Recently, I have been thinking a lot about play kitchens and playing in the kitchen. It all started with family friends of my parents and their home. We went to visit so I could play with their daughter. Their house made a profound impression on me and it continues to this day. It is a lovely artsy house with it’s servant stairs coming up from the kitchen and joining the main stairs, it’s Heywood Wakefield furniture, and it’s breakfast room adjoining the kitchen. When their daughter and I were children that breakfast room had a play kitchen and we played for hours with it. I. Was. Obsessed.
When we got this big house a play kitchen was one of the first things I wanted to have and when we found a disgraced, unloved one made from old cabinet uppers it came to live in our breakfast room! I was so happy with it and the kids loved it, and even loved “cooking” with Play-dough and play food.
Then, there was the playhouse of my aunt’s neighbor who had a daughter I played with periodically. Inside that playhouse was a Holly Hobbie oven. There was something about that pIastic cast-iron easy-bake oven that spoke to me. I even borrowed it for a while and obsessively played Little House on the Prairie with it. (Which looked like me borrowing quilts and packing my red wagon with them, the oven, a lunch pail my Dad had made me, and whatever else I thought I might need in the wild. Then I would hitch up my poor Sheltie dog, Timothy, to the wagon and he’d pull it all over the back yard (not with me in it).) We’d had 89er day at school recently and this sparked things off.
Recently, there was an exerpt from a sequel to one of my favorite books: Go to the Room of the Eyes. The sequel, The Happy Room and the Psychic Investigator has Dinky, the youngest of 6 cooking with her play stove:
“Dinky was in her own room cooking. She had her Little stove plugged in and she had something in the oven. She was wearing washed-out jeans, an old leather vest of Jody’s and slipper socks. She looked ready for anything.
“Well, she said to Jody, “what is it? I’m baking hoggy and reading to Fred. I’m busy.”
That got me to thinking. I went looking for a Holly Hobbie oven and found they were pretty cheap on E-Bay, so I got one. When it came in the mail I was so excited, and funnily enough, my kids were excited too! They wanted to cook! So we set out to find some recipes. And I set out to make some hoggy.
The easiest way, by far, to make food in a play oven, is to use a cake mix. Here is the basic cake recipe:
Easy-Bake Oven Cake
3 Tablespoons cake mix
1 Tablespoon milk
Pre-heat oven for 15 minutes. Mix cake mix and milk together until smooth. Pour into a greased pan that will work with your oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, checking periodically towards the end of the time for done-ness.
Jazzing Up the Basic Cake
You can sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top.
When done add canned cherries to the top.
Frost with buttercream.
Make lots of cakes for layers and frost layers with buttercream for a tall cake!
You can make chocolate-chip cookies by mixing the chips into the batter.
I was so enamored with Hoggy, but had no clue what it was. It sounds like Dinky didn’t have any of the little mixes from the store but she might have snagged a box cake mix from the kitchen as they were readily available by 1951 and this book was written in the early 1970s. So I’m going to base hoggy on that. When asked by her brother she said hoggy was:
“Quite a few things,” said Dinky vaguely, “but I put sugar and cinnamon on top.”
Soooo, that could mean anything. I think I’ll just stick with the cake mix and put sugar and cinnamon on top. Mmmm, Hoggy was a lot like a Snickerdoodle cookie! YUM.
With play kitchen fun and mini baking joy to you from Kansas Street,