitchen was always full of good smells. When we were kids we woke on weekends to the smell of the fire in the cook stove, cinnamon rolls, and fried potatoes. By afternoon there were cookies in the cookie jar when we came in from playing or apple pies or crisp resting on the warming shelf above the stove. The cook stove was Grandma’s only means of cooking from 1937, when they moved into Stonecroft, until the early sixties when her “boys” modernized her kitchen. The round-top Hotpoint refrigerator was bought in the late forties and still has its five-year warranty sticker on the back. The kitchen and appliances remain unchanged still today.

I was probably ten when I sat on the open oven door on my towel for the last time—to get warm after swimming in the cold lake. The stove would hold its warmth most of the day after letting it go out until supper cooking. The “sitting on the stove door to get warm” was an activity that was carefully supervised by Grandma. You wouldn’t think of trying it on your own, only if she offered . . . which meant conditions were optimal, no afternoon baking.


This beautiful cream enamel woodstove sits in my sister’s dining room in the Texas Hill Country, still being used and loved as Grandma did. A couple of mornings were cool enough for a fire when we Sibs gathered there for her birthday. We sat in chairs beside it and around the dining table for coffee, and later, breakfast. We did the Birthday cake-baking and cooking in the kitchen on the electric stove…and used the cook stove for our party buffet. Thought you might like to see it.

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