Saturday, August 22, 2009

22 August 1955 “A Post-rant, Proud American, Cookies, Scones, and dreaming of Utility Space”


I don’t want any of you to despair when I go off on one of my tangents or rants. Surely, my being disgusted and upset with the modern world can BE a positive. For me it only ignites the fire under me to pursue more and more the ways of yesterday. To delve deeper into my own accountability and my own ABILITY to make and create more my own.
I know we, we few quiet homemakers, cannot as such change the government, but in our own ways we can affect things by how we live and shop. If we do not support those very places that are not responsible for their actions, who care more about how cheap their product is than rather or not it is using child labor or hurting small business, then they begin to weaken. Yes, some things can cost more when you try to live this way, but what I am finding out is that I can still spend the same amount but that I actually NEED less.

Think about it. IF you are in a big store where there are savings, great you are buying for less, but now they have EVERYTHING in there, so Oh you stop by an end cap display showing some cutesy plastic item to organize your things, I better get one they are only  X dollars and then Oh, what is that, what a darling thing and so cheap, so in the end you are still actually spending more, and buying things you DO NOT NEED and then going out and buying more Books on how to organize it all and the out to buy more containers to put all that you bought but didn’t need to store and make it orderly. It is a viscous wheel and I want off.

So, please don’t let my little rants make anyone think I am not happy to be American. I, in many ways, feel very American. I always joke that my ancestors came over and ‘created’ the us by taking it from my other ancestors and then married them. SO, I feel I am as American as they come, but I get upset when I see big business taking what I feel those in the 1950s wanted their new war free country to be and ruining it. But, we homemakers, we can change it. We do the shopping. We MAKE the home. We raise the children and can teach them from the beginning to be accountable. We can change the world an apron string at a time. So, do feel that I don’t feel there is nothing we can do, but quite the opposite. I really feel the more we can learn and recreate the skills of the past homemakers the better our lives will be and a better generation will be made. Many people, including those from our won sex, discount the import of a stay at home mother and homemaker, when it is probably THE most important job around. If the world collapsed and even medicine were gone we would still need to go on and raise up the next generations. It is the first and best job around. So, lets use our knowledge and ability to look around us and be aware of how the world REALLY is and then take that as a cue to change it for the better.

Well, I will get off my soapbox now and down to some practical things.

First off, I found the BEST Molasses cookie recipe on the back of one of my magazines. I love that the ad has a cookie for mummy and daughter to make. cookie recipe Isn’t it darling that you can cut out the recipe and put it on a card for your recipe card box? I think you could copy this image and print it out and cut it out for your own use. I would never cut the original (and thank goodness who owned it first did not) but now I can make a copy and cut it out.

Though I have been so very busy packing and moving things (that’s the advantage of having access to where I am moving while still living here!) I am still sticking to my housework schedule. And of course, though it is hot, I still find time to bake. In fact my husband has another ‘request’ that I do some baked goods for work again. This time I have learned ‘no cakes in the hot of summer’. So, a tray of cookies. I am going to do these cookies as well as some great peanut butter chocolate chip that I tried yesterday. And I am not sure what I am going to do for the third cookie.

I also made a great meal of Lamb A’ la Marseilles the other night. I had got a good pair of lamb chops and wanted to try something new. Here is the recipe, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but it was delicious.

Lam A’ la Marseilles

Pan broil on one side. Place in baking dish, cooked side up. Cover with hot Mushroom Sauce. Bake 8 minutes at 450 degrees.

Brown Mushroom Sauce

3 TBS butter

Few drops onion juice ( I fried onions in butter and used that)

3 TBS flour

1cup cream

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1 TSP beef extract (I used bouillon)

salt and paprika

Brown butter slightly. Add onion jice and flour and stir and cook until brown. Pour on cream gradually while stirring constantly. Add mushrooms, cooked in butter. Season with beef extract, salt and paprika.

It was delicious. This is from my 50’s Boston Cooking School book.

I also made some wonderful scones the other day.scones I may have shared this recipe before, but here it is again. It is also from my Boston Cooking School Book.scone recipe I have noticed, for whatever reason, that we Americans seems to serve scones in triangular form while I have mostly seem them in the UK in our American ‘Biscuit’ form. I had always thought this was a new idea yet when I made these from this 1950’s book, it does indeed tell me to cut into triangles. Do any of you readers know if scones are ever triangular in the uk? I notice, which is not unusual, that we make our scones here much sweeter. Even I put in Ghirardelli chips to make them sweet. I also notices our American pronunciation of  Scone (SKOH-OWN) seems to be Irish or working class british, has anyone else noticed that as opposed to (SCAH-NN)? Just curious.

This leads me to a moment yesterday that I was rather proud of myself. As I have said (way too often most like) I have been inundated with packing, so my days seem to have a little chaos thrown in. Well, yesterday I suddenly had a craving for something sweet and I hadn’t anything made. My first impulse (I still get those 2009 impulses) was to just pop down to the store and ‘grab something’. Then I thought, “Why on earth would I go buy something when I have a pantry full of ingredients?”

The old me would have thought to make something myself would have been too much work. The 1955 me, who does it every day, things no big deal. In fact, I would be willing to bet if I added in the time of summer traffic and lines at the market, I probably whipped up those peanut butter cookies faster than I could have gone out and bought some. Then I was able to try out a recipe before I made some for my hubby’s work and the leftover dough went into the freezer for the future and the cookie jar was filled to the brim AND my sweet tooth satisfied.

It is really amazing how the more you do yourself, the more you make part of your routine, the less daunting it seems; score one for 1955!

Since dismantling my home to be moved to a new one, I have really begun to think more intently about my future house work. It is very exciting to think of that I have used this place, in a way, as a lab to experiment on the ways I want to clean and keep a home. I have many plans for the future dwelling, but I know many of them may only be dreams at first until things can be added. But, I had to share this image from my 1950 Womans Home Companion Household Book.utility closet They even have a floor polisher. I am not sure if such machines were only for linoleum, but I have a lot of nice wide pumpkin pine floors in the ‘new’ house and would love to see them shine. I think, however, that will involve more of the good ole’ fashioned hands and knees approach.

I am glad I did not go to crazy with my own changes here in this house (though I did quite a bit) but have allowed myself to work more than half a year as a homemaker and to see what is important in the kitchen, mudroom, pantry etc. Where last year it would have been simply based on esthetics, now my ‘makeovers’ will be Function and Form hand in had. Functional Beauty and the Beauty of Function will be the rule of the day for my future plans.

Speaking of remodeling and building, I am glad to see in many of my magazines of the time that women and men work happily side by side on such projects.building project

I love that this shows the husband and wife working together. I see so much of this in my woman’s magazines. The concept that the 1950s housewife was delicate with pearls and puffy dresses and didn’t want to break a nail is Hollywood for sure. I know I can build and paint with the best of them AND I still like to clean up in petticoats and pearls and go have tea with the girls.

We should, as women, embrace the duality of our power. We now feel that if you are pretty and dressed up you are a particular kind of girly girl, that is phooey. Women  are the BEST at multi-tasking. We can talk on the phone, cook, and hem a skirt all at the same time, so why can’t we build an addition, paint the house, clean and still look nice when we go marketing? And it is not a case of “Oh, we have to do that” it is more “YEAH, we GET to do that”. To dress up and feel pretty is important to women, I feel. Who has ever been nicely dressed with your hair just so and then thought, “Boy, I feel lousy!”. We can be both of these women.

 woman cleaning in pajamas 1950s woman in dress

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