Saturday, September 19, 2009

19 September 1955 “ News, Canning, and Biking, ”

FARM INCOMES will be boosted and surplus products cut back, if Agriculture Secretary Benson can persuade Congress to okay a mammoth new crop-control program that may cost as much as $500 million a year. Benson wants to buttress present flexible price supports by paying farmers $10 to $12 an acre yearly to grow grass, cover crops and trees on their land, thus cut down on overall farm output by taking 40 million acres out of food production. ( I am not sure who watched the video on Monsanto, but here you can see it is beginning, paying farmers to stay out of food production, slowly this leads to our sad state today with so much being imported that could come from local farmers)

U.S. RAILROADS will have to spend $20 billion for capital improvements in the next decade to meet growing transportation needs, says Pennsylvania Railroad President James Symes. His forecast for 1965 rail business: 850 billion ton-miles, 53% above 1954's total. (Sadly, we will see a decline in the railroads as well, as multiple cars and highways replace shared and cheaper forms of transportation.)

STATION WAGONS are fast becoming one of the most popular auto models. As the all-purpose family car, station wagons are now selling at the rate of 500,000 yearly (v. 29,600 in 1946).(I love my station wagon, that is for sure!)

Canning before the 1950’s was without question necessary. ww1 canning posterThis poster from WWI shows its urgency during war time. Certainly, during the WWII it was also important as food was becoming scarce and one needed to conserve what they could from their Victory Gardens.women canningI love the look of these happy people in their root cellar properly stocked with canned goods and fruit to last.basement canning This house actually has an old root cellar, reached from the outside through a bulkhead whose walls are made up of great stones set into place. I will show photos, once I get my shelves up. I am afraid this winter, though, it will not be this stocked, but we shall see what can be yielded next summer in my new garden.

By 1955 the new young wives and mothers would find in their cookbooks and magazines of the day Freezing to be the new food conservation. Certainly, they learned some canning at mothers knee but many younger women would be excited to fill their new ‘deep freeze’ with food. But, being my age in 55 I believe canning would still very much be a part of my life. And indeed, in my current state of 1955 with the knowledge of modern needs to not waste electricity nor overspend, canning certainly wins out. To me it makes more sense to preserve food I can store for free, than to pay for the upkeep and electricity to run a large freezer.

Yesterday I made Blackberry Jam. It turned out lovely.   It was fun and as with many of the skills I am learning this year, it takes something that seems impossible or unfathomable and opens it up to that “Oh, that’s it?” moment. It also, as has other things this year, made me see how much more of what we use/consume can very easily, cheaply and so much more healthy be hand made.

I am sure there are many canners out there. For me, this is the first time really. Here is how simply my jam was.

5 cups crushed blackberries

7 cups sugar

one 1.75 oz. package of Pectin

5 16 oz jars and lids

Boil the fruit and while stirring, slowly add the pectin. Then having measured the sugar int0 a bowl, add all at once stirring constantly until rolling boil returns. Then boil for one minute, scoop into clean dry hot jars (so they don’t crack from the hot liquid) seal and place in canning pot of hot water. Make sure 2 inches of water covers jar tops and bring to a boil. Hard boil for 10 minutes, take out and set upright on a towel and in 12 hours you have jam.

So easy so yummy. Hubby and I have almost polished off the first jar, it is so good.

For those who would like to know, and I just learned, according to my 1950s Boston cooking school book the following is the difference between jams, conserves or gumbo, preserves, and fruit butters.

Jam or Marmalade. Fruit cut in small pieces, cooked with sugar until sirup is jellylike.

Conserve or Gumbo. Thick, rich mixture of fruit cooked with sugar, usually with nuts added.

Fruit Butter or Honey. Thick, smooth sauce made of fruit cooked with sugar and strained. Seasonings are often added.

Preserves. Fruit canned in a sugar sirup, thinner than for jam. The fruit is usually left whole or in fairly large pieces.

There are so many ways and means to conserve and can fruit and jam. I also have a pressure cooker I have never used and would some day like to use it for veg and meat.

There is even a recipe to make your own pectin and I am sure very far back, one couldn’t or maybe could not afford to buy pectin for canning. I can post that recipe if anyone is interested.

My next canning is going to be some orange marmalade, which I adore, and I want to try some Grapefruit marmalade.

There are many variations of Apple Jelly ( I am not sure if they call it Jelly in UK as I know their Jelly is our Jello and what many of us call Jelly is their Jam, I know here it is Jam if it contains the fruit and Jelly if it is made clear with only the fruit juice, any UK or Aussies want to clarify that for me?) Anyway, I thought this sounded lovely as a variation of Apple Jelly (again it is made with apple juice and any other juice half and half and 2/3 cup sugar for each cup of juice and cooked to the jelly stage. It is:

Rose Geranium. Place a rose geranium or pineapple leaf in each glass and fill with apple jelly. Do not cover with paraffin until jelly is almost firm and left leaf so that it is suspended in the jelly. (wouldn’t that be a wonderful housewarming gift? So pretty)

Well, enough on canning for now.

This lovely cool brisk late summer New England day was enjoyed on my bicycle. Here she is in all her vintage bikeShe is actually a bit small for me, but I don’t mind. Much like many things I have come to use this year, we seem to work it out and work with one another’s foibles.

I hoped I looked much like this lovely lady todaybike 1as I rode happily along with my hubby. We live close to a nice path that meanders along the Cape Cod Canal. We get to it through a long wooded path that connects to our back yard. There is a wide ‘road’ through the wood of mown grass and either side rise up wonder brambles, trees and in spring Mock Orange and in the fall lovely bittersweet (great for New England autumnal decorations). The feeling I got today on this bike riding over the bumpy grass was amazing. I felt, in that moment, what it must have been that first time a woman, most likely back in the beginning of the century, rode astride her first bike. The very freedom of it. The soft pleasure as the trees glide by and you bounce gaily along. And, belive you me, with my vintage Raleigh, you get a could cushiony bounce with that wide comfortable seat with it's dual springs.

As we rode along, the sun shone. It was one of those cool late summer mornings where the promise of heat is there, but the coolness of the previous night still hangs upon you. It is a mantle of comfort when riding briskly along. That lovely smell of ocean water and the sound of the gull…ah, I have to say that is my favorite sound. To hear that while on a boat and to sleep snuggled in the forward berth of our sailboat is the closet to heaven I have found. But, I digress, the smell of the ocean, the deep child-like cry of the gull, the dive of the cormorant, it was all lovely.

As we were casually biking along, we would occasionally be passed by other Saturday morning strollers or bikers. A few ‘grandma’s’ on similar bikes to mine, but newer versions pedaled on happily. Then, every so often, my skirt would swirl up and my get tossed in my eyes by a passing cyclist bearing down on me with incredible speed, stretched to the hilt in spandex.

I once belonged to these ranks. In fact, in the 90’s at university, I even mountain biked. Clad in spandex and packing power bars, bright colored plastic water bottles, I was ready for the battle of the hill or the road. Now I see this  and it seems strange to me. There is something about rambling along on a bike with no gears and the only brakes are engaged when you feel the need to pedal backwards. I realized I was not wearing a helmet and then hubby and I laughed about this. At the speed we were traveling we would have had ample time to stop without a fatal fall.

The world suddenly, there on the back of my simple little bike, seemed a little lighter. There was no time to beat or counting of miles I needed to get in . I was not in the process of trying to do anything TO THE EXTREME, no need to slam a power bar or replenish my electrolytes, whatever they may be. Simply, a sunny morning pedaling along the water, talking, laughing and enjoying the scenery. Another vintage moment given my as a little hidden jewel.

I found myself looking forward, at the end of our jaunt, to my doing this more often. I know pictured the ease and joy of pedaling to the local farmers market on Tuesday morning, filling my little basket with my wares. A ride into the local tea shop for an afternoon of cakes, a cuppa and a good read.

So, here 1955 have shown me, much like the swish of the petticoat or the simple thrill of white gloves and a hat, doing things with a bit of style and measured time makes the moments of living more real. Odd, again, that it takes time-travel out of my time to feel more in my present. When I do things with a quiet stylish determination, take that extra minute at the dressing table with my lipstick, decide which hat and gloves, decide to take a slower trip upon the bouncy seat of my vintage bike, I feel more NOW. I don’t feel I am rushing to get this or that done or running behind and trying to hurry to this or that. I don’t know how realistic this sort of time is for modern people, but maybe we need to look at what we have replaced our time with? Even for those busy with jobs, are there other things that could be done early or set aside to take your time with more personal things to make your day more yours? Up an extra half an hour to get your hair just right or to take time to sit down to a real breakfast of bacon and eggs on nice matching china? Maybe miss one of your ‘shows’ or tivo it for later so you can take the time to sit at a real table like a grown up and eat off nice dishes and talk about things with your family or read that book you have been meaning to get to? I don’t know. I do know that taking my time and doing things with a measured style seems to be changing my life in ways I never thought it would.

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