Monday, January 21, 2013

Life This Week: January 22, 1940

First up, there's an article about Katharine Hepburn's eccentric family. It's an interesting read if you're a big fan of Ms. Hepburn like I am. The photos are such fun, too. There's also one from The Philadelphia Story, which was on Broadway at the time. The article predicts that if the play becomes a movie, Katharine Hepburn will star in it but won't stay in Hollywood for long. I hope no one placed a bet on that prediction!

Every time I read about the Hepburns, I think I'd like to emulate their wealthy-New-England-liberal home life. I just don't want to have seven children.

From the article:

P.S. I've created a Katharine Hepburn board on Pinterest to share some of my favorite Katharine photos. Go check it out!

The Movie of the Week for this issue is The Grapes of Wrath, but I couldn't stand to watch it again, so I picked a movie that debuted in London this week in 1940: The Stars Look Down. I was really excited because it stars Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood (who were in The Lady Vanishes together; more on that Thursday). Unfortunately, it's about coal mining and when is that anything other than depressing? Even director Carol Reed called his adaptation of A.J. Cronin's novel "a gloomy little piece." Well, better luck next time on the film front.

I did make some homemade English Muffins, though, and they were quite tasty. I decided to do a sourdough version of the muffins in my 1936 edition of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, because I have a sourdough starter and why not?

Sourdough English Muffins

For the sponge:
1 cup fed sourdough starter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups flour

To make the muffins:
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons softened butter, cut into small cubes

To make the sponge, place the cup of fed sourdough starter in a large mixing bowl. Heat the milk and water to "blood temperature" (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and pour over the starter. Stir together then stir in the salt and sugar. Next, stir in 2 cups of flour. Cover the bowl and leave overnight.

The next morning, stir in the remaining 2 cups of flour and work in the softened butter. Knead thoroughly and return to mixing bowl. Cover with a cloth and let stand until dough has doubled in volume.

Press the risen dough out on a floured board to a thickness of 3/4". Cut out muffins with a 2 3/4" round cutter. Cook on a hot buttered griddle 15 minutes, turning often.

12 muffins

Adapted from "English Muffins" in The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1936).

Download and print

Did you like this post? Please share it on facebook, pin it or tweet it! Subscribe to my mailing list and be sure to sign up for the monthly newsletter, as well. You'll get special subscriber-only content (like my classic movie recommendations of the month).

Want to keep up with me in between blog posts? The best way to do that is by liking The Past on a Plate on facebook. Hope to see you there!


  1. I love Katharine Hepburn. The Philadelphia Story is one of my top ten favorite movies. Her family was fascinating.

    I love making breads, but I've never attempted sourdough. Do you make your own starter, or do you buy?

    1. My starter is from King Arthur Flour. I know it's possible to make your own, but I've never attempted it.

      The Philadelphia Story is one of my favorite movies, too!

  2. Love your Pinterest pix. I'm planning on having a Pinterest page of Hollywood stars cooking, eating and drinking so keep your eyes peeled!

    LOVE your automatic grill waffle baker. That is gorgeous. Jx

    1. Can't wait for your pinterest board. I've started following you in anticipation. You need some pins!

      The waffle iron was my great-grandmother's. She said she didn't need it anymore and sent it home with me! We use it all the time.

  3. Can never get enough of Kate in that Amazon costume. I spoke to her on the phone once. Thought it was one of my crazy queen friends imitating her. Funny Story. Now these sourdough english muffins are just my thing. So impress you made hem from scratch.

    1. "Sorry Ms. Hepburn--I thought you were a female impersonator!" That's too funny. I'll bet Cher gets that a lot... :-)

      The muffins weren't difficult to make--actually kinda fun.

  4. I can never get over how much Hepburn's one sister looks just like her.

    That automatic grill looks super-cool!

  5. I'm amazed at how much those Hepburns look alike! Emulating them might be fun, but yes, please minus seven children. How about one? I think I'll skip the "gloomy little piece" in favor of funny or maybe even a fab car chase!

  6. I'm always looking for more ways to use my starter - can't wait to make English muffins! Yours look scrumptious. I love Philadelphia Story and just checked out your Pinterest page. Lovely!

  7. I am on a baking craze lately...all I feel like doing is baking (must be winter or something) so these are definitely going on the list!

  8. I LOVE YOUR PINTEREST HEPBURN BOARD. What a gorgeous thing she was. I also love my fellow Past on a Plate reader Lora's comment about thinking she was an impersonator on the phone...! Can you imagine putting the phone down and realizing it was really her? I would have actually died of regret. Those muffins look am-a-zing.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.