A New Beginning for Time Travel Kitchen
Excitement, with a touch of melancholy. And Chocolate Cake, which is always the best idea.
Like the Time Traveling BBC Time Lord Doctor Who, my kitchen is about to experience a regeneration. A different place, a different look, but with its essence intact.
I am moving in June, but parts of my beloved 1927 apartment kitchen, (including my work station, pictured above) are coming with me.
Especially important to me is the almost one hundred year old breadboard, which inspired this newsletter.
The marks on the board were made by a century of tenants who stood where I am standing right now.
They baked and cooked their way through most of the 20th Century and the early years of this one, making dinner or baking, just as I do. You can feel that presence and history in this snug space.
I’ve loved my short time in this building, a former residential hotel, with all the quirks and atmosphere of 1920’s Chicago. It’s been a brief but important stay for me.
Old buildings, however lovely, often need a major makeover (hello, ancient pipes) and a complete building-wide renovation, including the few remaining vintage kitchen units (of which mine is one) is underway.
I’m moving to a nearby building here in Chicago and am over-the-moon grateful that the building staff here has made it possible for me to take parts of the kitchen to my new apartment.
So: Breadboard, bread drawer, work station — you’re coming with me.
My new digs represent a move from 1927 to 1969.
I threw myself into research of the 1920’s and ‘30’s when I moved to my current apartment. Now, I’m excited to do the same with the 1960’s and ‘70’s, but with a big difference - I lived those years. I was a college student in 1972 and was living and working in NYC by 1976.
So, I’ll make some introductions at this time-travel-apartment-move party: Prohibition, meet Pot. Jazz, meet Woodstock. Fondue, meet everybody.
I’ll still be baking recipes from all decades of the 20th century, but I’m going to focus one newsletter a month on the years 1960-1979 — cookbooks, recipes, kitchen design, restaurants — set against the history of a time that in many ways feels like the shift and upheaval the world is experiencing right now.
Plans for the new kitchen and this newsletter
Like many kitchens of the era, a ‘kitchen peninsula’ or ‘breakfast bar’ is part of the design and will make a perfect spot to do baking demos. Once I’m settled in, I’d love to add video demos as an occasional feature here. Is that something you’d be interested in? I’m also making plans for a podcast starting in September.
I’m in the crunch days of packing now, so I’ll be off for two weeks and then back here on June 10th.
But today I’m making a ‘special request cake’ for my friend, writer and teacher Alison Acheson , who is celebrating a writing anniversary.
It’s a chocolate cake recipe from one of the most iconic cookbooks of all time. It seems a good choice for my last bake here in this kitchen. ❤️
The First Edition of The Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer was published in 1896.
It’s an important cookbook, the first to standardize measuring of ingredients. I’ve often come across old cookbooks that call for a ‘teacup full’ of something. No more. Fanny Farmer made cooking easier for us all with her standardized and level measures.
This chocolate cake is very simple to make and I decided to make it in a half-sheet pan and turn into square layered snack cakes, but you can make in 9-inch round cake pans as well.
I used 4 squares of unsweetened dark chocolate and 1 3/4 cups of sugar. I did not separate the eggs. It was tender and chocolatey and moist. It would need nothing more than a dusting of confectioners sugar, but I dolled it up with vanilla buttercream, a cherry and a candle because it’s a celebration cake.
It makes 12 individual pieces and 6 large double-decker snack cakes.
I would definitely try this recipe. You can never go wrong with a really good, basic chocolate cake.
I’d like to thank everyone who subscribes to this newsletter — time is precious and I appreciate yours.
Recently, my brilliant friend Stygi, using AI, input prompts and keywords which included 1960’s kitchen, 1970’s kitchen, and mid-century modern kitchen.
These prompts then rendered an image of a kitchen which has design elements of my new kitchen (breakfast bar, type of cabinets) and has given me a good idea of what the colors I’ll be using will look like.
So, here’s ‘not-my-kitchen’…but it’s in the ballpark!
Thanks again, everyone, be well. See you on June 10th.
All the best,
Got my seat belt on and ready to blast to the 60s with you…but wait, we didn’t wear seat belts back then did we? Anyway, Happy moving and time traveling. Sounds like a ton of fun!
This is all so so good, Jolene. The old and new and renew. I love that you can take the breadboard--and how you describe what it holds in its years. I'm excited to see the "new" kitchen. And your Fannie Farmer cover--yes! Thank you for letting us know the subtle changes you made in the recipe--and for creating and decorating--I'm so grateful!
Time Travel Kitchen travels on--can't wait for the new adventures! All the best with packing! xo