Chow Town

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Equip your kitchen from the antique mall

03/03/2014 1:26 PM

03/03/2014 1:26 PM

This is going to be fun. The next time you need a new mixing bowl, eggbeater or ice bucket, don’t go to the department store or your local Target.

Head out, instead, for one of Kansas City’s many excellent antique malls full of collectibles.

I bet you’ll have your choice of several different time periods, many fun designs and the start of a new look for your kitchen. Mixing old with new gives your home more character.

Even if you are a modernist and a purist, the 1960s stackable dishes I’m going to show you will fit in perfectly. If you want a white-only kitchen, you can give it texture and interest with a stack of white stoneware plates and shelf of white pitchers.

Speaking of plates, I’ve been collecting those tourist—item president plates that people brought home from their vacations in the 1950s.

When I have a dinner party I use them for at least one course and you should see the uproar that follows. The comments go like this:

“I want Nixon.”

“I’ll trade you a JFK for an IKE and Mamie.”

“Jimmy Carter? How boring.”

The discussions are lively and it really breaks the ice that sometimes forms if your guests don’t know each other very well.

I looked around the Kansas City River Market for what people are selling and asked what they are buying. So, without further ado, my first list of 10 kitchen collectibles to make your kitchen more fun.

Wooden handled kitchen gadgets

This eggbeater looks like a piece of sculpture, doesn’t it? And wait until you see how many varieties of eggbeaters were made in this time period, which is the start of the 20th century into the 1940s. There are all kinds of mixing spoons, pastry cutters, spatulas and sifters. Most have red painted wood but green is more rare.

Pyrex bowls and baking dishes

I’m telling you, a cake mixed together in a Pyrex bowl tastes much better than one mixed in a plastic one. I swear. Baked beans and Mac and Cheese bake better in Pyrex casseroles. You’ll see.

Small appliances

On just one row of collectible booths, I saw an antique waffle iron with painted wooded handles, one of those toasters with wing doors for the bread, a 1950s mixer with all the attachments, and this beauty of an electric skillet. For my Mom, electric skillets were the best of new technology. And this one has a pink lid. I think I have to go back for it.

Bar and cocktail accessories

With the mixologist craze blazing hot in Kansas City, why fill your cocktail-making counter full of ordinary new implements. Go for those deco chrome shakers, amusing shot glasses, and an ice bucket that has a little pizzazz. This ‘60s Lucite will make the ice “So James Bond.”


You can go a lot of different directions with glasses, all fun. Boomerang printed glasses from the 1950s come in all sizes, jelly glasses have all the favorite cartoon characters on them and this set of precious ruby and clear glass wine glasses are perfect for wine, water, or even chocolate mousse.

Silver and crystal

So you ran off to Miami, Okla., to get married and never received those fancy and rather useless wedding presents. But now you’d kind of like a silver platter or a cut glass vase. At the antique mall you will have a great selection and choose one you actually love.

Fruit crate labels

What great art for kitchen walls. Fruit crate label designers were genius. Their designs look old and very modern at the same time. I have a collection of more than 50 orange crate labels. I’m just waiting for the right kitchen to put them in.

1960s plastic

There is nothing being designed today that can beat these Heller dishes for sleek, cool modernism.

Grandma dishes

Picture this: You set the tables with mismatched plates and glasses that remind you of your grandmother’s house. The ones I use have faded flowers painted on them, or cattails, a favorite pattern in the 1940s. Now you set the food in the middle of the table on Grandma/faded flower bowls and platters. The fried chicken has never tasted so good.

Salt and pepper shakers

So, you’re not quite ready to make the commitment to vintage in your kitchen. Just do this for me: buy three or six sets of salt and pepper shakers, the ones that are shaped like cactus or cowboys, or cute cows. Set these together on an open shelf. They will make you smile every time you walk in your kitchen and they will be a topic of conversation instantly for your guests. Who knows, the next step might be Grandma dishes.

Lou Jane Temple’s road to food has been a long and winding one. First as a rock n roll caterer back stage to the stars, then with her own Kansas City based catering company, Cafe Lulu, food writing, novelist, private chef. Lou Jane has written and had published nine culinary mysteries and one cookbook. She recently moved back to Kansas City and eagerly awaits the next chapter of her food career.


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