Monday, April 6, 2009

5 & 6 April 1955 “Churchill, China, Pic-Nics, and Ham Loaf”

churchill 5 April 1955: Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister. This must have felt the end of an era. Churchill had such an extraordinary life and if any of you get the chance you should read about him. I have always felt we, Americans, owned a little piece of him, as it were. He was, after all, half American, for whatever that is worth. lady churchill As his mother, Jennie Jerome (later Lady Randolph Churchill) was an American heiress born in Brooklyn New York to the wealthy speculator Leonard Jerome. She, too, merits reading up on. She had an interesting life and her second and third husbands were the same age and younger than her son, Winston.

After the outbreak of World War II, on 3 September 1939 the day Britain declared war on Germany, Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty and a member of the War Cabinet, just as he had been during the first part of World War I.

Will the U.S. soon be at war again?

U.S. leaders are convinced that the Chinese Communists are about to attack the offshore islands now held by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces. The Reds are expected to hit the Matsu group between April 15 and April 30, the Quemoys a month or so later. To inform and prepare the Congress and the people, the White House this week scheduled a series of bipartisan conferences on the danger and the problems the new estimate presents.

If the U.S. bows before Communist aggression again, the watching Asian millions may finally decide that the U.S. is, as Red China has charged, merely a paper tiger, of no value as a friend and ally. [Here we see the fear of the Red Menace moving into Asia. Had we acted differently, I do wonder how it would now be. What is incredibly amazing to me, is there is little talk of our connection with China, and now this “Red Fear” we once held for the country has come true and yet we are in great debt to this communist country and indeed, continue to support its way every time we buy anything made in China. Something to think about.]

This past Saturday’s Vintage Dinner was at Vintage friend’s house. We did a Summer’s Coming “picnic- theme”. donna wicker purseI wore a cotton sun dress, used one of my summer wicker pocketbooks and even went without hose (which would be appropriate at a picnic at say a park or near the beach). I am in hubby’s study here, as you can see a pipe and a pair of typewriters. I am wearing a petticoat but for some reason this shot does not show off the fullness of the skirt.

Some of the fare (here shown in Vintage friend’s collection of Pyrex Gooseberry pattern) included":

Pea and Cheese salad served cold of course. It was so good and very summery pic-nic!

peancheese salad

Here are here home-made baked beans, which were divine.

baked beans

Of course, apple pie, what would an American Summer picnic be without one?

apple pie

Vintage friend and I ADORE lemons and limes. We have been known to eat the fruit straight! MMMmm. She makes a mean lemon bar and for this summery setting she made both lemon AND lime squares. lemon n lime squaresIt was the first time she tried the lime squares and used her own recipe. They were quite fine and had a nice tart feel. The checkerboard effect was not lost on the party-goers, receiving “oohs and ahs” when they were presented (and quickly gobbled up) I had to show a close-up of the texture and color.lemon n lime squares 2

We even enjoyed chilled Sangria with fresh fruit!sangria We all left that evening dreaming of warm days spent in hammocks, wading in the cool salty waters and sandy footprints in the wake of slamming screen doors. It is coming, for those of us here in the NorthEast, Summer will be here before we know it!

We may all have those black frozen bananas in our freezers waiting for banana bread and the like. Well, in one of my ‘new’ 1952 Good Housekeeping magazines, there is a great section on cookies.choc banana drops These chocolate banana drops sounded good and I had the bananas so I made them. They were quite good, my only problem with them is that they were really more like a cake batter and I think would have been better baked in a cake pan and frosted with chocolate icing. I may, however, make some divine white cream and make the remainder of them into little cookie sandwiches. They are also good with peanut butter smeared betwixt a pair of them.


In my “etiquette for every day” book from 1952 that I won on a readers blog, the following information seemed interesting concerning manners in public:

Since the beginning of World War II there has been a noticeable decrease in politeness in public places. Probably because of the tension of the times and the crowded conditions in most American towns and cities, thoughtfulness and consideration for others in streets, buses, theatres, and other public places have greatly declined. This is unfortunate because the resultant irritations make it harder for everyone to maintain a harmonious outlook on life.

It seems the current level of manners were beginning their wane at this point. They mention how the relationship between the sexes has certainly lessened, “…men and women today enjoy a casual social relationship in which they can grow to know each better in a short time than some of our grandparents did by the time they had reached the alter.” It will interesting to see how these changes were viewed by the grandparents and rather or not in the freedoms of that time, we have perhaps gone too far today or are we better off today with the more casual relationship among the sexes?

Sunday was a great sunny warm outdoor day. I rose at my new weekend time of 8:00 and went down to the kitchen. I put on the percolator and made some sausage patties out of ground pork (adding my secret ingredient syrup of course!) While that was sizzling away and the coffee aroma was wafting through the air, I began chopping some walnuts. I need to get one of these vintage nut choppers.nut_chopper I have seen them before and just always forget I need one until it is time to chop nuts. So, my knife and cutting board did the trick. Next, I headed out to the chickens and let them out. They were so happy to stretch and ruffle their feathers in the warm morning sun. Our rooster let out his crow and I thought better of having let them out so early on a Sunday morning. But, he crowed once, gave me his usual quizzical look as I opened the door to the run, tossing scratch and leftover toast and greens to his wives, then returned to scratching the ground. Into the Chicken house and there found the mornings eggs, warm and waiting. There is nothing so lovely as a fresh egg.

Back to the kitchen. My recipe for waffles calls for stiff egg whites to be folded in and to leave ‘some of the peaks unmixed’. I did. The vintage waffle iron began to smoke, this is the ‘sign’ for me to unplug it wait a few minutes and plug it back in. Then I know it will be the right temperature to receive the batter. The waffle iron is actually from the early 40’s and I imagine it is a wedding gift that I just can’t part with, so I put up with it’s habits rather than get a ‘new fangled one’. It works and so why get rid of it, right? I am a child of the depression and the war (well at least for this year) so I am not going to get rid of my old standbys.

In goes the batter and before I close the lid, I sprinkle on some of the knife-cut walnuts. They bake in wonderfully. While the first one is cooking away, I get out my butter, put it in the pan and just melt it to softness, adding some honey. I use the mixer and whip it up making a wonderful concoction to place on our warm waffles. I set the table.

Now the dogs are down and want to go play in the sun. I open the curtains in the old dining room (where we are still eating until the new one is done) and let in the morning sun. The percolator has stopped perking. So, I pour out a cup of coffee and bring it up to hubby. He is sound asleep. I open the curtains and let in the morning sun. It is now 8:30. I tell him he has 1/2 an hour until breakfast and coffee is there on his bed side table. He answers with a muffled ‘hurmphh’.

So, by 9:00 we are at the table eating wonderful walnut waffles with whipped honey butter and syrup, sizzling hot sausage patties and juice and coffee. We need to fill up and get our energy, for today we work!

I am glad to have instigated a weekend routine. It has done wonders for our weekend. We were less tired this morning, not having slept in too late, and we accomplished so much yesterday in the yard.

It was one of those great Sundays rather vintage or not, though it did seem so. Hubby cutting away at some trees I wanted cleared for my mini orchard. At one point, I had a rope around the oak we were felling and he was cutting away with the chain saw, I trying to make sure it did not hit anything other than the ground (including myself!) I don’t feel bad losing the tree as it will be replaced with 10 fruit trees and the woodpile for next fall received a nice new stacking.

I am not sure if everyone has or can have spring burns, but we love them here in this family. My MIL actually plans her return to the cape from Florida so that she can have the month of April to burn. She, like me, is an avid gardener and the collecting of twigs, pruning of bushes and trimming of trees followed by a large bon fire and a glass of wine are enough to make one giddy with the thought of it. I was impressed with how much we did get done. We were able to get down some large branches that had partially fallen from a heavy snow we had had in winter. We lost an entire pine tree in the back yard and it blocked the side path to our backyard. Hubby made quick work of it with the chainsaw. I was even able to get some more postholes dug for my veg garden fence I am putting in.  By late afternoon, we rewarded ourselves with a bottle of wine and a sit down to watch the large fire burn down. Hubby snapped this shot, at least I managed to get one glove off to drink my wine, showing off my nail polish (varnish). Just because a gal has to work out in the yard doesn’t mean she can’t wear lipstick and nail polish, right?me black and white wine

I thought this shot said it all for the afternoon.aidoranack chairs

Of course, a busy homemaker still has to make dinner, so in between digging fence posts, hauling wood and drinking wine, I threw together this for our main course Sunday dinner.pork loaf pic 2

Here is a recipe I used and what is should have lookedham loaf recipepork loaf pic like. It came from one of the lovely cookbooks one of my kind readers was nice enough to send to me. I did not use ground ham, though as I had none, so I used ground beef and ground pork. I have no pastry bags (they are on my list to get) and so tried to make do with parchment paper. I have tried this in the past with frosting for cakes with some success. But, with heavy potatoes, they were having none of it. I ended up with a handful of mangled potato and parchment, so after some diligent scraping I was able to save enough to make the coating. I spread it with a knife and then made the design with a fork. The result was pretty enough and tasted delightful. The leftovers today made a fine sandwich.

Well, I have been busy plugging away at my new dining room today as well as my usual laundry day. I am glad I have learned the skills I have thus far, or this remodeling project would be even more messy and unpredictable, but I find that the chaos and indecision of a remodel seems to work rather well within the framework of an organized homemaker’s week. I cannot wait until it is done, however, and I can focus on the fun bits of putting my china in it’s new home and hanging new curtains etc.

Well, it is far too late for me to be up and I need to get off to sleep so I will have energy for tomorrow. I hope every one had a wonderful weekend and until tomorrow.

Happy Homemaking.


  1. you look darling in that dress!

    and yes, winston is a good one to read up on. so fascinating!

  2. Ok, that dress is divine! I love the picture of you with the wine, too.

    Thank you too for the recipe for the chocolate banana drops; I always have tons of bananas in the freezer (getting the number of bananas which will actually be eaten each week is a crapshoot in my house -- the husband is routine, but my child -- sometimes she will eat none, sometimes she will 2 or 3 at one sitting!), and I have been looking for something other than the ubiquitous banana bread recipes to cook!

  3. Lovely dress. I was wondering though... as you have written so much about consumerism and advertising..... why exactly do you 'need' a nut chopper if your knife and board did the trick...? ;)

  4. Seraphim-it is so funny that you said that. I was just working on today's post about how buying and such has changed my life. You are SO right and you know what, I DON'T need a chopper and I am not going to buy one. My knife worked fine and I like the busy work of the kitchen. One minute its an antique chopper, then it's an electric, then its preground that cost more, than it's just go to IHOP and buy their mass produced breakfast. IT is a slippery slope and I am glad you called me out on it. We need, all of we vintage gals n guys, to be a good support group.
    I can feel good, though, that my darling vintage handbag in the photo came from the swap shop at our dump, cost me nothing, and now it's not in the landfill. It is hard, as I have been saying in my next rant that will be next my post, how hard it is to get away from consumerism. It is such a part of who we are as americans that we often don't realize the level to which we use it as a means to define our lives. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. I also realized it used to be a joke among my friends how I had a coffee maker fetish. I was always bying them, the fancier and more gadgets or shiny metal, into my cart it went. I was like a crow with a piece of tin-foil. Now, my only coffee pot is the vintage perculator that cost me all of two dollars at the local tag sale and my old smokey waffle iron was 50 cents at a yard sale last summer. They both work fine, obviously last, and look good in the bargain. All my expensive coffee machines and espresso machines? Most broke or stopped working properlly or never got used and just gathered dust. Off to the swap shop for them!

  6. Sounds like a fun weekend. I was hoping when I saw your beautiful dress it meant the weather was warmer where you are. This winter has just been too long. We had snow flurries here in the Midwest this weekend.

    Honestly I was thinking the same thing about the nut chopper. I understand your love of all things vintage but if your knife works well you can get a cute vintage cutting board. I hate cluttering up my kitchen with gadgets. I also hate that when you go into a kitchen store there's a gadget for everything- and they each have only one purpose. No wonder Mc Mansions are popular- we have to store so much stuff.

    Regarding the Ham Loaf- I recently made a similar recipe with meatloaf that I got from a magazine. What goes around comes back again, doesn't it?

    I'll have to keep my eyes open for a vintage waffle maker. I really want one but the one I found at Williams Sonoma was $200- way too much for me. But a 50 cent garage sale one sounds like a good idea. Thanks. :)


  7. would love to have the recipe for the lemon/lime squares! yummmmm

  8. Ha, I laughed about the Sims bit! It does seem daft to sit on the computer making up a perfect life when you could be improving your own real life, which is much more rewarding in the long run.

    Love your straw handbag, I've seen quite a few in vintage shops but never knew just quite what to wear with them, but it looks just perfect with your summery dress.

  9. What a lovely picnic! Did you stay indoors and “play Summer weather” or are your degrees warm enough to have a picnic outside? We’ve had the most lovely Spring weather here in Denmark for the past weeks, lots of sunshine and about 15-18C degrees during the day. VERY lovely and quite unusual for the Danish weather, but no one complains. Pls post recipe for those delish lemon/lime squares! :) And I LOVE your dress! How about some photos of all your sewing projects?

    You spoil hubby with that morning routine! ;) Funny you mention getting up earlier in the weekends make better weekends. I found out too. I always wanted to sleep long because I’ve saved up tiredness for the whole workweek so I needed a lot of sleep in the weekends, but – alas – then I was just more tired and sometimes even needed a nap during the day. What a waste of time! Now I also get up about 8.00 and feel fresh and energetic all weekend – and have lots of bonus time to get things done. Funny, that it works opposite.

    No, we don’t have Spring burns in Denmark, it is not legal. We have to deliver all our gardening waste to the dump site, where it is composted, so that next year you can come and pick up some nice compost for free. Larger branches/sprigs are sawed to be burned in our firestove. Is the chainsaw vintage??? ;) Just had to ask! :)

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