Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Servant Problem

“In no condition of service is the relation between mistress and maid of more importance than in those homes where it is only possible to employ a general servant.  It is imperative to recognize that a ‘general’ is very apt to feel lonely.  Loneliness means depression and a depressed maid never does good work and sooner or later gives notice.

Therefore, let the owner of one maid make excuses now and then to visit the kitchen, have a few minutes’ chat, ask after relatives, and generally evince the natural interest of one human being in another.  There is no need to be familiar, and the best servants do not expect or even like it, but without ever losing caste it is perfectly possible to be interested and sympathetic in new clothes, family affairs, and so forth.

When only one servant is kept the mistress of necessity has to give much help, and, as it is difficult for her to be quite regular in performing all her self-imposed duties, she cannot strictly adhere to any time-table.  The following may, however, be some slight guide.

GENERAL SERVANT’S TIME-TABLE.  Daily work in a seven-roomed house.  Family – master, mistress and one child.

6 a.m.  Rise, light kitchen fire, fill kettles, clean boots, sweep hall and steps.  Sweep, and light dining room fire, call family, and take hot water.  Help mistress to lay table, and prepare breakfast.
8 a.m.  Have kitchen breakfast while family breakfast.  Clear kitchen breakfast; tidy kitchen.  Attend to bedrooms.
9 a.m.  Help clear dining-room.  Wash breakfast things.
9:20 a.m.  Help make beds; receive daily orders.  Dust bedrooms.
10:15 a.m.  Do special work for the day.  Help in the kitchen, etc.
12:30 a.m.  Lay cloth for luncheon.
1 p.m.  Dining room luncheon and kitchen dinner.
1:45 p.m.  Remove and wash lunch things.  Tidy kitchen.  Make up fire.
2:30 p.m.  Change dress.  Put large clean apron over afternoon black dress and muslin apron, and do some light work such as cleaning silver, sewing, ironing.  Be ready to answer front door.
4 p.m.  Prepare drawing-room and kitchen tea.
4:30 p.m.  Carry in drawing-room tea.
5:15 p.m.  Remove and wash tea things.
6 p.m.  Arrange bedrooms for the night.  Help prepare dinner.
7 p.m.  Lay table.
7:30 p.m. Serve dinner and wait at table (the amount possible depends on the skill of the mistress in organizing and arranging this meal).
8:30 or 9 p.m.  Clear, and wash up dinner things.  Tidy kitchen.  Have supper.
9:45 p.m. Take hot water to bedrooms and go to bed.

The mistress should see that the general servant has an hour off for writing letters, reading, or going on some errand during the afternoon or early evening each day.


Monday morning.  Wash kitchen cloths, dusters, and any small articles done at home.
Tuesday morning.  Clean large bedroom.
Wednesday morning.  Clean two small bedrooms.
Thursday morning.  Clean dining-room, bathroom, and lavatory.
Friday morning.  Clean staircase, hall, and sweep drawing room.
Friday afternoon.  Clean kitchen brasses, etc.
Saturday morning.  Clean kitchen range thoroughly and do extra work in larder, etc. “

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Friday, September 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H.L. Mencken

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Have You Ever Noticed?

How the triangle player gets to go nuts for about 20 seconds?

Some days when I'm feeling depressed, I listen to this and imagine it being danced by a squad of senior staff non-commissioned officers.  In combat boots.  And tutus.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Vintage Advertising - Promotional Cookbook

An advertising giveaway from 1915, promoting California raisins.  I'll post the rest of the cookbooks sometime.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

National Preparedness Month, IX

Can Opener Cooking

American cooks have long been the prey of the food corporations -- starting in the Edwardian era, women's magazines and cookery writers have subtly or not-so-subtly preached the gospel of convenience cooking.  Perhaps the most blatant propaganda came from Poppy Cannon, almost forgotten today but in her time (the two decades following World War II) as well known as Betty Crocker, with the advantage that Cannon was a real person.  In 1952 she wrote The Can Opener Cookbook, which proved so popular that it was followed by The New Can Opener Cookbook and The New New Can Opener Cookbook.

I found a copy of the last-named at a garage sale for fifty cents and it is one of the most depressing things that I have ever read.  It's just so darn....fake.  Cannon presents luscious looking menus with everything coming out of a can or the deep freeze.  Not that there is anything wrong with that but then she follows up with advice on how to present it so that everything looks like it was made from scratch (see below.  I think there's a woman on the Food Network who is her spiritual descendant, Sondra or Sandra or something).

I've got nothing against shortcuts -- I'm not a trained cook, and I use stuff like Bisquick and instant mashed potatoes and frozen spinach myself -- but Cannon carries it to an extreme.  If you're going to take the time to add decorative garnishes and set the table formally, why not take the time to make some honest dishes?  Decent, good-tasting all-American cooking is not rocket science.

So don't waste your time on Cannon.  Go to Michigan State University's website and read Rufus Estes or Angelina Collins instead.

Sherried Mushrooms (from the New New Can Opener Cookbook)

Canned whole mushrooms
Pale dry sherry
Almonds, hazel nuts, cream cheese, Tabasco sauce (optional)

"Drain whole canned mushrooms.  Put them into a small bowl and cover with pale dry sherry.  Leave them in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

At serving time:  Bring out the mushrooms in their bowl of wine, provide your guests with toothpicks, and allow them to spear the mushrooms.

You may also drain the mushrooms and fill each little cup with a bit of salted almond, a hazel nut, or a tiny ball of cream cheese seasoned with salt, freshly ground black pepper, or a few drops of Tabasco."

If you're going to go to all that trouble, why the hell wouldn't you use fresh mushrooms?  Some might argue that in a shopper in the late 50's might not be able to purchase fresh mushrooms, but I would point them to Cannon's recipe for dilled potatoes; butter, fresh dill and canned potatoes.  With the possible exception of some remote parts of Hawaii or Alaska, where in this country can't you find potatoes?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

National Preparedness Month, VIII

(Although personally I don't stockpile water but I have the means to purify it, if need be).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

De Agony of De Feet

The annual all-county drill was today.  It was a mass dispensing response to a simulated anthrax attack.  The Health Department was the lead agency for the drill which meant I was the exercise planning team lead and the chief controller.

Never again.

(Our new PIO did a marvelous job.  The place was swarming with camera crews and reporters and I didn't have to talk to a single one of them).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

National Preparedness Month, VI

"Work For Girls" -- An 1880 Work-Bag

"This pretty work-bag has a foundation of splints, wicker-work, Manila braid, or whatever material of the kind may be found most convenient, fourteen inches and seven-eighths long and ten inches and a half wide, which is sloped off on the corners, and trimmed with two strips of embroidery, separated by a bias strip of blue satin, which is turned down on the edges an inch wide on the wrong side, and gathered so as to form a puff. The embroidered strips are worked on a foundation of white cloth as shown by Fig. 2. For the corn-flowers use blue silk, and work them in chain stitch. The calyxes are worked in satin stitch with moss green silk, and the lilies-of-the-valley with white silk. The stems and sprays are worked in tent and herring-bone stitch with green silk in several shades. 
For the ends cut of blue satin two pieces each six inches and a half wide and seven inches and a quarter high, fold down the upper edge an inch and a quarter wide on the wrong side, and gather it twice. Having sloped off the lower corners of these parts, pleat them, and join them with the foundation. 
For the bag cut of blue satin one piece twenty-four inches wide and ten inches and a half high, sew it up on the sides, and fold down the upper edge two inches and a half wide on the wrong side, for a shirr, through which blue silk cord is run, and sew it to the upper edge of the foundation on the wrong side. 
The work-bag is trimmed on the outside with a ruche of blue satin ribbon seven-eighths of an inch wide. Light gray instead of white cloth forms a pretty and more serviceable foundation for the embroidered strips. Little girls who do not know how to embroider may make a very handsome work-bag from this pattern by using ribbon brocaded in bright colors, or a double row of ruching around the edge in the place of the embroidery. Bamboo handle."

From Harper's Young People, May 18th, 1880.

Monday, September 17, 2012

National Preparedness Month, V

More Snippets

The Health Department occupies the first three floors of our building.  The top two floors are tenanted by the county veterans' commission, two or three law offices, and a handful of court-related agencies (the courthouse, as I have mentioned, is next door).  The Health Department owns the only AED in the building and as it is currently in need of replacement and new ones run over $1300, we are looking at ways to divvy up the cost.  Someone suggests that we hit up the other tenants.

Director of Nursing:  Yeah, about three years ago some lawyer on the fifth floor called down asking for a nurse because a man had passed out in their office.  We went up but he was dead.

My Lovely, Sweet Boss:  (who must have had something in her coffee) Maybe he saw his bill.

Vintage Advertising - "Varsity Suits"

From Collier's magazine, and I don't know why I wasn't able to scan the text.  Love the riding habit, I must say.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Salad Days

From the Woman's World Cook Book, copyright 1956, from the Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago (does it still exist, I wonder?).

"SALADS.  Fruits, nuts, uncooked and cooked vegetables and some cooked meats, fish and fowl, served cold and dressed with condiments, oils and acids, are known as salads.

UTENSILS NEEDED FOR SALAD MAKING.  A chilled earthenware bowl is excellent for mixing salad ingredients.  Two forks or a fork and a spoon are better to use in folding together the ingredients than a spoon alone, because they do not crush the materials so much as a single utensil.

A sharp-edged knif or vegetable cutter is necessary for slicing vegetables or fruits.  Where fruit pulp is to be removed from the thin white membrane enclosing it, a thin narrow knife slightly curved at the tip is useful.  A pair of shears can be used for many of the processes of salad making, such as shredding lettuce, clipping off wilted or discolored edges, etc.

Various fancy shapes for molding individual salads may be bought, or tea-cups or small bowls may be used as molds.  Gelatin salads may be put into pans and cut in square or fancy shapes after they have hardened.  The cube trays of mechanical refrigerators are excellent for molding gelatin.


1) Avocado, grapefruit, romaine.
2) Avocado, orange, and cress
3) Avocado, peeled white grapes, and chicory
4) Avocado, tangerine, pecans, and lettuce
5) Avocado, tart apple, and romaine
6) Chicory, escarole, and grapefruit
7) Chicory, shredded cabbage, and lettuce
8) Escarole, Chinese cabbage, and cress
9) Chinese cabbage, tomato slice, radish, olive, in a pagoda*
10) Endive, carrot sticks, and grapefruit
11) Shredded carrot, Chinese cabbage, and romaine
12) Orange, Bermuda onion, and romaine
13) Tomato, cucumber, celery and onion
14) Potato diced, celery, cucumber, green pepper, and pimiento
15) Green peas, peanuts, mint leaves, and lettuce
16) Dandelion, escarole, pimiento, and onion."

*There is no further explanation offered.  Perhaps the cook is supposed to construct a pagoda out of the vegetables.

National Preparedness Month, IV

Saturday, September 15, 2012


After a truly rotten week, here's something to help calm all of us down. (via BoingBoing)

Friday, September 14, 2012

National Preparedness Month, III

Quote of the Day

One gives nothing so liberally as advice. ~ La Rochefoucauld.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

National Preparedness Month, II

Snippets From A Life

I am looking over her shoulder as our PIO attempts to track down an elusive piece of information online.

She:  *&(W#E!

Me:  That's probably not the word to use while you're accessing the Catholic Charities Facebook page.

I am talking to Xena and Smitty when a very senior and totally clueless staff member drifts in.

She:  Hey, have you written Trudy's* evaluation yet?

Me:  Can we talk about that later?

She:  Did she hand in her self-eval?

Me:  Can we talk about that later?

She:  What kind of marks did she give herself?

Me: (through clenched teeth) We will talk about that later.

She: (seemingly notices the other two for the first time).  Oh.  Ok.  (drifts out).

Smitty:  Did she just do what I think she did?

My lovely, sweet boss needs someone to run a package over to the county jail, which is conveniently located in the courthouse right next door to the health department.

She:  Smitty!  Can you take this to Dr. Karagawa* at the jail for me?  You don't have to go through the front door, you can use the door by the booking office.

He: Ah...I don't know where the booking office is.

She:  (approvingly) I can't tell you how glad I am to hear that.

I have just walked through the door and immediately go to the kitchen and start mixing myself a brandy highball.

He:  Hitting the sauce a little early tonight?

Me:  I drink on Zulu Time.  The sun is over the yardarm in Greenwich.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vintage Advertising - More Coca Cola

From Every Week magazine, May 25th, 1917.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Simple to make, kid-friendly, and surprisingly good, not unlike an inverted clafoutis.  Best served warm  (and it only messes up one dish).  I used a can of cherry pie filling and added a teaspoon of almond extract.  If I had used apple, I might have mixed a little cinnamon and cloves in with the Bisquick.

I think I will use less sugar, next time; canned pie filling is already very sweet and one cup of sugar is just a bit too much.  You could also put all of this in a blender (except the fruit) and buzz it up, but then you'd have something else to wash.

¼ c. butter
2/3 c. milk
1 ½ c. Bisquick
1 c. sugar 
1 can (21 oz) fruit pie filling

Heat oven to 400° (F).  Stick an 11x7 inch baking pan in the oven with the butter in it, and let it melt.  Remove from oven, add milk, Bisquick and sugar, and stir with a fork until smooth. Drop spoonfuls of pie filling (it will not look very neat) over the batter.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  A skewer inserted into the dough should come out clean.

Whipped cream or frozen topping would be nice with this, if you have it. I can't remember where I got the recipe but I suspect it was off the Internet.  Like most Bisquick recipes this is best eaten the same day.

(vintage cherry illustration from Patricia at AgenceEureka).

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Friday, September 7, 2012

Quote of the Day

Take a compass.  It gets awkward when you have to eat your friends. ~ seen on a SAR team member's t-shirt at the EMA conference this week.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I Get Paid To Have This Much Fun

I am at the state EMA conference, where I spent the afternoon learning how to set up portal monitors to detect nuclear radiation.


See you Friday.  Unless y'all start glowing in the dark, in which case I'll probably see you sooner.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Vintage Images - Labor Day

Everyone in the picture's working (even the horse).  Constable painting from one of the Dover fine art collections.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Enterprising Housekeeper

The Enterprise Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia produced a number of mechanical devices that were considered indispensable to the turn of the (20th) century cook including coffee grinders, meat and other food choppers, and cherry and raisin stoners.

Imagine having to stone your own raisins.

To help the consumer, the company also produced a little 78-page booklet called The Enterprising Housekeeper; 200 Tested Recipes, most of which called for the use of one of the items already mentioned.  Their coffee grinders came in three sizes and cost $3.50, $4.50, and $5.00, respectively.

“Drip Coffee.  Scald the coffee-pot and see that it is thoroughly heated.  Grind the coffee to a fine powder.  Have the water boiling, but use it at its first boil, before the gases have disseminated.  Put the coffee in the percolator, and pour the water on the upper sieve.  When there is much coffee to be made it takes some time for the percolation, and in order to have the coffee hot it is wise to stand the pot in hot water during the process.  Drip coffee must be served at once.”

Enterprise made sad irons too, a truly well-named object.  The booklet can be found online.

Saturday, September 1, 2012