Sunday, October 31, 2010

Home on the Range

This little cookbook was published in 1953 as a promotion for Wear-Ever aluminum cookware sets. The recipes are standard 50’s fare, but the book is attractively illustrated and nicely designed.

Something I found interesting? Two pages of instructions on how to use aluminum pots and pans in the different types of kitchen stoves that were in wide use back then, including coal ranges. The gas and electricity we take for granted today were still not common in rural areas.

“Use First Section over Fire Box:

• To heat all utensils for browning meats
• To brown roasts, steaks, chops.
• To pan broil steaks, chops.
• To start fresh fruits, vegetables until cover becomes hot to touch.
• To steam dried foods over water until water boils.
• To heat #825 rectangular roaster when used as an oven.* See baking directions
• To start direct top of range baking. See banking directions.
• To heat pan for baking griddle cakes.

Use Back of Range or Less Heated Section:

• To cook all meats after browning.
• To cook fresh fruits, vegetables after cover becomes hot to touch
• To steam dried foods over water after water boils
• To do direct top of range bakin after utensil has been heated. See baking directions.
• To bake griddle cakes.”

*Part of the set was a roaster that could be used as a top-of-range baking device for those who had coal ranges with no ovens. You were to preheat the roaster over high and then move to a medium heat source once the cake or pie was placed inside. Rather a handy idea for camping, I think.

Someone’s hand-written recipes were tucked inside. Here are her directions for ham loaf.

2 lbs lean pork steak—ground
1 ditto smoked ham
Salt & pepper
1 c. cracker crumbs
2 eggs

"Mix well & add ½ can tomato soup. Dent top & pour in milk so that it will run over the top. Bake slow about 1 ½ hours.”

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Friday, October 29, 2010

Murphy's 1st Law of Travel

The order in which you climb into the airport shuttle is never the order in which you have to climb out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On the Road (Again)

Who knew that being a living bulwhark against the forces of evil required so dang many conferences? Blogging will resume on Caturday.

Sewing - A Hostess Gown from 1949

From Smart Sewing, 1st Edition, 1949, a hostess gown to make of some soft, warm fabric for these chilly autumn nights. The diagram and sewing directions are on my Flickr account.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Sundays – October

In 1927 our dinner menu consists of grape-fruit as an appetizer, roast young chicken, gravy, stuffing, duchesse potatoes, string beans, currant jelly and celery, with cinnamon apples and nut bread for desert. I’m not sure about the grapefruit but everything else looks delicious. The potatoes would have been a bit of extra work, but worth it.

Duchesse Potatoes. Mash freshly boiled potatoes with butter, hot milk, pepper and salt until like a thick cream. They must be beaten free from lumps. Put through the pastry tube, and carry the mixture around and around to make attractive little baskets. Brush these with the yolk of egg beaten with milk, and set in oven until browned.

The 1953 dinner is robust, but not quite as elegant. Clear tomato soup, beef a la mode, cabbage and potatoes, fruit salad in orange ice rings, and damson plum pudding. Hmmm…the dessert book for the series doesn’t list damson plum pudding, but there is an English Plum Pudding in the Steamed Desserts section.

English Plum Pudding

¾ cup sifted cake flour
1 t. salt
¾ t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
¼ t. nutmeg
½ t. mace
½ pound raisins, chopped
¼ pound citron, chopped
1/8 pound lemon peel, chopped
1/8 pound blanched almonds, chopped
½ cup fine bread crumbs
¾ cup hot milk
½ pound brown sugar
5 eggs, separated
½ pound suet, chopped
¼ cup fruit juice, any kind (I guess you could use damson juice, if you could find it)
½ glass currant jelly

Sift flour, salt, soda and spices together; stir in fruit and almonds. Soften crumbs in milk 10 minutes. Beat sugar into beaten egg yolks; add suet and crumbs; stir into flour-fruit mixture. Add fruit juice and jelly and mix well; fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into greased mold, cover tightly and steam for 3 ½ hours. Serves 12.

(All those chopped ingredients makes me think of Calvin Trillin’s snarky comment that the reason the British boil their food to death is in case a dinner guest should happen to arrive without his teeth).

I’ll vote for the 1927 dinner, even with the grapefruit.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Man's Best Friend

The spousal unit is assembling the computer desk we bought this afternoon, and Babyface is cowering under my feet.

Me: I don't know why she's always so terrified when you get out the power tools. I'm not terrified when you get out the power tools, and I have far more reason.


Friday, October 22, 2010

She's Talking To The Wrong People

Scene: bi-monthly staff meeting. The division managers are in the conference room discussing upcoming holiday activities.

Communicable Diseases Supervisor: My division is going to wear CD-themed costumes next Friday for Halloween.

Me: Great. I’ll come as a herpes virus.

CD Supervisor: It has to be tasteful.

Admin Chief: Can I staple condoms all over my dress?

CD Supervisor: And subtle.

Quote of the Day

Aprons are Defences; against injury to cleanliness, to safety, to modesty, sometimes to roguery. From the thin slip of notched silk, which some highest-bred Housewife has gracefully fastened on; to the thick-tanned hide, girt round him with thongs, wherein the Builder builds; or to those jingling sheet-iron aprons, wherein your otherwise half-naked Vulcans hammer and smelt in their smelt-furnace—is there not range enough in the fashion and uses of this vestment? ~ Thomas Carlyle

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Online Bookshelf - Derby Day in the Yukon

By Canada's answer to Banjo Patterson. Available on Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Friday, October 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

...we do pray for mercy; and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy. ~ William Shakespeare

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Online Bookshelf - The Secret of the 9th Planet

Oh, for the days when books had covers like this. Available on Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

We're Back

The young man from Best Buy (the one I almost refused to speak to because he had no idea who the Virginian was*) thinks our problem has something to do with Windows 7 not liking sleep mode. I think we have a bad monitor cable.

(*seriously, I should take advice from someone that ignorant?)

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Expected Better of Hewlett Packard

The new PC we purchased one month and three days ago refuses to start four tries out of five. It's headed back to the shop tomorrow.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lissen Up, Yew Maggots!

I gave a presentation on triage to some nursing students this morning. Thing One went with me. As we were crossing the parking lot on our way out, I was trying to figure out why I hadn’t gotten more audience feedback on what is really a pretty interesting topic.

“Did I talk too fast?” I asked him.

“No. But you know? You get really military when you’re telling people things.”

The Online Bookshelf - Stories of London

Stories of London, by E.L. Hoskyn. Lovely illustrations, available on Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Patterns of the Past - McCall's Embroidery

From McCall Needlework, Winter 1941-42.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Knitting - Striped "Laurelspun" Socks

From Bernat's Handicrafter magazine, dated 1943. Pattern on my Flickr account.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Dinner Table

"Invitations to dinner must of course be answered to the lady. Cards of invitation to a dinner party are usually issued from three days to a fortnight previous to the entertainment; they should specify the hour of meeting. The proper number for such a party is somewhat in dispute: the happy medium may be considered ten.

As persons are necessarily introduced at a dinner party, only such persons as are known to each other, or who mutually desire to be acquainted should be invited, except under the circumstances alluded to in No. I.

Be punctual to the hour appointed.

When an invitation is accepted, let nothing but imperative necessity compel you to break the engagement, or at the last moment to send an excuse.

When your guests enter, present them to the others, and if any delay occur, let the conversation be light and on commonplace topics.

It is usual for the host or hostess to point out to the gentlemen the ladies they are to conduct to the dining-room, according to some real or imaginary standard (age or distinction). If persons of distinction are present, it is desirable that this should be done—of course giving them precedence.

The hostess follows her guests to the dining-room, the host having led the way with the lady of most consideration; the gentleman of the greatest distinction accompanies the hostess to the dining-room.

The hostess takes the head of the table: the seat of honor for a gentleman is at her right hand; for a lady, it is to the right of the host.

Ladies do not wear gloves during dinner.

In the best houses, the operation of carving is performed at the side tables; i. e. the principal joint, or joints, which require strength in the operation, are there carved.

Table napkins are indispensable at the dinner table; and silver forks are now met with in almost every respectable house. Steel forks, except for carving, are now seldom placed upon the dinner table.

It is usual to commence with soup, which never refuse; if you do not eat it, you can toy with it until it is followed by fish; of either of which never take more than once.

When all are seated, send a plate of soup to every one. Do not ask any one if they will be helped, as every one takes it, of course.

Always feed yourself with the fork; a knife is only used as a divider. Use a dessert spoon in eating tarts, puddings, curries, &c., &c.

If what you are eating before the dessert has any liquid, sop the bread and then raise it to the mouth. For articles of the dessert having liquid, a spoon is usually provided.

In helping sauce or vegetables, place them upon the side of the viands on the plate.

If anything is sent you from the host or hostess, do not offer it to any other person; and when helped do not wait until others are served, but at once arrange your napkin, and proceed to the important business of the moment.

In helping a joint, do not overload a person’s plate; and if game, or any particularly select dish is placed before you, serve it with discretion.

In helping, wherever a spoon can be conveniently used, it is preferable to the use of a knife and fork.

Fish must be helped with a fish slice: you may carve it more dexterously by taking a spoon in your left hand.

Soup must be eaten from the side, not the point of the spoon; and, in eating it, be careful not to make a noise, by strongly inhaling the breath: this habit is excessively vulgar; you cannot eat too quietly.

In helping soup, recollect that a little more than a ladle full is sufficient.

As hostess, do not press people to eat more than they appear inclined to take, nor force upon them any particular dish which you may think superexcellent. If any difficulty occurs in carving, you should feel no diffidence in requesting the gentleman to your right or left to assist you: it is a part of their duty and privilege.

Do not ask any one at the table to help you to anything, but apply to the servant.

The hostess should never send away her plate until all the guests have finished.
When you send your plate for anything, leave your knife and fork upon it. When you have done, place both together on one side of the plate.

Servants wait at table in white gloves, or have a fine napkin in their hand, which prevents its contact with your plate.

Finger-glasses come on with the dessert; wet a corner of your napkin and wipe your mouth; then immerse your fingers in the water and dry them with the napkin.

As hostess, you will give the signal for retiring by rising from the table. The time for so doing varies in different companies, and must be left to your discretion.

Should your servants break anything while you are at table, do not appear to notice it. If they betray stupidity or awkwardness, avoid reprimanding them publicly, as it only draws attention to their errors, and adds to their embarrassment.

During the week which follows the entertainment, each of the guests owes a visit to the entertainer. Converse about the dinner, the pleasure you have enjoyed, and of the persons whom you have met there.

The mistress of the house should never appear to pride herself regarding what is on her table, nor confuse herself with apologies for the bad cheer which she may offer you; it is much better for her to observe silence in this respect, and leave it to her guests to pronounce eulogiums on the dinner.

Ladies should not leave the table before the end of the entertainment, unless from urgent necessity. If it is a married lady, she requests someone to accompany her; if unmarried, she goes with her mother."

From True Politeness; a Handbook of Etiquette for Ladies, 1847. At Project Gutenberg.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Danger, Will Robinson!

I did a foolish thing this morning; I placed the Drama Queen’s cat carrier on the floor of the waiting room at Dr. Tinyvet’s office while I was paying the bill.

A Boston bull terrier did an even more foolish thing, he went and stuck his nose against the grate.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Quote of the Day

A radical proposition: the United States is the natural homeland of the gravely mistaken.

I don’t mean this as a criticism, and still less as jingoism. Nor do I mean that Americans are more wrong than anyone else (doubtful) or more right, either (ditto). I mean that respect for error was a driving force in the founding of our nation. We are a young country built on a mature idea: that all of us must be at liberty to make mistakes. We are free to say things our fellow citizens think are untrue, worship gods our neighbors regard as idols, hold fast to convictions that contradict those of our leaders.

We think of these liberties as embodying the American tolerance for dissent. But our nation’s founders were not simply some kind of 18th century ACLU, fighting to protect everyone’s right to express even the fringiest beliefs. Instead, they protected minority opinions for a pragmatic reason: they recognized that, over time, the fringe rather than the mainstream might prove right. What they inscribed in the Constitution was an awareness of the perpetual possibility that we are mistaken. ~ Kathryn Schulz