Friday, February 5, 2016


I think that waffles deserve an exclamation point, don't you? Does anyone not like waffles? I just can't imagine it. My great-grandmother gave me her waffle iron and it makes the best waffles ever--crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Of course, it helps that my waffle recipe is so darn delicious. Just saying. And here it is, just for you, dear reader:


3 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces melted butter

Preheat waffle iron. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and then beat in the rest of the ingredients and keep beating until smooth. Liberally grease your waffle iron and pour on about 1/5 of the batter. It's thick, so you may need to spread it out a bit. Cook until waffle no longer steams (or however your waffle iron works).

5 full-sheet waffles (in my iron)

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

February 1938 Films: Nothing Sacred

Today's film is an all-time favorite: Nothing Sacred. Boy, do I love a screwball comedy! And Carole Lombard! Even acting in a completely ridiculous way, she ends up looking totally glamorous. And Fredric March! He's adorable. My guess is that you've probably seen this one, but if you haven't, you seriously need to watch it this weekend. Nothing Sacred is a send-up of the sensationalist press, so desperate for new and lurid stories to print that journalists and editors don't always take the time to check up on their sources and subjects. Fredric March plays a shoot-from-the-hip journalist who travels to the wilds of Vermont to do a story on a woman who is slowly dying of radium poisoning (Carole Lombard). It's silly and wacky and often very funny.

French poster
Carole's fabulous dress

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1938 Films: A Damsel in Distress

Well, it's been a good long time since I last did a regular feature on this blog, so I thought I'd get things going with movies from 1938. This is the first post of this group, but you'll be able to click the logo above and it will take you to all the posts in this series.

After seven movies together, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were ready for a little break from each other. Also, the returns from Shall We Dance hadn't been as good as their other movies. So, RKO let Rogers stretch her acting muscles in Stage Door and teamed Astaire with radio stars (big, big radio stars) George Burns and Gracie Allen. Burns and Allen are the nice surprise in A Damsel in Distress. Did you know they could dance?

A Damsel in Distress is entertaining enough--the high points are the Gershwin score ("Nice Work If You Can Get It" et al.) and George Burns and Gracie Allen. Of course, Fred Astaire's dancing is top notch, as always. Joan Fontaine is a bit awkward but she's really only there to be pretty, so it's OK. The plot is pure fluff but pleasant enough and written by P.G. Wodehouse (although not up to the standard of his Jeeves or Blandings stories). Damsel has quite a few similarities to the Blandings Castle series: a lord obsessed with gardening who lives with his snobby sister, for example. I do feel, though, with such talent at hand (Astaire! Gershwin! Burns and Allen! Wodehouse!) that the film is a bit of a disappointment, but it's not a bad way to while away the time.

On the fashion and beauty front, I'm keeping tabs on all the braided coronets* (in fact, I need to order one for myself from etsy). They came in fashion in late 1937 and started cropping up everywhere. Joan Fontaine sports one for a party in A Damsel in Distress:

 *For reference:

 Madeleine Carroll in The Prisoner of Zenda

Dorothy Lamour (bottom center) at a premiere, Screenland January 1938

Claudette Colbert and Charles Boyer in Tovarich

A Damsel in Distress poster
Joan's Coronet photo 
Prisoner of Zenda photo
Dorothy Lamour photo
Tovarich still

P.S. If you'd like to see what I've been up to in the kitchen, check out my instagram!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Brunch with Vincent Price


I've cooked many recipes from A Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price (links to those posts below). It's one of my save-in-case-of-fire cookbooks. It was out-of-print for a long time and I was lucky to get my hands on a copy at a library book sale. Now, it's back in print and my friend Jenny at Silver Screen Suppers is having a cookalong to celebrate.

I had just watched The Baron of Arizona (for the first time ever!) and wanted something with a southwest vibe. Fortunately, there's an entire section in A Treasury of Great Recipes on the Santa Fe Super Chief, the train that once carried passengers in luxury all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles. The blueberry muffins were a specialty of La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona, and were served in the Super Chief dining car. Continuing the Arizona theme, Ranch Eggs have a southwestern flare thanks to their yummy pepper/onion/tomato combo. They pair really well with blueberry muffins (and a great cup of coffee).

Ranch Eggs

4 1/2 ounces bacon, cut into lardons
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cups chopped tomatoes (or two 14.5-ounce cans)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
 2 tablespoons butter
12 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 scallions, sliced

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat. As the bacon pieces crisp up, remove them to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Sauté bell pepper and onion in bacon fat, regulating heat so vegetables soften but don't brown too much. When pepper and onion are softened, add the tomatoes, garlic, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat up to cook off the tomatoes' liquid. Stir frequently. When most of the tomato water has evaporated and the sauce is nice and warm, turn the heat down and keep warm while you make the eggs.

Melt the butter in a clean skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and cream together in a mixing bowl. When the butter bubbles, add the eggs and cream and turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until eggs are softly set. Season with salt and pepper.

Pile the eggs in the middle of your serving dish and surround with the tomato-pepper sauce. Top with bacon and scallions. Enjoy!

Serves 4 to 6

Blueberry Muffins La Posada

1/3 cup (2 2/3 ounces) soft butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
10 ounces blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease 16 regular muffin cups. (So, one pan plus four more muffins.) Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar then add in the eggs. Alternate stirring in the flour and milk, adding the baking powder and salt with the last addition of flour. Gently stir in the blueberries. (You don't want to mash them up or your muffins will be grey.)

Fill muffin cups half full and bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Serve warm with butter.

16 muffins

Both recipes adapted from A Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price (1965). 

 The Baron of Arizona is loosely based on the life of a real man, James Addison Peralta-Reavis (played by Vincent Price), who went to extraordinary lengths to lay claim to a huge chunk of Arizona and part of New Mexico. Some of his antics included forging documents and creating an entire noble family out of thin air. Pretty impressive. Be sure to check out the movie; it's on DVD and sometimes shows up on TCM.

 A dining car on the Super Chief, 1947

 Lounge Car on the Super Chief, 1947

 The Turquoise Room on the Super Chief, 1951

Want more Vincent Price? You know you do! Here are my other posts:
The Tomb of Ligeia and Roast Chicken with Bread Sauce
The Pit and the Pendulum and Caesar Salad
The Three Musketeers and Filets de poisson cardinal
The Masque of the Red Death and Welsh Rabbit
House on Haunted Hill and Kedgeree
Manicotti alla passetto and Buckingham Eggs
Ayrshire Poacher

Everything you need to know about this cookalong and the reissue of A Treasury of Great Recipes:
Vincent Price Treasury Cookalong with Silver Screen Suppers
Cooking With Vincent Website – for details of celebratory events in the USA 
Vincent Price Legacy Tour – for details of celebratory events in the UK
Amazon Page for the 50th Edition of A Treasury of Great Recipes
Super Chief photos from Wikipedia
Baron of Arizona photos from Amazon
Vincent Price photo from Doctor Macro

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg

The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg was Ernst Lubitsch’s first Hollywood picture. He would very quickly move on to the musical comedies (many with Maurice Chevalier and Jeannette MacDonald) which were renowned for their “Lubitsch touch.” Although a silent film, The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg is very musical with its wonderful score performed by the English Chamber Orchestra.

The Student Prince, Karl Heinrich (Ramon Novarro), is sent to Heidelberg to attend the university accompanied by his tutor, Dr. Jüttner (Jean Hersholt). Wanting to live like a “normal” person for once in his life, Karl Heinrich decides to stay at a rather plebeian Gasthof, no doubt partially swayed by the presence of a vivacious barmaid, Kathi (Norma Shearer). Naturally, Karl Heinrich and Kathi fall in love and K.H. has a great time in Heidelberg. Unfortunately, his uncle (the king) falls ill and K.H., next in line for the throne, has to return home to take the reigns of government, where Karl Heinrich is torn between duty to his country and his love for Kathi.

The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg isn't available on DVD, so if you want to see it you'll have to catch it on TCM at 7:30 am CST, Tuesday, January 28.

Shrimps Worcestershire (and Vegetable Gumbo)

If you you've "liked" The Past on a Plate on facebook, you've noticed I've been testing a lot of 1920s recipes so far this year. Here's the recipe for Shrimps Worcestershire from a fantastic booklet I bought on etsy, Delightful Dinners. The shrimp are a delicious appetizer. (Or you can double the amounts for a main course.)

Shrimps Worcestershire

1 tablespoon butter
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
squeeze of lemon juice
pinch of salt
pinch of paprika
8 large steamed shrimp
leaves from 1 stalk parsley, minced

Add the butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt, and paprika to a small skillet or omelet pan. Heat over medium-high heat until butter is melted and bubbling. Stir in shrimp to coat well with sauce then serve sprinkled with parsley.

Serves 2 as an appetizer or side

Adapted from Delightful Dinners.

Download and print

The aforementioned Delightful Dinners--isn't it adorable?

Photo sources:
Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer, Doctor Macro

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