Sunday, November 30, 2008

Es Hat Geschneit!

(Family joke. Will explain later).

Babyface has never seen snow before.

Funnyface is acting blasé since he is one and a half and this is his second winter.

Reserve Cat set the record for the thirty-inch dash when I opened the door for him this morning, and refuses to go back outside.

And the Drama Queen of course knows that this is all my fault. Left click for a close-up of that glare.

(For twenty-six years we lived in the same school district and attended the same schools with the same teachers. All of us – at least until my youngest sister kicked over the traces and announced defiantly that she was going to study French – took at least two years of German. The German department at the High School was ruled by a Viennese lady of unknown years and known habits and as sure as God made little green apples, when the first snowflake hit the ground in December, the German II class obediently sat down to write an essay titled “Es hat geschneit!” It has become a family catchphrase).

A Menu for the Last Sunday in November

This is from Fifty-Two Sunday Dinners, published by the Woman’s World Magazine Company of Chicago, Illinois in 1927 and subtitled Being a selection of tested and balanced menus, easily and economically prepared, for every Sunday in the year. I don’t know about the easily, even if Mama had a new-fangled gas stove and a cook, but here is the recommended bill of fare for the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Fruit Cocktail
Roast Goose with Apple-Prune Sauce
Stuffed Olives
Glace Sweet Potatoes, Duchesse Potatoes, and Creamed Celery
Buttered Parker House Rolls
Head Lettuce Salad, Cheese Straws
Brick Ice Cream and Lady Baltimore Cake
Coffee, Salted Almonds, After-Dinner-Mints

And here are some of the recipes.

Fruit Cocktail

Use ½ grapefruit for each portion, take out pulp, remove seeds and pith. Add for every 2 grapefruit (4 portions) the pulp of 1 orange and a dozen skinned and seeded white grapes. Put fruit in a mold which has a close cover. Sprinkle with lemon juice—1 lemon to 4 grapefruit—powdered sugar and a shake of cayenne or paprika. Put mold in ice compartment of refrigerator until ready to serve. Keep grapefruit skins in ice water. When ready, drain and dry skins, fill with the ice-cold fruit, and put in a little of the juice, beating well before adding.

(21st century comment – wait…skin and seed the grapes? Seriously?)

Roast Goose

Select a young goose, weighing 8 or 10 lbs. Scrub well with hot water to which a little washing soda has been added, then rinse well and dry outside and in. Make a stuffing of freshly boiled and mashed potatoes, seasoning with salt, pepper, powdered sage and a very little onion. Stuff but do not pack. Sew up, truss, then put in a steamer and steam for an hour to sweat off the excess fat and make the meat more tender. Some cooks parboil a goose for half an hour before wiping dry and stuffing. Then rub all over with flour seasoned with pepper and salt and roast, putting 1-½ cups boiling water in the pan. Roast 20 minutes to the pound for a young goose, and 30 minutes to the pound if doubtful of its tenderness. Remove from pan to platter when done, turn off all the grease and after stirring in the flour for thickening let it fry a minute or so to get brown before adding the water.

(The pre-steaming sounds like a good idea but I was under the impression that washing soda was poisonous).

Creamed Celery

Clean outside stalks and white leaves of a head of celery, cut in small pieces and cook until tender in 3 cups water. Scald a slice of onion in 2 cups milk in a double boiler. Rub celery when soft through a sieve. Blend 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 3 tablespoons butter, cook for a few minutes until well blended, gradually add the milk, strained, and the celery, season with celery salt and pepper.

(This doesn’t sound too bad except for the cornstarch. Flour yes, but cornstarch?).

Vintage kitchen image from Patricia at Agence Eureka.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


(image and caption from the LOLCats).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

Give, and it shall be given to you. For whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return. Luke 6:38

(copyright-free clipart image from Dover).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Annual Question

Can someone explain to me the appeal of a Turducken?

Tatting-Variations on a Theme

Four more motifs for the 25 Motif Challenge, but if you check you will notice that all of them -- except Edda's Violette -- are variations on the same basic 3-3-3-3 rings and 3-3-3 chains. Even the wreath is just a strip of edging joined to make a circle, and the red bookmark (well, it will be a bookmark when I get some ribbon on it) is the same edging joined mirror image.

I have been approached about teaching a needle tatting class at a local shop and Edda has kindly given me permission to use her pattern. Mille grazie, Edda!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sewing-An Applique Chair Cover

This clipping is one of a bundle I won on eBay, accumulated over a thirty year period by someone who loved needlework. "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" is on the back and from the typeface it is from the early 30's, and it appears to be from a syndicated newspaper column but I haven't been able to find anything about a quilting writer named "Winifred Avery". Left click to enlarge or go to my Flickr account for a larger image.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Kitty Nonsense

Of Course She Is

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Vintage Greeting Card - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving image from Dover eCards. For more holiday paper projects, visit The Toymaker, who has a bonbon box, a turkey, and a model of the Mayflower, free, to be downloaded from her site.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rank Injustice

All things chickeny and muttony
Taste better far when served with chutney
This is the mystery eternal
Why didn’t Major Grey make colonel?

The village barber drove by yesterday morning while I was out getting the mail and pulled over to present me with a bag full of pears from the trees in his backyard. They are the kind that stay rock hard for days and then rot overnight. Perfect. I got out the canning jars.

Of course this will not taste just like Major Grey Mango Chutney, but it’s still darn good. Any fruit you use should be pretty firm.

1 dozen pears (six to eight cups of fruit)
2 large onions
1 c golden raisins
1 package dried apricots (12 oz approx)
1 lemon
1 sweet red bell pepper
2 jalapeno peppers
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
¼ c. ginger, grated
2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 cups cider vinegar
½ t. ground cloves
½ t. ground allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1 t. salt

Put the sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, spices and salt into a non-reactive kettle over low heat. Peel and core the pears, peel and quarter the onion, clean and quarter the red pepper. Quarter the lemon and remove the seeds. Cut the stems off the jalapenos.

Roughly chop the pears, onion, and red pepper into dice, either by hand or in the food processor. Not too fine—a little larger than, say, a dried chickpea. Chop the lemon and jalapeno pretty finely but just short of a puree. Cut each dried apricot into four pieces. Add the fruit and peppers to the vinegar mixture and cook slowly until the mixture thickens. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and use a flame tamer so that it does not come to a boil and scorch. This will take a couple of hours; you want it to cook down and be thick enough to cling to a spoon when you tip it sideways, so be patient.

Taste; usually the pears and apricots make it sweet enough but if you are using other fruit you may need to add sugar. It should be sweet, tangy, garlicky and hot.

Once it is ready, take out the cinnamon stick. Remove from heat and pour into hot sterilized eight-ounce jars. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Miscellaneous notes: the red bell pepper is there “for pretty” and on one occasion when far from a source of fresh peppers, I have used one of those little glass jars of diced pimiento, well rinsed. This is a good foundation recipe for chutney; I’ve made it with green tomatoes and hard old-orchard apples. You could use canned diced pineapple, I suppose, but then you’d really want to cut down on the sugar.

(The title pun and rhyme are not mine but I can't remember where I saw them!)

EDITED 11/29/08 to correct proportions of vinegar and sugar, which were flip-flopped.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


funny pictures of cats with captions
more LOLCats

Friday, November 21, 2008

Free Pattern Books from Bernat

Bernat is giving away two free pattern books to anyone who completes an online survey. They will email you the booklets in PDF format, but I don't know for how long. UPDATED TO ADD: These will not be sent immediately, but rather sometime during the first week of December, according to a post on one of my Yahoo! groups.

Quote of the Day

When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist. Archbishop Helder Camara

(Photograph by Jacob Riis).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our Little Girl Is Growing Up

I guess it's time to explain to her that she's too big to run under the computer desk anymore.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Knitting - a Trio of Dishcloths

Handmade knitted cotton dishcloths are, at least in my not-so-humble opinion, far superior to store-bought woven ones. They are quick to make, inexpensive (cotton yarn is usually less than $2 per skein--edited to add: here in the Midwest. I forget a lot of you don't live here!--and you can get two dishcloths from one skein) and they last a long time. There are a lot of pattern sites with dishcloths on the Internet; the Dishcloth Boutique has a particularly nice selection, and they're free.

But really, any reversible stitch pattern will do for a dishcloth, and gauge is not important. You want to find a needle/stitch/yarn combination that will give you a cloth that is 8 to 8.5 inches square. Because cotton shrinks so drastically, if you are knitting vertically rather than diagonally (as in Grandmother’s Favorite), your finished cloth should be at least one inch longer than it is wide. Otherwise you’ll end up with a rectangular dishcloth the first time it comes out of the dryer.

Slip the first stitch in each row for a neat edge and don't knit too tightly! As modeled with the help of my comely assistant, from left to right are~

Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth

This pattern has been around a long time – Lion Brand offers a version, among other sites – and it’s the one I make the most often. Because it is knitted on the diagonal, it shrinks evenly.

Cast on 3 stitches. K1, knit into the front and back of the next stitch, K to end. Repeat this, increasing in the second stitch of each row, until the legs of your triangle are about 8 inches long. You’ll have about 44-50 stitches on the needle, depending on your gauge. Begin decrease rows. K1, s1, K1, psso, K to end. Repeat this row, decreasing one stitch at the second stitch in each row, until you have 4 stitches on the needle. Bind off.

Garter Rib Dishcloth

This is a firm, non-curling, reversible stitch pattern with a little more visual interest than garter stitch. The stitch count is a multiple of 8 plus 4. The Harmony Guide shows 2 and 3 stitch variations, as well.

Cast on 36 stitches. K4, *P4, K4, repeat from * to end. Repeat this row. Make sure your finished dishcloth is about one inch longer than it is wide, and bind off in pattern.

Brioche Rib Dishcloth

Brioche Rib, like its snooty cousin Brioche Stitch, tends to spread out, so cast on only 30 stitches. Stitch count is a multiple of 2. Row 1 – Knit. Row 2 – *K1, K1b(insert needle through th ecenter of the stitch below the next stitch on the needle and knit as usual, slipping the stitch above off the needle at the same time) repeat from *, ending K2. Repeat row 2 until your finished dishcloth is long enough and bind off in garter stitch. Brioche Rib produces a thick, spongy cloth; it’s a great choice for scarves, too.

(I’m ready for my closeup, Mr DeMille!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vintage Scrap Art - Harvest Plenty

A set of copyright-free 19th century harvest images from Dover Publications.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Ovens

Christmas cookie makers, I have noticed, tend to fall into two categories; rollers and droppers. The spousal unit lovingly prepares batches of sugar cookies, cut out with our very eclectic cookie cutter selection (sure, we have stars and bells and reindeer, but we also have a pig, a dinosaur and of course, a German Shepherd).

I, on the other hand, seek instant gratification, and can’t be bothered with the rolling, cutting, rerolling, sugar sprinkling, and whatnot. Drop cookies, says I, and when I saw this book last weekend in a Detroit area Sally Ann for ninety-nine cents, I had to buy it.

(It was a great store. I was with my youngest sister and it was on Plymouth and we were heading back to Canton from Dearborn, more than that I cannot tell you. She was driving. I like driving with women. When one shouts, “There’s a thrift store, pull over!” another woman will immediately comply but a husband, unless he is unusually well trained, will not. Particularly if he is three-quarters Scotch).

Here are some of the recipes I want to try. Remember when packing cookies for shipping (say, to Qatar where one of my nephews will be spending the holiday season) that drop cookies and bar cookies travel best.

Brown Sugar Pecan Rounds

1 ¼ cups packed brown sugar
½ c. butter, softened
1 egg
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ t baking soda
1/8 t salt
½ c. coarsely chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix brown sugar, butter and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet (the dough will flatten and spread). Bake until set, 12 to 15 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.

The book notes that you can make this with self-rising flour but omit the baking soda and salt. It also mentions margarine instead of butter. Bleah.

Coconut Meringues

4 egg whites
1 ¼ c sugar
½ t vanilla
1/4/t salt
2 ½ c shredded or flaked coconut

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Beat egg whites in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar gradually; continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by generous teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto waxed paper-lined or lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until set and delicate brown, about 20 minutes. Immediately remove from waxed paper. About 3 dozen.

Soft Molasses Drops

1 c sugar
1 c shortening
½ c molasses
1 egg
3 c all purpose flour
¾ c dairy sour cream
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix sugar, shortening, molasses and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 8 minutes. About 5 dozen.

(if we had any sour cream in the house, I would try these molasses cookies now. For years I have sought my own personal Grail, the Ultimate Soft Molasses-Ginger Drop Cookie, and I am still looking).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bungalow Heaven

Please check out the gorgeous 1930's interiors at The Daily Bungalow. I want that green kitchen!


(photo from the LOLCats).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Here kitty, kitty

Another reason I am glad we have a separate entrance to the basement: the spousal unit came up behind one of these l'il fellas before dawn today. I sent him down to the shower in the laundry room with a bottle of white vinegar and instructions to scrub himself and everything he was wearing before he came back up.

(I drawed the pitcher all by myself, in case anyone can't tell. It's actually from a sketchbook I took to Louisiana when the Red Cross sent me down there after Katrina. Two of them used to come out after dark and poke around the dumpsters by the Red Cross headquarters).

Quote of the Day

"Liberty doesn't work as well in practice as it does in speeches." Will Rogers

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obsolete Information Dep't - Helps for Housekeepers

From Modern Priscilla, January 1923:

“If a member of the family is late for a meal, I put the food to be kept warm into deep enameled cups without handles and set them in a pan containing a little hot water. One cover goes over them all and one low flame does the trick.” Mrs. H.R.K., New York.

“A small wooden potato masher is more convenient than a spoon, knife, or one’s hands for working the coloring into margarine. Place the margarine in a bowl, break the color capsule on top, and mash as one mashes potatoes.” Mrs. M.N.F., Vermont

“The discarded stone of a fireless cooker makes a good warming pad. If heated and wrapped in several thicknesses of newspaper it will stay hot almost all night.” B.O.J., Texas

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Needle Lace

You must watch first I thought she was using the needle as a shuttle but it is more complex than that. Thanks to Eva at Here-Be-Tatters on Yahoo!Groups for sharing this video.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sewing - A RicRac Quilt from 1953

I tried a couple of times but the scan on this keeps coming out cattywampus. Still, you get the idea! This neat, pretty spin on the Rose of Sharon quilt pattern is done in ricrac on denim. The idea comes from Smart Sewing, 7th Edition, 1953. Two pages of instructions can be downloaded from my Flickr account.

Monday, November 10, 2008


"THEY tell the tale of an American lady of notable good works, much esteemed by the French, who, at the end of June, 1918, visited one of the field hospitals behind Degoutte’s Sixth French Army. Degoutte was fighting on the face of the Marne salient, and the 2d American Division, then in action around the Bois de Belleau, northeast of Chateau Thierry, was under his orders. It happened that occasional casualties of the Marine Brigade of the 2d American Division, wounded toward the flank where Degoutte’s own horizon-blue infantry joined on, were picked up by French stretcher-bearers and evacuated to French hospitals. And this lady, looking down a long, crowded ward, saw on a pillow a face unlike the fiercely whiskered Gallic heads there displayed in rows. She went to it.

“Oh,” she said, “surely you are an American!”

“No, ma’am,” the casualty answered. I’m a Marine.”

The men who marched up the Paris-Metz road to meet the Boche in the spring of 1918, the 5th and 6th Regiments of United States Marines, were gathered from various places. In the big war companies, 250 strong, you could find every sort of man, from every sort of calling. There were North-westerners with straw-colored hair that looked white against their tanned skins, and delicately spoken chaps with the stamp of the Eastern universities on them. There were large-boned fellows from Pacific-coast lumber camps, and tall, lean Southerners who swore amazingly in gentle drawling voices. There were husky farmers from the corn-belt, and youngsters who had sprung, as it were, to arms from the necktie counter.

And there were also a number of diverse people who ran curiously to type, with drilled shoulders and a bone-deep sunburn, and a tolerant scorn of nearly everything on earth. Their speech was flavored with navy words, and words culled from all the folk who live on the seas and the ports where our war-ships go. In easy hours their talk ran from the Tartar Wall beyond Peking to the Southern Islands down under Manila; from Portsmouth Navy Yard-New Hampshire and very cold-to obscure bush-whackings in the West Indies, where Cacao chiefs whimsically sanguinary, barefoot generals, with names like Charlemagne and Christophe, waged war according to the precepts of the French Revolution and the Cult of the Snake. They drank the eau de vie of Haute-Marne, and reminisced on sake, and vino, and Bacardi Rum-strange drinks in strange cantinas at the far ends of the earth; and they spoke fondly of Milwaukee beer.

Rifles were high and holy things to them, and they knew five-inch broadside guns. They talked patronizingly of the war, and were concerned about rations. They were the Leathernecks, the Old Timers; collected from ship’s guards and shore stations all over the earth to form the 4th Brigade of Marines, the two rifle regiments detached from the Department of the Navy by order of the President for service with the American Expeditionary Forces. They were the old breed of American regular, regarding the service as home and war as an occupation; and they transmitted their temper and character and view-point to the high-hearted volunteer mass which filled the ranks of the Marine Brigade.

There is nothing particularly glorious about sweaty fellows, laden with killing tools, going along to fight. And yet-such a column represents a great deal more than 28,000 individuals mustered into a division. All that is behind those men is in that column too: the old battles, long forgotten, that secured our nation-Brandywine and Trenton and Yorktown, San Jacinto and Chapultepec, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Antietam, El Caney; scores of skirmishes, far off, such as the Marines have nearly every year in which a man can be killed as dead as ever a chap in the Argonne; traditions of things endured and things accomplished, such as regiments hand down forever; and the faith of men and the love of women; and that abstract thing called patriotism, which I never heard combat soldiers mention-all this passes into the forward zone, to the point of contact, where war is girt with horrors.

Common men endure these horrors and overcome them, along with the insistent yearnings of the belly and the reasonable promptings of fear; and in this, I think, is glory." Captain John Thomason.

Happy Birthday, Marines.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

None but the lonely heart

Babyface is now seven months old and yesterday the spousal unit hauled her off to Dr. Tinyvet for The Operation. Funnyface was quite perturbed when he saw her driven away in the pickup without him.

When she was gone all day and didn't come back that night, gloom descended on his noble brow. He roamed the house, whimpering not very softly to himself, and taking the occasional melancholy bite out of the Drama Queen. Since he weighs in at about one hundred pounds and we live in a small old house, these activities kept us awake until the wee hours.

When the spousal unit brought her back this evening, Funnyface was so moved that he grabbed her by the hind leg and dragged her around the backyard from pure joy.

The Drama Queen was less thrilled.

(on a slightly different note, I am going home to Detroit for a few days. I will not be posting until Monday).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blue State, My Aunt Fanny

If you left out the judges (which I did), there were thirteen races for which I could cast a ballot yesterday here in Big Flat County. Nine of them featured a Republican candidate running unopposed.

With the exception of Chicago and Cook County, the Land of Lincoln doesn't stray very far from his party.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sewing - a Wrap from 1923

Another vintage gift idea -- a bedjacket or wrap to make from a square of material. This is an advertisement for the pattern, but I don't see why you'd need one! Fleece or a heavy sweater-knit fabric would have the necessary drape and "give" for this wrap.

Left-click to enlarge, or download from my Flickr account, here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vintage Magazines-The International Studio

From Project Gutenberg, copyright-free, and full of wonderful black and white illustrations of children's books.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Think That I Shall Never See

A kitchen floor that's paw-print free.

Election Cake

In days of old, when men were men (and women, slaves, American Indians, immigrants, military personnel, paupers and the criminally insane were disenfranchised), voting was an arduous process, often involving a day’s journey or more to the closest polling place. Since there were no electioneering laws around to prevent it, a candidate or his representatives frequently assisted the undecided citizen with a little refreshment; hard cider (or corn whiskey in the South, and that’s the subject of a whole ‘nother post) and in New England at least, a slice of a sturdy, yeast-raised, fruit-filled confection called Election Cake.

The first printed appearance of Election Cake is in Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery, modestly subtitled The art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, vegetables and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to the plain cake: Adapted to this country and all grades of life. By an American orphan.

Mistress Simmons’ book is notable in that it is considered to be the first truly American cookbook, written by and for the cooks and comestibles of this country, and not a reprint of a British work. Her Election Cake must have been intended for an entire precinct. Here is the receipt from the 1796 edition:

Thirty quarts flour, 10 pound butter, 14 pound sugar, 12 pound raisins, 3 doz eggs, one pint wine, one quart brandy, 4 ounces cinnamon, 4 ounces fine colander seed, 3 ounces ground alspice; wet flour with milk to the consistence of bread over night, adding one quart yeast; the next morning work the butter and sugar together for half an hour, which will render the cake much lighter and whiter; when it has rise light work in every other ingredient except the plumbs, which work in when going into the oven.

Now this is the kind of sustenance fit for pioneers and revolutionaries! Between the thirty-six eggs, fourteen pounds of sugar and the quart and a half of booze, it must have been one hell of a cake.

Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cook Book offered a modernized version one hundred years later:

½ cup butter
1 cup bread dough
1 ½ cups flour
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon soda
1 cup sour milk
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
8 finely chopped figs
1 cup raisins, seeded
and cut in pieces
1 teaspoon salt

Work butter into dough, using the hand. Add egg well-beaten, sugar, milk, fruit dredged with two tablespoons flour, and flour mixed and sifted with remaining ingredients. Put into a well-buttered bread pan, cover and let rise one and one-fourth hours. Bake one hour in a slow oven. Cover with Boiled Milk Frosting.

A paltry, puny, nimminy-pimminy milk- and-water counterfeit of its ancestor with not even a whiff of wine or brandy. Faugh.

(For a visit with some of our foremothers’ other recipes, visit the Michigan State University Library’s website, Feeding America).

Saturday, November 1, 2008


(image and caption from the LOLCats).