Every loved kitchen has them – cooking artifacts. The dishes and tools that have a story behind them, and have been used like a much-hugged teddy bear. If one of your kitchen artifacts is a slightly dimmed piece of wooden ware, fear not! Not only can it be cleaned up, but made just like new, and ready for another lifetime of food memories. – Amy
As a graduate student, I volunteered in the city health department of Cape Town, South Africa. Against the backdrop of Table Mountain, we visited clinics where we trained staff in computer skills and assessed medication utilization. During our downtime, my team and I toured the vineyards dotting Stollenbach and dined on the best Indian food of my life. We waddled around like penguins at Cape Point and found our cars besieged by baboons when we returned. And of course we haggled with the vendors at the V&A waterfront.
During one of these epic negotiations, I scored a huge wooden bowl that I carried home, swaddled in clothing and tucked into my suitcase. For years, it was the centerpiece of my dining room table, filled with a citrus rainbow when it wasn’t piled high with mail, paperclips, and whatever else landed there when my table doubled as an office. Whenever I entertained, it was the first thing that I emptied in the flurry of stuffing my jumbled clutter into an unsuspecting closet. I’d rinse it out and then fill it with jumble of greens and basic vinaigrette. The bowl was also the last thing that we’d remove from the table, my friends fishing the remaining leaves from a pool of dressing as we squirreled away leftovers into the refrigerator.
Several inter-state moves and an ever-growing kitchen left my souvenir bowlneglected. Unearthed a few months ago, it was in a sorry state: dull and scratched, dried-out and threatening to split.
Never one to let go of a memory, I sprung to action*. I twisted open the half-cup sized jar of Salt Cellar Shop beeswax and mineral wood preserver that Maggie had recently sent me. I dipped a kitchen towel into the jar and swiped out some of the preserver, the consistency of petroleum jelly. I slid the cloth across the wood, following the swoops and swirls of the grain and giving rise to a rich, dark patina. A final buff with a clean towel, and my bowl was back on the center of my table.I then emptied drawers and shelves and canisters of anything wood in need of a little love. Three cutting boards, two rolling pins, five spoons, and a lemon reamer later, the jar was still about a quarter full and my hands were as soft as a baby’s bottom.
Photos taken and styled by Gayle.
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