So many of you love reading about Skylands, my home in Maine - it is growing more busy there as we prepare for the coming season of entertaining.
Last week, Cheryl and Gretchen tackled the ‘Great Wall of China’, where I keep a large collection of dishes used for everyday dining. I love this wall - everything is visible and within easy reach. Around this time every year, the dishes, and the shelves upon which they are displayed, get a good, thorough cleaning. It's a tedious chore, but an important one - there are always many mouths to feed during the summer months at Skylands. I can't wait until my next visit.
Enjoy these photos.
This is my ‘Great Wall of China’ – four open shelves that span nine-feet across one kitchen wall at Skylands. I created it by taking every white dish I could find out of the cupboards and putting them on display.
In spring, Cheryl and Gretchen, who manage the care of Skylands when I am not there, take all the dishes off the shelves, where they have been stored all winter, and give them a fresh cleaning.
All the dishes are placed on the large metal-topped table, and washed by hand, section by section.
Ramekins, platters, butter dishes – everything we use for everyday dining are all washed in very hot water.
Cheryl fills a small bin with a little dishwashing liquid – it is more economical than squirting soap directly on a sponge. In the kitchen, I have two enameled sinks, which are original to the house. Each sink also has its own wooden drainage board.
As each dish is washed and rinsed, it is placed on the board until it is thoroughly dried.
All the sterling silver is also washed in hot water and then polished.
I love these bowls, with the simple “Skylands” written on the side.
Here is Gretchen removing the dishes as Cheryl washes them nearby – it has become an efficient process.
The table under the china is a porcelain fishmonger’s table – I found it in an antiques store – it’s the perfect accompaniment for the china.
The ‘Great Wall of China’ holds a service for about 14-18, but there are always more dishes if needed.
Right off the kitchen is the butler’s pantry, or servery. I keep a lot of fine china here – much of it belonged to Mrs. Ford.
The wainscot in the kitchen is of vintage Pewabic tiles – the kitchen was designed for functionality.
I have many espresso cups, and of course, egg cups – for all the fresh eggs I bring to Skylands from my Bedford, New York farm.
We also like to wash all the everyday pots and pans.
I keep the pots conveniently located to the right of the cooking area in what I call the cookware pantry.
Stainless steel pots and pans are heavy, durable—and dishwasher-safe. Most nonstick pans are not dishwasher-safe, however, and should be hand-washed with a soft sponge and mild dishwashing liquid. And be sure no sterling-silver or silver-plated items are in the machine at the same time – mixing metals can lead to pitting in the silver.
When everything is done, the dishes are placed within easy reach on the shelves and on the table below – mixing bowls and other cooking utensils are all ready to use.
All the flatware is displayed on the fishmonger’s table – big hands and small hands can grab whatever is needed.
I am looking forward to all the wonderful meals I will share with my family this summer.