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!
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