Le Petit Saint Barnabé-What I found in the attic; Kitchen relics

Hello fellow cooks, foodies, and campers!

Gourmet girl Denise here from the Loire River Valley, France. I have been completely immersed in remodeling my old farmhouse here in Mouliherne, France since it became mine at the end of February this year. I have been venturing into all of the barns, the attic, and the cellar in an attempt to clean up decades of refuse, spider webs, junk and have luckily come across some fantastic old relics from days gone by. I thought I’d share a few of those with you today.

Here is a really amazing item! It is a food mill with rubber feet, two interchangeable blades, and a unique system for holding everything under pressure. A metal rod across the top fits into a hook on one side and an eye on the other. When you fit the rod into the eye and put pressure on it so that it is captured on the opposite side by the hook, the blades are held in place and you can then use the round, red wooden handle to turn the blades. It is so simple and so elegant! And no electricity is needed!

Pretty cute huh? One would hold onto the long red handle, tip the unit up onto the two front rubber feet, then turn the crank and grind away. Veggie puree anyone?

Then, of course, I found this old egg beater

and this cheese slicer. The teeth on those blades are still really sharp!

and here is a really heavy meat grinder. I can just imagine all of the delicious sausages that were made using this! I will forgo using this as I am not interested in getting tetanus.

This was a real find! It is a Calvados server! Calvados is an apple brandy made mostly in Normandy. Look at those adorable little cups!!

All I need now is the Calvados!

This is one of my favorites! It is an old milk pitcher. It was so covered in dirt and grime that it was unrecognizable when I found it. But here she is in all of her clean glory. Love the dots!

This was in the attic, also covered in cobwebs, dirt, and grime. I think it may be from the 1920’s. These were in every bedroom in the past before there was plumbing. The pitchers were filled with water so that residents and guests could wash up before dinner and bed. This pattern is labeled on the bottom ‘Africaine’.

This clay pot was used to cook right over an open fire, hence the blackened exterior. It is such a simple form yet so elegant.


Most of these items were used to create a meal for a beloved family and have lasted through the ages, each with the patina of a well-used kitchen friend. I cherish each and every one of them and will be displaying them in my newly renovated kitchen. They are a reminder of a simpler time when lighting was done with oil lamps and candles, and heating with fireplaces. (There are five fireplaces in this house!) The traffic outside on the road was infrequent and consisted of men on horseback or a horse-drawn carriage and all who passed by stopped to say hello. Everyone knew each other because folks usually never moved away, and they checked up on each other to make sure their neighbors were ok. Ah yes, simpler times. Not lives without hardship, of course, but self-sustaining lives. These were farmers who got up early to tend to the animals before they went out into the fields. They knew where they belonged and what they needed to do to survive.

I have become rather nostalgic having found so many treasures in this old house and I am sure there is much more to discover. What kitchen items have been passed down to you from your ancestors? What recipes? Share with us here. 


Denise, Gail, and Lindsey

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