This New Yorker is actually from the 26 of March 1955, but I forgot to picture it before. I think the image is very telling of the times. The bucolic setting, the innocence of the children, the serenity of an autumn New England day as a jet cuts across the sky. The ideals of antiquity are now being poised to receive modern life.
I know some of you have asked about beauty and personal care in the 1950s. So, I thought I would show some articles and images from some of my magazines.
This is rather sweet how they encourage you to help and guide your daughter through a good beauty routine. I need to up my game, as I thought I only needed 100 strokes to my hair, but I guess I was wrong. I do know, that hair washed once a week and brushed thoroughly shines wonderfully. I realized another savings I have come upon with my 1955 life. I used to wash my hair alot. I would shower, not everyday, but at least five times a week and my hair is thick and needs conditioner. I now wash and condition my hair once a week. That means I use my shampoo and conditioner only four times a month. I can now get five months use out of what was one months use! I am not sure when the daily showering/hair washing began, but I can bet if we trace it far enough it will lead to some advertising on soaps and shampoo. Your hair does not need to be shampooed that often. Think of all the water, energy, money and waste if we used 1/4 of the bottles of shampoo and conditioner per person per year. Now, I still shower more than once a week, but I use my trusty friend, the shower cap. I do not, however, shower every day. I now have a good wash up on days I don’t show and probably shower three times a week of which one of those days is to shower and shampoo. It might sound disgusting, but I do not feel any dirtier and in fact think my hair looks the better for it. I keep coming upon these little realizations and they are amazing. I just really thought about it the other day, wow, five months of product out of my old one months supply. And the amout of plastic I won’t be throwing out, the amount of money I will save, and the energy costs. Again, something done to be authentic to the 1950s has lead to a green decision without my knowing it. I think it is funny that marketing and advertising follows trends, so as green is now the ‘it’ thing it uses that. So, people can feel green by going out and buying more things. We just respond to change in this way, “Oh, I need a new way of thinking, let me go buy the stuff that goes along with it” when, really, instead of buying green bags, use bags you already have or take some of your old shirts or clothes you don’t want and fasten those into green bags, but now our response is to buy more things. I know we reuse the bags, but do you sort of see where I am going with this. Even green cleaning products, silly. You can make all you need with vinegar, soda, pinesol, bleach and water. Use an old bottle you ALREADY have over and over again. Decorate it, like I and some of my followers did. Just because some product comes out in a new shape bottle with cooler writing you are still buying things that have to be put into plastic bottles. Here is an example of SC Johnsons approach. See, how happy and earth friendly this page is, but you can make your own green products and use the bottles you have.
Now, I was suppose to be talking about beauty, but you see how these rants just come upon me. This is, however, how my days often will unfold. I will be doing something or trying something ‘vintage’ and realize how ‘now’ it really should be.
Here is an article on antiperspirant use. It is scary to me how they point out in this article that the aluminum works well to keep you dry but that it can irritate and ruin your clothing. “However, because they check perspiration so well, they have a faithful following”. I know that many studies have shown that the aluminum in antiperspirants are harmful and can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. I tried to find a woman’s product that did not contain aluminum and had a hard time. The idea of not sweating was so important that good sense was set aside for social stigma. It is odd to me, too, as these women’s grandmothers would certainly have had sweat and the smell as part of their life and thought little of it, save using lemon verbena water or something. I think I found another chemical product that used advertising to promote the need to ‘not be sweaty’.
And, finally, here are some sweet beauty tips:
I am sort of behind in my food discussions here, so I have a couple of meals to cover. I wanted to make a souffle’ with some left over pork shoulder, as I had mentioned in a previous blog, so it would be a ham and cheese souffle’. I could find no recipe for this, so I simply created my own using the basic souffle recipe I had. It turned out lovely, but I used a too large dish. I actually have this dish in the next size down, too, so I could have really made it look spectacular, as I made the ‘paper crown’ for it with wax paper, but as the dish was too large, it did raise properly, but does not look like it in this dish. I was so proud of it, as I served it, it stood so tall and was so light to eat. As I was preparing it, I saw how similar it was to making a cake. The beating of the egg whites, the beating of the egg yolks, folding in the ingredients, and honestly it looked like cake batter as I poured it in. It was heavenly and light. I am really beginning to see the skill set grow in cooking. As I have mentioned before, what used to seem like a random assortment of recipes to follow, are now really displaying the various similar traits. Now, I know when I look at a new cake recipe why it needs this or that and I am now rearing to make my own. I mentioned to Gussie yesterday that I want to make a maple walnut two layer cake with a maple cream cheese frosting decorated with crushed walnuts and topped with a circular halo of whole walnuts. I can see it in my mind. I tried finding a recipe for a maple walnut cake but could not find one in my old books and magazines, so if I can find a maple cake, then I will simply alter it. Although I really want to just try, based on my growing cake knowledge, to make up my own recipe. If it turns out good, of course I will share the recipe with you and pics.
Now, onto another dessert, that is all eat up now, is a blueberry apple pie. I mentioned it before that I was going to make it for our Saturday dinner and I did. I had some left over fresh blueberries from jam in my fridge and some apples, I had not enough of either to make a blueberry or an apple pie, so I combined them. This was also really a made up recipe. I used my ‘easy’ crust recipe that I have listed before where you use shortening and add boiling water etc. It really is so simple and this time it was wonderfully flaky. Almost as good as my lard crust. It was not too sweet as I mixed the fruit fresh with one cup sugar and I made a topping of butter and flour to crumble on top. And I squeezed half a fresh lemon on top before I popped it in the oven. It was really good, if I do say so myself, and I do! I know the crust looks a little sloppy, but I liked the rusticity of it. I will try my hand at fancy braided crusts and such in the future. Here is is waiting for coffee and me to devour it.
Here is the recipe:
You will see it says to serve with Cream sauce. That is simply the plain white sauce recipe I have given in a previous blog, but make it with 1 cup cream instead of milk. I have not tried the sauterne Jelly, but will next time. Sauternes is a French dessert wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux. Sauternes is made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This causes the grapes to become partially “raisined”, resulting in concentrated and distinctively flavored wines. Sauternes is one of the few wine regions where infection with noble rot is a frequent occurrence, due to its climate. It is a sweet dessert wine and it is commonly served with Fois Gras (which I adore!), caviar, and pates. This wine is fairly expensive due to what goes into making it and there are really no domestic versions worth mentioning (however, if you know differently, please let me know as I love a good dessert wine!). I have heard there is a California version, but that it is not very good, I have not had that type. I would, and probably will, use an inexpensive Riesling when I make this sauce. I know it is a German wine and not a French wine, but I think in cooking and wanting to save on budget, the sweetness of a Riesling would work for this recipe. If anyone tries it let me know or if anyone wants to spend the money on a good Sauterne and use it in a recipe, let me know how it tastes. I would probably save the ‘real deal’ for a special occasion, Thanksgiving or something. If you have not heard of this wine and would like to try it, let me know what you think, oh, and for those of you who don’t know it is pronounced “So-Tairn” I know sometimes people feel funny asking for something if they are uncertain of how to ask for it. Anyway, here is the recipe.
Okay, so how I actually made my croquettes, which I was so proud of and I really liked how they looked on the table. Was as follows:
I used boneless chicken thighs, as they are less expensive and dark meat is much juicier in a croquette. I think the white meat would be nice, but really liked the more moist quality of a thigh and it the cost can’t be beat! To moisten the ingredients, I did not use the white sauce but used their first recommendation of the 3/4 cup chicken stock and 1/4 cream. So, I took my chicken thighs and boiled them earlier in the day and put in my various spices that I like. I put in about 4 cups of water, let them boil and simmer for a few hours as I was about my day, until it boiled down to about 2 cups. Then I took my 3/4 cup of stock and the rest went into the freezer for future sauces and soups. You could use canned stock in a pinch, but I like making my own stock as it is easy, less expensive and I think much nicer and you can control the sodium more. I also chose to use fresh cut cilantro in lieu of the parsley. I am not sure if cilantro would have been used in 1955, I need to check on that, but I really like the taste and it did add a nice bite to the croquettes. So, I shredded the cooked chicken and mixed the ingredients, adding the above sauce of stock and cream as needed an shaped my little pyramids. Then I rolled them in bread crumbs (if you have any old croutons sitting about, these work great too!) and I popped them in the freezer for about 1/2 hour while I made my cream sauce. Don’t let them freeze, because when you deep fry something you want it to be close to room temperature so it doesn’t cool the oil. For my cream sauce I used the rest of the mixture of stock and cream that didn’t go into my croquettes and added that with the flour to the butter as I made the sauce. I put it in a serving pitcher and set it aside. Before I fried the croquets I dipped them in beaten egg and rolled them again in crumbs, this gives them a nice coating, then into the hot fat. You don’t really need them in there that long, just enough to brown the coating, as the chicken is already cooked from making the stock. I got many raves from these at our dinner and will definitely make them again, next time with the Sauterene sauce (or Riesling sauce). I think they would be a great answer to leftovers. Really any left over meat would be lovely this way and breaks the monotony of leftover predictability.
Now, with this ‘gourmet’ recipe, I used a recipe from my Campbell’s soup book. I like the idea that I am using a book that teaches you ‘high cooking’ and paring it with an advertising book that I would have most likely got as a promotion at my local grocer. That is the joy of cooking. Gourmet does not have to be hard, nor does it have to be exclusive. If you pair things that sound as if they would be good together, most likely they will.
Now, when I used this recipe, I did not make the sauce with Campbell’s chicken and rice soup, as I really don’t buy canned soup and enjoy making my own. However, with that said, I am certain it would be good and easy for a busy mother to use the soup as directed. I used, instead, the same sauce I made for the croquettes. It was lovely and tasted great and so no need to have another type of sauce with the dinner. Oh, and as I used bacon for this recipe, I put the bacon fat into the stuffing with the egg to hold it together. It was lovely and the tomato was just cooked enough.
So, after I prepared the croquettes, I put them in a pan and then I put in the tomatos with the stuffing, but did not cook it. I put the whole thing in the oven and 20 minutes before my guests arrived I turned the oven to 350 and it heated up the already prepared croquets, and cooked the tomatos. Then I just had to reheat the sauce and serve it all. The clean up was easier this week as well, as I am getting more skilled at doing things in stages and thinking ahead to what can be prepared and heated at the last minute. I can see now how women with multiple children ran a home and still put on lovely meals. It is just training and practice. When you approach this type of work as that work, but if you also love it, as I do, then multiple tasks become easier and in the efficiency of it you also garner more pleasure as you test yourself and think, “Oh, I can do one more thing, or Oh, I am going to make the soup from scratch or the cake from scratch etc.”
Yesterday, Sunday, was a good day. The three of us, hubby, myself and Gussie (yes, she is sporadically around) had a good lazy but productive day. It was raining. It was that good heavy Spring New England rain. It falls straight down, with purpose and hope, wetting the birds, the ground, those leaves that missed the rake. The light is soft grey shot with moments of bright. The tip-tapping on windows in my little sitting room gives me leave to stay inside and not feel the guilt of the approaching planting season. Instead, that busy yet lazy energy of a Sunday morning was put to the kitchen and its increasing list of little odd jobs. Today it was the pantry. Gussie and I took out everything! The kitchen was littered with canned goods and things long forgot in the dark recess of the pantry. When I do my little breakfast room addition there will be a new pantry. One I have oft dreamed of and imagined. There will be a window and neat white shelves edged in vintage shelf paper. Drawers below, tall spaces for cookie sheets, everything labeled and lovely. No have twisted bags of chocolate chips with ill-used twist-ties, but honest clear jars, standing ready and at attention, the soldiers of the cooking world; Ready and clearly labeled for battle. That, however, is in the future. Now, my pantry is a fairly large but deep and dark closet. It is the perfect place to hide out, if you so chose, for you could slip there, on that top shelf behind the countless bags of opened rice that you meant to condense and next to the odd batch of hideous Halloween plates that someone brought to a party and you hadn’t the heart to throw away. You could safely linger there for months, never being spotted and you’d have many cans of beans and various goodies to keep you going.
So, all of this came out as well as the two closed cabinets above the stove. It was all laid out upon the kitchen table and Gussie and I looked at each other, then the piles and stacks of things, and with a nod of a surgeon to the nurse, dug in.
This was rather cathartic and we dubbed it the ‘official’ beginning of Spring cleaning.
I have a darling set of vintage milk glass spice jars. They have been patiently awaiting their proper labeling and filling. Today, we did it. They needed to be scrubbed and washed and then I ran them through the dishwasher (ah, it’s good to be middle class in the 1950s) . I used a very 1950s idea of applying your own decoration to make something match your home, but did it in a very 21st century way. I scanned a Pyrex dish with part of the pattern that I collect. I then added the name of whatever space would go in that jar and printed it on sticky paper. The result is darling I think. They have great lids that screw on and a little shaker top that are not on in this picture. I think the result is darling, as they are milkglass and the rooster image from my Pyrex in my color is very effective, don’t you think?
So, I had to sit down, with all the spices I use and collect up before me, and consider, what are the 12 most used? I have so many spices and began sorting through realizing I use this most often this only in certain things, this for holiday cakes etc. It was really a great mini-exercise for the overall project of doing over my house; my life. Sit down, put all your cards on the table, what do you do most, what is a dream or a plan for the future, and what is just left rotting in the back shelf. By going through and check-listing out your life, you can decide what is worth keeping, worth striving for and what you realize is just something you are holding onto that would be better tossed aside. Spring cleaning for you life, I like it! Let’s all do it, shall we?