What do you think this piece of furniture is? Hint: we
all have a version of one in our homes…
You may have guessed that this is a commode. Before
the convenience of indoor plumbing, 19thcentury households used
outdoor toilets. While outhouses could be readily used during the day, chamber
pots, usually ceramic handled vessels, were kept under the beds for relief at
night, or during inclement weather. They then were emptied into the outhouse
and cleaned, usually every morning. For households of means, a commode like
this one provided more comfortable use of the chamber pot, as well as a clever
way of hiding it. The commode was constructed to look like a piece of furniture
when closed; this one resembles a small chest of drawers. When open for use,
the commode reveals a wooden toilet seat over the chamber pot, which could be
removed through a lower door.
Today is National Waffle Iron Day! Waffle irons originated in Belgium during the 14th
century. These early cooking tools consisted of two cast-iron plates hinged
together. The plates were then attached to a long pole, which allowed the cook
to hold the iron over an open fire. Waffles first came to America with Dutch
immigrants, like the Dyckmans, who settled in New York, New Jersey, and
Pennsylvania in the 17th century.
In 1869, a man named Cornelius Swarthout patented
the first American waffle iron, designed for cooking waffles on a wood or gas
stove. By 1911, General Electric began
producing the first electric waffle irons for everyday use.
Waffles irons, like
the one at the Dyckman farmhouse, reveal much about the cooking style of the 17th and 18th centuries.
As we can see in the Farmhouse’s Winter Kitchen, all cooking during the winter
months was done within the home on an open flame in a large fireplace; a more dangerous method than
we use today. The cookware needed to be effective but also safe for the person
who was cooking. The long handles on waffle irons allowed the cook to comfortably
place and remove the iron from the fire without coming in contact with the
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