My Irish grandmother prepared family meals on a wood stove, even though her large eat-in kitchen also had a modern cooktop. Back in the Olde Sod, it would have been fueled by peat, but she emigrated here as a teenager and no doubt thought using wood was state-of-the-art. She must have missed it though, since a bonus to cooking with peat is that it emits a sweet smell wafting from the chimney.
My siblings and I took turns every summer, spending one week with our grandmother, Bridget Reilly. Her house, atop one of the foothills of a local mountain, had been a summertime resort called Cedar Heights. It encompassed a hundred acres of mountainside where New Yorkers could have a respite in nature - swimming in the pond, hiking amongst boulders and logging trails, playing croquet and badminton on the expansive lawn where my brother and sister and I played the same games fifty years later. The spacious kitchen where my grandmother baked Irish soda bread (the fancy version, with raisins) was once a dining area and the large living room that took up half the house had been a dance hall, enlivened in the evenings with a spirited piano. In the tiny bedroom above, I dreamt each night of phantom ragtime music and pounding dance steps to the Turkey Trot.