Saturday, September 19, 2009

19 September 1955 “ News, Canning, and Biking, ”

FARM INCOMES will be boosted and surplus products cut back, if Agriculture Secretary Benson can persuade Congress to okay a mammoth new crop-control program that may cost as much as $500 million a year. Benson wants to buttress present flexible price supports by paying farmers $10 to $12 an acre yearly to grow grass, cover crops and trees on their land, thus cut down on overall farm output by taking 40 million acres out of food production. ( I am not sure who watched the video on Monsanto, but here you can see it is beginning, paying farmers to stay out of food production, slowly this leads to our sad state today with so much being imported that could come from local farmers)

U.S. RAILROADS will have to spend $20 billion for capital improvements in the next decade to meet growing transportation needs, says Pennsylvania Railroad President James Symes. His forecast for 1965 rail business: 850 billion ton-miles, 53% above 1954's total. (Sadly, we will see a decline in the railroads as well, as multiple cars and highways replace shared and cheaper forms of transportation.)

STATION WAGONS are fast becoming one of the most popular auto models. As the all-purpose family car, station wagons are now selling at the rate of 500,000 yearly (v. 29,600 in 1946).(I love my station wagon, that is for sure!)

Canning before the 1950’s was without question necessary. ww1 canning posterThis poster from WWI shows its urgency during war time. Certainly, during the WWII it was also important as food was becoming scarce and one needed to conserve what they could from their Victory Gardens.women canningI love the look of these happy people in their root cellar properly stocked with canned goods and fruit to last.basement canning This house actually has an old root cellar, reached from the outside through a bulkhead whose walls are made up of great stones set into place. I will show photos, once I get my shelves up. I am afraid this winter, though, it will not be this stocked, but we shall see what can be yielded next summer in my new garden.

By 1955 the new young wives and mothers would find in their cookbooks and magazines of the day Freezing to be the new food conservation. Certainly, they learned some canning at mothers knee but many younger women would be excited to fill their new ‘deep freeze’ with food. But, being my age in 55 I believe canning would still very much be a part of my life. And indeed, in my current state of 1955 with the knowledge of modern needs to not waste electricity nor overspend, canning certainly wins out. To me it makes more sense to preserve food I can store for free, than to pay for the upkeep and electricity to run a large freezer.

Yesterday I made Blackberry Jam. It turned out lovely.   It was fun and as with many of the skills I am learning this year, it takes something that seems impossible or unfathomable and opens it up to that “Oh, that’s it?” moment. It also, as has other things this year, made me see how much more of what we use/consume can very easily, cheaply and so much more healthy be hand made.

I am sure there are many canners out there. For me, this is the first time really. Here is how simply my jam was.

5 cups crushed blackberries

7 cups sugar

one 1.75 oz. package of Pectin

5 16 oz jars and lids

Boil the fruit and while stirring, slowly add the pectin. Then having measured the sugar int0 a bowl, add all at once stirring constantly until rolling boil returns. Then boil for one minute, scoop into clean dry hot jars (so they don’t crack from the hot liquid) seal and place in canning pot of hot water. Make sure 2 inches of water covers jar tops and bring to a boil. Hard boil for 10 minutes, take out and set upright on a towel and in 12 hours you have jam.

So easy so yummy. Hubby and I have almost polished off the first jar, it is so good.

For those who would like to know, and I just learned, according to my 1950s Boston cooking school book the following is the difference between jams, conserves or gumbo, preserves, and fruit butters.

Jam or Marmalade. Fruit cut in small pieces, cooked with sugar until sirup is jellylike.

Conserve or Gumbo. Thick, rich mixture of fruit cooked with sugar, usually with nuts added.

Fruit Butter or Honey. Thick, smooth sauce made of fruit cooked with sugar and strained. Seasonings are often added.

Preserves. Fruit canned in a sugar sirup, thinner than for jam. The fruit is usually left whole or in fairly large pieces.

There are so many ways and means to conserve and can fruit and jam. I also have a pressure cooker I have never used and would some day like to use it for veg and meat.

There is even a recipe to make your own pectin and I am sure very far back, one couldn’t or maybe could not afford to buy pectin for canning. I can post that recipe if anyone is interested.

My next canning is going to be some orange marmalade, which I adore, and I want to try some Grapefruit marmalade.

There are many variations of Apple Jelly ( I am not sure if they call it Jelly in UK as I know their Jelly is our Jello and what many of us call Jelly is their Jam, I know here it is Jam if it contains the fruit and Jelly if it is made clear with only the fruit juice, any UK or Aussies want to clarify that for me?) Anyway, I thought this sounded lovely as a variation of Apple Jelly (again it is made with apple juice and any other juice half and half and 2/3 cup sugar for each cup of juice and cooked to the jelly stage. It is:

Rose Geranium. Place a rose geranium or pineapple leaf in each glass and fill with apple jelly. Do not cover with paraffin until jelly is almost firm and left leaf so that it is suspended in the jelly. (wouldn’t that be a wonderful housewarming gift? So pretty)

Well, enough on canning for now.

This lovely cool brisk late summer New England day was enjoyed on my bicycle. Here she is in all her vintage bikeShe is actually a bit small for me, but I don’t mind. Much like many things I have come to use this year, we seem to work it out and work with one another’s foibles.

I hoped I looked much like this lovely lady todaybike 1as I rode happily along with my hubby. We live close to a nice path that meanders along the Cape Cod Canal. We get to it through a long wooded path that connects to our back yard. There is a wide ‘road’ through the wood of mown grass and either side rise up wonder brambles, trees and in spring Mock Orange and in the fall lovely bittersweet (great for New England autumnal decorations). The feeling I got today on this bike riding over the bumpy grass was amazing. I felt, in that moment, what it must have been that first time a woman, most likely back in the beginning of the century, rode astride her first bike. The very freedom of it. The soft pleasure as the trees glide by and you bounce gaily along. And, belive you me, with my vintage Raleigh, you get a could cushiony bounce with that wide comfortable seat with it's dual springs.

As we rode along, the sun shone. It was one of those cool late summer mornings where the promise of heat is there, but the coolness of the previous night still hangs upon you. It is a mantle of comfort when riding briskly along. That lovely smell of ocean water and the sound of the gull…ah, I have to say that is my favorite sound. To hear that while on a boat and to sleep snuggled in the forward berth of our sailboat is the closet to heaven I have found. But, I digress, the smell of the ocean, the deep child-like cry of the gull, the dive of the cormorant, it was all lovely.

As we were casually biking along, we would occasionally be passed by other Saturday morning strollers or bikers. A few ‘grandma’s’ on similar bikes to mine, but newer versions pedaled on happily. Then, every so often, my skirt would swirl up and my get tossed in my eyes by a passing cyclist bearing down on me with incredible speed, stretched to the hilt in spandex.

I once belonged to these ranks. In fact, in the 90’s at university, I even mountain biked. Clad in spandex and packing power bars, bright colored plastic water bottles, I was ready for the battle of the hill or the road. Now I see this  and it seems strange to me. There is something about rambling along on a bike with no gears and the only brakes are engaged when you feel the need to pedal backwards. I realized I was not wearing a helmet and then hubby and I laughed about this. At the speed we were traveling we would have had ample time to stop without a fatal fall.

The world suddenly, there on the back of my simple little bike, seemed a little lighter. There was no time to beat or counting of miles I needed to get in . I was not in the process of trying to do anything TO THE EXTREME, no need to slam a power bar or replenish my electrolytes, whatever they may be. Simply, a sunny morning pedaling along the water, talking, laughing and enjoying the scenery. Another vintage moment given my as a little hidden jewel.

I found myself looking forward, at the end of our jaunt, to my doing this more often. I know pictured the ease and joy of pedaling to the local farmers market on Tuesday morning, filling my little basket with my wares. A ride into the local tea shop for an afternoon of cakes, a cuppa and a good read.

So, here 1955 have shown me, much like the swish of the petticoat or the simple thrill of white gloves and a hat, doing things with a bit of style and measured time makes the moments of living more real. Odd, again, that it takes time-travel out of my time to feel more in my present. When I do things with a quiet stylish determination, take that extra minute at the dressing table with my lipstick, decide which hat and gloves, decide to take a slower trip upon the bouncy seat of my vintage bike, I feel more NOW. I don’t feel I am rushing to get this or that done or running behind and trying to hurry to this or that. I don’t know how realistic this sort of time is for modern people, but maybe we need to look at what we have replaced our time with? Even for those busy with jobs, are there other things that could be done early or set aside to take your time with more personal things to make your day more yours? Up an extra half an hour to get your hair just right or to take time to sit down to a real breakfast of bacon and eggs on nice matching china? Maybe miss one of your ‘shows’ or tivo it for later so you can take the time to sit at a real table like a grown up and eat off nice dishes and talk about things with your family or read that book you have been meaning to get to? I don’t know. I do know that taking my time and doing things with a measured style seems to be changing my life in ways I never thought it would.


  1. Beth from Upstate NYSeptember 19, 2009 at 6:32 PM

    Please wear a bicycle helmet. In my youth (1960's) we didn't wear bicycle helmets nor did we wear seat belts in the car. My father used to start fires in our fireplace by adding gasoline to sawed off coffee cans filled with sand and igniting it. Mom made jam but didn't bother with any new-fangled sterilization. Yes, somehow, we lived through all of that, but to ignore modern knowledge about safety and hygiene is just foolish. The modern 50's woman cared about improvements in science and technology when it impacted her health and safety. Please do the same. I care about you.

  2. your blog brought back lots of memories for me. My mother canned and canned. I was the youngest of a large family.We had a farm and we had a garden the size of a football field. We had a orchard with apples and pears, black cherry. we had black berry bushes . I never had store bought jelly until I got out on my own.I remember mom opening a can of (mason jar) of tomatoes in the middle of winter and sprinkling just a little sugar on them . MOm never new what a mix was. mac and cheese was always from scratch etc. My mother never worked out of the home after she married but she has worked every day of her life. my mother and dad were married in 1945. She always says her best and favorite years were years she had kids at home. I remember waking up on summer mornings and going outside to see my mother under a big tree at a table shucking corn or pealing apples or snapping green beans. Some off my favorite memories.

  3. Donna, Your bike ride sounded glorious! I can just picture you stylishly cycling along.. (Especially loved the last paragraph of this blog entry. You're so wise!) Thanks for sharing all you're thinking, doing, planning, experiencing.. love it! From Linda

  4. Your blackberry jam sounds wonderful. We have a few vines, but I was just in Portland last week where they are extremely prolific there just growing along the roadways.

    A small tip on pressure cooker canning—I learned years ago that if you cook them too long (sometimes the recipes tell you to cook longer than needed), the veggies come out tasting pretty bad.

    Was your bike a new one? I know that they are making old looking new ones.

    As always…an awesome dialect on your inner musings, and I appreciate the renewed and refreshed energy to keep my home that I get when I read your blog. Have a wonderful week!

  5. You have certainly discovered what made life so good in the 50's ; it was about the quality of life of each day. Enjoying the day, the moment.......Dianne

  6. Dear 50sGal,

    Yesterday I spent the day out in the "world" shopping, picking up prescriptions, and eating lunch out.

    It was awful! I woke up this morning feeling that I spent too much money, and wasted a whole day that I could have enjoyed in peace at my home, or just enjoying the beautiful weather.

    We had the prescription filled at a "Super Box Store" and shopped while we waited for it. The commotion and noise fed into my general feeling that my nerves were jangled on their very edge!

    I have made a firm vow to myself to not repeat that silliness and instead will put more work into preparing for the weekends but doing as much work and cooking ahead as I can on the weekdays!


  7. These are the days of our lives! Glad to see you enjoying every step on your journey through time.

  8. Fascinating post. I've always wanted to try canning or some other kind of preservation, but my "garden" never yields enough. Great info about travel, too.

  9. I really wish I could have a fully stocked root cellar!

    I loved your description of biking - it reminds us all that slow and gentle is often the most fun :-)

  10. Wow, what wonderful comments today. Yes, I believe I have just caught the canning bug. No worries if you garden does not yield enough, it gives one an excuse to frequent the local markets. I just got back from one of our local farms (In fact I can see it would be biking distance, the idea of the fruit and veg in my little basket will make it alone worth another trip) where I bought some local apples and peaches and wonderful cider ( I love that taste of cider in autumn). So, even if you don't have any garden fruit or veg go to your local farmers market or failing that any ole' grocery store, it is worth it to make your own jam at least and really quite easy. You can add any spices or flavorings you like to make it your own and they keep in your pantry and make good and cheap christmas gifts!
    Mrs J. I know what you mean. Now, whenever I am in a 'modern' large store even the smell seems plastic and foreign to me. The hustle and bustle is not worth it, yet I like the hustle and bustle of a busy city street, but there there are many local shops and interesting boutiques and parks and green and interest not angry people trying to buy fast and save and get out!
    Gabriel Girl-well the first step to that dream is the first jar! Even if you only have one shelf in your pantry or even a simple wooden book case placed in the back of a closet (even a front hall closet) could make a good dry dark space to 'put away' some of your own canned goodies.
    Beth from NY-don't worry, my canning was competely hygenic, it is true I did not wear a helmet and will not on this easy path, but if I am on a road that is busy, i will wear my helmet, I promise.
    I hope everyone is having a lovely Sunday!

  11. You're right about the farmer's market. My husband and I live in a townhome with a very small yard, and while I was able to grow a few tomatoes this year out back, I used what I bought at the farmer's market and canned tomatoes and made squash pickle. Also put up seven bags of green beans. Nothing like home-canned tomatoes for soups and stews. I have a "retro" Schwinn, turquoise, with the old style coaster brakes. It's very close the the style of the one I had as a young girl. I remember I had to stand up to ride it at first because when I sat on the seat, my feet were way too far from the pedals. (My dad said to get the big one and grow into it, which I did.) I had two big baskets on the bag, and loved to make trips to the store for my mom and bring home the sacks in my baskets. At fifty-three, I still love the feel of the wind in my hair when I ride. Keep it up, you inspire me to do the things I always loved to do but forgot!

  12. Now I want to learn to makes jams.. any books you recommend?
    I also would love to see if I could find a old bike from the 50's.. I love to bike ride and having something simple would make me happy.

  13. I think it funny when you say things about the bikers and such going to 'the extreme', picturing you meandering and waving your fist at the speedy passers-by. I have my mountain bike, which I love, but do not do ANYTHING to the extreme. Our bike rides are quite slow paced, day to day; but, I did do a long ride once and loved it. As with everything else, everyone has their own way of enjoying their favorite pasttimes, I guess.
    Keep on biking! It's a great way to explore.
    Also, as a side note, I have made orange marmalade as a Christmas gift...not enough to can, of course, but it was terribly easy and gratifying.

  14. It's funny, jen, somehow I always feel that you interpret my own revelation or personal taste as some mantra I expect everyone to follow, certainly everyone has their own way to enjoy things and I am the OPPOSITE of waving my fist at anyone. I am happily meandering along smiling to myself when I see the speedracers because I remember doing it myself. I think you might have me confused with a curmudgeonly old grandpa.
    And my bike IS vintage not a repro. I might get a repro three speed that is more my size, but my vintage bike (no speed just stop and go) suits my needs for days I like to ride with the wind in my hair but slow enough to stop and smell the roses or go to the local farm stand.

  15. Custom- I will do a post with some recipes and guidelines and see what I can find to suggest for canning. I am just learning as well and am happy with the results thus far.

  16. dh got a new retro bike that is a schwinn last year for a very good price. he likes it a lot. it is a really nice looking bike. i know sometimes mountain bikes are more practical, but i have always thought they were kind of ugly...
    glad you are having fun canning. i am really ready for applesauce and pie filling...mmmmm.

  17. MMMMM homemade applesauce, I need to make that to make my own apple butter, also on the list this fall.

  18. Both homemade applesauce and apple butter are so delightful and better than store bought. I add cinnamon to mine. Mmmmmmmmm. It's such a nice and quick addition to a Fall's dinner to go down to the lauder and pull a jar off of the shelf to serve.

  19. I'm a keen jammer and preserver. I also make wine and liqueurs. I'm trying to think of the differences between "jam" and "jelly" here in the UK. I suppose it's only that we use the word "jam" as a generic for the kind of preserves you talk about in the post. We do say "jelly" for any jam without bits in, if we want to be specific for a particular recipe, but "jam" is definitely a generic term.

    Let me know how you get on with your grapefruit marmalade making. I've noticed UK and US recipes are quite different and am eager to see how you go about it!

    Oh, I never use shop bought pectin. It's difficult to get hold of over here. We can buy preserving sugar quite easily though - just white sugar with pectin added - I simply use the juice of a lemon for every pound of fruit I have. Also, you can mix high pectin fruit with low pectin ones. Eg., red currants with strawberries, apples with blacberries.

    Love the vintage bike BTW. Very stylish.

  20. Dulce-that is so interesting. we need to share recipes 'across the pond'. I would love to make an authentic 'English' marmalade. I am going to list my recipe and you can let me know how it differs. How interesting sugar with pectin in! I like the idea of using the lemon juice, so I could use that in lieu of store bought pectin? It is actually rather pricey and would love to have to NOT buy it. Thanks.

  21. Yes, you can use a good juicy lemon (they're pectin rich) for every pound of fruit you have. No need for pectin. Enjoy your jamming! I await your marmalade recipe with interest. Yum.

  22. Blimey, I'm haunting you today. But I just realised my marmalade recipe comes from my 1950s Good Housekeeping Book. Here's the link.

  23. i love fresh pumpkin pie! has anyone ever canned pumpkin( or as pie filling) ? just wondering.........

  24. Oh I LOVE your's the same color as our Harley!!!
    When our children were little we ALWAYS had dinner together between 5 and 6 and we ALL participated in prep and cleanup.
    Jams..goodness I made 6 pints of blueberry from berries our grocer had on sale for .99 a pound and My Man already slicked it all up!!

  25. I think I will do a post just about canning/preserving. I will work on that one today (tuesday)

  26. Discovered your blog, from "I Wanna Be June Cleaver." :-) I'm sure I'll enjoy it here, in Nostalgia Land.

    Myself, I graduated HS in 1954, graduated from college in spring of 1958, and was married in fall of 1958. So I certainly was "around" in this 1955 year, which you find so magical. ,-) Although my own married years began in '58.

    Gentle hugs,
    Aunt Amelia

  27. welcome aunt ameila-it is always nice to meet the 'real deal'. I hope you enjoy yourself and you can help us 'set things straight' if we get it wrong.

  28. 50's Gal, i've been following your blog for awhile now and absolutely love it, my dream is to get a retro bike (it will probably be a newer version of it though)- as I can never figure out those fangled gears of my mountain bike LOL (much to hubby's dismay!)

    I have retro style chrome chairs in my kitchen and I have actualy 1950's chairs that I rescued from the garbage and the chrome now shines on them :) I would love to get a 1950's stove one day as well.

    But I digress, keep up the good work on this project, sigh at times I wish I could step back to a time where a housewife was respected by society, essentially that is what I am a housewife raising her boys and enjoying my days at home.

    Ontario Canada

  29. I should really make some jam and can some different foods. My great grandfather made a TON of pickles! hmm...

  30. Yes on the "one speed" bike! I got one a few Christmases ago, and biking has been such a joyful return to my own '50s childhood. Every woman I have met while riding has declared they want the exact same vintage type girl bike, with a back pedal brake. I wear skirts too while riding.

    We just got a 1954 house with a "cold storage" room. Bring on the canning!

    Oh, and DO try making corn beef or potatoes for mashing in your pressure cooker. The corned beef becomes fork tender. I got two pressure cookers just so I could cook enough Corned beef for a large St. Patrick's Day gathering, and now everyone wants a pressure cooker too!

  31. I have made such food in my slow cooker but never my pressure cooker, I shall have to try that. I am proud of my pressure cooker as it is an antique (well 1950's vintage) and it cost me all of I think 3.00 dollars!


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