Monday, February 28, 2011

Life this Week: February 28, 1938

Fair-use image from Wikipedia
  • I am a staunch feminist, a supporter of equal rights for women (and everybody) and a supporter of reproductive rights (I know, I just got political and I don't like to get political on my blog, but I find it amazing that in the twenty-first century that feminism can still be controversial in America.), so I'm loving this photograph of feminists (including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lillie Devereux Blake, whose name I adore) from 1888 and the photographs of suffragettes on the following page.
  • I can't get away from the political today--while I may not agree with William Allen White on "What's the Matter with Kansas?", I do find it amazing that the local newspaper editor of a small Kansas town could have become a national figure.  Paul and I stopped at Emporia on our way to Kansas City two years ago, and it's not as cute as it was in 1938, but what small town is?
  • In 1938, Helen Keller campaigned for the American Foundation for the Blind.  She wrote of Enrico Caruso, "With my fingers on his lips, [he] poured his golden voice into my hands."  On a less sentimental note, George Bernard Shaw compared Helen Keller's work to that of Voltaire's then stated that "all Americans are blind and deaf--and dumb."
  • This week's Movie of the Week is Bringing Up Baby.*  If you haven't seen it, do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to the video store/Netflix queue/Tivo and get this movie.  It is the screwball comedy to end all screwball comedies.  It's ridiculous and wonderful at the same time. 
  • Check out the amazing photographs of Harvard's glass flower collection.
  • This article about the successes of the WPA shows the benefits of spending taxpayer dollars on "hope and self-respect" and putting "workers unneeded for production to providing services, to making life brighter and happier and healthier for everybody."
  • The events that will lead to the Anschluß are set in motion as "Nazi Germany Woos and Wins Gay Little Austria."  
  • "The Duke of Norfolk Sells the Contents of His Townhouse" because the taxes are too high even for the "premiere peer of the realm."
  • Since glorifying the Confederacy was a common pastime in the 1930s, read "Life Goes to a Party at which Ante-Bellum Days are Recalled at Washington and Lee."  Check out those bloomers.

This issue is recipe-less, but I did make Chicken Noodle Soup based on a recipe in Modern Meal Maker.  It's a great way to use up the vegetables from making chicken stock and is really simple to make.

Just bring 2 cups chicken stock per person to a boil (be sure to salt it), then cook 1/2 cup dried egg noodles per person in the stock.  Add 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken (per person) and cut-up cooked celery and carrots (the ones you used for the stock).  Done!  You can use this recipe for chicken stock and add a few extra carrots and celery stalks.

Since it looks like everyone got a kick out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog page last week, here's another, also from, also from the spring of 1938, which instructs on the subject of accessorizing:

*"I Can't Give You Anything But Love" (Annette Hanshaw, 1928)

Download at Internet Archive

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Traditional British Food: Barley Bannocks

If you've never baked with barley before, try these simple bannocks.

This recipe from Scotland makes a wonderfully tasty quick bread that is similar to Irish Soda Bread both in taste and method. Barley flour is more nutritious than all-purpose flour, but produces a finer crumb than whole wheat flour. Bannocks should be served just out of the oven, but leftovers can be split, toasted and topped with butter for a tasty breakfast.

Barley Bannocks

2 cups barley flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick mat. Set aside.

Mix the flours, cream of tartar and salt together in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle.

Stir the baking soda into the buttermilk, then pour the mixture onto the dry ingredients and stir together with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be slightly sticky.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a ½”-inch thick round. Cut into six wedges and place on the baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes in the middle of the oven. The bannocks will be lightly browned. Serve warm.

Adapted from Carol Wilson and Christopher Trotter, “Bere Bannocks” in Scottish Traditional Recipes: A Heritage of Food & Cooking (London: Hermes House, 2008), 219.

Illustration from Guy Mannering (click to enlarge) from Wikipedia

Speaking of Scotland, my favorite book by Walter Scott is Guy Mannering, which is set in Galloway. It's typical Scott fluff, but is a more enjoyable read than either Ivanhoe or Waverley, mostly due to the supporting characters, including gypsy Meg Merrilies and jolly farmer Dandie Dinmont, who was so popular a dog breed was named after him.

Guy Mannering is the ideal book for a dreary, gray Sunday afternoon in February. Put another log on the fire, put the kettle on the hob, cover up with a (tartan) blanket and be wonderfully entertained.

Public-domain photo from Wikipedia

Daring Bakers' Challenge: February 2011

The February 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen.  She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine cookies.
Florentine Cookies
First off, the Florentine cookies were awesome, especially the second day.  I used Laura's trick and just sprinkled semisweet chocolate chips on top of the warm cookies and then spread them around a bit with a knife as they melted.  It worked beautifully.  I was really glad I used my Silpat for this one.  The recipe is here.  I did end up using golden syrup instead of corn syrup, though, because I realized that's all I had.  Anyway, I would definitely make these again.  This recipe is great if you're in need of cookies now, because the butter is melted in a saucepan, not creamed, so you don't have to wait for butter to soften and the cookies only take about 8 minutes to bake.  However, if you don't have a large household, I would halve the recipe.

Panna Cotta- I covered the tops with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming

Unfortunately, I won't make the panna cotta again.  Granted, I just made the base recipe and not one of the gelées, because I'd never had panna cotta before and wanted to know what it tasted like without extra stuff on top of it.  I'm glad I only made 1/3 of the recipe and even divided that into four servings instead of two, because even I think half a cup of heavy cream per person is just too much!  I didn't have any problems with it setting up (it was actually very firm), which was a concern raised on the comments for the recipe on the Food Network page.  The comments also suggested not making the panna cotta for people who aren't fans of honey.  I like honey, but I thought that the recipe would have been better with sugar instead, because it basically tastes like (and is) gelatinized whipped cream with honey instead of sugar.  In the interest of full disclosure, the panna cotta actually made me feel really ill.  

In other news, Paul and I had a successful antiquing day yesterday--I'll post some of my finds later this week.  Stay tuned!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dinner and a Movie: Lionel Barrymore Double Feature

fair-use image from Wikipedia

Grand Hotel is famous because Great Garbo said, "I want to be alone." I think it's a rather ridiculous reason for a movie to be well-known, but there you have it. Greta Garbo and John Barrymore, playing a coddled, insecure ballerina and a financially-desperate aristocrat, respectively, have top billing, but Joan Crawford and Lionel Barrymore steal the show. Lionel Barrymore plays an accountant at a large textile firm (run by Wallace Beery's character) who has been told he doesn't have long to live, so he's decided to really enjoy life for once and live it up at Berlin's Grand Hotel. While staying at the luxury hotel, he meets stenographer Joan Crawford, who neither refuses the attentions of John Barrymore nor those of Wallace Beery. Dramatic situations ensue--burglary, murder, lots of moroseness on Greta Garbo's part. It actually is entertaining and it's oh-so-stylish. Those sets! Those clothes!

Bottom line? It's a classic pre-code melodrama. It's an Oscar-winner for Best Picture. You should at least see it once. You might even like it!

Grand Hotel is available on DVD.

The Little Colonel poster

I was originally just going to review The Little Colonel, also starring Lionel Barrymore and (groan) Shirley Temple, because it came out in February 1935 and I wanted something to go with my Modern Meal Maker menu. I can't believe I made it through the whole thing. Lionel Barrymore spent the whole time doing a Colonel Sanders impersonation and Shirley Temple spent the whole time pouting (naturally). Hattie McDaniel and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson are the best part of the whole film, but the film is so amazingly racist it's hard to enjoy without recoiling in horror at some of the dialogue and the situations. It reminded me of a book we had to read in Historical Methods about how Southern writers, politicians and other influential Southern sympathizers were able to control the message over the Civil War by insisting that all the slaves were so happy.

As backward as the whole film is, it was considered progressive at the time because Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson were the first interracial dance "couple." The staircase scene was edited out when the film was shown in Southern states.

The Little Colonel is available on DVD.

Spiced Cod
Buttered Rice
Peas in Cream

If I do say so myself, this menu was a winner. The original fish recipe was "Curried Sole" and I don't like curry powder and I had cod, not sole, so I used the ginger and oil from the original recipe and replaced the curry powder with some of my favorite spices. Feel free to play around with whatever combination you like and whatever proportions you like. If you want to use curry powder, substitute it for the cumin and coriander. This was easy and the whole thing only took 20 minutes (which was how long the rice cooked).

The menu rather reminds me of Furr's, but in a fabulous way.

Spiced Cod

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vintage Recipe Thursday: Chicken Caruso



I wasn't so sure about this recipe when I saw it in Betty Crocker's New Dinner for Two (1964), but I had leftover chicken, so I decided to give it a try.  It's so yummy and easy and cheesy!  This is one of the quickest, easiest recipes I've ever posted.  I served the Chicken Caruso (which we also lovingly call Chicken David Caruso) with Perfect Steamed Broccoli and a pear half with cranberry sauce, as well as Boston Cream Pie.  We actually had this back in January, but I'm having a slow cooking week this week because of tons of leftovers.  I'm glad I had this in reserve so I wouldn't have to skip Vintage Recipe Thursday!

Chicken Caruso

Click for Tasha's Briar Rose posts

Continuing on with more vintage, I'm doing the Briar Rose Vintage Knit-along at Tasha's blog, By gum, by golly! and I'm very excited because it's my first KAL.  I just thought I would share my gauge swatch--it's Knit Picks Palette in Opal Heather:

P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who commented on Monday's post.  I'm glad you're enjoying "Life This Week."  Provided my life doesn't get in the way, "Life This Week" will be a weekly occurrence!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Monthly Film Recommendations: March 2011

I've had a request to list my favorite classic films, so I've decided to provide a monthly list of my favorites that will be on TCM each month, to keep the list a bit more manageable!  For other movie recommendations, just click on the "movies" label at the bottom of the post or in the sidebar.  There are still a lot of old films I haven't seen, but I'm working on it!

March 2011 on TCM (all times are Central):
  • A Bout de souffle (Breathless) (M 3/21/11 3:00 a.m.)- I'm a huge fan of Jean-Luc Godard's style--this film is a great example
  • All About Eve (Tu 3/1/11 9:00 p.m. and Th 3/31/11 7:00 p.m.)- an aspiring actress (Anne Baxter) plots to take over Bette Davis's career and boyfriend; George Sanders won an Oscar playing critic Addison de Witt; look for Marilyn Monroe in a small role 
  • Around the World in 80 Days (W 3/2/11 9:00 p.m.)- David Niven heads the cast in this fun family film
  • Arsenic and Old Lace (W 3/16/11 7:00 a.m.)- Cary Grant has to deal with homicidal maiden aunts and a brother who believes he's Teddy Roosevelt in this Frank Capra comedy
  • Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) (M 3/28/11 10:45 p.m.)- one of the best examples of French noir, starring the incomparable Jeanne Moreau, plus amazing Miles Davis music
  • Born Yesterday (W 3/16/11 9:00 a.m.)- William Holden is a newspaperman hired to tutor Judy Holliday, who turns out to be not a stupid as everyone thinks! 
  • Brief Encounter (F 3/25/11 7:15 a.m.)- unlike anything else by Noel Coward, heartbreakingly beautiful, one of David Lean's best
  • Bringing Up Baby (W 3/16/11 5:00 a.m.)- the classic screwball comedy starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and a leopard named Baby; I find this one amusing no matter how many times I see it
  • Captain Blood (W 3/2/11 12:30 p.m.)- the first pairing of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland; swashbuckling at its best
  • Follow the Fleet (W 3/16/11 1:00 p.m.)- pleasant Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film; fabulous choreography as always
  • Grand Hotel (Th 3/3/11 7:00 p.m.)- It's the "I want to be alone" movie; Greta Garbo and John Barrymore are top-billed, but Joan Crawford and Lionel Barrymore steal the show
  • I'm No Angel (W 3/30/11 10:15 p.m.)- I adore Mae West, who plays a circus performer in this pre-code gem; also stars Cary Grant
  • Jezebel (W 3/2/11 8:00 a.m.)- Bette Davis plays an unconventional Southern belle who goes after the affections of Henry Fonda
  • The Last of Sheila (Th 3/31/11 9:30 p.m.)- murder mystery with James Coburn and James Mason; bit later than "classic" (1973), but an enjoyable film
  • Libeled Lady (Tu 3/15/11 10:15 p.m.)- William Powell/Myrna Loy pairing, Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow co-star; newspapermen try to avoid a libel lawsuit
  • Love Me Tonight (Sa 3/12/11 7:00 p.m. and Th 3/31/11 7:30 a.m.)- Maurice Chevalier/Jeannette MacDonald pairing; not their best, but entertaining nevertheless; co-stars include Myrna Loy, C. Aubrey Smith and Charlie Ruggles
  • The Love Parade (Th 3/31/11 1:30 a.m.)- one of the best Maurice Chevalier/Jeannette MacDonald/Ernst Lubitsch collaborations; fabulous opening scene, wonderful costumes
  • Ninotchka (Th 3/24/11 9:00 p.m.)- Garbo laughs!  This is a comedic gem by Ernst Lubitsch starring Melvyn Douglas and, of course, Greta Garbo.
  • North by Northwest (Th 3/3/11 11:30 a.m.)- classic Hitchcock mistaken-identity thriller starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason; famous for train, crop duster and Mount Rushmore sequences; very stylish
  • Queen Christina (Su 3/13/11 2:45 a.m.)- last pairing of Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, who play a Swedish queen and a Spanish ambassador who fall in love when they have to share a room at an inn during a snow storm
  • Shall We Dance (Th 3/3/11 5:00 p.m.)- the film that got me hooked on classic film and Astaire and Rogers
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (Tu 3/22/11 2:45 p.m.)- there are few films more deeply tragic than this one, but it's amazing
  • Summertime (W 3/9/11 5:15 p.m.)- Katherine Hepburn falls for Rossano Brazzi (who wouldn't?) while vacationing in Venice
  • Sunrise (Th 3/17/11 12:15 a.m.)- a farmer (George O'Brien) gets involved with a vamp who wants him to kill his wife (Janet Gaynor) so they can be together; created to be a modern fable by F.W. Murnau
  • To Be or Not to Be (Su 3/13/11 12:00 p.m. and Th 3/31/11 3:30 a.m.)- Jack Benny and Carole Lombard star in this Ernst Lubitsch comedy about Polish actors who get caught up in the resistance movement during the German invasion
  • Trouble in Paradise (Th 3/31/11 12:00 a.m.)- description here
Because you need something pretty to look at--
This is a page from the Spring 1929 Sears and Roebuck catalog (via  My favorites are the "New 2-piece Jacket Ensemble" and the "All Silk Plaid Taffeta and Flat Crepe."  I think the details (pockets, cuffs) are so amazing!  What's your favorite? 

      Monday, February 21, 2011

      Life this Week: February 21, 1938

      Washington's Birthday Chocolate Fudge Loaf

      Today, I'm exploring the February 21, 1938, issue of Life magazine, which is available on Google Books. Here's a little of what interested me:
      • First off, we have a Baker's Chocolate ad with a recipe for Martha Washington's Devil's Food Cake.  I actually baked a Chocolate Fudge Loaf from my copy of All About Home Baking, because it has the same fudge frosting, but makes an 8"x8" cake rather than a 15"x9" one.*
      • Those crazy young people are obsessed with swing music.  Here's Maxine Sullivan's "Loch Lomond" (1937):
      *Washington’s Birthday Chocolate Fudge Loaf


      A page from the Spring 1938 Sears catalog from What would you order?  I totally need that "Cycling Outfit."
      Click to enlarge

      Friday, February 18, 2011

      Dinner and a Movie: For the Love of Film (Noir)

      Self-styled Siren and Ferdy on Films hold an annual blogathon, For the Love of Film, to raise money to protect and restore endangered films.  This year's worthy cause is the Film Noir Foundation.  They'll use donations to restore The Sound of Fury (Cy Endfield, 1950).  If you're a fan of classic film or film noir or you just can't stand the thought of something disappearing forever, please

      Witness to Murder poster (fair use image from Wikipedia)

      As an amuse-bouche for the upcoming second annual George Sanders Film Festival and to go with the film noir theme, I present: Witness to Murder (Roy Rowland, 1954) starring George Sanders and Barbara Stanwyck.  Granted, I'll watch just about anything with George Sanders in it and almost anything with Barbara Stanwyck (man, I've sat through some clunkers), so naturally I was going to watch this movie.

      Barbara Stanwyck plays an old-maid interior designer who witnesses across-the-street neighbor George Sanders in the act of murdering some blonde tramp in front of his living room window.  At this point, I was worrying the film would just be a rehashing of Shock, a Vincent Price movie in which Price's character murders his wife in front of a window in a hotel room.  Drapes, people!  Close them before you murder someone!
      Examples of noir lighting! (screen captures)
      Honestly, I thought it would be worse.  It was actually entertaining--not amazingly so, but not bad.  I just didn't like how utterly amazingly stupid Barbara Stanwyck's character is.  I think the writers sat around and said, "To create dramatic tension, let's have her climb up scaffolding for no reason and visit the murderer's apartment by herself."  Who does that?!  I don't go around visiting homicidal Nazis who know I'm the only witness to a murder they've committed.  It's just common sense.

      In all, if it's a rainy Sunday afternoon and you don't feel like working too hard at watching a movie, Witness to Murder fits the bill.  Yeah, it's silly, but it's fun.  Let's face it--George Sanders's bad guys are the best.

      In honor of the to-be-restored film, I cooked an adaptation of this 1950 menu from Ladies' Home Journal*:

      Click to enlarge

      More food than I've ever prepared for one meal
      Clockwise from pie:
      Chocolate Chiffon Pie
      Shrimp-and-Grapefruit Cocktail
      Steak frites
      Broccoli au gratin 
      Green Salad with Bacon Dressing and Avocado

      This was the first time I've ever deep-fried anything, so I was both nervous and excited.  I also couldn't believe how much Crisco was required!  Anyhow, the fries were amazing.  Now I need to make donuts!

      Everything was amazing except for the Shrimp-and-Grapefruit Cocktail.  It looks really jolly, but it didn't taste like anything except grapefruit.  I ended up finding a container of Long John Silver's cocktail sauce in the fridge and dunking the shrimp in that, which made it tasty.
        Like all good women's publications, I'll provide a timeline:


        • Make pie dough, chill 30 minutes, then roll out and blind bake.  Cool completely.
        • Make gelatin portion of pie filling.  Chill.
        • Prepare shrimp-and-grapefruit cocktail.
        • Prepare lettuce for salad--store in the refrigerator.
        • Broil bacon for salad.

        • Finish pie filling, fill pie, chill in the refrigerator.
        • Peel, wash and cut fries.  Soak in ice water 1 hour, then dry, wrap in towel and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

        • Heat oven to 350.
        • Make Broccoli au gratin and bake.
        • Deep fry the fries in batches--drain then keep warm on baking sheet in oven (top rack).
        • Meanwhile, make the bacon dressing.
        • Next make the steaks.  While they cook, assemble the salad.
        • Rest the steaks and assemble shrimp-and-grapefruit cocktail.
        • Dress the green salad and plate steaks and fries.
        Exhausted yet?  This menu is demented-American-housewife-does-French bistro/Delmonico's/roadside diner (never seen a chiffon pie in France!).  It's totally 1950.

        If you need a shortcrust pastry recipe, click here.

        Ladies' Home Journal, March 1950; from Juliana Daniel

        This is an ad for our bedroom suite--we have the four-poster bed

        Thursday, February 17, 2011

        Vintage Recipe Thursday: Nasty Jell-O of the Month

        I'm doing things a bit differently this week and posting the first in a monthly series of Jell-O recipes even I won't try*:  Imperial Salad from The Jell-O Girl Entertains, an adorable pamphlet I found at A Legacy Antiques here in Wichita.  Imperial Salad looks amazing--very stained glass, and get a load of those awesome molds!  However, the lemon/pineapple/pimento/cucumber combination is, quite frankly, revolting.  I wonder how many people saw this and thought, "I think I'll try that!"

        click to enlarge
        If any of my dear readers are brave enough to attempt it, I'd love to hear about it!  Be sure to take photos--inquiring minds want to know.

        In other Jell-O news, Laura of Pragmatic Attic has introduced me to The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn.  I definitely need to work on my gelatin mold collection, if only I didn't already have too much stuff!

        For your listening pleasure, "Mandalay" (Abe Lymon Orchestra, 1924)

        It's in the public domain, so you can download it for free from Internet Archive.


        Emily at the blog Livin' Vintage has a monthly round-up of inedible Jell-O recipes, which has inspired me to find the ickiest recipes in my collection.  No worries--I won't run out of recipes any time soon!

        Tuesday, February 15, 2011

        Luncheon at the Twin Oaks Tavern

        First edition cover (fair-use image from Wikipedia)

        The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain, was published in 1934.  It's a super-fast read (the edition I checked out from the library was only 116 pages) about a drifter who ends up as a mechanic at a road-side diner in southern California, the Twin Oaks Tavern.  He falls in love lust with his boss's wife, who happens to want her husband out of the way.  The moral?  Karma will get you one way or the other.

        I wanted to read a book that would go well with my new (to me) copy of Modern Meal Maker, published in 1935 in San Francisco.  It gives menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day of the year.  I decided to catch up on important reading from 1934 first, because most people were probably still getting through books from 1934 in early 1935.  By reading books published at the time, I'll have menus to go with my reading!

        Here's a luncheon menu from Modern Meal Maker, which I thought was very "diner."  I even served it on my (admittedly anachronistic) chartreuse Harmony House Symphony dishes, which were manufactured for Sears Roebuck in the 1950s.

        Cream of Potato Soup
        Corn Muffins 
        Fruit Salad
        Coffee, Tea or Milk

        The cream of potato soup uses leftover cooked potatoes. It's a good idea when you're baking, roasting or boiling potatoes to cook extras, because they're so useful. You can use them for mashed potatoes, but also in soups or in pies (like the Pyrex Chicken Pie).

        I made up the fruit salad recipe to use up the leftover pineapple rings from this post.  You don't have to use canned fruit, though.  This time of year in Kansas, it's really difficult to get ripe fruit of any kind, because we're out of the growing season locally and everything has to be shipped in, meaning it will probably never be ripe!  The bananas took a week to ripen!  I figure that if I can't have local seasonal produce, I might as well get it from a can or from the freezer section.  I've even heard that canned and frozen fruits and vegetables have a smaller carbon footprint than out-of-season fresh produce.  Plus, I just adore canned mandarin oranges.
        Cover of Modern Meal Maker; I have a copy from Dinosaur Dry Goods and a copy from Cookbook Addict.
        First page--I love the stars! 

        Cream of Potato Soup

        2 tablespoons butter
        1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
        3/4 teaspoon salt
        1/8 teaspoon pepper
        2 cups milk
        2 cups peeled, diced and cooked potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)

        Bring water in the bottom of a double boiler to a boil. In the top of the double boiler, melt the butter, then stir in the flour, salt and pepper and cook, whisking continuously, for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, then add the potatoes and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until nicely thickened.

        Serves 4

        Adapted from Martha Meade, “Cream of Asparagus Soup” in Modern Meal Maker (San Francisco: Sperry Flour Company, 1935), 338.


        Corn Muffins

        1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
        2 cups all-purpose flour
        1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
        2 tablespoons baking powder
        1 1/2 teaspoons salt
        3 eggs
        2 cups milk
        3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

        Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit. Grease two 12-cup muffin tins and set aside.

        In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the egg and milk and beat with a wooden spoon for two minutes. Pour in the melted butter and stir again to combine. Pour batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake in the middle of the oven 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

        When the corn muffins are finished baking, cool a couple of minutes in the tin on a rack and then turn out of the tin. The muffins should be served warm and can be wrapped in a bit of tin foil to reheat (300˚, about half an hour) the next day if you have leftovers. Enjoy spread with butter.

        Makes 2 dozen muffins

        Adapted from Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles LeCron, “Corn Bread,” A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband: With Bettina’s Best Recipes, the Romance of Cookery and Housekeeping, Complete New Revised Edition (New York: Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., 1940), 315.


        Fruit Salad

        2 ripe bananas, sliced
        1 cup diced drained canned pears (15.25 oz. can)
        1 cup drained canned mandarin oranges (11 oz. can)
        1 cup diced drained canned pineapple

        Combine all ingredients and refrigerate. When ready to serve, divide into four bowls. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator.

        Serves 4

        Adapted from Martha Meade, “Fruit Salad” in Modern Meal Maker (San Francisco: Sperry Flour Company, 1935), 79.


        View recipes on Scribd

        Monday, February 14, 2011

        Life this Week: February 14, 1938

        Today, I'm exploring the February 14, 1938, issue of Life magazine, which is available on Google Books. Here's a little of what interested me:

        "Occasion: a meeting of 1,000 small businessmen...invited to come to Washington and tell [the president] what to do about the Recession."  This could have happened February 2nd of this year.  Ironic that "the bulk of the conferees turned out to be angrily critical of the New Deal" yet asked for government loans to "buy and build."

        Lord Tweedsmuir Opens Canada's 1938 Parliament- Lord Tweedsmuir was the novelist John Buchan, who wrote The Thirty-Nine Steps.  He was appointed Governor General of Canada in 1935 by George V.

        Fair-use image from Wikipedia
        Movie of the Week: A Yank at Oxford
        Robert Taylor plays a braggart American jock who, somehow, manages to get into Oxford on a scholarship.  Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan and Vivien Leigh co-star.  You might also recognize Robert Coote, who plays Wavertree.  He played Bob Trubshawe in A Matter of Life and Death.  Overall, the movie is silly and predictable but good fun.  Oxford looks great and Vivien Leigh is amusing as the man-crazy wife of a local bookseller.  A Yank at Oxford isn't available on DVD, but TCM airs it.

        Georgia O'Keeffe article: "best-known woman painter in America today"; the article has two full-color pages of her work and photographs of her New York apartment and New Mexico ranch

        Remember: men won't like you if your hand lotion smells like kitchen soap.  Also, if you were thinking of inventing Donkey Basketball, you're too late.

        Is it me, or does Abraham Lincoln's stepmother look like Sydney Greenstreet?

        Appropriately enough, considering current world events, The Camera Overseas has a feature entitled King of Egypt Marries His Prettiest Subject.  Evidently the king paid his future father-in-law $1.50 for her.


        Unfortunately, there weren't any recipes in this issue, so I'll have to provide a menu from my copy of Modern Meal Maker (1935).  

        Veal Chops
        Browned Potatoes
        Creamed Cabbage
        Stewed Tomatoes

        The creamed cabbage is the same recipe as the creamed cabbage in this menu.  I just cooked it longer since the oven was at 325 for the veal instead of at 350.  Evidently creamed vegetables were very popular in the 20s and 30s.  We'll probably eat our weight in Béchamel sauce this year!

        Veal Chops with Browned Potatoes

        2-3 small potatoes, peeled and diced
        2 (4 oz.) boneless veal chops
        2 teaspoons butter
        1 teaspoon olive oil
        1 tablespoon minced scallions
        1⁄4 cup dry vermouth or other dry white wine
        1 teaspoon dried thyme

        Preheat oven to 325º Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a baking dish and put them in the oven (it doesn’t matter if the oven is up to temperature yet). Start the potatoes cooking now so they’ll be cooked through when the veal chops are ready. Dry off each chop with a paper towel and season to taste with salt and pepper.

        In a large oven-safe skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat until the foam from the butter has almost subsided. Add the chops and brown 4 minutes, then turn them over and brown for another 4 minutes. Place the chops on a plate.

        Add the scallions to the pan and cook for about a minute. Pour the wine over and scrape to deglaze the pan. Add the thyme, stir and return the chops to the pan. Remove the potatoes from the oven and place them in the skillet with the chops. Cover the skillet and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the juices from the veal are no longer pink. Midway through cooking, turn the veal chops over and stir the potatoes.

        Serves 2

        Stewed Tomatoes

        28-oz. can whole tomatoes
        ½ onion, peeled and grated
        2 tablespoons sugar
        salt and pepper, to taste

        Combine all ingredients in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Simmer while the veal chops are in the oven (about 20 minutes). The liquid from the tomatoes should be thickened.

        Friday, February 11, 2011

        Dinner and a Movie: Design for Living

        Another February menu from A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband:

        "Alice Practices Economy"*

        Head Lettuce with Celery Seed Dressing
        Baked Eggs
        Potatoes Escalloped with Bacon

        Both the eggs and the escalloped potatoes are baked in a 350-degree oven.  You can prepare the salad dressing and the eggs while the potatoes start baking.  When the eggs go in the oven, you don't have to do anything else until everything is ready to be plated up, which is really nice.  I don't know if this dish is economical or not, because I didn't do the arithmetic, but the authors of A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband say it's cheap, so it must be!

        Head Lettuce with Celery Seed Dressing

        1 head iceberg lettuce
        ½ cup olive oil
        2 tablespoons lemon juice
        ½ teaspoon celery salt
        ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
        ½ teaspoon paprika
        1 garlic clove, crushed
        3 tablespoons sugar

        Shake together all ingredients except the lettuce in a mason jar. Use an eighth to a quarter head of lettuce per person. Store extra dressing in the refrigerator.

        Serves 4-8.

        Adapted from Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles LeCron, “Celery Seed Salad Dressing” in A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband: With Bettina’s Best Recipes, The Romance and Cookery of Housekeeping (New York: Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., 1940), 85.

        Download and print

        Baked Eggs

        2 eggs
        ½ cup milk
        ¼ teaspoon salt
        1/8 teaspoon paprika
        2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
        1 tablespoon butter

        Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit. Butter two ramekins and crack an egg into each. Stir the salt and paprika into the milk and divide mixture evenly between ramekins.

        Melt the butter over medium heat. When bubbling, add the breadcrumbs and stir for a couple of minutes until slightly browned. Pour breadcrumbs over the top of the eggs.
        Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes.

        Serves 2.

        Adapted from “Baked Eggs” in ibid., 362.

        Download and print

        Escalloped Potatoes with Bacon

        1 lb potato, thinly sliced
        3 slices crispy cooked bacon, cut into small pieces
        1 ½ tablespoons flour
        1 ½ tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
        ¾ teaspoon salt
        ¼ teaspoon pepper
        2/3 cup milk

        Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit. Butter a casserole or au gratin dish and set aside.

        In a mixing bowl, combine the sliced potato, bacon, flour, butter, salt and pepper. Mix to combine then pour into the casserole. Pour the milk over and bake 45 to 50 minutes.

        Use a casserole that is big enough so that the potato mixture only comes about ¾ of the way to the top. Place casserole on a baking sheet, in case it bubbles over.

        Serves 2.

        Adapted from “Potatoes Escalloped with Bacon” in ibid., 362 and “Escalloped Potatoes” in ibid., 159-160.

        Download and print


        Fair-use image from Wikipedia
        If you're ready for another pre-code Lubitsch picture with Miriam Hopkins and Edward Everett Horton, may I suggest Design for Living (Ernst Lubitsch, 1933)?  The premise would still be unconventional today: an independent American woman (Hopkins) in Paris becomes muse to a playwright (March) and a painter (Cooper), which, naturally, requires moving in with them.  Be prepared for bohemian living--sex without benefit of marriage ensues and complicates the entire living arrangement.

        Further reading:
        Here's an article about Miriam Hopkins on the blog Allure.
        George Hurrell photo of Miriam Hopkins at Art Deco.

          * From Google Books:

          Thursday, February 10, 2011

          Vintage Recipe Thursday: Caramel Layer Cake

          Another great find from Public Market Antiques (click to enlarge)

          I added pecans to make a Praline Layer Cake
          Caramel Layer Cake


          Annette Hanshaw is one of my favorite singers from the 1920s and 1930s.  For your listening pleasure:

          "Ain't Cha" (Annette Hanshaw, 1929)

          Download song at Internet Archive

          Tuesday, February 8, 2011


          I've been so very lucky to receive two blog awards over the past week or so-- a Stylish Blogger award from Laura at Pragmatic Attic and a Versatile Blogger award from Ginger at Sailing Over a Cardboard Sea.

          Both awards ask that I tell seven things about myself, so here goes:
          1. I have a B.A. in History from the University of Oklahoma.  I mostly studied early modern England and Scotland.
          2. I have a B.A. in French, as well.  I'm currently working on my German and I used to be able to read Latin. Need to work on that next!
          3. I don't work.  I love staying at home, but sometimes I have a hard time squaring my traditional domestic arrangement with my political views!
          4. The lovely man who makes #3 possible is my husband, Paul.  As of this week, we've been together seven years.  He never objects to the food I cook or to all the old stuff I buy.
          5. I knit almost every day (I'm Ecossaise over at Ravelry).  I have sewn things in the past, but my skills need a serious boost.  I'm not interested in knitting for its therapeutic properties--I just want the clothes.
          6. I set my hair in pin curls twice a week using a modified version of this set.  When I want a change, I use enormous velcro rollers for a 60s-inspired hairdo.
          7. Despite my love of vintage, I'm not a good thrift store shopper.  I always feel overwhelmed and much prefer antique stores, estate sales and the internet.
          Now, to pass on the love.  If I've selected your blog, feel free to do whatever (pass it on, don't pass it on).  I don't want anyone to feel like they have to participate.  So, if you're thinking, "who is this person and why is she giving me an award?" just ignore it!  I get to pick up to fifteen blogs for each award, but I'm going to change things up and award just one Stylish Blogger award and one Versatile Blogger award per week or so.  To pass the award along, (a) link back to me, (b) share seven items about yourself, (c) select 15 pass-it-on bloggers.  Without further ado--

          This week's stylish blogger:

          Iz bakinog ormara

          This week's versatile blogger:
          Mariana, who has nine blogs on various subjects.  I follow:
          Art Deco
          The Flapper Girl
          Vintage Ads

          Monday, February 7, 2011

          Life this Week: February 7, 1938

          Come-uppance Cake*
          Today, I'm exploring the February 7, 1938, issue of Life magazine, which is available on Google Books.  Here's a little of what interested me:

          "It's always summertime someplace in America..."  Don't you wish you could escape all this snow?  If there were still Pullman single-occupancy coaches, like in this ad, you could skip the TSA pat downs on your way to the links this February.

          In 1934, the Hays Code restricted "immoral activity" in film and made passionate, lingering kisses at thing of the past.  "...These Movies are now Museum Pieces" gives a glimpse of the Museum of Modern Art's collection of movie kisses from their greater movie stills archive.  If you're interested in watching the films, The Private Life of Henry VIII, The Kiss and The General are available on Internet Archive and all but Reunion in Vienna and Forbidden Hours are available on DVD.  However, Reunion in Vienna will air March 16th at 3:15 a.m. CST on Turner Classic Movies.  I'll be setting my VCR!

          "Europe's Little Nations Flirt with Germany and Italy" outlines the division of Europe into two camps: pro-democracy and pro-Fascism.  Countries like Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia and Rumania had to decide where their loyalties lay.  There's also a photo from the Oslo Conference from January 18, 1938, which was a gathering of countries that intended to stay neutral during "the next Great War."

          "Movie of the Week: The Goldwyn Follies"  Yes, it's available on DVD.  Yes, I've watched it.  It has to be one of the most God-awful, hokey, schmaltzy, ridiculous movies ever made.  I thought if it had Adolphe Menjou in it, it couldn't be too bad.  I was wrong.  Yes, Zorina is a talented ballerina and the Romeo and Juliet pas de deux (choreographed by George Balanchine) is a high point in the film.  However, The Goldwyn Follies is not "an A--no. 1 picture" as Life asserts.  It's comedy is not "really funny."  The most amusing character is Charlie McCarthy (yeah, the ventriloquist's dummy) and he's not even in top form.  Looks like Mr. Goldwyn shouldn't have scrapped Dorothy Parker's script.  The chief attraction of the film is the costuming (by Omar Kiam) and make-up (by Max Factor)--in technicolor.

          This article has four pages of gorgeous 1930s shoes.  Need I say more?

          "Great Primitive Paintings in America" is a nice introduction to medieval art.

          This is a rather silly Life Savers ad, but the clothing is great (and in color!).

          "Jersey City's Mayor Hague: Last of the Bosses, not First of the Dictators" profiles Hague's fight with organized labor.  Hague is "a born leader since his boyhood days in Jersey's toughest slums, he is still loud, profane and ungrammatical, but he dresses with conservative elegance."  Frank Hagues sounds like he was a fascinating mix of street and nouveau riche who lived in grandeur while the people of his city suffered.

          Check out some of George VI's hunting trophies in "The Camera Overseas."

          *So, there's this great Baker's Chocolate ad in which "Paula Gives Mother-in-Law Her Come-Uppance!" I had to bake the cake (I obviously can't resist old recipes).  I made the recipe as written, but I've changed a few things in the recipe I'm posting.  First of all, the filling was way too runny and would not set up.  So, I substituted a filling recipe in the write-up that has worked for me in the past.  Secondly, the chocolate frosting mixture was way too stiff to fold egg whites into, so I just beat in the egg whites.  It tastes really yummy but there's definitely not enough of it to cover the sides of the cake.  Thirdly, (and this is totally my fault) the cake was a bit dry.  I should have taken it out of the oven sooner.  Don't let me scare you away from baking this cake, though.  It's pretty awesome (even a bit dry with runny filling, which I hope my recipe will correct).
          Come Uppance Cake