Sunday, January 18, 2009

18 & 19 January 1955 "Communism, Television, Cakes, Maids, and Confessions"

January 18, 1955: The Chinese Communist People's Liberation Army seizes the islands from the Republic of China (Taiwan):

The Battle of Yijiangshan Islands was a conflict between forces of the Republic of China Army and the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China, over one of the last strongholds of nationalist (ROC) forces near mainland China on the Yijiangshan Islands. The conflict occurred from Januay 18, 1955 to January 20, 1955 during the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, and resulted in a PLA victory and the complete destruction of the ROC garrison.

[This basically is just the beginning of a growing communist china which still exists today. It is funny to me that we don't mind turning a blind eye to the injustice of this country just so that we can go to walmart and buy a dress for 10 dollars. Sure, some little 5 year old can work 20 hours a day so I can save a few pennies. I hope this is changing. Luckily, I can let this fear slip from my thoughts and focus on the fear of nuclear bombs and rather my cake rises. How does a wife and homemaker find her place in a world, rather it's 1955 or 2009, where injustices are occuring? I suppose it always has and always will be the case. Will the human animal ever change?]

January 19 1955:"The Millionaire" TV program premiered on CBS

"The premise was that John Beresford Tipton( the millionare) would give his monetary gifts in part to see what effect they had on the recipients and his/her immediate circle of friends and family; sometimes the effects were good, and sometimes not so good, but was usually entertaining;

The series captured the imagination of the audience who wanted to believe that good fortune could come someday from out of the clear blue sky; Of course the series also included bequests to people who also blew their fortune due to their flawed character, so this series ended up being a kind of modern morality tale."

[It is interesting to note how this sort of hopeful idealism made the 1950's. It seems the result of comeing out of WWII. After WWI we had the 1920's with its reckless abandon and celebration in a sort of "God, it's over and done with. This wretchedness which we have never seen the likes of before and will never have to again, is over: So, Lets dance! Then, after WWII, the seriousness of rebuilding a new and better human race was apparent. The idea of a new and perfect world: throw away all that is old and remake fresh, new and plastic. When we really see that, we can understand so much of why people and our society did what it did in the 1950s. They were hopeful that 'out of the clear blue sky' fortune could come their way. And while they waited for that break, they realized the importance of making families and the return to Home.
I think it funny when people today scoff at the young couples of that time. It is so easy, our generations so far removed from what they had to go through, to say, "Oh, how silly. How unimportant it all is. Who cares?" But, I think we are all starting to realize how important self sufficiency is and how important making a clean happy home is to the value of living. Why do we have to live in one great big commercial which says we need to be Paris Hilton and have 500 dollar shoes and drive expensive cars? I know that advertising concept of 'appearance' began in the 1950's, but when it began it was done in a spirit of rebuilding and making better a society so that there would never be a need to another war and to make a generation that was free of that stress and worry they had, themselves, endured.
I am sure in the backs of all the minds of those smiling faces from faded black and white photos, there was that fear. The full skirts, clean and ordered homes, doors being held opened for women, family units and new homes for all and a car in every drive. Happy smiling shinning new civilization, but they all knew, deep down, "we had better appreciate what we can make now and enjoy one another now. We must love and respect one another, for tomorrow we or our sons may have to go off and face what we have had to face. Let's make as much a utopia as we can, so if and when that time returns, we have it to hold onto."
But, I digress.

Today, January 19 1955, is also the day of the first ever televised news conference with President Eisenhower.

"Eisenhower got some impressive public relations mileage out of this event, because his administration had taken steps to recognize the young field of television journalism...(this was similiar to the fireside chats heard on radio earlier)This gave the objective to 'go directly to the people' with news. It enabled the president to present his message over the head of Congress and other opponents in a way that cannot be criticized."

[again, here in 1955, we see the simple beginnings of the manipulation and propaganda that our current technological media has allowed. We take it for granted now that politicians can use such media and we see why it is they wanted to use it. What is good about 2009 is that with the internet no one agency can control it. It has a life of its own and can be used by the people.]
Well, that is enough news for today.

I apologize for another combined two day post, but I was so busy yesterday. I recieved two new cookbooks saturday and they are rather good. They are more like little mini books almost, but they are jam packed with
great recipes. The French one is even published in 1955! I am itching to try some of the recipes. I used the New England cookbook for sunday morning breakfast. I made Corn Meal Griddle cakes. They were so yummy. I reproduced the page, so when you click on it it should enlarge enough to read. I love the artwork and there are many variations. The basic recipe was rather fun. I loved taking the beaten egg whites and spreading it, like icing, over the batter, then you fold it in. Both of these books have a great bit at the beginning that informs you how to scald milk, fold, etc. That is quite helpful for me, really, as I don't know these things. I am learning. So many of the books of the period assume you know how to scald milk and the like.

As I was cooking up a storm this weekend I thought, "you know if I had a daughter, or a son for that matter if he wanted, I would be showing her these things." There is so much practical living that none of us learned, or maybe I am speaking out of turn, I know that I, at least, did not learn. I mean I am still learning how to do my laundry properly for goodness sake. It's as if the more things become easier i.e. we have to buy things already made for us, the coporate structure of "buy more, we'll do it for you" is making us a load of idiots who cannot make our own clothes, cook our own food, etc. For example, while doing my marketing on saturday, I noticed a new product which was pasta and sauce in a container (more packaging) that you microwave. I mean how hard is it to make pasta and sauce that you have to have it pre-made? I hope I am not too preachy today, but I honestly feel this way. I mean, so much of modern life scoffs at the very basics of living. Silly, really.

Now, back to my cooking frenzy this weekend: I am going to just show the recipes from my cookbook, so if you would like to try them, you will have them. Here are two of the recipes I used for last nights dinner. They both turned out lovely and I added a bit of grated parmesean and extra sharp cheddar to the potatoes and backed them just to melt the cheese. The meat was lovely and juicy. My husband gave me a great compliment at dinner. He said, "Wow, this looks like restaurant food" when it was placed before him. "This tastes so wonderful, I really feel like I am at a fine restaurant," said he. I am not kidding that he wouldn't stop talking about it even after dinner. It does make one feel good to make a happy setting and enjoyable experience for someone else. [I, too, think this is a very 50's concept of giving of oneself for the joy of another. Some might say, 'well, he gets his food cooked and his clothes washed', but I also get to stay home and enjoy making my home while he is out in the city toiling away to earn a living. I think we each give equally for one another and in so doing enjoy the two combined.]

I had one of my 'maid evenings' last night as well. Having her to help do bits and bobs and keep up with the dishes and set the table while I did the cooking was nice. One funny moment, which I guess is a confession of sorts, happened like this: I had the meat browning in fat on the stove, just finished and set aside the custard for the cake to cool, and I had slipped the cakes out of the pan and into the freezer to cool. I had broken up some bread into a bowl to make the stuffing and it called for melted butter so, without thinking, I cut the amount of butter I needed, slipped it into a bowl and popped it into the microwave. As the buzzer went off on the contraption my 'maid' and I both looked at each other; the clock ticked, the fat sizzled, I swear the custard gave one last little bubble. The room hung with the anticipation of what we had just done. I moved, with trepidation, towards the blinking eye of the robotic monster in the wall. Popped open the door and handed the little bowl to her and said, "Well, Gussie, here's a 10,000 dollar bowl of melted butter". We both laughed. When my friend is my maid I call her Gussie after the maid in Mr Blandings Builds a Dream House. She just seems like the perfect family helper. As a microwave WAS invented in 1955, it's cost at 1200 1955 dollars put it somewhere in the range of 10 grand. Oh, well, what's a gal to do. I cannot hide the microwave, as it is built into the wall. If it were a portable, I would have hid it away in the far reaches of the basement, but alas, I must merely fight the temptation to use it.

After this fine meal we had this weeks cake: two layer yellow cake with a custard cream filling and white icing. I LOVE the 7 minute icing. I made the chocolate version last week. I have included the recipes for the cake, filling and the entire page for the 7 minute frostening with all the variations. There is even a pictoral view of the best way to make the frostening. My schedule has now become to bake a new cake on sunday and then it goes in hubby's lunch all week and supplements some desserts after dinner. I had a little problem with my cake this week. All of the recipes say to pour the batter into paper-lined pans. Well, for the past two cakes, I hadn't any paper, so I used shortening and then floured it and it worked out fine. However, this week while marketing I bought some wax paper and the result was not good. Gussie and I decided that the wax in the paper melted into the batter and tore when we tried to remove it. Luckily, I was able to patch it up, it just wasn't as tall as I had hoped. We think I should have used parchment paper. Somtimes I feel like a child reaching for the hot stove and wondering what will happen. I am sure a lot of new wives felt this during this time, though they probably had more 'at home' training than I have ever recieved.
Here are the cake and icing and filling recipes.

So, the dinner went off without a hitch and Gussie, having been turned magically back into my friend, enjoyed the evening with us.

The previous night, Saturday night, is our movie night with our vintage couple. We are taking turns every saturday to have a 'movie and dinner night'. It was her turn this time and of course, we dressed vintage, well I do every day anyway, but I took extra time to do my face and hair. I wore a new hat of navy and white silk. She made baked cod with capers in cream sauce, cucumber and onion salad, and for dessert: our favorite diner food, bread pudding. It was all very yummy.

We just went along with the evening and after dinner the two of us had her cook books out as we went over recipes we want to try and then ended in her sewing room discussing patterns. The 'boys' did most likely what they would have done in the 50's and talked toys. Though, they were discussing computers and Linux and building a computer project they have, it certainly was not unlike two 1955 men discussing the latest television or other technology. It was nice.

I have to decide if this saturday, which is at my house, will be a french cooking theme or a new england theme. Itching to try both of my cookbooks.

Well, I guess I have rattled on long enough as there is laundry to get started. Today is laundry day and that is an all day chore. One nice blogger gave me a link to make my own dry starch from cornstarch, so we shall see how that goes. Hopefully my husband will have a closet full of crisp tidy clean shirts by the end of the day and not some ghastly stiff unwearable shirt-shaped boards. I can't help but think of various sitcom situations involving starch. Maybe, if I starch my girdle good and strong, it will help me to decrease my waist a few inches, hmmmm...

Until tomorrow, then, have a great day all.
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