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!
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