Monday, February 22, 2010

Meatballs in Buttermilk circa 1968

Last week we were invited to a winter party at my friend Brian's house. He is an amazing host whose parties are always full of great food and wine. This photo was taken at one of his summer parties, where the evening ended around his amazing and warm fire pit.

He usually makes a delicious soup or stew and a ham or turkey and asks his guests to bring either a dessert or appetizer. Because most of the guests are "foodies", there is always a great assortment of wonderful offerings. The party was the day after Valentines day which was a Monday evening. Not the usual night for a party, but for us, many of whom work in restaurants, it was our Friday. Being the day after both Valentines day and President's Day weekend we were all exhausted from the busy nights at the restaurant. When asked, I kept telling Brian I was not going to the party. I just wanted to be home in my jammies watching the Olympics, but hubby wanted to go, so we did.

I live over 20 minutes from the nearest grocery store, so was looking to make something from ingredients on hand. I had some fresh ground turkey and went in search through my vintage collection of cookbooks for a meatball recipe and found a recipe for Meatballs in Buttermilk. I happened to have some buttermilk on hand that needed to be used up as well so thought this the perfect recipe to try. I especially loved that there was a "blue ribbon" symbol next to the recipe. Must be good!! How thoroughly retro, I thought.

When I was recently married in 1979 at the age of 19, I found a cookbook for .50 in the bargain basement of a bookstore. It was called "Favorite Recipes of American-Meats". At the time, I was a vegetarian cooking for my then husband who was a meat eater. Somehow I still have this cookbook in my collection and this is where the recipe came from. The copyright on the book is 1968.

As I went through the ingredients the only thing I did not have enough of was some dried mustard, but I did have mustard seed and so I put it in my grinder and made some of my own.

Meatballs browning on the stove top.

Buttermilk sauce simmering. At first the sauce curdled a bit and I thought, "oh no another vintage recipe disaster". But soon enough it all came together
in a delightful sauce perfect to add the meatballs to.

And the finished product with just a "touch" of smoked paprika added
(not part of the recipe, but I could not help myself).

Somehow I forgot to bring my camera to the party, so do not have a photo of it at the party. I presented the meatballs in a wonderful 1970's chafing dish with a wooden handle and totally 70's design. I was pleased and all the party goers thought they were delicious.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Where does time go?

I have been immersed in my very first sewing project in over 20 years. A wonderful summer halter dress Advance 6435.

I bought some great fabric for $2.00 at our local thrift store and thought it would be a not too expensive way to try my hand at sewing again.

I am also using my new sewing machine for the first time so there are quite a few firsts here. I don't know why I did not photograph the dress in construction, but I didn't. Maybe I am shy at my beginner techniques. I only had a small clue as to what I was doing. It did not help that the pattern I chose for my first attempt at a dress is unprinted. All I had were small holes to tell me what to do. Here is my pooch Pabu cheering me on as I cut out the pieces. I also did not have exactly the correct amount of fabric to lay it out as indicated on the pattern so I fudged it. There was a lot of fudging going on, but somehow I have almost completed it.

Fudge #2:
When it came to the peter pan collar, no matter how I looked at the directions I could not figure out what they wanted me to do. SO I made it up.

Fudge #3:
When the bodice was finished, the bust was too large. Come on people 34" and it is still too big! So I cut the side seams and resewed them. How I wish I had a dress form. It is Christmas yet?

Fudge #4:
Because I made the bodice smaller, the lower part of the dress no longer matched up. So I put in a slight gather in the stomach area to accommodate the extra fabric.

All of this with very little sewing know how. I am pretty proud of myself. I still need to put the zipper in (totally scared about doing this). I think I may have put one in years ago. But for the moment I do not have the proper size or color in my vintage stash, so that will have to wait. The pocket seems a bit askew too so that will need to be redone as well.

Will get pictures up soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Snow Day?

The forecast for today was 10"to 15" of snow. It was supposed to snow all day and into the night, but time and again I looked out the window and not a flake to be seen. So I decided to just forget about it and bake some cookies and blog. I started looking through my basket of recipes and then a picture of this cookbook that I had upstairs popped into my head. It is copyrighted 1955. Perfect.

I was in the mood for oatmeal cookies and searched the book to find a recipe and found one for Orange Oatmeal Cookies. I especially liked the fact that the previous owner had checked the recipe. Must have been a favorite. I got this cookbook at a tag sale this summer. I was out and about looking for just something like this and was WAY out in the middle of nowhere and saw a sign for a tag sale. Low and behold I hit the jackpot and think I paid $2.00 plus a Big-Y Silver Coin (no lie) for about 10 cooking pamphlets and books.

The one thing about many of the vintage recipes is that they used many ingredients that today are deemed harmful or at the least not very good for you. I use organic baking products where ever possible and was able to make these cookies using almost 100% organic ingredients.

Shortening 1/2 cup

Organic quick cook oats 1 cup

I egg (although not organic) they are local

Into the oven

Into the cookie jar

They turned out delicious and were just the thing to cheer up my husband. He loves cookies and said they will be gone by tomorrow. The only thing disappointing about this recipe is that it only made 24 cookies. I will have to double it next time. It was simple as could be and they are almost healthy.

Here are some illustrations from the book.
I just adore them.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Sisters Home Economics Project-1967

On Sunday my siblings and I went to my parents house to celebrate my fathers 83 birthday. My older sister Karen was there and I gave her a cookbook that she used to have when she was younger (I bought it for her on ebay) . She is the oldest of 5 and we all remember when she made this gigantic hamburger for dinner when she was 13 years old. Somewhere, there is a photo of her proudly sitting in front of it ready to cut it up for all of us to eat. When I asked her about it this summer, she mentioned that she had cooked it from The Seventeen Cookbook, but she no longer had the cookbook. Thus the reason I bought it for her. I had planned on giving it to her at Christmas, but forgot. So brought it along with me on Sunday to give to her.

This got her thinking. She knew (I did not) that our mother had kept some old school projects of ours. Karen rummaged through a closet and exclaimed, "Here they are". In a pile were some of each childs school projects and Karen searched for the one she wanted to show me.

When Karen was in 8th grade, she was required for a Home Economic class to cook dinner for our family for the entire month of November

It is snapshot into our lives back then. It must have been hard for my mother and sister to come up with meals that she (my mother) knew were relatively easy to prepare and that we would all like.

Tiny Pizzas
Macaroni and Cheese
Pot Roast
Stuffed Hot Dogs
Glori-Fried Chicken
Tuna Tetrazzini
Chicken Breast
Fried Ham
Swordfish (must have been Friday)
Turkey Pies & Spam -I love this one. The turkey pies were frozen and Spam...she must have been getting weary of cooking dinner each night.
Pork Roast with Sauerkraut AND Nesselrode Pie-This was a BIG hit.
Hot Dogs, Pizza
Hidden Dill Hamburger. Not a Hit. See Below.

My mother was asked to critique each meal. The critique for the Hidden Dill Hamburger reads:
Karen's younger brothers and sisters weren't very happy with the Hidden Dill Hamburgers. She is learning it is difficult to please everyone.

Glad to see my mother helped with Thanksgiving!

The final critique for the entire project shows hints of my mothers disdain for preparing meals for seven each night! Thankless task!!!

The year was 1967 and as I stated in the beginning of this post, it remains clear that a girl or boy would NEVER be asked to do something like this today. I went to the same junior high school as my sister 6 years later and although I took Home Ec, this was not a requirement for me. I would have enjoyed it though. Too bad.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting Ready to Sew

January 25th
I have to admit, I am a little scared to start sewing. I guess I am afraid my technique will not meet my expectation. I remember when I used to cater and I had a particularly difficult new recipe to prepare, I would get this same feeling. It always worked out one way or another and at the very least I learned something new about cooking. I'm sure it will be the same for this dress.

So gone!

January 26th
Today I took the plunge and started cutting out the test pattern. I feel as though I have forgotten everything there is to know about sewing. Mrs. Pitt where are you (7th grade home economics teacher)? As you can see in the photo, I had a furry friend to help support the cutting.

Once the cutting was done, Dalai thought the
bunches of material made for a nice place to take a nap.

Out came the directions and I was stumped right off the bat. The directions asked me to "gather". In times gone by I would have gone to my mother, grandmother, aunt or older friend to teach me, but today all you need is a computer hooked up to the internet. Gather. Still feeling unsure about all of this, as it took me hours to get my stitches on the machine to be just right and now I am being asked to fool around with the stitch length. I guess this will be a learning experience for sure. Be back in a minute.

I did it. I gathered, created darts and sewed the seams together. Biggest news is: It fits!!! Although there is no room for weight gain in the hip area. All the more reason to get exercising and toning a bit more.

I think I will also do a mock of the top, just to be sure it all fits. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I probably am the only person on Earth

Who could get excited about this!

I went to the thrift store to get a sheet so I could cut out my vintage dress pattern and give it a try on something inexpensive before actually taking the dive and cutting into the expensive fabric. I found just what I was looking for. A huge sheet or tablecloth that is plenty big enough to trial run the whole dress. It was only $1.00.

I was heading out to a hair appointment next door when I spotted this in the corner.

Oh Happy Day~Joy~Girlish Giggles

I just could not believe my eyes. Is that what I THINK it is? I undid the buckles and opened this gem up. I got even more giggly inside. It was too good to be true.

I looked around hoping no one else was eyeing it and planning to swoop it out from under me. It had a price tag of $2.50 on it. I wondered if it worked. I closed the lid, but not before noticing it had the directions still with it. It was pristine. I ran up to the register while trying to conceal my delight. "Excuse me Miss, could you plug this in and see if it works?". The sales lady looked at me with a slight smile and said, "sure".

She plugged it in and voila hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. It purred like a kitten and heated up just fine. I closed it down and said, "I'll take it". Walking out the door with a grin the size of Mt Rushmore I thought to myself, "How am I going to hide this from hubby? He will kill me if I bring one more thing into this house." Well I was too darn pleased with myself to worry about it today.

I think it might be a great way to dry my pooches after their bath. Holding them and a hand held dryer AND combing them is difficult.

I will figure that out anther day. Now where the heck are my curlers so I can try this baby out. Stay tuned. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bohemian Chicken with Spazel. Oy!

Today I searched through this mega-cookbook to find the perfect recipe for dinner tonight. Something that was not too complicated and fairly quick to make. I settled on Bohemian Chicken with Spazel. It sounded good enough and was straight forward in the directions. At least until I went to start cooking it.

The first thing I cheated on was using my food processor. The recipe asked for the onion, pepper and garlic to be finely chopped. I started chopping it by hand and then said no~Food Processor.
Then I noticed that the recipe asked for paprika, but no where in the recipe did it tell when to add it, or for that matter ever talk about it again. It was only listed as an ingredient. Hmph. I sprinkled some on the chicken and added it to the broth. A little paprika never hurt anyone. I got the chicken and vegetables simmering on the stove and set out to make the spaetzle, something I have never cooked before. Although I DID watch Tyler Florence make it once on his show.

The spaetzle was a catastrophe. The recipe called for mixing 3 eggs with 4 1/2 Tablespoons of flour and some salt. When I read that I scratched my head thinking there was way too much liquid for that amount of flour, but decided to follow the recipe. What I got was a slithering mess of floury egg. I ran upstairs and kicked dear hubby off the computer and quickly googled spaetzle. Up came guess who? Tyler Florence. Eghads. His recipe called for 2 eggs to 1 cup flour and some milk. What to do? I went down and added more flour until it formed a lump. Truly a lump. The recipe in the mother book said to cut it into 1 inch pieces and so I did. Here is the result.

The recipe also called for boiling it in water. I still had chicken stock left over so I boiled it in that. Meanwhile I cooked up some nice brown butter. What doesn't taste good in brown butter?

These spaetzle were like miniature hockey pucks. They could be used as weapons. I was still not ready to give up on them though, so I chopped up some garlic and added it to the brown butter and the spaetzle. What doesn't taste good in brown butter and garlic? Eh-ummm. Right.

By this time I almost convinced myself they were, "not that bad". All that butter and garlic had to be good for something. I called for hubby and told him, "Vintage dinner is ready". What a good sport. He chuckled as I stood photographing this creation and said it looked good! Wow and thanks. It DID look good. Don't you think? But was it good? Well on a scale of 1-10 I would give the chicken a 6. It was not horrible but it will not be made again by me. The sauce was tasty soaked up with some chibbata.

The spaetzle on the other hand were horrible and we joked about them all through dinner. Some day I will get a real recipe and try these again. OhTyler, I need you. All in all, the chicken was tender and delicious and we just won't talk about the spaetzle ever again. I do get a funny feeling though that this may be a source of laughs between us for many years.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Size 12 Vintage = Size 4 Today

In preparation for sewing after almost 20 years, I went to a local sewing center to pick up supplies. Needles, bobbins, thread, tape measure and a lovely new "needle tomato". The next day I set about cleaning my office to make room for my sewing and whilst organizing I found all of my old sewing supplies. Here is my old tomato next to my new tomato. Which shall I use? In the end I will probably use both. I tend to work all over the place when I am creating. I am like a whirling dervish when I am in the process, so the more the merrier when it comes to supplies.

My one goal for yesterday was to lay out and cut the pieces for the dress. Unfortuntely I did not accomplish this. I took out all the pieces to make sure they were all accounted for. Which they were. Then I ironed the wrinkles and creases out of them. What I love about working with vintage patterns is that some other person long ago, used and created with the same pattern. You can find out a lot about that other person when sifting through old patterns. What I found out about this pattern is that whoever had it first created view 1. All of view 2 pieces (the dress I am making) are still uncut.

Back to why I did not cut the fabric. While pressing the paper pattern I looked with horror at the pieces for the skirt of the dress. Can you say straight and tiny? Oh dear. In general I am a fairly small person, but I am wondering if I am THAT small. I went and got my tape measure to tape my measurements against the pattern. Oy. The measurements DO NOT add up. However when I place the pattern piece against my body it feels like there might be just enough room. But then there are the darts.

I used to sew for my children and can honestly say that this dress is the most daring and complicated pattern I have sewn. I don't think I ever made myself a dress before and I want to do this one right. So I have decided to go to the thrift store and pick up a cheap sheet and cut the skirt out of and see if it will fit. I wish I had a dress form but this will have to do for now. Either that or I diet. Which might not be a bad idea anyway. Touche.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sewing: A modern women tackles a vintage pattern

Today is the day I start this new project. Sewing a dress from a vintage pattern from the 1950's. I am in love with this dress. Excited to start sewing it and anxious that my sewing skills will not be up to snuff to make this into the dress of my dreams. I purchased some wonderful material from a shop on Etsy. I chose two complimenting fabrics. I will sew the dress in the fabric on top. If you look close you will see dragonflys. The over skirt will be in the other fabric show at the bottom. There are bunnies on this fabric, although the photo does not show them. Recently on the Today Show they did a segment on mixing patterns in clothing and that it is a new trend. So I thought, why not mix the old with the new and see what transpires.

My goal for today is to lay the pattern out on the fabric and (gasp) cut it. It has been many, many years since I have sewn, but I am always one for a creative challenge and with fingers crossed I am praying for a wonderful new dress. Tag along as I blog about this new found passion and help me with ideas on where I might wear this. I have a perfect pair of gloves and pearls to complete the outfit. I say a garden tea party. Any thoughts?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ready to Rumble?

It all started this spring when I went out one Sat. in search of vintage cooking ephemera to use on a cooking show my sister and I were in the process of doing. At one particular tag sale I hit the mother load. A box filled with over 50 pairs of vintage leather ladies gloves, silk slips, cookbooks, muffin warmer, toaster, and the amazing 1960's GE electric can opener below. My husband almost flipped his lid when I came home (and not in a good way). "Where are we going to put all of this stuff?" says he. "I'll find a spot", says me batting my eyelashes.

1960's GE electric can opener

When I first acquired this can opener it was dirty and needed a little TLC. I scrubbed a bit of the grime off and plugged it in. Zipppppppppp. Around it went and opened the can faster than any can opener I had ever used. It was magic and I loved it. Not the hubby though. He does not share my fascination with this household objet d'art. So it was put away in a closet till I pulled it out this morning to blog about it.

It seems so "Jetsonion" to me and I love the way the legs splay out beneath it. I have searched the internet, but have been unable to find out the year it was produced. I am guessing early 1960's. I did find out that GE developed the first electric can opener in 1958 and back in June I do believe I found a little more about this one on the internet, but today the information is gone. Sigh.

But with that, my can opener is plugged in and ready to start opening some cans. Will have to look for a recipe in the cookbook that uses cans.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Who is Margaret Mary McBride?

You've got to love a smiley face of raisins on your hot cereal in the morning.

As I looked through the cookbook last evening to make dinner, even though there are 1500 pages, I could not find a recipe that I wanted to cook AND I had the all the ingredients on hand to make. (In actuality I probably did, but nothing was appealing to me. I could have made an egg dish or something along those lines, or a breakfast dish, but ended up making mac and cheese with sausages baked in it) . I live 20 miles or more from a grocery store so if I don't have it on hand, I don't make a special trip. Next week I will make a list and start creating some of these wonders and highlight sections of the cookbook.

I did a search on the Internet to find out more about this cookbook and its author. Who she was and cooking don't seem to go hand in hand and there seems to be a disconnect. Here is Mary Margaret McBride's Wikipedia page: and here is a photo of her along with more info:

The book was published by the Homemakers Research Institute and it feels to me like they put her name on it to help sell the cookbook, but I can't be sure about that. In doing research I found that it also came in a 12 volume set that could be purchased at the grocery store. There are 12 color pages in the book at the beginning of each volume. I will take photos of these and post them at a later date.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Vintage "Mother of all Cookbooks"

This past month, my husbands family home was sold and with that came much cleaning out of stuff that had been there for years and years. Just before Christmas he came home with a cookbook which I am calling the "Mother of all Cookbooks". I am just getting around to looking through it. It is a behemoth of a cookbook with over 1500 pages. The title of the book is Mary Margaret McBride Encyclopedia of Cooking. The copyright on the book is 1959 and my husband believes it may have been a wedding present, as that was the year his parents married.

This past spring I started collecting vintage cooking pamphlets and cookbooks from the 1940's, 50's and 60's. Had I known such a wonder as this existed I may not have been so inclined to keep purchasing more. This has EVERYTHING in it for a 1950's homemaker. From how to tackle a recipe and measure correctly, to choosing wine and how to breastfeed a baby. It has a diet menu for relief of "ordinary constipation" as well as how to un-mold the ubiquitous gelatin mold. There is even a section on how to build an outdoor barbecue.

Imagine if Julie Powell of "Julia and Julie" fame decided to tackle this cookbook. It would be years before she finished. I think it would take me years just to count how many recipes are in it.

Each page of this enormous book is filled with black and white photographs as well as wonderful vintage graphics. Oh I am more than in love with this cookbook. I could yell from the top of a mountain about the wonders of it. I keep flipping through the pages as I am writing this and am finding more and more gems. I just love this little snowman image.

So what shall I do with this new found love that has crossed my path? Published in the year I was born I feel as though some kizmet has brought us together. Well, one thing I know for sure is this is not the last you will see or read about this cookbook. It is enough to make me change the name of my blog, but sassy lassie is just too perfect for who I am and what this is about.

Tonight I am going to search out a recipe and make it for dinner. Scott is not feeling so great, so I may look under the heading of "comfort food". Not sure if there IS one, but I would not put it past this book. There is probably a whole section on soft, porridge like food for when you are feeling down. Stay tuned and see what comes of this nights search.

Adios for now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It has been months...

When I posted my last post in September, I was working on writing a post a day. That IS how blogs should work. Not this here and there stuff. What happened? It has been so long ago that now I can't even remember. But let my try to remember, which will be good for this aging peri-menopausal brain.

There was the garden and bounty of vegetables that needed tending.
There was our trip to Maine to visit my daughter.
Oh then there were the holidays.
The knitting.

Darn, It seems I have no excuse. At least no good excuse. So I won't try anymore excuses. I will just work on the blog.

I do have to say that my love of knitting did take me off course. I knit many gifts for Christmas. Knit, Knit, knit....that was all I did. No cooking, no cleaning. Just knitting and I loved it.

I have also become enamored with vintage sewing patterns. What can I say? I love the styles. I want to create each one I see. My head starts twirling and spinning in magical thoughts of crinoline, cotton and satin ribbons. I want to be 15 and going to a party with my beau, who waits outside in his '57 Chevy with sweaty palms and too much brill cream in his hair. I yearn for those days, which I never actually lived through. But then again, I love the age of the computer, so I want this grand mixture of then and now. Of youth and maturity. Of puppy love and secure, comfortable old love. I want it all. But for now I will just blog.