Marie at Emma Calls Me Mama is hosting another Heirloom Day today. This is such a good idea for a party!
Pictured below is one of my very favorite pieces: my mother's dough cabinet.
The cabinet stands in my breakfast area. It's great to use as a sideboard when we have a big meal; it's an especially handy place to hold desserts. And it's a great place to decorate for various holidays. Right now I just have an old pitcher with the last of my hydrangeas, but it's about time to pull out the pumpkins!
This piece is fairly new to my family. It's antique--late 1800's, we think--but it was acquired by my mother just over 20 years ago. She had a love for antique furniture, and this was one of her most prized possessions. I love this piece, although I wish it weren't mine yet. My mom died 10 years ago this fall, at which point this cabinet became mine. You can bet it will be an heirloom now; I guess we'll have to see which of my boys marries a girl who likes antiques.
See how the drawers are really more like bins? And the top of the base is extra-deep? These cabinets were used to house flour and other baking needs, and the top made an excellent work surface. Hence the name "dough cabinet." These date from about the same period as Hoosier cabinets, which usually had an enameled countertop and included a built-in sifter for flour.
Here's a peek inside the cabinet. It would be a wonderful place to house my everyday china, but the glass doors are a little too fragile to be opened and closed regularly. So I just use it to house some little pieces that belonged to my mother and my grandmother. My favorite pieces are the soup tureen that was part of my grandmother's wedding china and the blue teddy bear bank that was a baby gift given to my mother at the time of her birth.
Another of my favorite heirlooms is the trio of antique angel food cake pans hanging on the wall to the right of the cabinet. These belonged to my grandmother, who was an incredible woman. Her husband left her when their kids (my mother and her two brothers) were school-aged. My grandmother had never worked outside the home before, and she desperately needed a job, but what kind of work is there in a tiny town on the Kansas prairie? She became a cook in the elementary school across the street from her house. This turned out to be a calling for her: she went on to cook for three generations of kids before she finally retired. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of visiting my grandmother and eating in the cafeteria. The cafeteria food at my own school was terrible, but this food was different. The cafeteria was staffed by grandmothers, all of whom were wonderful cooks.
My grandmother's greatest culinary specialty was the angel food cake. She made them often, always from scratch, a dozen egg whites in each one. And she always beat them by hand, using a hand-held whisk. Can you imagine? She beat me arm-wrestling the week before I got married. I was 21 years old; she was 68. Over the years, she collected angel-food cake pans. After she died, all of her grandchildren got a few of the collection. I glued saw-tooth hangers on the back of mine so that I could hang them on the wall. I love the way they look there by the dough cabinet.
Marie, thanks for again encouraging us to take a fresh look at our heirlooms!