Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm Full Of Surprises

(copyright-free images from Dover).

I am sitting in a planning meeting for the divisional Christmas party. We are thinking up activities, since eating and talking aren’t enough.

Me: I can teach a session on how to make origami Christmas ornaments.

Family Case Management Supervisor: Wait….you do origami?

Me: Uh, yeah. Simple stuff. I could do a Santa or a penguin or something.

FMCS: You do origami?

Me: I knit, too.

FMCS (begins flapping her hands wildly and hyper-ventilating): This is really freaking me out!

Singing for My Supper

Off to the Gateway City where another conference awaits me. I'd rather not go, but I'm teaching one of the workshops.

Blogging will resume on Caturday!

(And to think that one of the reasons the spousal unit was glad I took this job was because it would involve less travel).

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Left Overs: How to Transform them into Palatable and Wholesome Dishes, with many New and Valuable Recipes, by Mrs. Sara Tyson Rorer (1898).

Indian Hash. Chop fine sufficient cold-roasted duck, chicken or turkey to make one pint. cut a good-sized onion in very thin slices. Pare, core, and chop fine one apple. Put two tablespoonfuls of butter in a saucepan, add the apple and the onion; toss until brown, then ad not more than an eighth of a teaspoonful of powdered mace, a half teaspoonful of salt, a teaspoonful of curry powder, a tablespoonful of flour, a teaspoonful of sugar; mix and add a half pint of stock or water; now add the meat, stir constantly until smoking hot, then stand over hot water, covering closely for twenty minutes. Add two tablespoonfuls of lemon juice and serve in a border of rice.

Mock Terrapin or a la Newburg. Pieces of cold-roasted chicken, turkey or duck may be used for making terrapin or a la Newburg. Cut the meat into pieces of fairly good size; measure and to each pint of this allow a half pint of sauce; rub together two tablespoonfuls of butter and one of flour. Rub to a smooth paste the hard-boiled yolks of three eggs; add to the butter and flour a gill and a half (three-quarters of a cup) of milk; stir until smoking hot. Do not let the mixture boil; then add this a little at a time to the yolks of the eggs, rubbing until you have a perfectly smooth golden sauce; press this through a sieve. Before beginning the sauce, sprinkle the chicken with four tablespoonfuls of sherry or Madeira, the latter preferable. Add the chicken to the sauce, stir until each piece is thoroughly covered; add a half teaspoonful of salt, just a drop of extract of nutmeg or a grating of nutmeg, an eight of a spoon of white pepper (black pepper, of course, may be used); cover and stand over hot water, stirring occasionally until the mixture is smoking hot.

Chicken Cutlets. Chop cold cooked chicken or turkey very fine; to each pint allow a half can of mushrooms chopped fine. Put one tablespoonful of butter and two of flour into a saucepan, mix, and add a half pint of chicken stock. When smooth and thick take from the fire, add the yolks of two eggs, the chicken and mushrooms, a teaspoonful of salt, quarter of a teaspoonful of pepper, a teaspoonful of onion juice, a grating of nutmeg, and a tablespoonful of chopped parsley; stir over the fire for a moment turn out to cool; when cold form into cutlet-shaped croquettes, dip in egg and bread crumbs, and fry in smoking hot fat. these may be served plain, with a garnish of peas, or they may be served with sauce Bechamel.

(Mrs. Rorer was the doyenne of the Philadelphia Cooking School and a widely recognized culinary expert during the last few decades of the 19th century and the first few decades of the 20th. A list of her cookbooks available online in various formats is here).

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving with the In-Laws

I had forgotten how many anecdotes about my husband and his four brothers' childhoods included the phrase "...bleeding like a stuck pig."

Quote of the Day

In a cat's eyes, all things belong to the cat. ~ English proverb

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Between the tryptophan in the turkey, and the two glasses of wine I drank, I've slept most of the day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Knitting - The Priscilla War Work Book

Copyright 1917 and available for free download in a variety of formats from

Inanimate Objects

The headquarters building of our local Big Corporation is so big (it’s a twenty minute walk from one end of their main complex to the other. I’ve hiked it) that the mail is delivered by robots. They scurry happily around, beeping and looking like benign Daleks, and are programmed to stop at the various offices in response to sensors that are hidden either in the walls or the floor, I’m not sure which.

Unfortunately there are a lot of my kind of people working there and a recent memo was sent out to ask employees to please stop putting masking tape across the carpeting to confuse and misdirect the robots. The suits also want an end to the practice of decorating them with all kinds of odds and ends including, or so I’m told, some very rude and inventive signage.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Smitty got promoted again -- he's a lieutenant now. Pity I can't find any of my old bars to hand off to him.

I have to write his evaluation next week and I'm having a tough time coming up with anything bad to say about him.

Vintage Images - Thanksgiving

I thought I had some vintage Thanksgiving clipart to download from Dover, but I can't find it. Here's something instead for those of you expecting the in-laws over on Thursday.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recipe For A Sunday Afternoon

Take one box in which a large piece of furniture (such as a desk chair) has been delivered. Leave inside of it the packing material, the sheaves of cardboard and all the fascinating rustly bits of foam. Place it on its side.

Insert one cat (two cats are better, if you have an extra).

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Friday, November 18, 2011

Quote of the Day

...on a horse you miss the sensation of direct control that you have with a machine. With a machine, you press something, and if a positive reaction does not follow, you get out and fix something else. Not so with the horse. When you get upon him you cut yourself off from all accurately calculable connection with the world. He is, in the last analysis, an independent personality. His feet are on the ground, and yours are not. ~ Gertrude Warner

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


It is of course possible that this was done for some commercial reason. But I cling to the hope that there is still room in this world for inspired lunacy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Knitting - The Jubilee Collection

From Purple Kitty -- forty patterns for men and women (including a woman's cardigan with a portrait collar big enough to hide a small child in). As always, available free or in an ebook. No date given but it looks like it's a year or two either side of 1960.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vintage Images - Japanese Birds

From Dover.

(I was sent a copy of the recently-released special report on the Fukushima Dai-ichi incident today. Please don't forget those people).

I Wonder Where She Gets It From

Xena: We’re under a tornado watch?

Me: Yep. If the sirens go off, grab your flashlight and head for the basement.

Xena: (straight-faced). Aren’t there zombies down there?

Me: Homeless zombies.

Xena: Sounds redundant. I have never heard of a zombie retaining a permanent residence.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

For Love of Oranges

We lost power last night and it stayed out for fourteen hours, which is why a fly on the wall might have spotted me this morning, trying to make coffee on the woodstove.

(I cheated. I heated a kettle full of water over the fire and then poured it into the coffeemaker).

While waiting for the electricity to return I looked up some of the vintage cookbooks I have loaded to my Nook™ -- just in case I had to cook dinner over the stove as well, I thought I might as well get some ideas.

Margery Daw in the Kitchen, and What She Learned There, was published in 1881 and although the usual 19th century restrictions apply (there are recipes for making yeast and tooth powder as well as rather pathetic instructions for treating infant cholera that could not possibly have done one bit of good), I was surprised to see so many dishes that called for oranges, particularly in a cookbook published in Auburn, New York. They were undoubtedly a splurge, but they seem to have been commonly available.

Orange Pudding. One cup of sugar, one-half cup of rolled crackers, two eggs, one half tablespoonful of butter, one orange, one quart of milk; grate the rind and squeeze the juice. Bake like a custard, and serve cold.

Somewhat skimpy, those instructions. This recipe’s a bit more thorough.

Orange Pudding. Slice four sweet oranges, having previously pared them, one quart of milk, one cup of sugar, two tablespoonfuls of cornstarch, and the yolks of three eggs. Scald he milk, and just as it comes to boiling, add the corn-starch mixed in a little cold milk, and the sugar and eggs thoroughly beaten; boil until well thickened. When cold, pour over the sliced oranges. Make a meringue of the whites of three eggs, and a small cup of sugar. Spread on the pudding, and ornament with sliced oranges.

Orange Sherbet. One quart of water, one pint of sugar, two tablespoonfuls of gelatine, and the juice of ten oranges. Pour a cup of boiling water on the gelatine and when dissolved and cold, mix the orange juice and sugar with it; strain and freeze.

Jelly Oranges. One dozen fine oranges, one package of gelatine dissolved in one cup of cold water, three cups of white sugar, juice of the oranges and grated rind of three, the juice of two lemons, two cups of boiling water, one-fourth teaspoonful of cinnamon. Soak the gelatine three hours in the cold water; cut a small hole in the top of each orange, and take out all the pulp carefully with a teaspoon handle, not tearing the edges of the holes; (the smaller the hole in the orange, the better the dish will look.) Lay the empty skins in cold wter, strain the juice through coarse muslin upon the sugar, add the spice, pour the boiling water on the gelatine, add sugar and juice. Strain through a flannel bag, not squeezing, as it will make it cloudy. Wipe off the orange skins, set close in a dish and fill very full with the jelly, as it shrinks in cooling. Next day cut each in half with a pen-knife, being careful to cut the skin all around before cutting through the jelly. A large knife dipped for an instant in hot water and quickly drawn through the jelly part cuts more smoothly than a cold knife. Pile them in a dish with green leaves around them. It is a much easier dish to make than would appear at first. If desired, the oranges can be served whole.

Oranges a la Surprise. Take fine oranges and cut them around the middle with a sharp knife; take out all the pulp clean with a teaspoon, taking care not to tear them. Throw the empty skins into cold water until you are ready to fill them. Take them, wipe them, fill half the empty skins with whipped c ream, and the other half made with jelly made of the pulp taken out. The jelly can be left the color of the orange, or colored a beautiful red with cochineal syrup, which is very pleasing in contrast with the white cream. These can be set on wine glasses or small cups while hardening. After the orange skins have been filled, and set in the ice chest until hardened, serve either alternately jelly and cream on a napkin on a platter, or place together and tie with colored ribbons. The surprise is pleasant when the ribbons are untied. This is a very effective dish and easily prepared.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Friday, November 11, 2011

War Stories

Popeye lived in a little Wisconsin railroad town, in a tall, ugly brick house across from the yards. He was a bulldog, barrel-chested and gargoyle-faced, the terror of every cat for six blocks, and the terror, too, of the unfortunate fellow who played the bass drum in the town band.

Small town life was good for a dog in those days. There were no such things as leash laws, cars were few and usually driven slowly to save on gas, and nobody panicked and called Animal Control when he showed up at the high school every afternoon and threw himself down outside the gymnasium doors to wait until his boy came out.

On the morning of his eighteenth birthday Popeye’s boy and two of his friends hitched a ride down to the recruiting office in Madison. A few days later he and a thousand other teenagers were at Camp Custer, Michigan going through that time-honored military tradition known as induction; and as part of the process, each lad was handed a box and ordered to take off every stitch of civilian clothing so that it could be sent back to their families. When the package arrived, the boy’s mother took it to his room to unpack, only to discover, after she had everything put away, that there was a shoe missing.

Now, she was a Depression survivor, a single mother who kept her children fed and clothed and housed at the cost of the kind of desperate pinching and scraping few of us can imagine today. The habits of frugality were deeply cut into her mind and spirit, and the fact that her son – or the Army – had lost one of his good shoes distressed her no end.

A few weeks went by and it was time for the annual household spring-cleaning, and that meant it was also time to wash Popeye’s bed. When she lifted the ratty old blanket where he slept each night from the corner of the kitchen porch, out rolled a boy’s shoe.

In January 1945, near a town called Haguenau, the infantry law of averages finally caught up with Popeye’s boy. He was not quite twenty years old. The unit that took him prisoner had a kind-hearted medic who somehow found him some milk to drink and then took out a rosary, telling him sadly that he had no bandages, morphine or sulfa --“Ich kann nur beten,” all I can do is pray.

Four days later the Allies counter-attacked and Popeye’s boy managed to crawl back to his own lines. Space on medical flights going to the States was limited to those with a better chance of survival, so the Army evac’d him to a hospital near Sacre Coeur and waited for him to die. When it finally became apparent he had no intention of obliging, they shipped him home minus parts of his feet – one of his captors pinched his jump boots and gangrene set in after they froze – and with a suppurating hole in his chest and an impressive array of metal in his throat, legs and back.

The doctors decided that he would be a cripple for the rest of his life, so of course he not only made himself walk again, but he also wrangled horses, rode motorcycles, hunted, played ball, and became a respectably proficient saber fencer. The GI Bill made it possible for him to be the first person in his family to go to college. He decided he liked academic life and made a career for himself teaching German Languages and Literature at a small Midwestern university for thirty years. He won a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Goethe Institute in Munich, becoming good friends with some of the German veterans he met there.

On fine days he walked to work, and he made a point of never using the elevator even though for many years his office was on the fifth floor. Four of his children enlisted in the military and two of his grandsons are now on active duty.

Popeye did not live to see his boy come home, but there were always other bulldogs panting along behind him on his morning and evening walks. To Popeye’s boy, they were the only breed worth owning.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10th

Happy Birthday, Marines.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Knitting -- An Edging from 1845

Vandyke Edging

"Pins No. 11, white wool, cast on 6 stitches.

1st row – slip 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, make 2, knit 2 together.

2nd row – make 1, knit 2, purl 1, knit 4.

3rd row – Slip 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 4.

4th row – Plain.

5th Row – slip 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, make 2, knit 2 together, make 2, knit 2 together.

6th row – Slip 1, knit 1, purl 1, knit 2, purl 1, knit 4.

7th row – Slip 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 6.

8th row – Cast off all but 6 stitches, knit them plain, and commence at 1st row.

For each sleeve 10 Vandykes are required. To make 2 stitches is to put the wool twice around the pin."

From Knitting, Crochet and Netting, by Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere, Teacher of Fancy Works. London, 1846.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vintage Images - Children, Pets and Flowers

Copyright-free clipart from Dover.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

My youngest sister’s youngest child is biracial; my sister and her husband are Caucasian. She often takes Mouse* with her when she goes to see my dad (as you can imagine, an adorable big-eyed toddler is a huge hit in a nursing home).

They were leaving after the last visit when one of the aides said firmly “Mrs W? We need to talk about that child’s hair!”

She handed my sister a bag of African-American hair products and proceeded to give her a quarter hour of detailed instructions on how to use them, ending with “And when you are ready to begin braiding, I’ll show you how.”

Cooking For Two

In 1964, the cooking half of a pair of newly-weds or empty-nesters might have purchased a copy of Betty Crocker’s New Dinner for Two Cookbook, if only to benefit from Betty’s menu planning advice. The first chapter is titled “Seven-Day Sampler” and gives a complete menu for every day of the week, paying attention to American culinary traditions like Sunday dinner (oven-fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, a fruit relish and a dessert) and something thrifty for Thursday night (the day before pay-day).

I envy women who can plan out an entire week’s worth of meals; there are a lot of them out on the Internet, full of sound advice on budget and/or healthy menus, and if the spousal unit and I had kids, I’d probably take a more rational approach. As it is, the extent of my fore-sightedness is putting my hand in the freezer and fishing out the first thing that pops to the surface (for days when I forget to go to the freezer, well, that’s why God invented Kraft Macaroni and Cheese).

Betty’s menu for a pre-payday meal was not bad and took advantage of cheap canned food and leftover vegetables. I think I’d probably throw in some diced ham, if I had any, or cut-up hot dogs. All recipes serve two.

Speedy Baked Beans

2 strips bacon, diced
1 small onion, minced
1 can (1 lb) baked beans with pork
½ t. prepared mustard
2 T. chili sauce

Heat oven to 350°. Sauté bacon and onion until bacon is crisp and onion yellow. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into greased 1 quart baking dish. Bake uncovered 45 min., until beans are brown and bubbling. Serve hot.

Mixed Vegetable Salad

1 cup torn chilled salad greens
1 cup chopped vegetables (raw or chilled cooked)
Oil & vinegar dressing

Toss greens and vegetables together with just enough dressing to coat greens.

Dark Date Nut Bread

½ cup boiling water
½ cup mixed light and dark raisins
½ cup chopped dates
1 ½ t. butter
¾ t. soda
¾ cup plus 2 T Gold Medal Four
½ cup sugar
¼ t. salt
1 egg
½ t. vanilla
¼ cup chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350°. Pour boiling water over raisins, dates, butter, and soda; let stand. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Mix flour, sugar and salt well; add fruit mixture and remaining ingredients. Beat well; pour into greased and floured 1-lb. coffee can. Bake 60 to 70 minutes.

Baked Apples

Heat oven to 350°. Wash and core apples. Either pare upper half of apples or pare one strip around center. Place in baking dish; fill center of each apple with 1-2 t. granulated or brown sugar, 1 t. butter, and 1/8 t. cinnamon. Cover bottom of pan with water about ¼” deep. Bake uncovered 45 to 60 min., or until tender when pierced with fork (time varies). Baste occasionally. Serve plain or with cream.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Little Pony

Ok, Hallowe'en was last week, but this is too funny not to share. From neatorama.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Quote of the Day

Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast. ~ William Shakespeare

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

There Will Be Blood

Someone is going to the vet this morning to get her teeth cleaned.

UPDATE: We have never owned a cat who had to have this done before, but they pulled one of her teeth (a canine. Ironically). She's been sitting in corners trying to figure out what happened and every so often I get The Look.

UPDATE #2: The revenge of Dr. McNasty -- she sent home antibiotics, to be given 2x daily.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

De Agony of De Feet

We participated in a nuclear reaction drill this morning that (allegedly) was only going to take one hour and fifteen minutes. Tops.

The Feds were late. After three hours of standing outside in the wind, I'm pooped.