Hearth Cooking … Andirons

The Hearth.

In Alabama for the past week we have been enjoying temperatures peaking near the 70 mark.   It has been exciting  to sneak a  peak through the mulch looking for my old friends returning  to my garden.  And as much as I enjoy my infamous wood burning heater it has been  a relief to let the fire go out.  Feeding a continuous fire is hard work although rewarding.  .  I  k n o w !! This is still  February and  more times than not  my  crocus heads find themselves buckling in an unexpected snow.  But still this spring break  has been  great fun.

Letting the fire go out was not a smart move in Early America. The  ceramic head match was  a luxury afforded only by the more  fortunate and not prevalent until the second half of the  1800.  The fire in the hearth was important 24/7 regardless of the ambient temps.  The hearth of course  important for preparing daily meals  for the hard working families and don’t underestimate the welcomed  light source the fire provided.  These have been my thoughts as I study the recently acquired andirons that Charles added to Noordermeer’s inventory.

note top basket and inside curl.

These are the best andirons I have had in my inventory in a good while.   Look at the multi-functions.  On the inside of the vertical surface of these andirons you can see a curl that would hold a skewer serving as a rotisserie for a good size piece of meat for dinner.  Now notice the  well formed basket top.   This basket was often used to  hold a warming dish for sauces and whatever. The basket was also convenient  in holding a  light source when a roaring fire was not in best interest ,  i.e.    a  spring day in Alabama.  Nice iron always a cool addition to a collectors fireplace.


Off The Grid…Miss Leslie…Noordermeer’s

I recently discovered a new magazine built around the concept of living off the grid.  Not  a new concept.  I remember an article in the ’80’s in “Mother Earth News” on using a car tire inner tube filled with water placing it on the hood of a car and calling it a hot water heater.   Yes it would heat water but give me my Rudd  grid and all.  My point is off the grid is harder than anything I read in the magazine.  A short definition …

OFF THE GRIDliving in a self sufficient manner without relying on public utilities.

My favorite author is Miss Eliza Leslie.  She authored a house book in 1840 and a wonderful cookery in 1850.  Let’s call this time “Pre Grid”. No Grid was life.  Her house book deals with how to make a fire with details on what kind of ashes make the best lye for making candles.  She wrote about how to  bank the fire in order to be certain that it would  last until morning.  NO MATCHES?? This would make building a fire even more complicated.  She writes about cooking on hot coals.  Which reminds us don’t let the fire go out.  You need those coals 24/7 no matter what the weather. Her section on wash day reminds us that you have to make soap before you do laundry.  Let’s not forget about combing the cotton, spinning the yarn, dyeing and weaving . Only then could you begin to sew something that would  need washing.    Get my drift on the subject of  OFF GRID.  Attempting Off Grid is a good thing.  It is always good to be conscious of our carbon foot print.  Lets work toward being less of a society of consumers.  Lets use and reuse.  And avoid buying land fill.  Buy something permanent! Nothing is more expensive than buying temporary.  Take care   KIt Jenkins

An interesting read………

Please enjoy this  article I read in my favorite newsletter “Early American Industries” sept.1949



To Preserve Milk
Provide bottles, which must be perfectly clean, sweet and dry; draw the milk from the cow into the bottles, and as they are filled, immediately cork them well up, and fasten the corks with packthread or wire. Then spread a little straw on the bottom of a boiler, on which place bottles with straw between them until the boiler contains a sufficient quantity. Fill it up with cold water; heat the water, and as soon as it begins to boil, draw the fire, and let the whole gradually cool. When quiet cold take out the bottles, and pack them with straw or saw dust in hampers, and stow them in the coolest part of the house. Milk preserved in this manner , although eighteen months in the bottles, will be as sweet as when first milked from the cow.(McKensie’s Receipts Phila 1829)
My first reaction  was wow.  I then realized this was simple canning.   Still wow but a little less complicated than my first thought.  Keep in mind the date of this receipt was 1829, no Kelvinator, no knobs on the stove, and the cow did not share her milk 365 days.  Our guys and or gals figured it out. I’m proud of them


321.6 POUNDS


I love it but it is the type of thing you only want to move once!


The concept of the picturesque Maple Chopping Block is a relatively new one. Until the 1880’s the block of preference was a slice from a Sycamore Tree on three turned legs.  The trusty Sycamore because it was the largest hardwood on the North American continent with a diameter up to 10 feet.  Being a round tree trunk it held up well but could develop a split due to shrinkage and drying.  In the 1880’s a couple of meat packers had the idea of using “End Grain Maple”.  Maple was known  to be extremely hard and end grain pieces bolted together  could withstand pounding.  After about 100 years modern America cultivated hysteria by stating that plastic chopping blocks were healthier.  The plastic industry insinuated that wood chopping blocks would trap bacteria.  This hysteria was promptly reversed by laboratory test that proved wood had an enzyme that killed bacteria.  With in 3 minutes the bacteria was pulled down into the block leaving the surface pathogen free.  A test was perform on plastic  finding  that bacteria multiplied to twice the original count.  The original maple block in 1880 was called “THE SANITARY MEAT BLOCK”.  They had no idea just how right they were. I would like to add that intelligence and common sense should tell you to clean a good chopping block with salt and vinegar and retreating with mineral oil to prevent  build up of what ever (never a good thing). And don’t misunderstand me I am not telling you to run to the land fill with our plastic chopping block.  I feel certain that with proper cleaning they too have  their place in even my kitchen. But given a choice  “I CHOOSE WOOD!!” can’t beat it.

Recently acquired  this scarlet maple chopping block, end grain with original bolts. Nice piece. circa 1890


Making room for Change

If you have come to Noordermeer’s within the past few weeks you were probably greeted by a note hung from the push bar of the front door. The note would have hinted to the fact that you would find me actively working to welcome a change. The change concerns Charles Torgerson, owner of The Brown House formally located on Oxmoor in Edgewood. Charles and I have decided to combine our efforts in order to bring to you the best in real antiques. As most of you know my specialty in the business is usually the unusual i.e. hogsheads, goat harnesses, or hand hewn 12ft river raft ores, all fine antiques by the definition of cool and old. Charles, on the other hand, knows ironstone, transferware as well as fine art. We both take extreme pride in our furniture to a point of competition.
Next time you visit our shop you are sure to see the Change.

Move that darn Chandelier

Often it takes someone else to tell us “HEY THAT’S A REALLY GOOD IDEA. I’LL HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT ONE.”

While on a really short picking trip I was faced with the dilemma of how to transport a large chandelier that was loaded with wonderful lead crystals. We all know glass in quantity is really heavy. Of course with the wrong pressure points you can be face with trying to replace a whole bunch of crystals or worse you can break an arm on the fixture. (Which is synonymous with landfill) . The answer is to find a way to distribute support over as many arms as possible and find a way that crystals hang without binding.


For a smaller fixture Set the chandelier in/on a heavy 5 gal bucket. You want the edge of the rim to support the arms equally and let the crystals hang inside the bucket. In my case the fixture was to big for the bucket so we sawed a heavy trash can off to 12 inches high. Perfect support for the glass monster. Trip went superb!! hope this helps. After I check the wiring and general condition I will blog on cleaning a crystal chandelier. Stay tuned…….. kit



  AT LEAST I THINK SO…  I was told it came off of a baker’s bench.  But I came to the conclusion long ago “Listen to everyone but think a little for yourself”  Sure  it might have lived part of it’s life on a baker’s bench. There is a possibility the object in question was used as a “Pot Prop but what a great child prop. It should be and probably was   “A Wall Mount Seat”. Your child would need some level of balancing skills but it works for adults too! Judging by the quality of the cast iron mounting  it was made late 1800’s. The seat measure 10 1/2″. When it is collapsed its vertical dimension is 17″ . I am afraid to say but if there is a question to its height that would depend on how high you hang it> For more information please contact Kit Jenkins the author via comments on blog or you can call (205)870-1161.   


DUGOUT GUM , Not on everbody’s want list but…


One of my favorite finds.  This is a dugout  from a Sycamore tree. It dates clearly mid 1800’s.  It shows the gouges from the early adze, and evidence of old hand-made square nails.  It measures 28″ diameter and 27″ tall.    I understand that  not many of you are in need of a barrel for leaching lye but this would make one cool coffee table base.  If a coffee table is not in your plans how about a receiver for kindling or firewood at the lake house..    Please contact Kit for more info.  thanx Kit Jenkins

Hogshead? not the farm animal…

 “The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me… I got into my old rags and my sugar hogshead again, and was free and satisfied.” (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)

A hogshead is a  dugout Gum or a Sycamore tree.  In America any type barrel  could have been called a Hogshead.  They were used for storing sugar or grain or what ever . I have heard they were a staple  when leaching lye from wood ashes for making soap and candles.  .   

Eric Sloane, Tunis , Huckfinn, Mark Twain, primitive Americana, antqiues

If you can't split it for firewood chances are it would make a good hogshead!


The name was derived from the English hogshead a barrel  or a measure used for beer. I read an article showing  early Virginians used a type of hogshead for packing tobacco leaves . They were sometimes as much as 5 feet in diameter but they were a large stave type barrels. 

In my inventory I have two hogshead one is  30″ diameter  and a larger one closer to 40″. They are both  made from Sycamore   .  When I found them they were on the back of a farmer’s pickup.  I was thrilled but held back my enthusiasm.  The owner was trying to talk me into the sale he had to mention that the big one was “wind whooped” .  He pointed at the severe twist in the grain of  what was a huge tree  in the 1800’s.  It  probably encountered high winds or a tornado.   

(This image came from a book titled  Frontier  Living by Edwin Tunis)




This will be a weekly blog to inform all of you what’s new and interesting in antiques. I plan to write multiple columns. I will include info from my inventory on the pick of the week. Secondly  I will  include all those interested on my infamous buying trips with images and play by play text on the art of picking. The excitement of travel, and the glory of the find. I will include a column on historical info to help clarify the mystery of antiques. I will also encourage questions and discussion on anything pertaining to antiques. I feel this blog will be an ever-changing product like a new garden I will have to find what works. Be patient and let’s learn together,