Monday, March 9, 2009

9 March 1955 "Space, Beef Stew, McClosky's continued, and a Pheasant"

Tonight would air the Disney Feature "Man in Space" . It is worth a look. Below is the first part. All the episodes can be found on Youtube HERE.

I think I will definitely do a future post on science and concepts of space travel today (1955). It was becoming a much talked about topic and became the polar opposite of the other favorite childhood pastime, cowboys and indians.

It seems the new frontier of space held a certain level of hope and escapism much needed in post war 20th century. It was a possible new world untouched and unscathed by the horror of two world wars. It could hold promise of a clean slate; a brave new world where there were no wars and everything was shiny and new. The irony being, I think, that by the Reagan 1980s years of rising capitalism and greed, space was the place to consider war defense and spying. What had been a realm of hope and possiblity, merely reverted to the 'old ways' of the human animal. Protect your territory and try to increase it.

Today the space program gets little press. I am sure there are many activites going on now with NASA that would once have been feature news, but I feel with the increasing money worries and failures of the worlds banks and corporations, space is the last place we want to turn. It is not unthinkable to compare the past, our increasing view of nostalgia, as the 'New Space'. My hope for tomorrow seems to be in the past. Maybe they will begin making toys to allow your child to relive the glory days of the 1950s. Who can tell. I know I would rather travel back in time than out into space, and it is a more feasible 'everyman' position to try and relive or recapture a fond time period, than it would be to travel into space. I wonder what those who dreamed of space in 1955 think of our world now?

Now, into the kitchen:

I am sure my inexperienced petticoat is showing, when I say I have never made a beef stew before. I knew of beef stew and had certainly tasted them before, but have not ever attempted it. I know, I am sure there are some experienced homemakers out there shaking their head in disbelief. I had a very small range of dishes pre-1955. I do, however, think is says a little about the art of homemaking that one can really address the cookbook like some great learned tome. I have called this approach "The University of the Home" in previous blogs and I am sticking with that. It truly it. The fact that I can skim through a magazine or a cookbook, find, like some great wizard pouring over my book of enchantment, the ingredients needed to make my intoxicating concotion. It does bring to mind images of dry ice fog, long gnarled fingers and a cackle or two. Or, perhaps you enjoy the image of the intelligent lady-scientist. Prim and crisp in her white labcoat (ironed by her own little hand of course!) hair properly pinned up and bespectacled in horn-rimmed glasses. She moves about her laboratory (her kitchen) with determined movements adding a beaker of this a dram of that and ta-dah (Poof a cloud of smoke clears) a braised leg of lamb with homemade mint jelly! However you choose to view this person, she can be you. She is you, most likely.
Now, I know, doesn't sound exciting. But, for me, it was. There was the quite evening sat in front of the fire with hubby, he smoking his pipe, feet up and slippered, reading a book. I, next to him with my dogs around me, a cup of hot tea and a pile of vintage magazines. I tell you ladies, this is heaven. Then, as I casually flip the pages, there I see it. An ad for Hunt's Tomato Paste with a recipe for Beef stew. My finger slides down the recipe list in anticipation. Yes, I have that and Oh, I did buy a package of cut up beef that said "for stewing" on it. It is waiting patiently in the freezer. And, yes, I even have Tomato Paste (It happened to be Hunt's too, though not due to any faithful adherence to the brand, but it was probably on sale that day).
Now, for you who have made stew, you know it is fairly easy. I liked the process. The gathering of the ingredients. I think this is part of the allure of cooking for me. I check the pantry ( a growing collection I might add. Part of my hopeful kitchen enlargement will reslut in a larger area dedicated to this space)
"Yes, I have that. Oh, good, I bought a jar of bay leaves for that last recipe", and so on through the list of ingredients. This perusal through my recipe books and magazines also often preceeds any marketing I am about to do. It helps me to pick up future things I may need. Things I had never bought before, but now normally stock in my pantry. Things like condensed milk (which after an exhaustive search and finally asking I found at my grocery story it lives with the peanut butter, jelly and coffee. Why? I have no idea. I looked forever in the baking aisle!) Jar of pimentos. (have had them in olives, did not even know you could buy JUST the pimentos. You can and they used them ALOT in the 1950s) Cream of tartar. Shortening. Lard. Knox Gelatin (unflavored gelatin), Sure-Jel, and I am sure the list will expand as does my research. I find myself excited to find these items and to use them. As if I am a real time travelor allowed to test these ancient artifacts in their new state and to be amazed and the outcome of their combinations. Who knew a kitchen and pantry could be so much fun!
The above items will recieve in time my own personal labels or copies of vintage labels. I like they way they look and the effect they have on me. Speaking of which I was glad to get this image from one of my loyal readers/commentors/new friend. She was inspired by my post about making my own labels. Here she has followed suit with a label for her own 'homemade' cleaning solution of vinegar and water. Well done!

Now, back to stew. The recipe I used last night was a 'quick fix' recipe which would encourage you to use the Hunt's product. My hubby loved the result and he took the leftovers as well as the last two home-made biscuits with him for his lunch today. But, next time there is stew on my menu, I am going to attempt the more traditional recipe I found in my General Foods cookbook which includes dumplings. As I said, I had made hot biscuits, which were lovely with the stew, but the dumplings might be very nice and the presentation could be good.
I am going to attempt my own steak and kidney pie this week. I have a great recipe in my Betty Crocker. I will let you know how it turns out.

If you read my previous blogs, you'll know I am continuing on with the feature articles on the McClosky family in my 1953 Ladies Home Journal. The article is showing various aspects of the McClosky family to illustrate the young middle class American family. Here are some more pictures from that article:

What a darling little house. I really like Mrs. McClosky's haircut. I think this might be the cut I want as I can curl it tight and still wear a little ponytail for housecleaning.
In the article, she mentions how she makes dress shorts for her son out of an old wool skirt. Very industrious. (I have not forgot about my own sewing, either. I just have not done enough worth showing yet. I have cut out and begun a muslin version of the blue dress I showed in an earlier post. I learned my lesson and will make a mock up of any pattern I use now in muslin. If the muslin dress looks good, I am going to dye it with my vintage dye and can still use it as an outfit for cleaning at least.)

Here she is cutting her sons hair ( I love the expression on his face!) It says she does her own facials, manicures and permanents. This does show a young couple homemaker needing to do these things for herself. I do think, however, being an older homemaker and not having children, I most likely would pay for these items. And, in fact, I am NOT going to attempt my own hair or permanent and am taking your advice and having it done professionaly.

Though hardly my cup of tea, the McClosky dinette is rather darling. The walls are wall papered in white brick pattern. They second hand chairs were purchased from an ice cream parlor for $12.50 each. (That seems a bit high to me, as that in todays money would put them around $98.00 each. Maybe I am just used to the bargains I find at my local tag sales!) They painted a 'carpet' on the linoleum with floor paint because, "The wall to wall carpeting in our living room stops at the entrance to the niette and so dod our budget," said ANita McClosky.

While on the subject of decorating, I did a "Color Story" photo to help me design and decorate my hubbys new den. By gathering together these various objects I like, I can really get into the manliness I want of my hubbys Den. The stuffed pheasant is not somthing my husband shot, in fact he is not a hunter (though is a crack shot at a caly pigeon). It is one of my past Christmas gifts, which might
seem odd, but I like antique stuffed birds. He actually found this in the back of a great little antique shop in Beacon Hill (in Boston) on Christmas Eve. I definitely like how it has a very distinct manly study/den feeling. It has the color family I have chosen for the house, browns and reds and even a touch of blue.
Sometimes a closer view of my 'story' will help reveal a color way for my design. The one red key on this typewriter of my hubbies mixed with the blue/grey of the typewriter and warm wood tones really speaks to me. I am even considering doing one wall of wood 'paneling' which in fact would be individual wood boards stained or painted. I am not going to put up wood paneling. Though available in the 1950s it has too many 1970s connotations for me. If it were really 1955, I would not yet now of the orange shag rugs, harvest gold and pea green and wood paneling of the 1970s, but in fact, I do, so it is out.
Well, until tomorrow then, happy homemaking!


  1. Wonderful post! I learned how to type on that exact model typewriter. Definitely builds finger muscles!

  2. I love the Man in Space video, though I don't think I can sit through 8 parts of it!. I love how PC it is not. That beef stew recipe sounds fantastic however I know that my beau is not a huge fan of soup type meals. But who knows, maybe he will tell you otherwise. I know exactly what you mean by the wood paneling. It would be cute if done properly but I've had my share of it as you very well know. Tomorrow then.

  3. I have continued to make beef stew the way my Mom made it by adding some coffee to it. You want to add enough to give depth of flavor to the stew but not so much that you taste the coffee. I can't say how much because I just add it until I get the flavor I want. I'm sure you can safely start with 1/2 cup of coffee and then experiment from there. It may sound crazy, but the coffee really gives the stew an incredible flavor.

  4. I love your blog! It's a treat to read and the photos and retro material is awesome!

    I wanted to forward this article to you about a perfectly preserved 1956 home in St. Louis that was recently for sale. Sorry--it sold already. "The Hill" is an area in St. Louis with Italian influence.

    Thanks for a great blog.

    Working hard at

  5. 50sgal-
    Can you (or your readers) point me to a good source for dealing with fountain pen ink stains? DH came home (again!) with a big black ink stain on his shirt from his fountain pen. I've got some stuff he ordered online that is supposed to remove the stains but, it never gets it all out.

    I know you and your DH use them and figured you would be a good person to ask.

    Thank you,

  6. This usually works for me but sometimes there is a sligt stain left, depends on how quickly you get to it. Run cold water through stain until no more color will come out. Rub in lemon juice really hard and sprinkle detergent on it and rub this briskly with a laundry stiff brsitled brush. Let stand 5 or 10 minutes, then wash in cold water. Hope it works, they can be devils, those pens. Your husband must be like mine and always keeps a fountain pen in his shirt pocket.

  7. I was typing on my typewriter just yesterday... but it doesn't look as swanky as yours...

  8. I'm not sure if this is a 1955 solution, but hair spray (from a aerosol can) sprayed enough to saturate the stain, and then laundered is suppose to take out ink stains. The alcohol in it is the working ingredient.

    Or try nail polish remover. Just remember to put the shirt down on an old terry-cloth towel first, so the hairspray or polish remover does not damage the finish of the surface you are working on.

    You might also try a diluted bleach solution if the shirt is white.

    Good luck girls.

  9. Kay-I have heard you can use hairspray and now that you point out the alcohol in it, it does make sense.

  10. I wonder how Fels Naptha would work on ink stains. I don't know what the difference is between an ink stain and a ballpoint pen mark, but my vinegar book has a solution for both. For the ink stain is says to moisten the area with vinegar, and then apply a paste of vinegar and cornstarch to the spot. Let the paste sit until dry and then wash the garment as usual. The recommendation for removing a ballpoint pen mark is to first spray the spot with hairspray and let dry. Then, brush lightly with a solution of half water and half vinegar. Maybe between the hairspray and vinegar/cornstarch paste you can get the stain out. Let us know if it works.

  11. Wow, we are all a walking solution book. I love that we can come together, like vintage homemakers, to rescue one another from stains, and such household strife, as well as support one another with recipes and household hints! I am loving the continual Blogging coffee klatch!

  12. I think you're smart not doing a home permanent. I tried home hair dying and it didn't turn out so well! (Still growing out in fact.) I can do my own beauty routienes, but I do like having them done by a pro once in while. That would have been allowed, right?

  13. "Your husband must be like mine and always keeps a fountain pen in his shirt pocket."

    LOL, oh yes! He never leaves home without his pocketwatch, at least one fountain pen, and a handkerchief.

    I have copied all of the suggestions that 50sgal, Kay, and PL have very kindly suggested. The stain had unfortunately dried before I got to it but, I will still try to remove it or at least lighten it. DH has quite the collection of "home only shirts" from his pens and other stains I've been unable to remove!

    Thanks again,


  14. love beef stew! I made my first after I turned 30, no worries :)
    Your hubby should have a pleasant lunch - beef stew tastes even better the next day.
    Hadn't heard the tip about coffee, but I'm going to try it next time.

  15. Yes! I am definitely adding coffee to my next beef stew as well! Great tip!

  16. "There was the quite evening sat in front of the fire with hubby, he smoking his pipe, feet up and slippered, reading a book. I, next to him with my dogs around me, a cup of hot tea and a pile of vintage magazines. I tell you ladies, this is heaven."

    You just put me in such a great mood, lady!
    Wonderful picture you painted for me. I understand your expression: "Happy Homemaking".

    Danish e-hugs

  17. ...And on the subject of pimentos: I have a great recipe for home-canned pimentos. Don't know if the newly-in-love-with-technology 1950's housewife would have gone to that trouble but it is actually an easy recipe and a good way to use a glut of homegrown red peppers.

    Which brings up another interesting topic for discussion: the divide between rural and urban/suburban 1950's life. In the 50's my grandparents still didn't have indoor plumbing on their VA farm. They would have farmed and kept house a lot like *their* grandparents. If you can get your hands on them, Farm Journals from the 50's are a fascinating resource. I have some copies of my grandmother's.

    This blog is, after coffee, my first pleasure of the day. Thank you!


  18. Sanne-thank you and us e-hugs right back at you!
    Rebecca-I have become interested on the farming topic. In fact my blog today at least mentions growing food and victory gardens and I really want to be able to get a view of all the aspects of the 1955 life. Obviously there were more farms even in my area here in MA than there are now. However, a farmer here, may have lived a very different life from one in rural VA or IA. Besides the busy middle class suburban housewife, there was also the urban housewife, as not all of them moved to the country!
    I think that only one year is not going to be enough to cover it all. Looks like next year will have to be 1956!

  19. 50sgal,

    I'm almost always drinking coffee when I read your blog. :)

  20. Is that an typewriter an Olivetti? It looks exactly the same as the one I have at home, only mine is green. I think the blue, red and brown combination is very pleasing, masculine but fresh.


 Search The Apron Revolution