Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tatting - A Collar from 1950

From Workbasket magazine, November 1950. Two pages of instructions (and advertisements) on my Flickr account. Even if you weren't interested in the collar (and I'm not), that's a nice holiday motif for a snowflake ornament.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nothing Like This Ever Happens When I Go Shopping

This is now officially my second favorite version.

Vintage Images - Christmas

It's almost December, so here are some holiday cards from Dover.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Tale of Two Sundays - December

No fancy holiday dinner here, just homey Sunday fare for 1927 – Boiled Chicken with Egg and Parsley Sauce, Boiled Rice, Mashed Carrots, Escalloped Tomatoes, Waldorf Salad, Date Muffins, Orange Pudding, and Coffee.

Two desserts seemed to be the norm for Sundays in 1927; of course, the leftovers could have formed the basis of Monday’s breakfast, Monday always being the kind of day where things are rushed and time is short. The remains of the boiled chicken undoubtedly wound up in some kind of casserole on Monday night. The recipe for boiled rice is not as bad as some from that era, it only calls for 20 minutes of steady boiling. When did this country stop cooking starches to death, I wonder—my Detroit Times cookbook instructs me to boil macaroni for 40 minutes, for example.

The orange pudding looks tasty and cheap; a sort of orange-flavored bread pudding calling for breadcrumbs, one orange and one egg.

Orange Pudding. Cover 1 cup bread crumbs with 1 pint milk and let stand until milk is absorbed, then add ½ cup sugar, the yolk of 1 egg, and the grated rind of an orange. Turn into buttered baking dish and bake for 1 hour in moderate oven. Remove from oven, turn over pudding the strained juice of 1 orange, and a meringue made with the egg white beaten with 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar. Return to oven to brown the meringue.

The 1953 cook was more ambitious, serving her family Tomato Bouillon, Roast Ribs of Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Lyonnaise Carrots, Celery Cabbage Salad, and a Jellied Plum Pudding. I can’t find the Jellied Plum Pudding in any of my Culinary Institute pamphlets, but here’s Plum Fluff, a simple dessert from a time when no one worried about eating uncooked egg whites.

Plum Fluff

1 #2 ½ can plums (about 16 oz)
1 T. lemon juice
2 egg whites
4 T. confectioner’s sugar
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Drain plums, remove pits and mash plums with fork; add lemon juice. Beat egg whites until stiff; beat sugar in gradually. Fold whipped cream and plums into meringue. Chill about 1 hour.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Friday, November 26, 2010

Quote of the Day

Speak your mind, but ride a fast horse. ~ old cowboy saying.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"With signs and wonders, and with divers miracles..."

The Lions are beating the Patriots.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

'Tis The Season To Live Dangerously

I can't get today's Pattern of the Past to load, so here's a silly cat video.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Knitting - A Blouse in Larger Sizes from 1953

From Smart Knitting and Needlecraft, 1953, a knitted blouse in those hard to find larger sizes. Instructions on my Flickr account.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vintage Images - Thanksgiving

Some black and white Thanksgiving advertising cuts, copyright-free from the nice folks at Dover.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

La Patronne Ne Mange Pas Ici, Part Deux

There's a plastic squeeze bottle labeled "Fox Urine" on the kitchen counter.

They Also Serve

Last week’s post stirred up a number of comments on the presence, or absence, of hired help in American homes during the first half of the 20th century. At least judging from the tone of my pre-1960 cookbooks, the expectation was that a middle-class family could afford full or part-time help, particularly for parties. And although cookbooks do tend to present the ideal as opposed to the attainable, a sober look at economics supports this assumption. Particularly in regions where there was a large, undereducated and disenfranchised demographic (such as African-Americans in the South, Irish in the Northeast, and Hispanics in the Southwest), one of the few—if not only—employment opportunities for women lay in domestic service.

This is still true. When I was a first lieutenant, stationed in California in the mid-1980’s, even on my pay I could afford the services of a nice lady named Mrs. Lopez who sent someone over every Monday to clean our house (I was with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at that time and our CG, General Comfort—grossly misnamed, that man—firmly believed that we should spend at least 3 weeks out of every month living in tents way out in the High Mojave desert and bombing the hell out of the local real estate. I would come home, do laundry, and head back out again. It cured me forever of my former fondness for camping). It never occurred to me that I should check Mrs. Lopez’ citizenship, so it’s probably a good thing I have no plans to run for public office.

Currently, the domestic and kitchen staffs at the nursing home that shelters my father are made up entirely of recent emigrants from the Balkans and the Middle East. When their English gets better and their prospects improve, they’ll move on to less exhausting and more remunerative occupations. In the meantime, I must say that I’m very grateful to them. They take much better care of him than I could.

Looking at my 1955 copy of The Supermarket Cookbook, I find an entire section of menus for entertaining that take the servant question into account. These are all for ladies’ luncheons, but I'll admit that the spousal unit would be lucky to get this kind of cooking for dinner.


Deviled Crabs, Potato Chips
Hot Rolls
Mixed Green Salad
Wine Jelly, Whipped Cream

Jellied Consommé
Carrot strips, Gherkins
Chicken Mousse with Green Salad
Melba Toast
Canned Cherries and Whole Apricots

Broiled Grapefruit
Stuffed Celery, Olives
Noodle Ring with Creamed Mushrooms
Lettuce with Tomato Dressing
Sponge Cake with Butterscotch Sauce


Hot Mushroom Canapés, Relishes
Cheese Soufflé
Spinach with Rice, Corn Sticks
Mixed Green Salad
Melons filled with Berries

Consommé Bellevue
Che-Braz*, Relishes
Broiled Chops
Potatoes Hashed in Cream
Artichokes with Vinaigrette Sauce
Hot Rolls
Orange Soufflé

(*Che-Braz are a hot hors-d’oeuvre made of grated cheese and chopped Brazil nuts. I’ll spare you the recipe).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bill Mauldin Was Right

Earlier this week a couple of Darwin Award candidates took it upon themselves to assault three nicely dressed gentlemen (one of them in a wheelchair) on a street in London. Pity those suit-and-tie clad sissies were, respectively, a Royal Marine, a British Army captain, and a member of the SAS, returning from a reception in their honor at Buckingham Palace.

Why is there never an anonymous bystander with a camera around when you need one? I’d pay money for that video.

(h/t to Popehat).


Friday, November 19, 2010

I Should Be So Lucky

Me: Are we having server issues? I haven't gotten a single email since yesterday afternoon.

Departmental IT Functionary: Maybe no one wants to talk to you.

Quote of the Day

Do well and you will have no need for ancestors. ~ Voltaire

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Damn those Pilgrim Fathers

I have a quarterly report due at the end of the month to the agency that funds 49% of my operating budget. I was just patting myself on the back for having all next week to finish it when it dawned on me that it's a short week due to Thanksgiving. Arrrghh.

The Online Bookshelf - Her Letter

A romance in rhyme, with wonderful faux ante-bellum illustrations. At Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prisoner of Love

Explanatory note: Thing One is twenty-two years old, has big brown eyes and curly dark hair, and is cute as a bug.

Me: Where have you been all afternoon?

Thing One: One of the sanitarians took me over to the county jail to do a kitchen inspection.

Thing Two: I see they let you back out.

Me: Maybe we should dust him for fingerprints.

Knitting - A "Modern Blouse" from 1948

A blouse knitted in grey with red triangles, from Modern Knitting, 1948. Instructions on my Flickr account.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Better Late Than Whenever

I've been trying to upload this week's vintage project and something is sticking, so I'm going to bed. I'll try again tomorrow.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Conversation Stopper

Thing Two: (tripping over a big cardboard box on the floor of my office)What's this?

Me: Condoms.

Vintage Catalog Cuts - Men's Clothing

1930's catalog illustrations from Dover Publications.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tea and Sandwiches

I have been dipping into my Detroit Times cookbook (Practical Recipes for the Housewife, published during the allegedly-Great Depression), just for enjoyment. It appears to have been slapped together in a big hurry by the women’s pages staff (remember women’s pages in the newspaper? They’re called lifestyle pages now, but the content is the same) from contributions by subscribers, and it sure doesn’t look as though an editor or a proof-reader was ever called in.

There is a Table of Contents but no index, and in some chapters you run across recipes that clearly don’t belong there.

In the Menus section everything runs into each other. The sub-heading An Automobile Lunch lists a nice little cold collation to be taken along on your Sunday drive (remember Sunday drives?) and includes Cold Sliced Ham with Parker House Rolls, Brown Bread Sandwiches with Celery and Olive Filling, Potato Salad, Dill Pickles, Chocolate Cake, and Coffee. Very tasty.

But then it segues right into a meal of Baked Ham with Cider Sauce, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Creamed Green Beans, Head Lettuce Salad and Peach Cobbler, all delicious but with the exception of the sweet potatoes, not exactly picnic food. This menu just possibly wandered over from the Sunday Dinners page.

I would certainly prepare this; what a lovely, homey supper it would be. I'm getting hungry reading it.

The Celery and Olive Sandwiches turn up again under the sub-heading of School Girl Parties. “Whether you are planning an afternoon snack a-la-teatime or having school friends in for the evening, the following menus will be found helpful. They are inexpensive and easy to prepare so that little help from mother or the family cook will be needed.”

Celery and Olive Sandwiches

1 cup finely-diced celery
¼ cup chopped, stuffed olives
1 loaf whole-wheat bread
“Mix chopped celery and olives with enough mayonnaise to spread. Spread between slices of buttered whole-wheat bread. Cut into squares and garnish each sandwich with a slice of stuffed olive. Makes 18 small sandwiches.”

Interesting that mayonnaise is the mortar of choice; tea sandwiches in this era were more frequently bound with cream cheese. I wonder if mayonnaise was used because it was cheaper.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Friday, November 12, 2010

Quote of the Day

Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia. ~ Charles Schulz

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Perhaps I Do Need A Life

Me (making conversation while waiting for staff meeting to start): So, I was reading about radiation poisoning last night--
Health Dept Colleague: You know something? You are really wierd.

But We In It Shall Be Remembered

Matt Simmons, USAF; Brian Blair, USMC; Robert Simmons, USA.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10th

Happy Birthday and Semper Fi.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Toy Patterns at freevintagecrochet.com

It's been a heckuva week here so I am shirking my vintage pattern-sharing duties and posting instead a link to the Free Vintage Crochet site. These kitties (and more) are from the Star Crochet Book 39. Enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Vintage Images - Birds

Before they all fly away for the winter, some vintage bird clipart from Dover.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Tale of Two Sundays - November

A very robust menu from 1927 – Scotch broth, pork chops in casserole, baked apples, turnips, potatoes and boiled onions, a lettuce salad, and Washington pie. And a nap afterwards, I should think.

Where “Washington Pie” gets its name is a mystery, since it is not a pie but rather a cream-filled white cake. It was at one time a very popular dessert. This recipe has unfortunately been modernized and is missing the layers and filling (there’s a shortcut on the King Arthur Flour website that’s closer to the traditional version).

Washington Pie. Beat 3 eggs for 1 minute, add 1 ½ cups sugar and beat 5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour measured after sifting and beat 5 minutes. Add ½ 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.

The 1953 menu is lighter but more elaborate. Quails baked in wine, duchesse potatoes, baked broccoli (why would one bake broccoli?), avocado fruit salad and pumpkin Alaska pie. The salad recipe is fussy fifties cooking at its finest.

Avocado Fruit Salad Bowl

2 grapefruit
2 oranges
French dressing (oil and vinegar, at this epoch)
French endive
1 avocado
Cottage cheese mayonnaise
Peel grapefruit and oranges, removing segments whole. Marinate in dressing; chill. Line salad bown with romaine and endive. Pare and half avocado, removing seed. Cut one half into serving portions, and place in salad bowl. Fill cavity of remaining half with mayonnaise. Arrange orange and grapefruit sections around avocado. Serves 4.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Notes From a Conference

Mental Health Professional (leading panel discussion on compassion fatigue): Because fantasizing about bad things happening to toxic co-workers really doesn't help.

Public Health R.N. (very quietly): Oh yes it does.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Quote of the Day

Eternity was in our lips and eyes,
Bliss in our brows' bent; none our parts so poor
But was a race of heaven. ~ William Shakespeare

Thursday, November 4, 2010


The Online Bookshelf - The Slizzers

From 1953, and the story doesn't appear to have anything to do with the wonderful BEM (bug-eyed monster) on the cover. From Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Difference Between Cats And Dogs

On a Claire Day

Patterns of the Past - School Days

Pattern ad from Smart Knitting, 1953. You, too, can make all your children's school clothes!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mad About The Boys

Thing One has taken to calling me Mom. Thing Two prefers Boss Lady, and occasionally, Frau Kommandant.

Sewing - A Half-Circle Skirt and Stole from 1949

From Smart Sewing, 1st Edition, 1949. A half-circle skirt and matching stole to make from instructions on my Flickr account.

Monday, November 1, 2010