Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Hoosier Cabinet

The majority of Victorian houses didn’t have built in cabinets in their kitchens. For homemakers, lack of storage to organize cooking supplies and staples was a major problem. For years free-standing cupboards made food preparation and storage somewhat easier. In 1898, the Hoosier Manufacturing Company of New Castle, Indiana, produced the first Hoosier cabinet. It put everything at the woman’s fingertips and remained popular into the 1920s when builders began to incorporate cabinets into their kitchen designs. Many homes used the cabinet much later into the twentieth-century, some until 1940s and 1950s. Today they are collector’s items. My aunt has one that still has the paper label. It looks almost identical to the one pictured to the left. 

As you can see in the picture, the Hoosier has a large base section set on casters. It has one door and several drawers and a slide out countertop for baking, with several thin drawers below to hold utensils. The upper section is shallower and has several smaller compartments with doors. One door has a roll top. Another holds a flour bin with a sifter attached and another bin to hold sugar. Shelves hold racks and other hardware to store spices, tea, coffee, and other staples. Special jars were made to fit suspended in a metal hanging rack. In the picture you can see the labels with measuring conversions, sample recipes, and household hints. Lucky was the woman who had a Hoosier in her kitchen.

In my novel, My Heart Will Find Yours, the kitchen my heroine Texanna found herself learning to cook in had a cabinet similar to the Hoosier, an earlier model not nearly as modern. Many antique cabinets are called Hoosiers but few are the real McCoy.


Fated lovers suffer the agony of loss only to be reunited to fulfill a greater plan.

TEXANNA KEITH doesn’t believe an antique locket is the key to time travel, but plays along, and to her horror, is zapped back to 1880 Waco, Texas. Her mission is to prevent Royce Dyson’s death in a shootout. Wounded, she loses what she longs for most — a life with Royce.

Marshall ROYCE DYSON’S wife disappeared in 1876. Now she’s reappeared, claiming she’s a time traveler from 2007. As he seeks the truth, he’s determined to keep Texanna with him, but it’s not destined to be.


She pumped water into the pan and washed her hands. Why didn’t Royce and Garrett wash up in here? Maybe it was a habit because if they worked outdoors, they’d be clean before coming in the house. She located bowls and plates and placed them along with spoons on the table. Now, where were the napkins? She found them in a drawer of the Hoosier. The supply was quickly dwindling. As the so-called lady of the house, she’d be washing and ironing a lot to keep them stocked. Yeah, like washing and ironing was her favorite thing to do.

She took another peek out the window. Here they came. Royce had folded his jacket over his arm. Texanna leaned forward to watch them approach. Royce’s shoulders looked so broad in that white dress shirt. She jumped away from the window. Oh, no. Surely he didn’t expect her to wash, starch, and iron those white shirts. If she remembered correctly, spray starch hadn’t been invented until the 1950’s. Drat! She didn’t have a clue how to make starch.

The food was already on the table when Royce and Garrett entered the kitchen. Royce carried in a pitcher of milk from the larder and placed it on the table. Stew was in their bowls, but they’d slice and serve the cornbread at the table.

Royce picked up all the napkins. “Don’t you want to save yourself some washing and ironing? Unless it’s Sunday or a special occasion, we share a dish towel.” He reached back and snagged the towel off the sink.

He’s a thoughtful man. And here she thought all nineteenth-century men were brutes who wanted to be waited on hand and foot. “Thank you.”

Royce nodded and reached for her hand, then bowed his head. Garrett’s hand felt so small in hers, Royce’s so big. Royce’s thumb stroked hers as he gave thanks. Texanna felt a chill. Seeing this man and child here at the table in prayer, reminded her of the simple pleasures in life, things taken for granted today. Well, in her time period.

Someone milked a cow this morning to provide this milk—milk she wasn’t going to drink. She liked milk, but not the raw kind fresh from the cow. But the fresh butter was a different story. Who’d churned it for Royce and Garrett?

“Texanna?” Royce had asked her a question. She looked up to see she still held their hands.

“I’m sorry. I was a million miles away. What did you say?”

“Pass the cornbread.” He cut it into squares and tried to lift a piece from the pan. It fell apart.

Texanna groaned. It wasn’t just overdone—it was a mess. “I’m sorry. I must have forgotten one of the ingredients.” Darn, why hadn’t she taken home ec in school and learned to cook?

“It’s fine. We can crumble it in our stew.” Royce scraped some out of the pan into Garrett’s bowl, then hers and lastly his. “Stir it up and it’ll be perfect.”

She took a bite. It didn’t taste bad at all.

Royce asked. “What do you think you forgot?”

Texanna looked at the Hoosier. “The egg.” How could she be so stupid? She’d been in a hurry to paint. “I’ll do better tonight. I promise.”

“It’s okay.” Royce patted her hand. “There’s enough left for supper tonight.”

Thank you, God. The thought of heating the kitchen again made her cringe. It was already so hot she’d begun to sweat. She didn’t know which she missed most—air conditioning or indoor plumbing.

“Be sure and keep water in the tank so I can wash when I get home. I’m filling in for Jason tonight and won’t be in until around midnight.” She groaned. There went any hope of the kitchen cooling off. “You don’t have to get the fire hotter, just add more water after you and Garrett have bathed.”

My Heart Will Find Yours is book one of The Turquoise Legacy. Book Two, Flames On The Sky, is now out. I hope you’ll take a look at both books.

Happy Reading and Writing,


Linda LaRoque ~Western Romance with a Twist in Time~ A Law of Her Own, Desires of the Heart, My Heart Will Find Yours, Flames on the Sky10-9, Forever Faithful, Investment of the Heart, When the Ocotillo Bloom


Paty Jager said...

Interesting post. Thanks! Good excerpt, great story!

Linda LaRoque said...

Thanks, Paty. I wish I had a Hoosier. My kitchen is small so really don't have room for one.

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Linda, I am very interested in both your books. My TBR list is quite long LOL.

I saw a Hoosier at an antique store once and lusted after it...without success. Our modern suburban kitchen has no room. But oh, if I ever life in my dream farmhouse LOL....

Great post.

Linda LaRoque said...

Thank you, Tanya. I hope you read them. I had so much fun on the research and writing them.

My kitchen is modern too. Isn't it funny that we now want what our grandmother's had? I'd love a farmhouse. Of course, I'd like for it to be energy efficient.

CJ Clark said...

The one thing I wish I could have had from my grandmother's house was her Hoosier Cabinet. I was fascinated by it's drawers, the rolltop that covered the flour bin, the porcelain workspace. Nice blog.

Lily said...

This is interesting! Thanks for taking time to post this.

Lily @ http://kitchenlardercupboard.com