Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Knitting - Traditional Lace Edgings

From Modern Needlecraft and Knitting, 1950, comes this array of pretty edgings to knit. If you have not tried lace knitting before, edgings are a good way to ease in at the shallow end. Try #3 or #4 as a first lace project.

Edited to add: This is what I get for trying to write and post when I'm sleepy. Two pages of instructions are on my Flickr account--the type is a bit small so you might want to enlarge the image.

(talk about vintage -- among the patterns in this magazine is a Brooklyn Dodgers sweater to knit for a small boy).

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wien, Wien, Nur Du Allein

Went to see these today and am trying to convince the spousal unit that life will not be worth living until we see the ones at the Spanish Riding School (official photo from Defenselink).

A Vegetable Love

The Home Comfort Cook Book was distributed in the late 1930’s by the Home Comfort Stove Company, of St. Louis, Missouri. Many women in this country were still cooking on wood-fired stoves until well after the Second World War, and (amazingly to me, since I've done some cooking over wood) while doing so regularly turned out food like this; glorious, hearty, mouth-watering repasts that today are mostly the stuff of memory.

Whether served at noon or in the evening, dinner for a large family of hard-working adults and growing children was no trifling affair. Tables were set with bowls of creamy chicken fricassee, great roasts of beef, pork tenderloins pounded thin, dipped in cracker crumbs and fried crisp and greaseless, potatoes mashed by hand with milk and butter, tender noodles, biscuits, pickles and preserves, and always pie or cake or a steamed pudding for dessert.

Vegetables, smoking-hot, scalloped, souffléd, browned, molded, buttered, cooked to within an inch of their lives, were an integral part of any meal, and none of this lightly steamed with a twist of lemon nonsense (unless you were a society lady on a diet). People ate a number of vegetables we don’t hear much about today, such as parsnips, rutabaga and oyster plant. Onions were eaten as a dish in their own right then, and weren’t merely supporting players to another ingredient. Nothing was served unadorned. Green beans were napped with a puree of crimson tomatoes, asparagus was never plain or just buttered but always teamed with egg sauce or Hollandaise. White sauce ruled, along with bread or cracker crumbs, chopped bacon and grated cheese.

(f you are a Southerner, or very lucky, you might still get dinners like this. I was invited to a few, when I was stationed in North Carolina and occasionally sang for my enviable supper by giving a speech to the D.A.R. or the county Historical Society. The speech always came first and the aromas drifting in from the kitchen were torment to me as I tried not to bring a talk about the battle of Fort Fisher or Civil War army nurses to an unseemly and rapid finish. Of course I was a quarter of a century younger then, and lived a physically strenuous and largely outdoor life. Today such a meal would probably finish me off).

Here are some of the ways vegetables were cooked before we started counting calories.

Oyster Plant (Salsify)

Oyster plant should be washed, scraped and plunged quickly into cold water containing a little vinegar to prevent discoloration. Cut into 2-inch pieces and boil in plenty of water; add a little salt and vinegar, and about 2 tbsps flour mixed to a paste with water. After 40 minutes, or as soon as they will bend under light pressure, lift out, drain well, and serve with white sauce.

Scalloped Onions

Place well drained, boiled onions in layers in baking dish. Sprinkle each layer with soft breadcrumbs, grated cheese, salt and paprika. Pour over them hot bacon drippings. Bake in moderate oven until top is brown.

Broccoli Ring

2 lbs broccoli
½ lb American cheese
3 eggs
2 cups thick cream sauce
1 tsp salt

Boil broccoli until tender and cut into small pieces. Cut cheese into cubes and add to cream sauce, then stir in beaten egg yolks. Add broccoli and then fold in beaten egg whites. Bake about 40 minutes in moderate oven in buttered ring set in pan of water. Turn out of ring and serve.

Harvard Beets

3 cups cooked sliced beets
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. Cornstarch
½ tsp. Salt
½ cup mild vinegar OR
6 tbsps vinegar and 4 tbsps cream

Cook and stir last 4 ingredients. When clear, add beets and place pan, covered, over hot water for ½ hour. Just before serving, heat beets again and add 2 tbsps. butter.

Fried Apples

Pare, quarter and slice apples. Fry slowly in plenty of butter until brown, pour on a little water and cook slowly. Season with salt, add sugar to suit the taste.

Corn à la King

2 cups cooked corn
1 green pepper, chopped
1 chopped pimiento
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt

Mix corn, peppers and milk in double boiler and add beaten egg and seasoning. Cook until thick, stirring occasionally. Serve on hot, buttered toast.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


(photo courtesy of the LOLCats).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Quote of the Day

I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity. Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sewing-1925 Lingerie

"Lovely Underthings Easily Copied Without Patterns," the Woman's Institute assures us, in Home Sewing Helps, published 1925. Larger images may be found on my Flickr account.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Le sac vintage

Lucia at Cafe Couture has made this bag and posted the results on her blog. Her advice? Tack the lining down by hand here and there, as it tends to try to fall out when the bag is opened.

Merci millefois, Lucia!

Vintage Advertising-Sherlock Holmes Tobacco

Vintage tobacco card from Dover Publications.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Real Difference Between Men and Women

Beanie-Weenies (him)

2 cans Van Camp’s pork and beans
1 package Oscar Meyer wieners, cut up
¼ cup (approximately) Heinz’s ketchup
¼ cup (approximately) brown sugar

Put everything in a pot and heat it up. Serve with Pepsi and soda crackers. Feeds one woman, and one man who has been chopping wood all afternoon.

Beanie-Weenies (her)

1 lb. link sausages or kielbasa
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed with a little salt
2 cans cannellini or Great Northern beans
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 t. sugar
1 t. wine vinegar

Slice the sausages into thin disks with a very sharp knife. Johnsonville brats will do for this if you don’t have a good local purveyor of pork sausage. Italian sweet sausages are also very good.

Set a heavy pan on medium-high heat and sauté the sausages. Do not brown them; you are just getting all of the fat out. When they have rendered up their juices, remove them with a slotted spoon onto a bowl or plate lines with paper towels, to drain.

Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the sausage fat. Turn the heat down slightly and cook the onions, scraping up any bits of sausage that might have stuck to the pan. When they are limp, add the garlic. Cook these together just long enough for the garlic to, as they say, saporire, become savory. You’ll know it when you smell it.

Pour in the tomatoes, add the sugar and wine vinegar (balsamic vinegar is even better, if you have it), and let this cook for a few minutes. Add the beans, rinsed and drained, and the sausages. Taste and add salt if need be, but canned beans usually make it salty enough. Heat until the tomatoes begin to bubble and the sausages are cooked through. Season with fresh-ground black pepper and serve with thickly buttered country bread and cold beer. Feeds four.

Oh, and the real difference between men and women? He won’t touch my version.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I gave the cats the day off

see more crazy cat pics

(this is an amazing photo).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Quote of the Day

Agreeable advice is seldom useful advice.—Massillon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's Only a Flesh Wound, Officer

Me: Look, honey; here’s an Internet quiz on what kind of dog you are!

He: Mmf.

Me: Let’s see now….oh, you can’t believe these things, they’re too ridiculous. This says I’m 42% Saint Bernard--

He: Mmf.

Me: And 42% German Shepherd—

He: Mmf.

Me: And 16% Jack Russell Terrier. That’s silly! Why do you suppose they think I’m any percent Jack Russell Terrier?

He: (softly, but not softly enough) Yap, yap, yap…..

Knitting-A Suit from 1952

By request, the instructions for this knitted suit can be found on my Flickr account.

Monday, September 15, 2008

And The Days Grow Short

I woke up this morning and found the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky, then it gobbled summer down
When the sun turns traitor cold
And shivering trees are standing in a naked row
I get the urge for going but I never seem to go...

I'll ply the fire with kindling and pull the blankets to my chin
I'll lock the vagrant winter out and bolt my wandering in
I'd like to call back summertime
And ask her just to stay another month or so--
But she got the urge for going and I guess she'll have to go.

And she got the urge for going when the meadow grass was turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter's moving in
And she got the urge for going when the meadow grass was turning brown
All my empires are fallen down and winter's moving in.

(Tom Rush, "The Urge For Going")

Vintage Patterns-Simplicity Monogram

(that moustache just slays me).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fait Accompli

I only got seven half-pints, and it occurs to me that I usually put this up in the little six ounce gift jars, not the eight ounce jelly jars. I used all red peppers and no food coloring. If you left-click on the photo you can get a better idea of this jelly's beautiful color.

And they all pinged.

Calling Peter Piper

Although we normally can count on the garden to keep producing vegetables until the first frost, this year it has shut down early. The last of the tomatoes have been turned into sauce, three sad-looking cucumbers are waiting to be dressed with ginger, Japanese vinegar and sugar, and a peck of peppers is sitting on the kitchen island waiting for me.

Pepper jelly is a delicous condiment that cries out to be eaten on club crackers with Philadelphia cream cheese. I have never seen it served any other way, but back in the days when appetites were dulled by winter meals of salt meat, cornbread and root vegetables, it must have served as a perker-upper as well as a valuable source of vitamins. One side of my family is Southern (Texas and South Carolina), and for years I searched for a recipe that would produce a jelly similar to Gramma and Great-Aunt Roberta's.

In southern California, of all places, I found a copy of White Trash Cooking, by Ernie Mickler. The recipe on page 127, after a little tweaking, resulted in the product of my childhood memories. A note on the jalapenos: If you want a jelly with some kick to it, grind them with the sweet peppers before cooking. If you want a jelly with a warm, elusive glow, put the jalapenos whole into the kettle with the ground sweet peppers and remove them just before you pour the jelly into the jars. Be warned; I like really hot jelly.

Geraldine's Green Pepper Jelly

2 cups ground sweet peppers
7 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups Heinz white vinegar
1 six ounce bottle or packet of liquid fruit pectin
2 small jalapenos (my addition and certainly optional)
few drops food coloring (optional)

Boil the peppers, sugar, and vinegar together for ten minutes, stirring constantly while it's boiling. Remove from the heat for twenty minutes. Return to the heat, add pectin and coloring if desired, and boil for three more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for five minutes before pouring into clean, hot jelly jars. You can either cover the jelly with paraffin in the old-fashioned way, or (since you have the kettle full of boiling water from sterilizing the jelly jars anyway), cap and seal the jars and process for ten minutes in a hot water bath.

Lift the jars carefully from the boiling water and set them on the kitchen counter where you've put a folded towel. Go drink a cup of coffee and listen to the "ping" of the lids sealing. Makes about ten half-pint jars. Use half-pints because when you bring this to parties people will ask you to please give them a jar.

Do not double this recipe. For some reason although the proportions of pepper, vinegar and pectin should work, they don't. If you have that many peppers, make two batches. Mr Mickler's recipe does not specify the additional boiling, stirring and sitting, but I've found that it makes a clearer jelly with less scum to be skimmed off.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


(I can't help but wonder if this has been Photoshopped, but it's funny anyway, and from the LOLCats).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends."—POPE.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Wee Wonderful Wardrobe

The incomparable Millie Motts has uploaded scans from several issues of an early 1950's children's magazine called Wee Wisdom. There are half a dozen paper dolls in the bunch.

It is a tad levelling to realize that little girls had nicer wardrobes in the 1950's than I do now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hairpin Lace - an Evening Blouse from 1952

A hairpin lace evening blouse from Modern Needlecraft, Winter 1952. The original instructions are on my Flickr account.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Vintage Magazines-Modern Needlecraft

(any guesses on her waist measurement?)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The More I See of People, The Better I Like My Dog Dep't.

I spent the afternoon manning the Red Cross booth at the local kennel club’s annual K-9 Wellness Day. For much of that time my assistant was Rottweiler named Stormy, a remarkably sweet-tempered and gentle girl; particularly remarkable since she spent her first two years the prisoner of a low-life scum-sucking dirtwipe who ran a dog-fighting ring.

She lives a happier life with Ron and Loretta now. Loretta told me that Stormy wasn’t vicious enough to be a good fighter so eventually she wound up being used as a sort of canine punching bag for the other dogs. Shooting is too good for some people.

Among the vendors at the Wellness Day were a trio of mountebanks who were shilling aromatherapy, Chinese herbal medicine, and acupuncture. For dogs. Since I was, so to speak, in uniform, I couldn’t walk over and hurl abuse at them.

If you are an adult human being who is sick or in pain, and you choose to quack yourself with needles and weeds, that’s one thing. But if an animal that loves and trusts you is suffering and you don’t take him to a vet, I hope you get bitten.

The Condensed Version

In 1851, while on a trip from England to the United States, a farmer named Gail Borden was distressed by the deaths of several children on board, allegedly due to contaminated milk from the ship's cow. Bringing a cow along was the only way to ensure a milk supply on long voyages and the animals frequently sickened from cramped, unsanitary quarters and bad fodder. Borden wondered; canned fruits and vegetables had been on the market since the 1820's so why couldn't milk be canned, as well?

When he got home, he began tinkering with various ways of preserving milk, and after many failures eventually adapted a process the Shakers used for condensing fruit juice through evaporation. The product was introduced under the Borden name as "Eagle Brand Condensed Milk" in 1856 and Borden insisted that his milk suppliers maintain rigorous standards of cleanliness.

In the days before pasteurization and government inspections, the quality of fresh milk that could be purchased by city families was generally poor. Vendors routinely adulterated milk, to the point where middle class families were urged to keep their own cow rather than risk exposing their children to chalk, dirty water, and Lord knows what else.

Borden's condensed milk soon earned a reputation for purity and wholesomeness, and sales really took off when Federal quartermasters began ordering huge quantities to supplement the Union Army's nutritionally horrible rations. It could be stored for long periods of time, it was more easily transported than any other form of milk, and it was cheap. The use of "canned cow" spread across the North American continent as a healthy and economical substitute for the real thing (which very often was unobtainable).

My generation remembers Elsie and Elmer, the Borden spokescows, very well. Alas, although the trademarked Eagle Brand is still with us, the Borden name was phased out after the company was sold in 1995. One wonders how many thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of children owed their life to Farmer Borden and his miracle milk.

NOTE: do not use evaporated milk for these recipes. Evaporated milk is made by a different process, is not as heavily sweetened, and won't work.

Coconut Macaroons

2/3 cup Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
3 cups shredded coconut
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract

Mix everything together and drop by tablespoonfuls on a well-greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, just until they start to brown around the edges. Slide them off the baking sheet immediately to cool, or you'll be sorry.

Chocolate chip macaroons can be made by using 2 cups of coconut and 1 cup of chocolate chips. These are the ultimate guilty pleasure; simple to make, sinfully rich and sweet, and bad for you.

Magic French Fudge

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, in pieces
1/3 cup plus 1 T Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
pinch salt
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler over boiling water, stirring until it is melted. Add the condensed milk, salt, vanilla extract, and nuts (if desired). Stir just until the mixture is smooth. Spread it evenly in a 9x9 inch pan lined with well-buttered waxed paper or aluminum foil and chill in the refrigerator. Easy and achingly sweet.

(Borden trade-card image from Dover).

Saturday, September 6, 2008


(image courtesy of the LOLCats).

Friday, September 5, 2008

Quote of the Day

"If a man hath no freedom to fight for at home,
Let him combat for that of his neighbors,
Let him think of the glories of Greece and of Rome,
And get knocked on the head for his labors.
To do good for mankind is the chivalrous plan
And is always so nobly requited;
So battle for freedom wherever you can,
And if not shot or hanged, you'll get knighted."

(Poem by Byron, image from Dover)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Embroidery-Tufting on Net, 1925

In the days when a middle-class woman's wardrobe was limited (by time and closet space as well as finances), pretty accessories, easy and inexpensive to make, were called on almost daily to transform a sober work-day woolen dress or suit into something dressier. This article (two pages on my Flickr account and I apologise for the offset but I'm still perfecting my Fotoflexer skills) offers instructions for creating a boudoir cap, waist, and collar from tufting, embroidery with yarn on purchased net. It is from Modern Priscilla, January 1925.

Monday, September 1, 2008