Tuesday, July 28, 2009

28 July 1955 “Gardening, Cooking Leftovers, and the Home Business”

I haven’t talked about gardening lately, so I thought I would share with you a great article on tomatoes from one of my 1940’s war time House Beautiful magazines.
We all know how many wonderful things can be done with tomatoes. We gardeners today often find we are giving away a surplus come late summer, there always seem to be more than you know what to do with. Now, however, with canning and such, I believe I will keep most of mine, perhaps giving some away only to be neighborly or as a hostess gift to a non-gardening friend.
This article has some things I did not know about growing and storing these lovely mainstay of the garden. Here is the article.
tomatoe article 3  tomatoe article 1 tomatoe article 2 Although it is too late for me this year to train my tomatoes in the manner they discuss in number 4 of this article, I may try it next year. It is almost like an espaliered system, only  instead of training a fruit tree along a wall or fence for years, you diligently train it on a roof-like structure. It obviously gives you more tomato on less plant and it appears you can have them planted closer together. This would also aid in any windy days, which can blow up here along the ocean quite unexpectedly. As this is an article during WWII, the victory garden was not just a fun past time but a serious provider for your family. I am finding many war time garden tips to be great if you want to maximize the space you have.
My entire concept of how I eat, shop, cook, and save has changed with this project and I am now always on the lookout for ways to get as much out of as small a space as possible. This allows you to harvest a greater amount, which in turn means more set aside and stored and thus easier on the food budget, the environment and the very health of your family, as you can control what if any pesticides and fertilizers you will use.
Number 9 in this article about storing was an eye opener for me. I did not know, though I am sure more of you seasoned gardeners did, that an entire plant lifted from the ground and hung upside down before frost will keep for  six weeks! I also did not know that you could wrap the green fruit in paper and store and it would ripen that way, I only knew of the ole’ put it on the window sill. I also love that this part of the article on storing starts out with “you know all about canning them of course) which of course you would have, but I do not. I mean I have been reading up on it and I will be doing it this year, but I have never canned a tomato in my life. So, if there are any of you out there just learning, don’t be intimidated, come along for the ride with me!
I thought I would also share some more garden pictures with you.
I have become mad about berries. I planted only a four blackberry, one raspberry bush, a few grape vines and some strawberries and blueberries, but I am hooked now! It, of course, turned out to be divine providence that I did not overplant, as now these little darlings are going to have to be dug up and moved with me in Sept.
Here are my blackberries ripening up nicely. blackberry1I have not had any trouble with birds yet and they are not netted. Perhaps once they are ripe that will be a different story. Do any of you grow blackberries/raspberries? This is a nice specimen, as well, because it is thorn-less!
Here are some of my white grapes. grapes 1Not all the vines I planted have flowered this year and honestly I didn’t expect any of them to do so. A grape vine needs to be at least three years old before it will fruit, so I believe I was lucky enough to get an older one thrown in with my batch. I have lofty plans for a mini (very mini) vineyard at the ‘new’ house. I want my own wine as well as lovely jams and for the table.strawberriesHere is a close-up of some strawberry blossoms. These, however, seem to disappear with the birds. At the new house next spring they will be grown in a special frame I have been planning that will allow them space and air but not birds to get at them!
Here is a shot of some of my Queen Elizabeth rose and some bee balm in my ‘tea garden’. beebalm and rosesI am hoping that this variety of bee balm is actually bergamont that I love in tea (such as earl grey). I do know that the butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds love this variety of bee balm. Each of those little red petals are little tubes perfect for the hummingbirds to feed upon.  My Echinacea is doing quite well, and the bees LOVE this plant. At the new house next spring I am getting bees again and I am going to plant this in heaps around their hive, though bees travel as far as two miles to get nectar, but why not give them something they love in their own little back yard? I wonder if it will make the honey have a soothing affect on one’s nerves, as the plant is said to do. This, as well, makes wonderful tea.echinacea Here is another shot of my tea garden with my ‘crow’ standing guard. teagardenAnd of course, my hydrangea, which are so beautiful. The color is so amazing on the cape due to our unique PH in our soil. I adore how each big cluster is made up of so many little flowers.   hydrangea up close
Now, onto food:
We talked a little bit last time about using left overs in the form of bread. The information was from my 1908 homemakers manual. Though, I am always looking and getting ideas and learning, part of being a homemaker is using one’s mind and imagination. So, the other morning for breakfast I opened the ice box and looked at my darling little Pyrex covered dish with last night’s meatloaf and thought, “Today I make Meatloaf Benedict”.
I adore hollandaise sauce. I believe I have given the recipe I use in a previous blog, but this time I tried the ‘mock hollandaise’ in my 1950’s Boston Cooking School book. It starts with the basic white sauce recipe. I have given this before, but here it is again.white sauceDon’t you love what it says about why you should learn to make a white sauce? Good advice, indeed.
Then, with this base you can make any of these variations of sauce.mock hollandaise I did the hollandaise. It makes a good amount and I usually double it, as then I just store the rest in a jar ( a saved glass peanut butter jar this time, waste not want not!) and you can even, as I do for even my homemade cleaning products, make a little label with your own graphics to put on it. It lasts up to a week in the fridge, though I usually use it up in about 4 days.
Don’t be frightened by ‘double boiler’ if you are new to cooking. I still don’t have one, though one day will get a nice vintage one, but rather just take one of my little copper pots and put it into a larger pot that has heating water in it. Though it might seem involved, this recipe is really rather easy and once you make it and jar it, you have it. So, the next day it is easy to just grab it and scoop out what you need and heat it up. Those of you who are lucky enough to live in the ‘modern world’ with microwaves, could probably just stick the whole jar in the micro and heat it and use what you need.
I also add to my hollandaise a little bit of freshly grated sharp Vermont cheddar. Again, I am a New Englander so any chance to use a good sharp cheese or maple syrup, I am taking it!
So, yes, Meatloaf benedict. This would be good with bread, too, perhaps, but I felt it didn’t need it. I merely sliced the cold meatloaf and plated it and let it sit in a warm oven while I made my sauce and poached my eggs. I love my poached eggs. Don’t be intimidated by these either. I do not have an egg poacher. I merely heat water in a sauce pan until it just starts to stem drop in the eggs turning off the heat and in about 3-4 minutes they are perfect.
It was yummy and hubby loved it. The sauce could have been a bit thicker, but it didn’t affect the taste.meatloaf benedictTry it and you will adore it. Really, any leftover meat would make a great Bene in the morning.
Now, I have really begun to consider the Home more like a Business. Since I have begun thinking of my ledger and lining up my purchases and expenditures of the house in neat little penned rows, I have begun to think of the house as a business more and more. I was talking about this at breakfast this morning and hubby said, “Well, that is why they called it ‘Home Economics’” and it just really dawned on me. Of course! I know it is called Home Economics, not that I ever took it, but I again found myself coming to a ‘discovery’ here later in life in something that would normally have been taught in the past.
The idea of treating your household like a business is so very important for EVERYONE. If you are not a homemaker, merely a single person who works, still your household should be thought of in that way. For, we want to make a profit in: a clean home, good food, clean clothes, and money left over for rainy days and ‘fun’.
I am sure this realization seems silly to most of my readers. Those who may be long time homemakers certainly already know this, but I really do feel, in this project , I am a good test case. I truly am coming to it without much fore knowledge and skill. Therefore it is, to me,  an “Oh, now I get it” moment when I come to such a conclusion as “Ah, yes, HOME ECONOMICS”
So, Home Economics, where will I start. I mean, certainly I have already started and have changed to the good in many ways since 1 January 1955, but there is always room for improvement, right? Now, when I find a good pot roast for 5 dollars and get three meals out of it, I know I have done good and stretched the dollar. But, with my ledger and more meticulous records of my home, I can calculate down to the penny the cost of flour and meat and seasonings milk etc in a particular meal and see the cost. Once I have ‘general’ meals figured out for cost based on my average for what I pay for particulars, then I can plan my budget even more efficiently.
Certainly if I were running a restaurant, this would be the norm. My home, among other businesses, is a restaurant. It is also a fine hotel (or trying to get to as close to that as possible, even though my pillow cases get ironed, the sheets don’t always get ironed before putting away, but a gal has to learn doesn’t she?) a laundry, a bed and breakfast and the list goes on.
So, quite honestly, with my upcoming move, I am even more excited to get down to running my ‘new business’ of the home. What sort of things do any of you do know to make your home run more efficiently and effectively? What things do you want to try but have not? I am sure we are going to give some good advice here, so let’s get to it, fire away!


  1. loved this post! how fun! gorgeous garden pictures! while i am thinking of it, my dad is a lifelong beekeeper. so if you want good honey, plant things that make it yummy tasting. around here, sage, clover, and alfalfa are the best. so if you have room, plant a cover crop of dutch clover (instead of grass?) or let a section of your yard be alfalfa(also great chicken and rabbit feed). we have many berries that do not have any bird troubles. the red raspberries seem to do the best. but they haven't bothered the black raspberries or the blackberries much either. if you don't want to net, you can use old cans to make noisemakers and whirligigs(an art project? :) ) or a length of black hose will look like a snake.
    loved the "home as business" points. it truly is that. and the better you become at being CFO etc., the more your family flourishes~and it's just plain fun to see how much you can save!! good luck w/the ledgers. i am not so meticulous....alas. but i do play the thrifty forager!

  2. Well, I am not meticulous as of yet, but I do have hopes. I will certainly document it as I become more involved. You know, we have a lot of natural clover that grows in the yard, so I will encourage that.

  3. I agree that a home is like a business- and goodness knows I spend all my time as a manager of my children! LOL!

    But I also wanted to mention that finding a spouse and getting married is also a business proposition- I mean you even have to file paperwork and get a certificate with the state! I wish more couples would look at it in a business sort of way where they talk about their dreams and goals and how they feel about chores, kids, parenting, money, religion, etc. I know I have been head over heels for a man who was NOT marrage material. I waited to get married until I found a man who had the same dreams and goals as I did and then we planned out our future together. We will be celebrating 9 years in August. I guess my point is, if more couples looked at finding a spouse as more of a business propositon instead of a 'love' thing, maybe more couples would stay together.

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

  4. Glamorous Housewife-I couldn't agree more. So many women end up, even just in relationships, with the worst matches. It is like an ill fitting dress, such a relationship, when the woman says she needs the 'passion and love' which often translates into their having nothing in common, not geling with friends and family and different ideas on money, children, future. I blame the entertainment industry as much as I do the baby boomer mentality of "You gotta have a passion, man". The Hollywood story is told time and time again about the guy who is different and doesn't get along with the family and wants to be free and the responsible man who is either seen as a jerk or portrayed as a nerd. So many marriages would be a success if it were approached as you say, buisnesslike. Many people will feel somehow this is cold or calculated, but business and responsibility does not mean no fun. In fact, once you have found and arranged yourself into a relationship in a business like manner, you will get along and have more time for fun and to grow as friends. If you have a passion and drama, how long will that last and how much will you want of it? I am glad someone has mentioned it.

  5. Your stuff looks great! Jason had a blackberry from one of the many wild bushes we see growing along our usual walk...and for about 50 yards it was all, 'oh, my...what a perfect blackberry!' :) The birds hadn't gotten that one yet! And your grapes are so big! There are also wild grape vines along our walk, but I've not seen any fruit on them yet. AND...our strawberry has had many indications that we were about to get some fruit, but as of yet...nothing. I suspect birds or the new bunny family(?) has something to do with that?!
    Can't wait to see it all in person this weekend.

  6. I tell my girls to marry a nerd, like I did. Passion is great but then comes the drama and disappointment. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Well if the race is a happy life marry a responsible nerdy man. They can be really cute too! Mine is.

  7. Ooops, that was me, the (proud) nerd's wife. LOL


  8. 50'sgal- I just read an article in my 1943 Better Homes and Gardens about cooking with what you have (due to war shortages) and today read about your resourceful breakfast. The article was called "Have this not that" or something to that effect. It was obviously making do with what's available.

    I have to say I find my vintage Better Homes magazines to be more interesting than the 2009 version I subscribe to. The older version is clearly written for the housewife. The modern version is geared towards those who enjoy homekeeping and gardening but seem to do it as a hobby, not a profession. Just my opinion.

    Your garden looks wonderful! The fruits look so yummy. :)


  9. I can't help but agree wholeheartedly with the suggestions about how to choose a spouse. I had a "passionate" relationship with a guy. It was all drama, heartache, and I uttered those fateful words "But I love him!!!". Just a touch of advice to any single gals reading this. IF YOU EVER hear yourself say those words about a guy...RUN (do not walk) away and forget him as fast as possible. Otherwise you are heading for a lifestyle that will make the latest Jerry Springer show look tame.

    Anyways, I was lucky, got away from "Mr. Drama" and met my hubby. He is what many would call a nerd. He is quiet, shy, well mannered, hard working, honest. I think he is very handsome, but many wouldn't. Still, after 11 years of marriage and 12 years together, 4 kids, and a LOT of good times, I wouldn't trade him for anything.

    To other things....I LOVE your garden pics. We were going to put in a garden this year, but it just didn't work out. Maybe next year. I will plan it out a little better. I want to make smaller boxes or raised beds lines with stone or something. I will think it through during the winter.

    I have recently been thinking of ways to "organize" my household. It is VERY difficult with 4 kids (10,7,4,1), but I am going to try. My biggest problem is time. I am always running and just cannot seem t find the time to sit down and work it out. We'll see.

    And yes, S, most magazines have switched their focus in the last 20 years or so to part-time homemakers. There isn't anything out there to encourage the full-time homemaker/housewife/SAHM. Maybe that is what should be done, someone should start a magazine devoted to just such things....I bet it would sell gangbusters.

  10. I wholeheartedly agree with the 'nerd' assestment. I too married a 'nerd'. I think he is handsome and he is smart (rather a genius really)and definitely a hard worker. I have met so many people who end up in a realtionship with someone that is rude, dishonest, uncaring and downright mean to the women and they always say, "Oh, well I love him" I have never understood how someone could love someone they don't respect unless, of course, they don't respect themselves and I think that is the problem right there.
    Belive you me, Lorie, in the past months I have dreamt of what fun it would be to make such a magazine, but alas I am not an heiress and magazines, I believe, are starting to fail left and right due to the internet. But, we can make a fine version of such a thing on our blogs, non?
    I have sympathy for you, because I would have to cut my 'projects' in half if I had even one child and here you are with four, so congrats. While we childless homemakers our Queens of our domains, I belive you who have children are the Empress. You get just a bit more credit, although I am sure you don't really get any credit right?!, for being a homemaker AND a mother.

  11. cute nerd wife here too!! :)i agree that lack of drama in a relationship is a wonderful, peaceful thing!!! when i met my love, almost 15 yrs ago, i thought, oh dear, we are great friends, but....? and as time went on, i realized that the solidity of our friendship and the LACK of drama was the most beautiful moment of my life! i never look back. i raise my glass to all the vintage, full time, thrifty wives and caretakers of adorable genius nerds. it's a wonderful life.

  12. Thank you so much again for this excellent encouraging post!!!

    For the ladies commenting on relationships I recently found an interesting blog called What Women Never Hear(wordpress)written by an older gentleman. Yes Kelly it certainly IS a WONDERFUL life. From Linda

  13. Also, turning a tomato upside-down helps it to ripen faster. So, accidentally pick a red AND green one? Bottoms up!
    I love the way hydrangea petals look so much like cotton paper.

  14. Kelly, that is so funny, as my hubby and I started out as friends as well. We both were not looking for a relationship and all those around us started to pair off. We had great conversations and fun together and then it just hit us. That, to me, is much better than 'drama-love'. I have been in such relationships and was always happy to get out. There is much to be said for someone who is considerate, kind, and thoughtful. I wonder if many of the SAHM and SAH not mums are married to nerds, for surely they are the kind to consider the persons feelings and need to stay home as well as consider the better reality of a happy well-run home. Very intersting, indeed.

  15. Oh, and we have been married 12 years and it seems like we have always been together and yet I can't believe it has been that long!

  16. I am simply thrilled with all the comments! I married my best friend 16 years ago, and at the time all my girlfriends told me that he was a "horrible boyfirend" "boring" and "I should dump him" - Tee hee hee!!!! I told them all (and I was right even though that makes me sound so conceited!) that while he was not the most exciting boyfriend I thought he would make the most wonderful husband :-)!!!

    We have four Blessings as well - 15, 13, 11, and 9yo and they are so happy to have an at home momma. My best advice was given to me by my Grandmother who told me when I was a young married that I needed a schedule and to run my home as though it was a business and my husband was my "Boss". Not that he ruled over me but simply someone for me to be accountable to.......

    ~Mrs.J~ who talks TOO much in the comments!

  17. this is off-topic and somewhat frivolous, but i was wondering if you could post (or had posted earlier and i missed it?) what makeup/beauty products (colors, as well) that you have been using and have liked. i didn't know where else to ask, so i apologize for hijacking the conversation...but i was interested to know what you have fallen in love with, and maybe what you have not liked as well. thanks.

  18. maybe i will post about that tomorrow kelly as part of my blog.

  19. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! xo

  20. Sweet 50sgal,

    You must be very busy with planning for your shift. Have you found yourself 'dejunking' so as to lighten your moving load? If so, what are you learning are the essentials to a made-from-scratch lifestyle and what unnecessary? Are you having to 'down-size' possessions with your 'new' home? Because you're very arty and have an eye for beauty and with doing much in the home and garden maybe you need more things than your modern-day self? Thanks again for all your share with us!!! From Linda

  21. Hi 50's gal! I really have enjoyed watching your journey through the year, and I especially enjoy your insights into the amazing differences in lifestyles and thought pictures between the 50s and today.

    One of the things I've found to help in running a household economy is to carry an inventory, i.e., a pantry. Buying some products ahead when they are at a really good sales price eventually enables one to use their grocery money to purchase only sales items, allowing one to repurchase necessities when the price is right, rather than when needed (no matter the price).

    One of my dreams is to have an actual built-in pantry in my kitchen some day. Meanwhile, I make do with a set of metal shelves.

    Donna in CO

  22. Yes like Donna I stock up on grocery specials. Each week I purchase excess catalogue specials ever adding to my extensive pantry and freezer stokcs. It's so relaxing knowing I could feed us for a long time if there was say a natural disaster that prevented normal shopping activities. Also with non-grocery items waiting for the items to be reduced in price makes for some small and large savings. These all add up and help the wage earner's money go much further. Sometimes while waiting for a good bargain on a needed item one finds out it wasn't so necessary after all and quite simple to do without... who knew.:) Thanks again for all your interactions and wisdom-sharing 50s gal (and ladies who comment.)From Linda

  23. I didn't get to say it then but your post about the ledger made me think of getting one too or at least some sort of notebook to record exactly how much I spend and on what. I usually do a good job of stretching what we have and using a meal plan and shopping list but I think that recording in this way will help even more and I think I'll feel a bit like the ladies of old who did such a wonderful job of homemaking :)

    What an inspiration you are!

  24. I have had thorn-less blackberries in my garden for 13 years and the birds never steal them. I think they don’t like blackberries, so need for net.

    Fabulous breakfast – I wish you would make that for me! :)

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