Sunday, February 28, 2010

Square Meals

The menu for Sunday dinner will include braised pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn muffins and apple crisp. There will be honey in a little plastic container shaped like a bear to go with the muffins, and the sommelier recommends iced tea, vintage 2010. Norman Rockwell would be proud to sit at this table.

What about the rest of you? What are you cooking/eating today?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm With The Guy In the Moustache


Life’s Little Mysteries Dep’t

I have two pairs of good black leather gloves. One is almost brand-new. And yet, on this 14° (F) morning, I am leaving the house wearing a pair of mis-matched cotton mitts that the spousal unit wears to chop wood.

I started re-knitting the Anaconda last weekend and it has disappeared also. Gremlins? Brownies? Vengeful cats?

Quote of the Day

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider to be God-fearing and pious. ~ Aristotle.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Online Bookshelf - Three Little Kittens

Three Little Kittens, published in 1880 and available on Project Gutenberg. Scroll down for a picture of a stout soldierly-looking cat, complete with Pickelhaube.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Don't Think She Eats Here

Not with those abs.

While at last week's conference, I ate at a nearby Middle-Eastern restaurant. Twice. The second time I tried their $10 meze lunch buffet and I spent an hour and a half slowly making my way around the table. I'm still swooning.

There was a dish called esmezi that was a sort of Turkish salsa and man it was good over tabbouleh. I think it had chopped tomatoes, vinegar (?) and hot peppers in it but I can't find anything similar online and the Cornfedton Public Library, amazingly, has no Turkish cookbooks. Are there any Turkish ladies out there who care to part with the recipe?

Patterns of the Past - "...Her Infinite Variety"

McCall's 3347, from the early 20's; probably 1922, when hemlines and waistlines both began dropping. If you sewed your own dresses to save money (as was usually the case in those days before cheap mass-produced clothes were widely available), this pattern could produce a variety of outfits, as the pattern company obligingly demonstrated.

Second from left, a housedress, with a sports frock next to it, and on each end something dressy enough for bridge luncheons or even church (with the right hat, handbag and gloves).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crochet - More Vintage Edgings

From the American Thread Company, published in 1949. Two pages of instructions on how to make the edgings shown on the cover are on my Flickr account.

If I seem to be on a bit of a vintage edging and doily kick recently, it's because I stumbled across a cache of 40's and 50's thread company booklets that I had collected at yard sales and auctions several years ago. You're going to see a lot more, I'm afraid.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Vintage Images - Fruits and Flowers

(Copyright free, from Dover).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What Would Lincoln Eat?

Two weeks ago, I presented a recipe for a bizarre red, white and blue salad that a 1950’s home economist had invented as the first course for a Lincoln’s Birthday Dinner. It’s safe to say that Lincoln himself would never have been served such a concoction; I’m not even sure grapefruit was common on ante-bellum tables, I think it became fashionable about forty years later.

The sort of food Lincoln would have eaten in Springfield, Illinois as promising young lawyer and politician can be found in The Great Western Cook Book, or Table Receipts, Adapted to Western Housewifery, written in the 1850’s by a lady resident of the Utopian colony at New Harmony, Indiana.

(n.B.: For those unfamiliar with this era, the terms “West” and “Western” were used to refer to the new states of Ohio (1803), Indiana (1816), Illinois (1818), Michigan (1837) and Wisconsin (1848). It was not until after the American Civil War that people began referring to the country beyond the Mississippi River as the West, and the old Northwest Territory gradually became known as the Midwest).

Although there is a chapter on “Fancy Dishes” with instructions for making Charlotte Russe and Italian Meringues, the emphasis was on robust, plainly cooked fare that made use of the agricultural bounty of the area and was compatible with the primitive culinary technology of the time. Plainly cooked but not bland, I should point out; Mrs. Collins uses a variety of spices with a sure hand, and offers instructions for making mushroom catsup and curry powder.

Mrs. Collins starts her list of recipes with a chapter on soup. “An invited dinner-party should invariably be presented with a plate of soup as a first course, and no doubt it would be a judicious arrangement to have soup make its regular appearance at every day’s dinner.”

Rough and Ready. “Crack a shin-bone well, boil it in five or six quarts of water four hours. Take half a head of white cabbage, three carrots, two turnips, and three onions; chop them up fine and put them into the soup with pepper and salt, and boil two hours. Take out the bone and gristle half an hour before serving it.”

She adds “In preparing soups, always cut the pieces of meat you send in the tureen small enough to be eaten without introducing a knife and fork into the soup plate.”

Oysters would have been a rare winter-time treat in pre-war Illinois, but not unknown, particularly after the coming of the railroad. Civic groups and professional associations often imported barrels of oysters from the East for convivial dinners.

To Stew Oysters. “Take a quart of oysters, lay them out of the liquor, into cold water, take the liquor and strain it through a sieve, add an equal quantity of water, put it in a saucepan, then a tea-spoonful of black pepper, an ounce of sweet butter, then lay the oysters in, let them simmer a few minutes, have ready a deep dish with some nice slices of toasted bread, then pour the oysters over them.”

Stewed Mushrooms. “When mushrooms are old, pour boiling water over them; if they are young, it is unnecessary to do so; let them lie a few minutes in cold spring-water, then rub the skins off with a clean, coarse napkin. Cut them up in fine pieces, put them in a saucepan with a small quantity of water – barely cover them – add some butter, pepper, salt and them boil about six minutes; thicken them with cream. Toast a slice of bread very neatly, and lay it in a dish and pour the mushrooms over it. This is a very cheap dish, and very easy to prepare.”

Tomato Salad. “Slice fine, ripe tomatoes very thinly, and sprinkle with salt; let them lie a minute or so, then add pepper and vinegar, and a tea-spoonful of loaf-sugar.”

Sausage, Hoosier Fashion. “Peel six potatoes, lay them in a stewpan with salt and pepper sprinkled over them, then cut in small pieces three small sausages, a small slice of lean ham, minced neatly, the crumbs of two crackers, or a slice of toasted bread, crumbled over the surface, another layer of potatoes, pour in a cup of water with melted butter; stew it slowly.”

Succotash, a la Tecumseh. “Boil the beans from half to three-quarters of an hour, in water, a little salt. Cut off the corn from the cobs, boil the cobs with the beans, be sure and not cut too close to the cob. When the beans have boiled three-quarters of an hour, take out the cobs and put the corn in; let it, then, boil fifteen minutes, if the corn is tender, if not, twenty. Have more corn than beans. When it is boiled sufficiently, take a lump of butter as large as you think will be in proportion with the vegetables, roll it well in flour, put it in the pot with the beans, with black pepper enough to season it well. This is a real Western dish, and is very easily made.”

This seems like an awfully long time to boil lima beans and fresh corn, until we remember that while today’s vegetables have been bred for tenderness, the varieties grown back then were not.

Sally Lunn. “Take one pint of milk, quite warm, a tea-cupful of yeast; put them into a tray with sufficient flour to make it into a stiff batter. Let it stand two hours to rise, then add two ounces of sugar, dissolved in a tea-cupful of warm milk; rub a quarter of a pound of butter into some flour. Add flour sufficient to make it into a dough; let it stand half an hour. Then make it into a loaf, let it stand a little while to rise, and bake it in a moderate oven. Split it across three times while it is hot, and put plenty of fresh butter between. It is then ready for the table.”

Pie Plant Pudding. “Peel and wash well, four dozen stalks of Rhubarb, and put them into a stewpan with a little cinnamon, and as much sugar as will swetten it sufficiently. Stew it till reduced to a marmalade; then pass it through a hair sieve, add to it the yolks of four eggs, and one white, a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, half a nutmeg, some grated lemon-peel, and bet it all well together. Line the inside of a pie-dish, with good puff-paste, and put in the pudding. It takes half an hour to bake.”

The book can be found on the Michigan State University website, Feeding America.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Knitters With Too Much Time On Their Hands Dep't, II

(their tribute to Stephanie McPhee is a hoot, too).


Monday, February 15, 2010


I will be at a conference all this week; blogging will resume on Caturday!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What Shall I Do With Her?

Her name is (of course) Petunia; I found her in a local thrift store and she is about the size of the Drama Queen. The question is which houseplant will do justice to her coy porcine loveliness? Suggestions welcomed.

A Valentine Tea

More cunning and novel entertainment suggestions from that swell man-about-town, Paul Pierce.

Here's to a cup of tea. It holds intoxication great for me.
I find it makes me want to dare
Do bold things right then and there;
To steal a kiss from Phyllis fair, as she pours tea.

"Pink is the color scheme; the invitations are written on rose-tinted cardboard, cut heart-shape and adorned with floral love-knots. The hostess can wear a pink gown and the rosy-hue effect is also carried out in the dining-room decorations. On a blank space of the wall have two hearts formed of pink carnations and smilax, and pierced by a gilded arrow. Beneath, on a pink cardboard, lettered in gold, have this verse:

"Love always looks for love again;
If ever single it is twain,
And till it finds its counterpart
It bears about an aching heart."

The long table, covered with snowy cloth, has the valentine idea in heart design used as much as possible in the decorations. The candles are pink and the paper shades in the shape of roses; pink bonbons bearing appropriate mottoes and tiny cakes covered with pink frosting, are in heart-shaped dishes; around the dishes are garlands of green, caught in a bow-knot with a narrow pink satin ribbon. In the center of the table is a large heart-shaped cake, fringed with smilax and pink roses, and on the top, pink figures numbered from one to sixteen. Before the cake is cut, a silver tray holding corresponding numbers is passed, with the explanation that one of the pieces contains a tiny gold heart, and that the finder will surely succumb to Cupid's darts before another year. In another piece is a dime which will bring the lucky possessor success, wealth and happiness.

The place-cards consist of heart shaped booklets with the name of the guest in gold, and an artistic sketch of Cupid equipped with bow and arrow. On the leaves are the following conundrums:

What kind of a ship has two mates and no captain? (Courtship.)

What is the difference between a mouse and a young woman? (One wishes to harm the cheese, the other to charm the he's.)

The souvenirs are square cards, on which are quaint pen sketches, and rhymes, each peculiarly adapted to the one that receives it, and, of course, more or less personal.

The ices are heart-shaped and the two maids who act as waitresses represent the Queen of Hearts, attired in dresses bedecked with hearts, and small crowns of hearts upon their heads.

Have a heart hung from the chandelier, the guests in turn being placed about eight feet from it, then request them to hold the left hand over one eye, raise the right arm even with the heart, and keeping it in that position, walk rapidly straight ahead and hit it with a finger, striking horizontally. It is declared easy to do until tried."

Saturday, February 13, 2010


(swiped from William the Coroner).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Quote of the Day

The right dress in the right place will not only insure approval of your mode of dress, but will also manifest your breeding and your tact. Outside of a shop, a dress is not, in itself, a beautiful thing, only as it is part of yourself; and it then becomes beautiful in association with you and the background, atmosphere, or surroundings in which it is worn. ~Harry Collins, The ABC of Dress, 1923.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Online Bookshelf -The Tale of Old Dog Spot

From a popular early 20th century children's author...not much of a story but who can resist such a nattily-attired cat?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flanking Movement

It has been too cold for the cats to go out since before Christmas, but last week during a brief thaw I opened the back door to let Her Majesty venture forth. She paused on the stoop just long enough to sneer at the dogs and then made a quick hop for the gap between the fence and the house.

And got stuck. Wedged, one might say, and by the time I pried her loose Funnyface had decorated her hindquarters liberally with dog spit.

I have reduced her rations to half a cup of diet kibble in the morning and again at night, may the God of fat kittehs forgive me.

Patterns of the Past - Needlecraft, September 1914

Some designs are timeless classics. This is not one of them.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Vintage Valentines from TipNut

More on her website.

Tatting - a 1949 Doily

At the request of Here-Be-Tatters' Diane, a doily from the Star Book #66, published in 1949. Instructions for four sizes are on my Flickr account.

Monday, February 8, 2010

An Inconvenient Truth

People who own German Shepherds should know better than to buy microfiber bedspreads.

Vintage Images - Bookplates

Copyright-free, from Dover.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


A Tale Of Two Sundays - February

From 52 Sunday Dinners, on the first Sunday in February, 1927, the following menu was suggested: Cream of Pea Soup with Toasted Crackers, Cold Roast Leg of Lamb with Heated Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Mashed Yellow Turnips, Tomato Sauce, Celery, Cucumber Pickles and Apple Tapioca Pudding with Whipped Cream.

Cream of Pea Soup

“Rinse a can of peas with cold water and keep out ¼ cup. Simmer the remainder of the can with a slice of onion, small bay leaf, a little parsley, teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, 2 cups boiling water for 20 minutes, then put through strainer, mashing through as much of the pulp as possible. Bring a pint of milk to scald in double boiler, thicken with tablespoon butter blended with 1 ½ tablespoons flour, and when the milk is creamy add the peas, etc. Stir well, and just before serving add the whole peas.”

Apple Tapioca Pudding with Whipped Cream

“Pare, core and quarter 3 or 4 tart apples and put in a deep dish to bake. To a pint of milk allow 2 tablespoons tapioca that does not need soaking, and cook in double boiler until tapioca looks clear. Break 2 eggs into a bowl, add ½ cup sugar, a pinch of salt, and beat until foamy, then add a teaspoon of lemon extract, and stir into the cooked tapioca. When the apples are tender turn over them the tapioca mixture, and return to the oven for 20 minutes. Serve cold with the whipped cream, which may be slightly sweetened and flavored with ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.”

Mrs Berolzheimer's recommended menu for Sunday the 1st of February 1953 offers a Lincoln’s Birthday Dinner consisting of a Grapefruit, Pomegranate and Blueberry Appetizer Salad, Fried Chicken, Buttered Steamed Barley, Harvard Beets, Pumpkin Pie, Coffee and Milk. I think the appetizer was the closest thing to a red-white-and-blue salad she and her myrmidons could devise. They offer no recipe with that title in the accompanying 500 Salads book; perhaps the hostess was supposed to sprinkle this grapefruit salad with blueberries and pomegranate seeds?

Grapefruit Appetizer Salad

“Remove seeds from halves of grapefruit. Cut around inside edge as close to shell as possible. Separate grapefruit segments from membrane, cut out remaining membrane and arrange romaine, escarole or chicory around inside of shell. Cut grapefruit segments into pieces and heap up in shell. Serve with French dressing.”

Note: French dressing, at this time in American culinary history, referred not to the red ketchup-like stuff we know today, but rather a plain oil and vinegar dressing.

Of the two menus, I think I’d go with 1927 again, although my leg of lamb would be served hot and without the tomato sauce.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Friday, February 5, 2010

Quote of the Day

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

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Online Bookshelf - The Cock and the Mouse and the Little Red Hen

Evil is punished, virtue triumphs, and some poor baby foxes face a bleak and hungry future, at Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm Shocked

At the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today on the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) expressed his concern that repealing the rule would pave the way for allowing "alcohol use, adultery, fraternization, and body art" in the military.

Because as we all know, never, at any time in American history, has there ever been any alcohol use, adultery, fraternization and body art in the military.

Patterns of the Past - Flowers to Embroider and Cross-stitch

A McCall's pattern from 1963. The envelope includes half a dozen cutwork designs, as well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Crochet - Vintage Toys From Purple Kitty

Real life is interfering with blogging this week (and next week, and probably the week after).

I have not had time to dig something out of my stash, so I am going to link to some vintage patterns for crocheted toys from the wonderful ladies at Purple Kitty. Enjoy!

(Scroll about half-way down the page).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Vintage Images - Bird Prints

(By John James Audubon, and copyright-free from Dover).