Open-air Kitchens in Early California

Adobe brick oven for baking and five brick open fire pits for boiling

An adobe brick oven was used for baking bread and brick open-fire pits for stewing and boiling. This oven and the fire pits are at Mission San Gabriel Archangel in California.

in the 1800s, kitchens were busy all day. Stirring up a fire from smoldering ashes in the early morning was a priority. In Alta California, a cook or wife made hot chocolate drinks for the family. A ranchero drank his chocolate and then mounted a favorite horse which was already saddled and waiting. While the husband was checking on a herd of cattle or horses or on field workers, a wife, daughters, and servants prepared tortillas, collected eggs, roasted beef for a huge breakfast to be ready for her husband, sons, and workers. The prep work was done in the kitchen on large wood tables, and tortillas and breads were baked in the adobe brick ovens, while beef roasted on a spit.

Preparations for a midday meal and supper started immediately after breakfast. Grinding grain, killing and plucking chickens, picking vegetables and fruit if available filled the hours, keeping everyone busy all day. Other household chores were packed into the day also. Washing clothes, milking cows or goats, making cheese and butter, and sewing. All this daily work was necessary to maintain a family and its servants.