Friday, December 30, 2011

Dinner and a Movie: Hollow Triumph

Oh my. This stuff was so amazingly yummy. Chicken Pie with Yam Biscuits is another recipe from my 1940s Better Homes and Gardens. While it's baking, it will make your house smell like grandma's. I made a few changes, including making my own chicken-y white sauce instead of using canned cream of chicken soup (ick!). Prior to baking, filling can be refrigerated or frozen. Refrigerate or freeze yam biscuits separately. To cook from refrigerated, place the casserole in the oven while it comes up to temperature then cook as usual.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Seasons Greetings from Paul and Lauren!

I hope all of you are enjoying whichever winter holiday you're celebrating. Thank you so much for your readership and your lovely comments over the past year. Here's to 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Think Thin Man Thursday

The Thin Man is one of my absolute favorite movies. It also happens to be a holiday movie, but thankfully, it's not sappy or sentimental. It's really just a fabulous, witty mystery that happens to be set during the holiday season. Guess what? It's on TCM tonight, followed by all five sequels. The first one is my favorite, but they're all watchable. I LOVE Nick and Nora Charles. They really know how to make marriage look like fun.
Image from Doctor Macro

So, to go with The Thin Man, I had a 1930s menu (straight out of my Modern Meal Maker) all lined up:

White and Green Casserole
Corn Pudding
French Bread
Lettuce with Grecian Dressing
Baked Apple Tapioca
Coffee, Tea or Milk

Monday, December 19, 2011

Life This Week: December 19, 1938


1 egg, separated
1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado or demerara sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
2 tablespoons brandy

You'll need two mixing bowls, one for the egg yolk and one for the egg white. In the bowl with the egg yolk, add the sugar and beat until yolk becomes thick and pale. Beat in the cream, milk, whiskey and brandy. Chill.

In the second mixing bowl, beat the egg white until firm peaks form. Fold the egg white into the chilled mixture in the other mixing bowl. Chill the entire concoction for a few hours.

To serve, divide between two punch cups and grate nutmeg over the top. Enjoy!

Serves 2, but can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

Adapted from "Eggnog" in Letha Booth, The Williamsburg Cookbook (Williamsburg: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1975),162-163.

Download and print

This is the first time I've ever made eggnog. It wasn't that difficult and the payoff is enormous. If I do say so myself, my eggnog is one of the yummiest things I've tasted. There will be eggnog every holiday season from now on!

I was inspired to have a go at eggnog-making, because of the ad below. Don't you just love the sideboard? And the wallpaper? It's fantastic!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dinner and Movies: Cary Grant Double Feature

Images from Doctor Macro

Who doesn't love watching movies starring Cary Grant? I've picked two in which his characters are charming wastrels. In Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion, Johnnie marries wealthy and quiet Lina (Joan Fontaine) and promptly starts burning through all her money. Then, Johnnie's friend ends up dead and Lina worries that she might be the next victim.

If that's all a bit serious, The Philadelphia Story will lighten things up considerably. It's Cary Grant's fourth (and final) pairing with Katharine Hepburn and it's one of the best movies ever. If you haven't seen it, you need to run out and get it right away. In The Philadelphia Story, C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant) sells a tabloid editor access to his ex-wife's wedding (the ex-wife is Tracy Lord, played by Hepburn). "Dext" might be a worthless drunk, but he's a heck of a lot more charming than Tracy's straight-laced fiancĂ©. James Stewart and Ruth Hussey are the down-on-their-luck writer and photographer assigned to cover Tracy's marriage. Roland Young and Virginia Weidler add to the fun.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Think Thin Thursday: Chicken Divan

1957 photo

It's that time again--another recipe from The Slenderella Cook Book (1957). It's really not much of a recipe. Basically you boil some broccoli and put that in a casserole with leftover chicken and pour cheesy sauce on top of it. Then you stick it in the oven for ten minutes. It's not wow! spectacular!, but it's tasty enough and a great way to use up leftover chicken (and work in some veggies at the same time).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Black and White Wednesday: Lauren's Pale Hot Cocoa

I like chocolate, but I'm far from being a chocoholic. I like a pale, rather insipid, cup of hot cocoa. I mean insipid in the best way possible--comforting but not assertive. It's unashamed nursery food. The most exotic, gourmet hot cocoa blend never charms me quite the way this pale cocoa in its transferware cup and saucer does.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Cure for the Common Cold, Snow Days or any Wintery Malaise

First thing you'll need are some fabulous pajamas. I have the Brooks Brothers cotton ones already and I love them. (You can click each image for more information.) Leather ballet slippers are my house slipper of choice. I usually buy them a size up from the size I wore for ballet class so I have room to wear socks.
Pajama Wish List
Next up, you'll need a hot toddy. I always start out with these and then things devolve into Scotch with near-boiling water because I don't want to bother with the lemon and the honey when I'm sick!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


First some housekeeping: You may have noticed I now have a custom domain name. It was an anniversary present to myself. I've included a link to follow the new domain on bloglovin'. Google Friend Connect should still work since I bought my domain from google. Also, if you follow through e-mail, you may need to sign up again. Sorry for the inconvenience! And thank you for being the best readers in the blog-o-sphere.


This week on The Past on a Plate:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dinner and a Movie: White Christmas, Visions of Sugarplums, and Exciting News

I love picking up old magazines at estate sales or antique stores. This December 1956 issue of McCall's is chock-full of great recipes, including Huntburgers and Polka Dot Pudding, which went perfectly with a viewing of White Christmas (1954). A couple of notes: next time, I'd use homemade marinara sauce in the Huntburgers, so that's what I've listed in the recipe. Secondly, the marshmallow ad has obviously used torched marshmallows, rather than the browned-in-the-oven variety (see my photo). Paul's hoping I'll make this again and let him take his propane torch to the unsuspecting confections.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Beef and Mushroom Cobbler

For the past few days, we've had very cold weather and we even woke up to snow Tuesday morning! It's definitely time to get out some hearty, warming recipes. I love mushrooms and I love dumplings, so I love this recipe!

Since there are only two of us, I make an entire recipe of the filling and put half in the fridge. When I cook it, I just add the topping and bake as usual. I had homemade chicken stock, so that's what I used. Feel free to use beef stock if you have it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Two Robins and Nottingham Pudding

I'm a huge fan of the 1938 film, The Adventures of Robin Hood, so I thought it was time to finally sit down and watch the silent, Douglas Fairbanks version. Robin Hood (1922) also stars Wallace Beery as King Richard and Alan Hale as Little John (the same part he played in The Adventures of Robin Hood). While the '38 version is suitably Olde England, it's much more streamlined than the '22 version, which shows a marked pre-Raphaelite influence. Practically everyone (except Douglas Fairbanks) turns out in a William Morris print at one time or another. It's amazing how the preferred style of representing the Middle Ages changed in the sixteen years between 1922 and 1938.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Life This Week: December 5, 1938 and Visions of Sugarplums

My regular readers (hi, guys!) know all about "Life This Week," but if you're visiting from Visions of Sugarplums (more about that later), first, welcome to my blog. Second, "Life This Week" has been a regular Monday feature on The Past on a Plate for most of this year. I post when the issue for the corresponding week in 1938 has an interesting movie reviewed in it or features an interesting recipe, sometimes both! You can visit this week's issue by clicking the graphic above.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week-in-review and Screen-free Sundays

This week's posts:
Week-in-review 12-4-11

Last Sunday was our first "Screen-free Sunday," meaning we went without both the television and the computer. We both spend most of the other six days on the computer, so we need a day where we can't be computer/DVD zombies. The Sunday New York Times took up the entire morning, but Paul got restless and started scouring the drip pans for our stove. I kept trying to tell him that we were supposed to be relaxing, but he said that's what he was doing! I spent the day working on finishing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, so I can record the film version Monday night on TCM, and playing solitaire with actual playing cards. In the evening, we ventured out and bought an obscene amount of imported cookies from World Market.

So--as you're reading this, we're in the middle of another Screen-free Sunday. I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dinner and a Movie: David Copperfield

To go with David Copperfield, I've made Mulaga-Tawny Soup from the "19th Century England" chapter of Esther B. Aresty's The Delectable Past. It's a very flavorful, a bit spicy and very simple to make. You can even make it several days in advance and reheat, which makes it nice and easy to use up the leftovers! I've served it with buttered and salted white rice, as suggested, and the Green Beans in Tomato Sauce from yesterday.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Feasts and Festivals: St. Andrew's Day

St. Andrew

St. Andrew's Day is celebrated in Scotland as that country's National Day (the same idea as Bastille Day or Independence Day, but much more low-key), since St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. According to legend, a supernatural force brought his relics from Constantinople to Scotland, specifically to the town that is now St Andrews. Don't ask me how they are supposed to have arrived. Teleportation, maybe. It's also commonly believed that the relics were probably brought to Fife by a monk who then built a church at the behest of an angel. I still like my teleportation theory. According to legend, St. Andrew helped  a ninth century Pictish king in battle and was thus especially venerated by the Picts. St. Andrew's saltire eventually became the flag of Scotland. St. Andrew is also the patron saint of several other countries, as well as the patron saint of fishermen...and golfers.*

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

From My Collection: Haddon Hall Gingerbread

I'm amassing quite the collection of vintage magazines and cookbooks! The November 1933 issue of Better Homes and Gardens has an ad on the back page for Gold Medal Flour that features Haddon Hall Gingerbread (see illustration below). Unfortunately, there was no recipe provided because housewives were supposed to send off for the recipe booklet! Too bad I'm only seventy-eight years too late...

So, I cobbled together my own version from recipes in All About Home Baking and the Joy of Cooking. If I say so myself, it was very tasty (I think the lemon sauce was my favorite part.) If you double the gingerbread and the frosting recipes, you can have a filled and iced cake like in the original illustration.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Life This Week: November 14, 1938

You can read more about cover girl Brenda Frazier and the rest of New York's 1938 debutantes in the article "The Debutante: as Seen at New York's Velvet Ball".

This week's Movie of the Week is The Young in Heart, a sweet all-star comedy in which a family of society con artists comes to love their proposed next victim, a wealthy old lady with no family of her own who takes them in after a train wreck. If you're starting to think about movies to watch with your family over the holidays, give this one a try. The Young in Heart is available on DVD.

Images from Doctor Macro

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life This Week: November 7, 1938

This week's "Movie of the Week" is The Citadel, starring Robert Donat as a young doctor who must decide what's important in life. Not to be all preachy or political, but this film outlines a few reasons why universal healthcare just might be a good idea. Keep an eye out for a young Rex Harrison.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week-in-review, Autumn Photography and Earthquakes

This week on The Past on a Plate:


In other news, it's finally looking like autumn around here! Yippee!
November 1, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Feasts and Festivals: Guy Fawkes Day

Tomorrow, November 5th, is Guy Fawkes Day. I've posted a link to some detailed information from Parliament on my 2009 post. However, if you've only got half an hour, I just found this awesome (very irreverent) television program about The Gunpowder Plot (and it has Ronald Hutton in it, too!). You should go check it out. That way, you'll know all you need to know about Guy Fawkes Day (and it might make you laugh).

I've decided to make one of our favorite, comforting, autumn-y dishes for Bonfire Night (another name for today's festivities). Lincolnshire Sausage Simmer has a lot of flavor from the bacon, sausage, garlic, rosemary, thyme, white wine vinegar (I use the good stuff!) and tomatoes. Yum! Plus, it's pretty easy to make. It just takes some planning since you have to soak the beans and it takes a couple of hours to simmer. However, all you have to do once it gets going is check it every once in a while to give it a stir and make sure everything is simmering adequately.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Feature: Think Thin Thursdays...

...where we'll have fun with diet food from the past! I picked up a copy of The Slenderella Cook Book (published in 1957) on an antiquing trip while my parents were here visiting. It's written by a lady who was the "food consultant to Pan American Airways." Can't get more glamorous in 1957 than that!

This dinner is from the 1200-calorie-menus section (that's for the whole day). I've changed the squash and pudding recipes, because I don't use sugar substitutes. Oh, and I left out the vegetable soup, because I'm lazy. I was surprised by how tasty 585 calories could be--the pork chops and squash have excellent sweet and savory flavor and the vanilla pudding in its cool and creamy goodness is so much better than the stuff from a box. Eat like this and you'll be in those shorts in no time! :-)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Way Back Wednesday: 17th Century Mustard-and-Anchovy Broiled Fish

Mustard Anchovy Fish

This recipe is from the "17th-Century England" chapter in Esther B. Aresty's The Delectable Past, which was recommended to me by Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook. As usual, I've used cheap, domestic, sustainable Pollock. I've gotten to the point where I almost always have some in the freezer. It defrosts quickly and cooks quickly, which is perfect. Once thawed, this dish only takes about 10 minutes of cooking. I served it with rice and sautéed mushrooms and green beans (I grew the green beans myself!).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feasts and Festivals: All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day

It's quite the week for Feasts and Festivals--Halloween yesterday, All Saints' Day today, All Souls' Day tomorrow and Guy Fawkes Day on Saturday. I'm all for extending the holiday spirit (except the Christmas season has been expanded too much already--I've already heard carols; it's ridiculous!). Who doesn't love festive celebration? To get you in the All Saints/All Souls spirit (what a triple entendre!), how about some Spiced Ale?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Feasts and Festivals: Halloween

According to Cattern Cakes and Lace, a cookbook I couldn't live without, Mash of Nine Sorts is a quintessential Halloween dish and was even used to determine who would be married next--the hostess's wedding ring was hidden in the Mash and whoever found it was next to be married. I don't relish the thought of cleaning mashed root vegetables (and cheese!) out of a diamond setting, so I skipped this part!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dinner and a Movie: The Tomb of Ligeia

Roast Chicken with Bread Sauce

For the chicken:
1 chicken
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
8 rashers bacon

For the bread sauce:
1 cup milk
1/4 onion
8 cloves
15 peppercorns
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon cream

Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit.

Dry off the chicken and season the inside with 1 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper. Place the chicken in roasting pan (breast side up) and rub the skin of the top of the chicken with the softened butter. Season skin with salt and pepper. Roll each piece of bacon up and place them around the chicken. Place roasting pan in the middle of the oven and roast 30 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven and baste with bacon grease and chicken juices. (If you're making baked potatoes to go with your dinner, you can put them in now.) Return roasting pan to oven for another 30 minutes, then baste again and roast another 30 minutes (1 1/2 hours total).

During last 30 minutes of roasting time, start on the bread sauce. Put the milk, onion, cloves, grating of nutmeg and peppercorns in a saucepan and cook over lowest heat. After the chicken has been in the oven for an hour and a half (total), check to make sure it's cooked through by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a sharp knife. The juices shouldn't be pink. When chicken is finished, remove to a carving board to rest while you finish the bread sauce.

Strain milk into a separate container and discard the onion, cloves and peppercorns. Set aside. Wipe out saucepan and add the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of the butter and salt and stir together over medium heat. When the butter melts, stir in the cream and the rest of the butter and continue to cook until the breadcrumbs are softened. Serve with the carved chicken and bacon.

Serves 6-8

Adapted from "Roast Chicken with Bread Sauce" in Mary and Vincent Price, A Treasury of Great Recipes (Ampersand Press, Inc., 1965), 184.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest Post at Nifty Thrifty Things

Vanessa at Nifty Thrifty Things is going to be in Houston for an extended visit and asked her readers to help keep her blog going while she's out of town. I'm really happy to have today's guest post--it's all about three upcoming holidays: Halloween, Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night and Stir-up Sunday. Please stop by and check it out!

Also, we've got this week's Baroque music:

Barbara Strozzi
"Sino alla morte"(couldn't find the recommended piece, but this one's lovely)

"Correa nel seno amato"

"From Rosy Bowers"
"The Plaint"

Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Marguerite d'Anjou Pear Cake

Marguerite d'Anjou Pear Cake

1 1/2 lbs soft pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2"-3/4" chunks
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon brandy
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
3 egg whites or 2 whole eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a 9"-round springform pan with parchment paper, then grease the bottom and sides of the pan. Set on a baking sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the pear chunks, lemon zest and juice and brandy. Set aside.

Over medium heat in a large saucepan, melt the butter, being careful not to let it brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, baking powder and sugar. Gradually stir in the egg whites (or two whole eggs). Fold in the pears and any accumulated juices then pour batter in the prepared cake tin. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool the cake in its tin for a few minutes, then turn out and serve warm.

Serves 6

Adapted from "Anjou Pear Cake" in BBC Good Food: Cakes iPhone app.

Print at
Print at Food52

Monday, October 24, 2011

Life This Week: October 24, 1938

This week's Movie of the Week is the Tyrone Power vehicle Suez. It costars frequent love-interest Loretta Young and Annabella, who would become the first Mrs. Tyrone Power. It seems I say this a lot, but like many other films made in 1938, this isn't a great film, but it is mildly entertaining. I wasn't terribly impressed, but I also didn't feel like it was an hour-and-a-half of my life I couldn't get back. Suez is supposed to be the true story of Ferdinand de Lesseps, but I couldn't possibly vouch for the veracity of the film, since it's not a period in time I've studied at any length. We talked a bit about Napoleon III in a couple of my French literature classes, but really only to provide context for Zola's Le Ventre de Paris. Anyway, you don't want to hear about my French studies! Bottom line: Tyrone Power is very handsome, Loretta Young and Annabella are very pretty and "Egypt" is very exotic. Good enough for me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week-in-Review and More Dallas Photos

I've upgraded to flickr pro. We'll see how that goes, but it made sense since it's the easiest way to get photos from my computer (where I hook up my camera and iPhone) and Paul's computer (where the Photoshop is) and I like having a backup of my photos! I'll let you know how it goes.

The rest of my Dallas photos are up! They're not edited or anything, but I think it's kind of fun to see people's unedited lives every once in a while. :-)

My favorite Dallas photo:
Paul is just trying to eat his Chick-Fil-A in the food court at Northpark Center and I have to take a photo. This one makes me laugh every time. We love each other. Really.

Does anyone else feel like the last two weeks have been a blur? We were in Texas last weekend and my parents came to visit this weekend. We found some great antique-y things and ate cake--I'll post more about both later! Here's what was on the blog this week:

Life This Week: October 17, 1938
North by Northwest Guest Post
Dinner and a Movie: The Pit and the Pendulum

On the menu for today: checking all the e-mail that has piled up in my inbox over the past fortnight. Scary! One of my major failings is being consistently behind in checking e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc. I always laugh when I hear life coaches on TV advise people to lessen their stress by only checking their e-mail a couple of times a day! I obviously don't have that problem... Ah, technology. It's a love-hate thing.

I hope all of you are enjoying what's left of the weekend!

Friday, October 21, 2011