Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Please Stand By

As you can see, I'm fiddling with the blog look. I may get the kinks worked out of this one; and then again I may decide to go back to the old template.

Patterns of the Past - Sundresses

From the April, 1953 Workbasket. Patterns for sundress with capelets or jackets to make them decent enough to wear downtown were very popular.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cat Mission Statement

Raising Duncan Classics
The last panel says it all.

Knitting - A Doily from 1953

A knitted doily from Workbasket magazine, April 1953. Instructions on my Flickr account.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Above and Beyond

My youngest sister drove down from Detroit with her family today; which is how the spousal unit found himself having dinner at a local restaurant with three children under the age of eight.

I'd put him in for another medal but he's already walking lopsided.

South of the Border

Although it is hard to imagine, in this year of grace 2010, a generation ago the American culinary landscape (outside the Southwest, and major urban areas like Chicago and, thankfully, Detroit) was singularly devoid of decent Mexican cooking. I was stationed in Quantico in 1979 and remember being referred to the near-by Taco Bell when I inquired about local Mexican restaurants.

The recipes contained in this cookbook, one of the Better Homes and Gardens series and published in 1977, include instructions for preparing staples like tortillas and chorizo, which at that time could not be found in the average American supermarket. They look authentic to me, although my mother the Tejana is no longer around for me to consult.

Flour Tortillas

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking poder
1 tablespoon lard or shortening
½ to ¾ cup warm water (110°)

“In mixing bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in lard till mixture resembles cornmeal. Add ½ cup warm water and mix until dough can be gathered into a ball (if needed add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Let dough rest 15 minutes. Divide dough into 12 portsions, shape into balls. On a lightly floured survace, roll each ball to a 7-inch round. Trim uneven edges to make round tortillas. Cook in ungreased skillet over medium heat about 1 ½ minutes per side or until lightly browned. Makes 12 tortillas.”

(I have to confess that my own tortilla recipe uses Bisquick™ and that the grad-school classmate who gave it to me swore it is the real deal. Her mother and grandmother use it and although their last name is Loewenberg they were both born and raised in Mexico City).

Canned or jarred salsa is readily available even in my tiny village, but now that it is summer and I have eaten the very first tomato from our garden this morning (woohoo!), I will be making the fresh kind until the supply runs out.

Salsa Cruda

4 medium tomatoes (1 ½ pounds)
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup finely chopped green bell peper
¼ cup olive oil or cooking oil
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped canned green chili peppers
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
dash pepper

“To peel tomatoes, dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds, plunge into cold water. Slip skins off, chop tomatoes. Combined chopped tomatoes with onion, celery, green bell pepper, olive or or cooking oil, green chili peppers, vinegar, mustard seed, coriander seed, salt, and pepper, Cover; refrigerate several hours or overnight, stirring occasionally. Serve as a relish. Makes about 3 cups.”

Okay, I use a food processor and a lot more onion and pepper, and I don’t bother with peeling the tomatoes. The oil/vinegar ratio is acceptable, but I use 5 tablespoons of vinegar to one of oil. This is not as puckery as it sounds. I also put in as much chopped fresh coriander as the herb garden is willing to give me.

All in all, this is a decent cookbook and one that doesn’t try to pass off bastardized versions of bad American dishes as Mexican. I am thinking in particular of the recipe for Insalata Sombrero from my copy of a Gephardt’s Mexican Foods promotional cookbook. Surely no senora in San Diego or Guadalajara ever…ever…served her family a salad consisting of a scoop of cottage cheese on a pineapple slice, liberally sprinkled with chili powder.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An Announcement about Vintage Project Tuesdays

Due to my recent over-indulgence on eBay in vintage Workbasket magazines (I don't know who Feona Keitzman was, but bless her for not throwing them away), Tuesdays in July and August are going to feature crochet patterns exclusively from that worthy little periodical. Starting on July 6th, you're in for four weeks of potholder patterns and five of edgings.

(This coming Tuesday I'll post the knitted doily that's shown here).

I have a real weakness for these Workbasket patterns, some of which is of course because the size of the magazine makes scanning very easy!


funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Online Bookshelf - Golden Amazons of Venus

With a title and a cover like this, who needs a plot?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Patterns of the Past - Summer Clothes from 1953

From Workbasket, April 1953, some summer dresses to make for mother and daughter.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sewing - Evening Blouses from 1949

From Smart Sewing, 1st Edition, 1949, two variations on an evening blouse; the one shown in taffeta, and one in gathered piqué. Instructions on my Flickr account.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vintage Images - Les Fleurs

French print from Patricia's blog.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Sundays - June

On the third Sunday in June, 1927, our homemaker served the following dinner to her hungry brood; cream of potato soup, chicken salad, hot buttered rice, escalloped tomatoes, cucumber salad, spice cake and apple amber.

Lord have mercy.

I can’t imagine eating such a meal on a hot, muggy Sunday afternoon, let alone preparing it in a kitchen with (possibly) a coal-fired stove and no air-conditioning. Paring the menu down a bit – say, to chicken salad, escalloped tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and apple amber—renders it a lot more appetizing. The chicken salad was simply diced, cooked chicken marinated in French dressing and then mixed with an equal amount of diced celery, served on lettuce and garnished with mayonnaise. The escalloped tomatoes, which were baked with green pepper and onion under a mantle of buttered breadcrumbs, could be prepared early in the morning and re-heated. And the apple amber makes good use of the last of the previous winter’s apples, by now a bit on the withered side no matter how carefully they were stored.

Apple Amber. Cover bottom of baking dish with ¼ inch water. Pare, core and slice thin tart apples. Lay slices in baking dish with sugar sprinkled between the layers. Fill dish to within an inch of the top and finish with a thick sprinkle of sugar and dots of butter. A little cinnamon or nutmeg may be sprinkled over. Bake until apples can be easily pierced with a toothpick. Leave in dish and serve plain or with whipped cream.

(The recipe doesn’t specify, but I hope this would have been served cold).

The menu from 1953 is even worse. Cream of pea soup, stuffed lamb roll, Brabant potatoes (which are a fancy name for hash browns), cauliflower with browned crumbs, watermelon balls and iced tea. I’m afraid the only menu items I could even face on a day like today would be the watermelon balls and the iced tea. 1927 wins again this month.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm Sorry, My Chrystal Ball Is In For Repairs This Week

It is right after lunch and I am about to step into the elevator on the ground floor. A young woman approaches me.

She: Excuse me, I need to find the Health Department.
Me: Well, the first three floors of the building are all the Health Department. What exactly did you need?
She: Like, the Health Department.

That certainly narrows it down.

Me: Do you know which section of the Health Department you need? Immunizations? Animal Control?
She: My friends told me to come here. I need the place where you get, you know, checked out and stuff.

She is about 19. I begin fumbling for the most tactful way to ask if she is looking for our STD clinic or the teen pregnancy program, which is possibly unfair. Maybe she's there for a TB test?

Me: Do you need a medical exam or a screening?
She: I need to get, you know, checked. My friends said I had to, like, come here.

To my relief, a colleague who works in Communicable Diseases – which includes the STD clinic – gets off the elevator.

Me: Barb*, can you help this young lady?

Exeunt Me.


Today is my second day off since Memorial Day* (two of the days I promised myself vanished due to circs beyond my control, as they say). I would be looking forward to just lying around enjoying it if I didn't have to dig out from underneath everything I've been pushing to the back burner for the past two and a half weeks.

However, regular blogging has resumed. Thanks for your patience.

(*and if I were a truly conscientious volunteer I'd be up at the chapter office today, helping to unload trucks).