Cooking on Fire. Hearths & Old Country Kitchens

I have a thing for simple fire cooked foods and lonely old country kitchens.

This year we had our friends and neighbors over for fire cooked meals every Wednesday for the month of june. It was fantastic getting outside and cooking the real way. ( the way i did for so many years on a beach) I was lucky to have taken a class at PLYMOUTH CRAFT where the founder cooked us lunch on a clay pot. She has written a fabulous book that is praise worthy. What I love about “Cooking with Fire” is that Paula gets down to the nitty-gritty. She explains how fire cooking is done round the world and show you how to do it. She  teaches you the history of the technique and throws in tid bits of information that make we wonder. You can see the book here.

I am in the midst of creating an old kitchen in a new wing of an old 1880’s house. The way I am keeping it old looking while using new materials is to use raw natural materials. Nothing from home depot if you get my drift. The walls will be lime plastered. The counter tops wood and the shelving open. The timber frame post and beam structure also adds to the look. Its an easy way to build and it shows the craftsmanship of the makers.

open shelving   Open shelving in wood works- as does stone or plastered cement blockopen shelving at Jeffersons Monticello   As long as you use natural raw materials kitchens always come out nice. lime stone plaster shelves

natural kitchens I can’t stand uniform cabinets that are perfect. Table tops dug out the earth and shipped from around the world is most appalling to me. But then again most people do not cook on fireplaces.

fireplace cooking   Things get good when winter rolls around. The cast Irons come out and the metal trivets and toast trays get used.

fire side cooking

land cooked meal

fire utensils

cooking on a fire

Kitchen sinks can be stone basins, wood sinks or cement laundry troughs.

DSC_0266 Sturbridge Kitchen Stone Sink Open Shelving old kitchen at sturbridge country kitchen

I wont have so much stuff lying around my old slop kitchen. That is what the pantry room is for. Just plop the ingredients, pots and pan on an open shelf where you can see it. Close the door if you’re a slob. The good old country kitchens with open fireplace pits and open shelving really have a utilitarian feel that I love.

STORM SANDY SALVAGED OAK BECOMES TIMBER FRAME HOME

http://https://vimeo.com/122190885

timberframe salvaged storm sandy woodWhen sandy blew thru the Hudson Valley in 2012 a few 100 year oaks parted way with the earth. Julien and I had to mill them up for timber in our new addition. We called in Johnny who worked them down the hillside with his bob cat. Then he transported them to an Amish neighbor who milled them for us. Next we mortised and tenoned the frame. In this movie you see the gable end wall going up. ( 30 feet long 18 ft high) We assembled the wall down on saw horses and then let the sill plate down to skids. We dragged the whole wall within two feet of position. Then we stood it up with a come a long from the existing bathroom ridge.

What we learned: The Amish do amazing mill work. Any person who uses the kitschy word sustainability must study the Amish.

We learned that old tree’s absorbed minerals from the earth and deposit it in there checks to prevent disease. We had gorgeous green cooper deposits in the wood.

We learned old Toyota pick up trucks make for good demolition.

We learned mortise and tenon joinery is a pleasure  in green oak.

https://vimeo.com/122190885

A well worn HOME


The patina is what catches me. every time. when looking at houses or antiques, when watching sailboats sail by. Those glistening perfect specimens are never what they seem to be. They certainly do not hold a soul. Patina is frequently destroyed in restoration projects. We cant seem to resist the urge to paint over the past. And when paint is so cheap we are tempted. It is in the patina where i see and feel the soul of the house, the antique the cloth.

well worn clothes

well worn broadfall pants

When we bought our house ( 1880’s) and removed the two remodel we got back to the patina. The rough aze hewn beams and lime worn lathe marks. The pine floors were covered over and with it all the stories. Planks worn so thin you fell in the grove.

window restoration

 

In keeping with the soul of the old house, we built a plank door 3 inches thick, with old strap hinges. We restored the one guillotine window that remained and fixed up the two over twos. We added a Rumford fireplace using slate and stones found on the property. We peeled away the modern renovations to find soul! We used the principles of conservation: repair and patch. Don’t remove restore.

two over two window restoration

Boatyard work bench

historic hardware

plank door

 

 

A well worn home has soul. keep an out for those neglected homes. Under all the layers you will alway find soul.

Fine Paints of Europe Glossy Door

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I have been painting with Fine Paints of Europe paints for years. This year I was able to head up to Woodstock Vt and join 50 other obsessed Fine Paints of Europe painters to become certified. Officially I am now a certified Fine Paints of Europe painter.

Fine Paint of Europe Certified painter

When someone contacts me for painting of their New York City front door I always use  Hollandlac traditional oil from Fine Paints. I also use Hollandlac on window sash restoration and on all the wooden yachts I paint or restore. Clients are often taken back when I let them know I wont use any other paint for my doors and windows. After I explain that Hollandlac has superior gloss retention, longevity and durability they start to listen. When I show them the samples they are won over.

Fine Paints of Europe Door Samples

The top picture is Brilliant and the lower is a satin. Both are great. For a door to be done up in Brilliant one has to have a little more money. A coat or two of Swedish Putty is used to skim the door. It is sanded back to perfection and then coated with paint. A High Gloss door will set you apart. It is both dramatic and durable. But there is nothing like the classic enduring quality of a satin or matte door. It really goes with everything and is equally desirable but not as dramatic.

fine paint test cards

 

This test card shows how Hollandlac covers. The red satin in one coat as well as the dark green Brilliant on the right.

covering ability of fine paints verses other designer brands

The best and the rest if proof. These test cards show leading designer brands cover ability. Sherman Williams and Farrow and Ball do not get even close with the one coat test. Fine paint covers better because of their high pigment to binder ratio’s. Pick up a can of this stuff and you will realize this by the can’s weight.

Painting a Door in Manhattan can be challenging due to the movement of people thru the doorway. The dust and dirt and grime do not help any either. But working on old historic doors and working with old time paints is a true passion of mine. I can’t imagine spending all the time I do stripping and painting doors and windows and boats and not having a product like Hollandlac to work with. Hollandlac can be mixed into any color, which is a great thing because yacht enamels come in crazy bright colors that do not work on New York’s finest wooden doors.

Typically I spend about $150 in materials to paint an Entrance door in Brilliant or super super high gloss Hollandlac paint. Sanding, priming and painting takes 3-6 days and  costs from $1200 to $1800. Restoration is on an hourly basis as its impossible to know where there is rot or broken parts when the paint build up is still on the door. Restoration tends to run $3000 to $5000 depending upon the detail and amount of doors involved.

Full Door Restoration- west village New York

 

Fine Paints of Europe has great Marine Varnishes and Eurothane’s that are great on floors, doors, banisters and boats. St John Varnished Antique Door

Always use Fine Paints of Europe on your entrance doors!! You will not be sorry.

 

Finishes- old and new finishes I adore

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I really am obsessed with Finish’s. I love the glossy mirror look of High Gloss paint as well as the dry flat matte of chalk. lime and milk finishes.


milk paint wall finish

 

These walls are lime plastered. I painted them out with Black Milk Paint. I love the way you can layer milk paints to get different depth’s of color. I wash it on with a big lime wash brush. Some area’s get more then others. It drys quick so you must move fast. I go back over some area’s and leave some with just one coat. This wall I wanted flat and I wanted it to look old. Often I will apply wax over it to give it a darker color and to add more protection to the wall. This wall I wanted matte.

Falun Black Finish

 

This is an outside wall painted out in Falun Black. I love this stuff. It must be applied on raw new wood. Falun black is a pigment that comes from the Falun mine’s of the Baltic region. The paint comes dry. You mix it with linseed oil and water. People say it last s 20- 50 years. I love it for its flat matte quality and its easy application.

High Solid Water Stain

 

High solid water based stains are easy to apply and they wont peel off. When I see the grain or knots of the wood poking thru I lightly sand with 180 grit and then slap on another coat. This paint like stain lasts 5 years on my pine planks.

Marine Paints

 

High Gloss Marine paints are not so easy to apply but they sure look great. High Gloss finishes need to be sanded to perfection. Dust is another problem that needs to be avoided. Marine paints are my go to for kitchen’s, bathrooms and front doors. I love them for their durability and classic look.

Painted front door

rabbit skin glue and pigments

Rabbit skin glue mixed with hand ground pigments give a saturated natural  look. The skin is melted in a double boiler and to that i add ground pigments. It is then brushed on in layers. This table received 8 coats brushed on over one another. Its another finish that dry’s fast. As you add more coats some areas get darker while other may not. Brushing is fast and furious. I love the look because of the striations. Rabbit skin distemper needs to be coated with a clear coat other wise it will wash off.  Here I used a water based clear coat that seemed to work well.

Lime Paint

Lime Paint with Indigo Pigment. This finish is made with lime soaked in water and left for three months. Pigments are added the day of painting. Typically it is used on stone, brick and plaster walls. It allows water to escape walls. This finish has a matte look. It’s beauty is in the years of built up coats that create various shades of color. Corners become rounded with build up. This finish is applied yearly in many country’s. Lime paint can be painted on open grain woods and then rubbed back to create a natural washed look.

pigments suspended in lime

This wall from India shows the look of pigments mixed with lime putty.

nepal rustic kitchen

This wall (nepal) shows the look of lime wall paint. Do you see the various shades. I love the imperfect living wall look.

oil paint

Old fashion and hard to get oil paints. Woodwork almost always get oil paint for me. Classic hard-wearing finish.

Varnish

Classic Varnish.

 

Marine Paint

Marine Paint at the Brooklin Boat Yard

We restore & refinish all matters of brightwork for yacht and home.

We restore & finish all matters of Bright Work for yacht and home.

 

Most of these paints can be created with common ingredients. There are many recipes on the web. You can start by looking at www.kremerpigments.com 

the FINE People of Vermont

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Headed out this last weekend for Woodstock Vermont to spend a day with 60 painters who are obsessed with Fine Paints of Europe. Not only is fine paints of europe ( John Lehey) the best available paint in america but Woodstock is one of those best american towns.

We stayed at THE GRIST MILL HOUSE. This very old mill became my home away from home for the weekend. Peter & Carol are both super interesting and super alert to all needs. The house is kept in great shape and the soul has not been destroyed by mass-produced objects. Everything was placed just so to tell a story of the mill and its occupants. From the collection of lanterns to the mills original stencils hanging on the door. My favorite parts of the house were the various built-in furniture that conserved space and created a boat like feel.

Grist Mill House DSCF6619 DSCF6624 DSCF6652 DSCF6672 DSCF6681 DSCF6689 DSCF6693 DSCF6713

Steam bending Oak Veneer

An old oak table that has been kicked around & soaked by Hurricane Sandy found it’s way to our shop. Here Julien is steam bending a piece if 1/8 ” oak wood. He uses the Earlex steam machine ( $75 bucks) a plastic plumbing pipe, a clamp and some rags.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/112111235″>Steam Bending Oak Wood to a curve</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user7487212″>dana carini</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Bait Shack Conversions

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Bait Shacks litter the Maine Islands. Some have been converted into seriously small homes or weekend getaways. My friends on Little Cranberry Island converted their bait shack years ago. Bait Shacks are long shacks on piers with a huge hole in the floor. Live bait was pulled out when needed. The Avery’s bait shack now houses one composting toilet, one bedroom and bed loft, a kitchen and living room with a back workshop office.

Little Cranberry Island

 

Avery's

 

Bait Shacks of Maine

 

Little Cranberry Island Bait Shack

Some other pictures of Bait Shacks in Maine.Bait Shack

Vinal Heaven

Vinal Heaven Bait Shack Conversion

Bait Shack Conversion

 

Matinicus Island

 

 

Tearing down the saltbox section of an old house

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Tearing down the back two rooms of our old house is finally done! The rotten sill had been placed in some spots on bare earth in others on field stone and red brick. We seem to tear much apart in our lives. From old wooden boats to outdated cabinets and home extensions. We are good at it. My secret is culling and sorting. Julien’s is the use of leverage. The stacking and piling and sorting and placing not only saves our body’s from injury but also saves us money. This time we will not have to buy any form wood at all. The nail pulling pays off when you are learning to build rustic farmhouse furniture. I wont have to buy wood for years. Julien’s mastery of leverage has made this tear down both easy and fun. No sprained backs yet.

old house sillSorting and Stacking little each dayold kitchen wallsa door that was covered up by wallLathe