Life before Microwaves: Seniors Share Their Stories

Cooking on a wood stove

Cooking on a wood stove is a thing from the past. What will replace the microwave oven?

We held a workshop for 35 seniors in Sumas, WA to share ideas about preparing budget-friendly meals.  They have an untapped wealth of experience and knowledge and were more than willing to contribute ideas on many cooking topics. Here are some of their stores as they strolled down memory lane.

Cooking on a wood stove was mentioned by some with lots of nodding heads in agreement.  I remember my aunt starting a small fire in the firebox early in the morning. Once the hot plates above the flame were heated and the side oven was warm, it took little fuel to keep the stove hot. Heat could be turned up by bunching the wood and coals. The flame was turned down by spreading the coals. The kitchen in the old farmhouse was large enough for gathering and we relished the heat put out by the cooking stove.

COOKING IN Cast Iron Pots & Pans was popular because the iron held heat so well. Soup pots, fry pans and casserole pots were popular until aluminum cookware became the rage.

Before the presentation they hosted a pot luck dinner, A frozen round roast was cooked in a covered cast iron pot along with about 1/2 C water. A secret rub was spread over the top of the meat and after 5 hours in the oven it was ready to serve. This was cooked in a modern oven but also could have been in a wood fired stove.                                                                                   Canning fruit was, and still is important to some. Home-canned fruit packed in its own juices has far better taste and nourishment. The problem in the days before pressure cookers was getting canning jars to seal. They had to  be careful when canning in an open water bath because only certain kinds of vegetables would be safe to eat. When preserved this way a housewife could save the bounty of her garden or orchard for the winter months because there were no stores near by to purchase the produce.

Butter-churning, sit-down dinners, and eating at least 3 peas were other memories that were brought to life. This pot luck evening was a time to share knowledge and realize that even though we used different cooking tools over the years, many still receive great joy from providing good nutritious meals for their families.

 Needless to say, we had very little time left for sharing ideas about saving money by diligent meal planning. We’ll get together again and share those ideas.

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About Don R

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Retired teacher. Multiple successful business endeavors including screen printing / sporting goods business, executive director of a Boys & Girls Club, commercial fishing, and co-founding an alternative high school. Interests include family, hiking, cooking, Parkinson's research and developing an educational cooking program.