Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Newell said, “So you know about the track?”
“Of course, what do you think I do with my time, knit? How much does the track pay off, Newell? Ten grand a month? Enough to commit murder for?”
(“Crime Gets a Head”, Milton Lamb, Ten Detective Aces
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
This could be a sanity-saver if you have a house full of visiting relatives and need to keep the smaller ones occupied.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
This is a favorite website of mine and I can spend an entire afternoon there. Note to cooks: I have not tried this and can’t offer any recommendation pro or con. Like many vintage recipes, the prep method would give a health inspector the collywobbles although presumably all that whiskey acts as a preservative. Some of the ingredients may be hard to find; just what are Sultana raisins, anyway?
“TWENTIETH CENTURY MINCEMEAT
Two pounds lean beef (uncooked), chopped fine, ½ pound beef suet, shredded.
Put the beef and suet in a large stone jar, pour over it 2/3 of a quart of whiskey. Let stand covered with a lid for a week, then add 2 pounds large, seeded raisins, 2 pounds Sultana raisins, two pounds currants, ½ pound citron, juice and grated rind of 2 oranges and of 2 lemons, 1 teaspoonful salt, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 2 grated nutmegs, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, 1 pound sugar. Let stand two weeks, then it is ready to use. When you wish to bake pies take out as much of the mince meat as you wish to use and add chopped apples, two parts of mince meat to one part chopped apples, and add more sugar if not as sweet as liked. If too thick, add a little sherry wine and water, mixed.”
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The recipe and my first cup of starter were given to me by the retired WAVE who lived next to us in North Carolina (Doris would have been highly insulted had anyone ever referred to her as a sailor. When she enlisted in the forties, they were called WAVES, thank you very much, and they were still called WAVES when she retired).
1 c butter
1 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/2 c brandied fruit juice
2 c. brandied fruit
1 c. pecans
1/2 c flaked coconut
Cream the butter and sugar, and then beat in the eggs. Beat in the flour and spices alternately with the brandied fruit juice.
Fold in the fruit, pecans and flaked coconut. The batter will be stiff and very sticky. Spoon it into a thickly buttered 10 inch tube pan and tap the pan on the counter sharply to eliminate any air bubbles and to even out the batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes. Cool for about 15 minutes and then turn out onto a plate. This is best eaten at room temperature and needs no frosting although if you wish to gild the lily, you can make a powdered sugar/milk glaze and dribble it over the top.
You will note there is no baking powder and only two eggs in this cake; it will not rise very high. It is dense, rich, and very sweet (no comments on suitable husband material, if you please).
Young men like this cake. I brought it to Christmas potlucks at Camp Lejeune, and there would be not a crumb left. Doris used frozen coconut because she thought it was fresher and had more flavor, but I use Angel Flake with good results.
Once you have made your cake, take 2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of liquor and give them to a friend. He or she is to make a cake with the fruit and 1 cup of liquor, and use the other cup as a starter for her own Friendship Cake. Supposedly you will have enough starter left to begin the fruit maceration process all over again but that has never worked out for me. Maybe I need to start with more brandy?
I have seen this at bake sales and on the Internet referred to as Amish Friendship Cake, and also as Herman.
Friday, December 14, 2007
"That is to wear with slippers," she explained to Doris. "But it's a sight of work. 'Lecty had six pairs when she was married. That's my second sister, Mrs. King. She lives in Hartford. I want to go and make her a visit this winter."
Mrs. Leverett's stocking was of the more useful kind, blue-gray yarn, thick and warm, for her husband's winter wear. She did not have to count stitches and make throws, and take up two here and three there."
(A Little Girl of Long Ago, by Amanda M. Douglas)
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
He bites it in half. I will be knitting away, not even realizing he is in the room, and suddenly a quick, vicious chomp is heard from the vicinity of my ankles (I don’t know about you but eventually all my yarn winds up on the floor), and he is staring thoughtfully down at the severed ends.
He doesn’t do this with anonymous chain store acrylic, or even the ball of Kitchen Cotton that’s waiting to be turned into a washcloth.
Just the flippin’ seven dollar a skein alpaca I brought back from our last vacation. If he keeps it up, this shawl is going to have more knots in it than a cheap two by six.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
I have a small but growing collection of vintage 1912-1925 women’s magazines, books and booklets devoted to the gentle art of needlework. These included now long-departed publications like The American Needlewoman, Hearth and Home, and Modern Priscilla, just to name a few.
Although there was usually at least one dressmaking article in each issue, by far the most popular patterns were for household linens. Magazines and how-to books like these, targeting the female audience, were firm on the subject of the minimum housekeeping requirements for respectable families.
“Dining room linens,” according to the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences, “usually should include from three to six table cloths, one of large size with 1 dozen dinner napkins to match, 1 dozen napkins for ordinary use, one or more luncheon sets, and as many buffet covers, center pieces, and doilies as one’s allowance will permit.”
“Kitchen linens should include at least a dozen dish towels and as many dish cloths. Bedroom linens should be regulated in quantity by the number of the family. As a rule, one dozen sheets, one to one and a half dozen pillow slips, three or four bed spreads, three blankets, three comfortables, and three or four sets of dresser covers are ample for two bedrooms.”
“For the bathroom, at least one dozen towels for ordinary use, one half to one dozen bath towels, one half to one dozen guest towels, one dozen wash cloths, and one or two bath mats are none too many.”
Beautiful and plentiful linens were more than a matter of pride. “Money for a rainy day is essential and a genuine satisfaction, but having the money when the clouds begin to gather can give no more real happiness to a woman than can well supplied chests of linen for beds, for table, and for general household use,” admonished the Woman’s Institute.
A woman’s character, as well as the welfare of her family, was inextricably tied to her ability to manufacture towels, tidies, bedspreads and other essentials. As an editorial contributor to Needlecraft magazine wrote in 1920, “I wonder if all women realize how much of refinement is centered in a handmade doily or scarf, or other of the many things used in the household? I am not sure but they have their good effect, too, on the morals and health of a family!”
Thus, the woman who filled her linen closet with the works of her own hands not only scored points against her neighbors in the home-making field, she was also subtly guiding her family away from the temptations of the billiard parlor, the saloon and the dance hall, and laying the foundation for a virtuous, healthy and strong nation.
I’m not sure of the moral value of these patterns, but they’re pretty and easy to make. They come from Home Needlework, a little booklet that apparently started out as the house publication for an American silk mill, expanded into a full-fledged magazine in it’s own right, and merged with Modern Priscilla in 1917. If you were a homemaker or bride-to-be during WWI, you might have knitted these to trim your tidies, towels and doilies.
Edging #1 was published in July of 1914 and was contributed by Miss Sarah T. Converse. It is simple and versatile, and because it is knitted horizontally can be made as wide as you like. It is also reversible; in mohair on size 8 (US) needles it would make a lovely stole or throw. If this is your first foray into lace knitting, try it in alpaca on #5 (US) needles as a scarf as shown.
Cast on a multiple of 10 stitches plus 1.
Row 1: *k1, yo, k3, sl1, k2tog, psso, k3, yo.* repeat from *, end k1.
Row 2: knit across.
Knit as many rows as required for the width you want. If you are making a scarf or throw, bind off in pattern to retain the scalloped edge. If this is for an edging, end with 2 rows of garter stitch and bind off.
Edging #2, “Lace for a Small or Large Spread,” came from a Mrs. Tonge in January 1915. The sample shown was knit in #5 DMC tatting cotton on size 2 (US) needles. As shown it will make a pretty edging for a bath or hand towel. In a finer thread, it is suitable for dresser scarves or doilies.
Cast on 16 stitches.
Row 1: sl1, k2, (yo, k2tog) 4x, k1, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 2 and all even rows: knit across.
Row 3: sl1, k2, (yo, k2tog) 4x, k2, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 5: sl1, k2, (yo, k2tog) 4x, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 7: sl1, k2, (yo, k2tog) 4x, k4, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 9: sl1, k2, (yo, k2tog) 4x, k5, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 10: bind off 5, knit to end. You should have 16 stitches on the needle.
Repeat rows 1-10 until edging is of sufficient length.
Miss Jessie G. Lane submitted edging #3, “A Knitted Pillowcase Border,” in January 1916. For a neater edge, slip the first stitch of every even numbered row. All yarn overs are double, and are knitted on the following row as k1, p1. The sample shown was knit in #10 crochet cotton on size 0 (US) needles.
Cast on 22 stitches.
Row 1: knit. This is the set-up row and will not be repeated.
Row 2: k3, yo2, k2tog, k10, (yo2, k2tog) 3x, k1. (26 stitches on the needle)
Row 3: k3, p1, (k2, p1) 2x, k12, p1, k3.
Row 4: knit across.
Row 5: knit across.
Row 6: k3, (yo2, k2tog)2x, k12, (yo2, k2tog) 3x, k1. (31 stitches on the needle)
Row 7: k3, p1, (k2, p1) 2x, k14, p1, k2, p1, k3.
Row 8: knit across.
Row 9: k3, k2tog, (k1, k2tog) 8x, k2. (22 stitches on the needle)
Row 10: k3, (yo2, k2tog) 9x, k1. (31 stitches on the needle)
Row 11: k3, p1, (k2, p1) 8x, k3.
Row 12: knit across.
Row 13: k3, (k2tog, k1) 9x, k1. (22 stitches on the needle)
Row 14: k3, (yo2, k2tog) 9x, k1. (31 stitches on the needle)
Row 15: k3, p1 (k2, p1) 9x, k3.
Row 16: knit across.
Row 17: bind off 9, knit 21, ending with 22 stitches on the needle.
Repeat rows 2-17 for pattern.
General notes on lace knitting:
1. KNIT LOOSELY
3. Do not get wrapped around the axle about needle size and gauge if you are making one size fits all items like stoles or doilies. As long as the needle is neither too large nor too small for you to knit easily with the yarn you’ve chosen, you’re fine.
4. If you can get your hands on them (and can afford them), Addi Turbo lace needles are the very best.
5. If this is your first lace project, use a decent thread or yarn. Stay away from the cheap stuff until you are more experienced as it will drive you mad.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
(Clover, by Susan Coolidge)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Myvillage is a very, very small place. There isn’t a house in town that is more than three blocks from a cornfield.
We don’t bother to lock our doors. My niece once had an expensive sports bag stolen at school and her mother tracked down the culprit and got it back before sundown.
I nearly ruined my social standing for good the first year I was here by bringing a bottle of champagne to the Methodist church New Year’s Eve potluck.
The teller at the bank drive-through keeps a bucket of Milk Bones next to the till for the many customers that drive up with a dog in the back. If we are out for a walk and we cut down the alley behind the bank, the Pup of the Baskervilles pulls me up to the window and puts his front paws up on the shelf until she gives him a biscuit.
My younger sister (who lives in a sizable Detroit suburb) phoned one night, and upon getting an obviously wrong number, apologized and mentioned who she was looking for. The man on the other end of the phone accepted her apology and then informed her “You know, it’s Monday and they’re not home. They’ll be at the school board meeting.”
When a young resident was diagnosed with a deadly disease and she and her mother had to spend several months at a specialty children’s hospital 400 miles away, the town started a sign up sheet and made sure that Dad and the three kids left behind got home-cooked meals.
When people ask where I live, I reply “The old C--- place.” They immediately know the house to which I am referring even though no member of the C---family has lived here since 1987.
When the dog got out, the woman who caught him called the BIL because she knew a) whose dog he was, b) the BIL would be home from his job on the night shift c) the spousal unit was at school and d) I was out of town. The intelligence network here could give the CIA pointers.
The postmistress walks over from the post office every morning with Mr. and Mrs. R---‘s mail because she has Alzheimers and he is disabled and has trouble getting down the steps and across the lawn to the mailbox. Another neighbor with Alzheimer’s gets away from her husband occasionally and is always returned, promptly and safely, by whoever sees her out wandering.
If you grow up here your family’s entire financial, moral, scholastic and marital history for at least four generations back is a matter of public record. The name you bear labels you forever; if you are a H--- you can do no wrong, if you are an S--- you can be smart, honest and hardworking and it won’t make any difference, you’re still a bum.
The winter the spousal unit was in Norway and I was on crutches, the people down the street sent their teenager over to dig me out after each snowstorm.
No one moves to Myvillage; you’re born here or you marry into it.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
They are fun and unusual, but I am not myself a fan of novelty yarn. I once made a pair of fuzzy pink slippers for one of my favorite SIL's out of something that was a cross between a chenille and an eyelash. They turned out great and she loved them but chacun a son gout. I used the Pocketbook Slippers pattern which is turning into one of my favorites.
You can knock a pair out in two evenings if you knit as slowly as I do, or maybe one if you are an Alison Hyde*. This is also a great pattern for a beginner knitter who wants to try a small project and learn increasing and decreasing.
(*Ms Hyde, for those who have not met her, is not only one of this world's most wonderful people but also an astonishingly productive knitter. She is the one who coined the phrase "drive-by knitting" to describe unexpected gifts of hand-knitted items).
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Come back in five weeks and I'll give you the recipe for the cake. You will not regret this.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
…The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.
(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name “Marine”. In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.
(2) The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and is the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.
(3) In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.
(4) This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as “Soldiers of the Sea” since the founding of the Corps.
John A. Lejeune,
Major General Commandant
Happy Birthday, you wonderful bastards.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
One of my personal favorites is Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, and it just so happens to start this Friday. Tables will be spread with Indian food brought in from up north (the local samosas evidently are only good enough for every day) and during the afternoon there will be a cricket match.
Diwali is an excuse for the many Americanized employees to wear traditional dress. It’s usually too cold here in the fall for saris but the salwar-khameez are sure to be dazzling. I think salwar-khameez are the most comfortable and the most becoming things ever designed for women. They look good on any figure and they can be as spectacular or as low key as you wish. They are ideal for hot sticky climates; my Indian colleagues always look cool and pulled together in them on the muggiest Midwest summer day.
While on a business trip to India this summer to I bought three sets, two for everyday and one for dress-up. None of them, alas, are warm enough so I will be in my traditional native dress; jeans, running shoes, and a grey sweatshirt with MARINES on the front.
Since the prediction for Friday is cloudy and 50 degrees, I will be making the following recipe, adapted from one I saw on an Indian website, to fortify me. It is a great quick supper dish and without the rice makes a good low-carb breakfast.
Beans and Eggs
One medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 T oil
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
¼ t. red pepper flakes
(I sometimes substitute Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning for the red pepper flakes)
¼ t. turmeric
1 can diced tomatoes
Sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat until golden. Add the pinto beans, the red pepper flakes and the turmeric. Stir and cook for about two minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with juice and a healthy pinch of sugar. Stir and cook for about five minutes longer.
Make 4 depressions in the simmering mixture with the back of a ladle. Break an egg gently in each depression. Sprinkle with salt, cover, and cook for five to eight more minutes until the eggs are set.
Serve over rice. If it were earlier in the year I’d make mint chutney to go with it but we’ve already had two heavy frosts and the mint is wimping out on me. Otherwise I would put two big fistfuls of mint leaves in the food processor with a heaping tablespoon of dried coconut, a dollop of homemade yogurt, a very small jalapeno, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Buzz it up to a thick paste and add more yogurt if needed.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Pork Chops in Casserole
Baked Apples in Ramekins
Turnips - Potatoes - Boiled Onions
The recipe for Washington Pie is given verbatim: ***Beat 3 eggs for 1 minute, add 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat 5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour measured after sifting and beat 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup hot water, another cup of flour which has been sifted with 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and beat 1 minute. Bake slowly in a deep pan. Cut in squares and cover with whipped cream sweetened and flavored.
*** indicates that the recipe is copied from the original cookbook and I have not, myself, tried it out. Caveat baker. Woman's World Book of Tested Sunday Dinners, copyright 1927, Chicago, Illinois
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Years ago, Henry Ford (the first one) began collecting. He started small, with cars, motorcycles, steam engines, etc, but then moved on to buildings. He bought the Wright Brother’s bicycle shop and the Firestone family farmhouse and barn, and that just whetted his appetite.
(hey, it’s great being a multimillionaire).
As his collection grew he decided to create a place near his home in Dearborn where all of these buildings could be displayed in an appropriate setting. It’s a wonderful place; it’s what Disneyland would be if Disneyland were only real. A Cotswold sheepherder’s cottage and a Swiss watchmaker’s house stand on the same wide, tree-lined street as Robert Frost’s study and a New England saltbox. A Maryland coastal plantation house shares a yard with a 1930’s sharecropper’s cabin.
Eventually Mr. Ford had to build a museum to house all of his stuff and that is now at the entrance to the Village. I think there must be an example of every motor vehicle built between 1895 and 1915 there, as well as buggies, fire engines, train cars and bicycles.
Oh, and there’s silver and china and jewelry too, if you’re interested in that kind of thing, at
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Since that time I have had women tell me that under no circumstances would they consider letting their husbands pick out a house, but I had no qualms. It was either trust in his judgment, or, just possibly, the scars left by several years’ residence in military housing that allowed me to treat the matter with complacency.
(there’s an old folk song advising young men to choose as their bride only a Texas girl, for “no matter what happens, she’s seen worse.” This is also true of anyone who has lived in quarters on a Marine base).
My faith in him was justified eight months later when we moved into a 1917 bungalow; spare, compact, graceful, with high ceilings and bright, airy rooms. It is the house I have dreamed of living in since I was eight years old. We are only the fourth owners, and the man we bought it from made us swear we would never paint the woodwork.
Custody of this small jewel brings a certain responsibility; for a long time the living-room windows remained uncurtained while I looked for a window treatment that wouldn’t block the view out of the large window that opened out over the porch, or hide the leaded glass in the two small windows on each side of the fireplace, or detract from the molding over all three.
(the view from over the porch isn’t really that spectacular as it is the boxy brick 1950s Catholic church across the street. It’s more the effect of the original glass, with all the ripples and small imperfections, that we wanted to preserve).
I considered a number of period sources including my 1928 copy of “The Modern Priscilla Home Decorating Book” before finally choosing something I found in a post-WWII magazine called “Smart Sewing.” Quite simply, it’s a lined valance that leaves most of the window open. I had already used this in another room and liked the effect but decided to skip the gathering and the trim shown on the original in favor of a plain rectangle.
I asked the SU to put up a double rod on each window, and the next project will be insulated glass curtains. These will be hung soon, as our bungalow is very well designed but very badly insulated. A few months from now when the north wind comes hurtling down from Canada like a thrown bayonet, that extra layer between the porch without and the room within will be very welcome.