Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Cook's Shelf

Sharing with you today some photographs of the latest addition to my country kitchen. I have termed it my 'cook's shelf' and it was made for me by my clever and creative husband with assistance from my sons who drilled into the wall and sanded the recycled timber beam. It's a rather substantial shelf and I just love it!

It is supported by these beautiful and ornate wrought iron brackets. I found these on ebay but I first fell in love with this style of bracket when I saw a spice rack on pinterest that another clever chap had created for his wife. That was Ellie's spice rack. I showed my husband (don't you just love pinterest for this!) and asked him if he would be able to build me a kitchen shelf if we could find similar brackets at a reasonable price. Not only did I find them here in Australia but they are pretty much identical to the ones that first caught my eye!

My cook's shelf is above my Ilve stove. This is where I cook and all the ingredients I need are now within reach. As are my pots and pans and other utensils which hang from the vintage wooden ladder that we turned into a pot rack. A bunch of bay leaves means I always have a leaf ready to pop into the stock pot.

This shelf is strong! It holds all my large glass jars and I can see at a glance when they need to be restocked or when a new batch of muesli needs to be made up. These jars were gifted to me by my neighbour when she moved away. What a blessing they have been, especially as when she asked me if I would like them I was in the process of getting rid of all the plastic containers in my pantry and replacing them with glass which is a much better way to store food for the sake of our health.

I now have a home for my favourite cookbooks. Most of them are by New Zealanders. I know I'm biased but wow that country produces some great cooks. Annabel Langbein's volumes would be my most used (she is now on pinterest and is pinning her recipes! Check them out!) and Jo Seager's recipes never let me down. Harvest by Meredith Kirton is a gardening book I refer to often and because it is Australian it has advice on growing the trees, native bushfoods and vegetable crops we have planted.

The jam in this picture is Davidson plum, made from the very first Davidson plums that we harvested recently. They are so sour but make the most incredible jam. Probably the best jam I have ever made, no need for pectin, it sets easily and my children love it. Which is a good thing because we planted about five trees. So far we have only harvested about a kilo of fruit from the one tree. They hang down like ruby jewels on a necklace and because they are so sour the possums leave them alone. We found one on the ground with a bite mark and my children dared to try one too. Oh yes, they could understand why the possum didn't like them! I also dehydrated some slices and added them to our muesli. Very tangy but quite delicious!

It's times like these when you wish you had a better camera and a wide angle lens. My cook's shelf runs right along the stone feature wall in our kitchen. I was rather tempted to decorate it with china but then it wouldn't be a cook's shelf! I do place one of my soy teacup candles here though and it casts out a lovely glow as I prepare dinner. I love having somewhere to place a jug of fresh mint and in summertime I'm looking forward to having more herbs to harvest to place in jugs. At Christmas I will take much delight in festooning my cooks shelf with greenery and lighting more candles to cook by. It's those little details and textures in the kitchen that make it a wonderful place to be. They make cooking so much more pleasurable.

The crocheted trim on a tea towel

The colourful spines of cookbooks next to a tin of Australian olive oil (most economic way to buy it) and one tall colourful biscuit tin that now holds packets of spaghetti. I used to have a lot more vintagey tins but tired of dusting them and they were not the most practical for storage purposes. I cleared them out and now every container is functional and only one jar is there for decorative purposes, only because I loved the writing on the green ceramic jar of Stone's Ginger Wine. Maybe someone can suggest what I could store in it. Vinegar perhaps?

 Fresh and fragrant herbs in terracotta jugs. Bright colanders, yellow polenta, red lentils, ruby red jam. The colours of cooking. I don't want to hide them away which is why I love my cook's shelf so much! I think I would tire of an all white kitchen with all white accessories. I need colour in my life especially in the place which is the very heart of my home where I don't just prepare food for consumption. This is where I nourish my family! And it has also become the place where my soul is nourished as I stand and stir the soup or knead the dough for another loaf I look up at my cook's shelf and see provision and I give thanks to the Lord. Not just for the produce but for the people who will sit down around our table and partake of it - their bodies will be nourished and so will their souls as we fellowship together. That makes my kitchen a very important place which is why I want to make it a pleasant and happy place to be.

And something to ponder from my 'words of wisdom' board on pinterest, one of my favourite quotations I have come across thus far.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my cook's shelf. How do you decorate your kitchen? Do you hide everything away or do you display? And how do you turn the ordinary act of cooking into something far more special and significant?

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Camille said...

So beautiful Ann. What a blessing that your husband was able to recreate what you saw on Pintrest perfectly. :) I'm using glass so much more too. What a blessing that your neighbour gave you those jars!

I hide most things as my kitchen is not very big. But, I do *love* the *country* look. Thank you for the tour!

Blessings to you!

Meg said...

Love your shelf and country kitchen Ann. Our kitchen is quite modern but one day I hope to live in an old farmhouse with a country kitchen instead. My fave bit of our kitchen is the big island bench with bar stools to sit at. I can cook while the family hangs around. We also homeschool and I have enjoyed finding your blog :)

Niki Jones said...

I love it. Love love love. That little quote at the end is just what I am meant to read today!!!
As of tomorrow I am having a self imposed reclusive 3 months. I need time out from all the hoopla and apart from a birthday or two I am indisposed to everything else bar my home & family. I needed to read that. you are an amazing homemaker Ann.

africanaussie said...

The love you have in caring for your family really shines out in this post. I love that little quote you posted as well. Whenever I cook for family or friends I do feel it goes much deeper than just the food.

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

That is ideals how I wish for the kit hen fro my previous hone as this kitchen is tiny...oh well...Iove the ladder for pots ect! What a home you are creating...functional and warm and noushing...xo

Kimberly said...

It all looks so wonderful! Well done! My decorations are almost all antiques that I use for cooking. I do have a few of my Grandmother's spice tins that are just decorations, but pretty much all the rest of the things are in active use. The rest of the decor only stuff is gone for lack of space and lack of desire to wash/dust as well.
My computer is in the kitchen as well, but I stash it in an old Hoosier cupboard. :)

JES said...

I love your shelf! We have a kitchen with only one set of cabinets (not even floor to ceiling) so everything is displayed for use as well. I saw something like those ends you have in a blacksmith shop (yes, you heard right!) and loved it but can't think of where to put it because I am maxed out :) I love all your vintage items and love for the kitchen too! Thanks for sharing!

Fruitful Harvest said...

WOW I love the shelf! Very charming!
The ladder is cute too.

What a lovely quote at the bottom of your post about simplisty and the soul!

Thanks for stoppin by my blog.
It was nice to see ya!


Anonymous said...

I love your shelf and the way you have displayed everything. I love storing food supplies in jars too and I have quite a few jars of different things. I have an old cubboard with shelving that I repainted and that is where I store my bottles etc it's like an extra pantry.It's great to have a functioning kitchen and nice to spend time there when you have things the way you like. Love the quote too. Angela K

Linda said...

Don't know if my comment went thru :(
I just wanted to say that I love your little cooks shelf! I havn't blogged in a while, but hope to get back to it soon. God Bless you

Finding Joy said...

I love your shelf. I have all my cookbooks out as when they are hidden away I tend to not use them. I also have a few favourite bits and bobs out as well so we can enjoy looking at them. I have a modern kitchen but that still allows for some old fashion things.

Unknown said...

Ann, your new cook's shelf is delightful! And holding such treasures... you will thoroughly enjoy it throughout the seasons, I'm sure! (The stone wall behind is makes a wonderful backdrop, too). Thanks for sharing it with us!

Camille said...

Just stopping in to say *Happy Weekend* to you my friend! Have a lovely time with your family.



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