Monday, November 30, 2009

Vintage Travel - Chicago

(Copyright-free images from Dover).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

“Hey, Watch Me Do This…”

There is an urban myth to the effect that this phrase is the single most common prelude to a 911 call. I sometimes think that there is a culinary equivalent -- somebody reaches into a cupboard and pulls out something, usually some type of soup, and then tries to demonstrate that this really will work, honest. Many of these people are employed by major food companies but others (like the person who developed the pastrami egg roll recipe I recently ran across) have no such excuse.

There is a weird fascination to these recipes that compels an otherwise sane person to try them. And, oddly enough, most of them involve a slow cooker.

(warning: do not try these at home. Actually, do try them, and then let me know how they turn out, because I certainly can’t get away with serving any of them to the spousal unit. He firmly believes that life in this vale of tears would be much more bearable if I would limit myself to cooking only those dishes his mother used to make).

Tomato Soup Chicken

1 package frozen chicken pieces
1 can tomato soup

“Dump one package of frozen chicken pieces into a crockpot. Add one can of tomato soup. Cook on high for 6 ½ hours.”

Awesome Slow Cooker Pot Roast

2 (10.75 oz) cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 (1 ounce) package of dried onion soup mix
1 ¼ cups water
5 ½ lb pot roast

“In the slow cooker, mix cream of mushroom soup, dry onion soup mix and water. Place pot roast in slow cooker and coat with soup mixture. Cook on High setting for 3 to 4 hours, or on Low setting for 8 to 9 hours.”

Apricot Chicken

1 bottle Russian dressing (16 oz)
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 jar apricot preserves (10 oz)
4 –6 pieces chicken
seasoned salt and pepper to taste

“Combine Russian dressing, apricot preserves and onion soup mix in bowl and pour into the crockpot. Sprinkle the chicken with seasoned salt and pepper. Place chicken, skin side down, in slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours (HIGH 3 to four hours).”

I believe the above recipe is also called Chicken Awful-Awful. If anyone has a personal favorite candidate for Recipe Least Likely To Succeed, send it to me, please. I promise to post the worst ones.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Friday, November 27, 2009

The Morning After

If I had not married a teetotaller, I would not have had to drink that entire bottle of Prosecco myself.

Quote of the Day

Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Luke 12:15

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The First Thanksgiving

"One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant.

Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their heart's content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Américaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux- Rouges helped the Pèlerins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs).The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pèlerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pèlerins' crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pèlerins than Pèlerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.

It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilomètres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant:

"Go to the damsel Priscilla (allez très vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.

"I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui êtes pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden."

Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable à être emballé), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission.Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l'étonnement et la tristesse).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: "If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?" (Où est-il, le vieux Kilomètres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès de moi pour tenter sa chance?)

Jean said that Kilomètres Deboutish was very busy and didn't have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilomètres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, Jean?" (Chacun à son goût.)

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilomètres Deboutish, who made this great day possible."

(Art Buchwald, The International Herald Tribune, 1952).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nerds With Too Much Time On Their Hands Dep't

He does not realize that the cats called Mothra.

Patterns of the Past - Simplicity 7152

An embroidery pattern from 1946, intended for the neckline or pocket of a dress. Left-click to enlarge, or go to my Flickr account.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tatting - 6 Edgings and a Collar

Crochet & Tatted Edgings, published by the Lily Mills Company of Shelby, North Carolina ("Manufacturers of Famous Lily Sewing Threads"). Two pages of instructions can be found on my Flickr account.

I can't find a date but the collar in particular (a pattern for which is included) looks late '40's. Whenever it was published, it cost ten cents.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Seamstresses With Too Much Time On Their Hands Dep't

Seriously. She makes jackets for her cats. Scroll down to the third picture, there's one in camouflage.

Vintage Images - Thanksgiving

(Copyright-free images from Dover).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cat

The Drama Queen, photographed by me and transformed into a work of art by Martha Stewart.

(edited to add: if you're wondering why I chose to make a portrait of such a ferocious scowl, it's because she rarely manifests any other expression).

Staff of Life

Another fifty-cent treasure from the mission thrift shop, this one encouraging American housewives to explore the art of baking. It offered traditional recipes, such as this one for an oatmeal and molasses loaf;

...and up-to-date methods that allowed a busy homemaker to prepare the dough ahead of time.

And some that make me want to go straight into the kitchen and start baking.


(Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book, published by Meredith Corporation, 1973. Left-click to enlarge, or go to my Flickr account).

Saturday, November 21, 2009


see more crazy cat pics

Friday, November 20, 2009

Things I Have Learned While Working At The Health Department

-- If the security guard won’t let you in the county courthouse with your expensive camera phone, you should walk back to your car and lock it in your trunk instead of hiding it in one of the garbage cans at the Health Department next door. On the other hand, you have probably provided the homeless guy who lurks in the basement with some badly needed cash. God bless you, brother.

-- When the nurse at the intake desk tells you that you can’t get an H1N1 shot because you aren’t under 24, don’t have an underlying medical condition, and aren't the primary caregiver for an infant under six months, coming back thirty minutes later and getting in another line with a different nurse isn’t going to do you any good.

-- Walking up to the vital records desk and asking if you can bury someone in your back yard is quick way to meet some new friends.

-- Please do not block the handicapped entrance while you are berating a staff member at the free clinic for not having a handicapped entrance.

-- There is a clean, well-lit, roomy unisex single-stall bathroom right next to the women’s restroom on the third floor. Use it. Do not bring your three little boys into the women’s restroom with you so that while you are otherwise engaged, one of them can discover that the latch holding the door shut on the last booth against the far wall is defective. It was news to me, too.

Quote of the Day

In Sleep we lie all naked and alone, in Sleep we are united at the heart of night and darkness, and we are strange and beautiful asleep;
for we are dying the darkness and we know no death. ~ Thomas Wolfe

(Via TYWKIWDBI: the photograph of Marines asleep in their fighting holes is from a series on Afghanistan by David Guttenfelder).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Online Bookshelf - Traditional Nursery Songs of England

With PICTURES BY EMINENT MODERN ARTISTS, published 1843 and available for download from Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Patterns of the Past - a Bandanna Apron

From McCall's Needlework and Crafts, Spring/Summer 1950, an apron made from (what looks like) three bandannas. Might be interesting to try the next time the hobby store has them on sale.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oh, Come On!

Driving home tonight, I passed two houses with their Christmas lights up.

Crochet - A Blouse From 1935

From Fashions Today in the Lovely New Boilfast Cottons, published by the Spool Cotton Company in 1935. Instructions on my Flickr account.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vintage Advertising - Modart Corsets

From Woman's Home Companion, October 1921.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

De Agony of De Feet

(no, these are not my boots. I'm not that old).

We held our fourth mass vaccination clinic in eight days at the University basketball arena today. What is it about the sight of a syringe that makes healthy adolescents keel over? There were four Cornfedton Fire Department EMTs lounging in the bleachers behind me keeping up a faintly bored commentary.

"The pink one by the garbage can; she's going down, she's going, she's gone!"

"Kid in the red t-shirt with the nurse, he's---OUT."

It was like being in the Coliseum and listening to bets on which Christian the lions got next.

Links - Feeding America

Michigan State University's online vintage cookbook collection.

This appears to be a recent addition; maybe I'll have time to read it later this week.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Links - Caturday!

A recent favorite from Many cat owners (myself included) would wonder why the cat isn't lying on the book.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Links - Project Gutenberg

What can I say? The original and still one of the best.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Links - Patterns of the Past

Vintage sewing pattern images, updated daily, at Flickr.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 10th

Links - Free Sewing Patterns

A collection of free shirt patterns from around the web at (including a few of mine). They have many more sewing and other needlework projects, as well.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Links - Vintage Images

Due to a rather hairy work schedule, I am taking the easy way out by posting links this week. This one is to, a site with an amazing selection of vintage images (found thanks to the lovely Amanda).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Knitters With Too Much Time On Their Hands Dep't

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

An Apple A Day

On my way back from Detroit last month, I stopped by an orchard in Coloma and bought a bushel of Empire apples. Eternity has been described as “two people and a turkey.” One might as well say “two people and a bushel of apples,” because we are still slowly eating our way through the basket. It’s a good thing Empires are keepers.

I was looking for a quick scone recipe when I found this one, and decided to add some chopped apple. My first try resulted in a batter too slack, as the old cookbooks say, for scones, but it made dandy muffins. The second time I added some spices and vanilla, and I didn’t chop the apple quite so fine.

Apple Muffins

1 cup Bisquick or other baking mix
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup thin cream (or ¼ cup whole milk with 1 T. butter melted into it)
1 egg
1 Empire or other small apple, peeled and cored
1 t. vanilla
½ t. cinammon
¼ t. cloves
Cinnamon sugar

Coarsely chop the apple; I put eighths in the food processor with the sugar and pulsed about 3 times. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat the egg into the cream with the vanilla, and add to the dry ingredients, stirring just until they are mixed. The dough should look ragged. Fold in the chopped apple and spoon into a well buttered muffin tin. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cinnamon sugar and bake at 425° for 13-15 minutes. Allow them to cool in the muffin tin for about 10 minutes after you take them out of the oven, so they don’t stick while coming out of the pan. If you’re too impatient for that, use paper muffin cups.

I halved the original recipe so this makes six muffins. Unlike most home-made muffins, these are good for two or three days, probably because of the chopped fruit. I reheat them, wrapped in foil and in a 250° oven while I’m getting ready for work, and so can enjoy a warm muffin with my first cup of coffee.

(vintage fruit crate label from Dover).

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Friday, November 6, 2009

Quote of the Day

The panther is like a leopard,
Except it hasn't been peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch,
Prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Don't anther.

~Ogden Nash

(Vintage image from Agence Eureka).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Online Bookshelf The Flying Stingaree

If you were about ten years old in 1963, this book would have been right up your alley!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Patterns of the Past - What a Difference Two Years Makes

A cape and skirt from Needlecraft, September 1914. The almost-but-not-quite hobble skirt is quite a contrast from last week's 1916 silhouettes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vintage Patterns at Purple Kitty

I am going to be lazy this week and instead of posting a pattern from my collection, provide instead a link to a free pattern site with fifty vintage women’s sweater patterns from the 1940’s and 1950’s, originally sent to me by Purple Kitty.

(I love it when someone else does all the work for me).

The rest of the site is well worth exploring; who can resist an afghan with French Poodles knitted into it?

Monday, November 2, 2009

From Our Friends at "An Engineer's Guide to Cats"

Some day those cats are going to kill him. Slowly.

Vintage Images - Victorian Birds

Copyright-free images from Dover.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Camouflage Cookery, 1918

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

From the University of Wisconsin’s home economics website, an earnest little book published during the War to End All Wars (as it was once optimistically referred to), to help housewives cope with shortages of meat, wheat and seafood. Subtitled A Book of Mock Dishes, it is a gallant if occasionally misguided effort to make foodstuffs look and taste like something they are not (edited for correctness; it can be downloaded here. Unfortunately the University has chosen to post all their books in a format that requires you to do it page by page. Arggggh).

Many of the featured dishes would be perfectly acceptable in their own right. There is a recipe for Mock Oysters made with salsify, once known as oyster plant for good reason.

Mock Fried Oysters

“Wash, trim and cook a bunch of oyster plant (or salsify) in boiling water until tender. Drain and scrape off the skin. Mash well, and if stringy rub through a colander. To one pint of the mashed salsify add one teaspoonful of flour, one tablespoonful of butter substitute, one well-beaten egg, and salt and pepper to season highly. Take up a small spoonful and shape it into an oval about the size of a large oyster; dip each lightly in flour or very fine cracker crumbs, and brown on each side in hot butter substitute.”

This certainly sounds better than the mock oyster recipe on page 19 that calls for sliced green tomatoes, or the one on page 18 that uses tripe.

The recipes for mock crab use either cheese or corn, and again look like they’d be nice dishes without all the obfuscation (although I’d go easy on the vinegar in this one. Maybe a teaspoonful?).

Mock Crabs

“Grate a quarter of a pound of hard cheese and sprinkle it into a fireproof dish. Beat up one egg; add four tablespoonfuls of milk, two tablespoonfuls of vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste, and pour on the cheese. Bake until the mixture becomes the consistency of cream, then spread on very hot buttered toast. Serve at once.”

Very puzzling indeed is the recipe on page 8 for mock chicken gumbo that calls for, of all things, chicken, and the one on page 15 for mock turtle soup using a can of … mock turtle soup. The recipe on page 48 for mock ham is ersatz all the way, though.

Mock Ham

1 quart kidney beans
½ pint English walnuts
½ pint black walnuts
½ pint pecans
½ pint almost
1 can pimentos
1 tablespoonful salt
1 saltspoonful black pepper.

“Soak the beans over night; next morning drain, cover with fresh boiling water, boil twenty minutes; drain, throw the water away, cover again with fresh water, and boil until tender; press through a colander. Chop the nuts and pimentos. Add them, with all the other ingredients, to the beans. Form into a small ham, and place on a greased paper; brush with melted butter substitute; bake in a moderate oven one hour. When done, take out the ham, brush it again with butter substitute, dust it thickly with bread crumbs and brown. Serve this cold, cut into thin slices.”

How unthinkable it would have been for these well-meaning women to serve honest vegetarian food with no pretense that it was anything else. Maybe a delicious Indian dish of potatoes and greens, which I usually make using frozen spinach (and once with a bag of coleslaw mix when I was out of spinach. Yummy).

Sag Aloo

2 T cooking oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 large baking potatoes, cut into small cubes (or used leftover boiled or baked potatoes)
1 package frozen leaf spinach, thawed and drained
1 t. grated fresh ginger
1 small clove garlic, peeled and smashed
¼ t. cumin seed
1 t. turmeric
1 t. garam masala

Heat the oil over medium heat and fry the cumin seeds for a few minutes, just until they are brown. Remove them (otherwise they’ll probably burn). Add the onion and fry until it begins to get limp.

Push the onion to the side of the skillet. Turn up the heat slightly and add the cubed potatoes, frying them until they develop a slightly browned crust. Sprinkle the vegetables with the garlic, ginger, turmeric and garam masala, and the reserved cumin seeds. Stir and add a few tablespoons of water, cover and cook just until the potatoes are soft (this is not necessary if you are using leftover cooked pototatoes). Add the spinach and cook everything together until the spinach is heated through. Season to taste and serve with rice and yogurt.