Sunday, March 31, 2013

31 March “Movie for an Easter Sunday”

fatherslildividend I hope all who celebrate are having a lovely Easter Sunday, and for those who don’t I hope they have a joyous day as well.
Today I thought our Sunday Movie should be the sequel to the 1950 comedy hit “Father of the Bride” .It is the 1951 comedy film, “Father’s Little Dividend”. Directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, and Elizabeth Taylor. This film is just fun to watch. For those of us to whom the 1950’s is a visual joy, you will like it for fashion and interiors and general attitudes. It is fun to see the interiors of the homes and how the young couple get their little suburban home to prepare for the little one on the way. It is overall just a happy fun film that makes me think of Easter and Spring for some reason. I suppose the joy of Spring, New Birth and general excitement I get from looking at vintage interiors just mingle well in this film to make it feel very Fresh and Hopeful. So, I hope you will enjoy it as well.
And as a fun little treat, I have included a short little silent 8mm short of an Easter Home movie. It is of guests arriving dressed for the holiday and the lovely table setting. It is a fun comparison to the film to see what was happening in the real world as well at the same time the film came out. They actually seem rather comparable.
First the little home movie, then our feature film. Happy Easter and Happy Homemaking.

Friday, March 29, 2013

29 March 1959 “Connie Converse, the Lost Musician of the 1950’s: How Sad & How Lovely”

connieconverseatpiano  Every so often, as I sift through my ephemera of the 1950’s, I come upon little moments that feel so poignant and almost sad. This can manifest itself in so many ways. In this instance, with Connie Converse, it made me pause and think, “If only Connie had been been in this generation, her music would have been able to find an outlet, probably through self promotion on YouTube. The vast variety of musical styling's today would have found a place for her wonderful folksy, bluesy hybrid sound of music. She was an artist a bit early for her time and so went for the most part unnoticed. Her story, as well, is both romantic and tragic.

Before we go any further let’s hear a tune by this lost and unappreciated artist of the 1950’s. “The empty pocket waltz”

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

28 March 1954 “How Do You Like Your Eggs? Classic Celebrities Share Their Favorite Way”

 dorisdayeaster Though I haven’t any information on Doris Day’s favorite use of eggs, I do have some other fun information from actors of old.
jimmyweggs First off we have Jimmy Durante. He loves his eggs Raw, thank you very much. And we love him any way. Here, in 1955, he has his own show. And here is a full episode featuring the lovely Carmen Miranda.

Now, let’s look at some more famous people and their favorite way to enjoy those over abundant fruits of Easter: Eggs.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

26 March 1950 “Spring Easter Fashions: Shoes and Hats and Dresses, Oh My!”

springfashion To continue are trip towards Easter this week I though I’d share a fun mix of ladies Spring/Easter fashions. What better way to shake those Winter Blahs then through dreamily imagining ourselves in petticoats, floral hats and immersed in a world of manners and comforting norms of fashion.

Just there, a gentleman holds the door for you. You bring your gloved hand up to protect your Easter bonnet as you enter, hoping he catches that bit of embroidery you did at the wrist of your gloves. Grandmother helped you with her ‘old time’ know how, of course. Now you are in and the men and boys rise to their feet. Oh, look, one offers you a glass of punch. You take it with a Thank you, and move to sit enmeshed in a sea of skirts, hats, and quiet gossip with the other ladies.

“What a darling hat” one says.

“Oh, my! whatever was she thinking in wearing that flower pot on her head?” whispers another

The local orchestra begins and the Spring Easter dance is underway. Hopefully the best the club has had to offer in years. You better get your dance card ready, it’s just pinned there to your groisgrain waistband. You spent last night, hair in curlers, laughing over coffee and snacks with  your friends, gluing little silk flowers to it. Dreaming of whose name would be writ upon it.

Now, there is dancing to be had, finger sandwiches, and later the Easter Egg hunt for the little ones on the lawn and egg races for young ladies and gentleman. Maybe Beaumont Mathews will take you out in a punt on the river and splashing you playfully, try and steal a kiss. Best look out, Mother’s watchful eye is never far away.

The day has ended and you drop lazily onto your little tufted stool before your vanity. You check yourself in the mirror, hold your dance card to your heart, then secret it away in your little ormolu dressing box that was mother’s when she was a girl. Ah, Spring, it has arrived at last…a gal can dream, can’t she?

Now, onto the Fashions...

Monday, March 25, 2013

25 March 1955 “Menu for Easter Dinner”

easterdinner1 With Easter soon upon us I thought we could look at this Easter Menu plan from one of my 1955 magazines. There are some lovely ideas and the novelty of the vintage recipes, as Beet Aspic, might perk up the more austere Recession Easter many may be facing.
makeyourowneastermeat For my non American readers it might be of interest to see the various regions idea of Easter dinner. As it mentions here Ham is the norm in some parts, the east coast, where I live, certainly does think of lamb as the appropriate entree’, though Ham is just as popular here now as well. I liked that Pennsylvania reports Baked shad as their expected Easter Sunday meal. I wonder if that is still true today? If any of my readers are from PA do let us know.

Now, for the lovely side-dishes for a 1955 Easter celebration.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

24 March 1944 “Movie for a Sunday with Rita Hayworth & Gene Kelly and some Recipes”

covergirlritahayworth Today’s Movie for a Sunday comes from 1944 and stars Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly. The Film Cover Girl tells the story of a chorus girl given a chance at stardom when she is offered an opportunity to be a highly-paid cover girl.The film won the 1944 Academy Award for best musical scoring.

Enjoy your Sunday Movie and a few recipes from the book Foods That will Win the War and How to Cook them. I included these few for fun and to try. The book can be found under the Library button at top and under the Cookbook section. I hope to continue to add to this database. You will also find today in the various boxes I update here on the site another free ebook called The Myrtle Reed Cookbook, it is free and well worth a look-see.

Have a lovely Sunday and Happy Homemaking.

 Some recipes from the free book Foods that will Win the War and how to Cook them.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

23 March 1954-79 “Vintage Telephone Fun: Seven Digit Phone Numbers, Phone Dialing, & Phone Styles”

pinkkitphone  In 1954, just one year prior to my project, the ‘dial your own’ phone system came to all of the US. While it had existed previously, many still had the old candlestick or even handset phones without a dial. You would life the receiver and a real person would say “Number Please”. Previous to this, the dialing was mainly the province of the operator.

Let’s look at this fun 1954 short teaching us about the changeover from switchboard dialing to home dialing. The film is of interest as well for her lovely dress and cute setting.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

21 March 1953 “Another Lesson from 1950’s for Today: Prepared Mixes + Homemade= Happy Family. Making Your Own Mixes”

 bettycrockercakead I thought today I’d touch on one item of the list I had made up for myself from the “lessons from 1950’s for today”. When I sat down to consider the things that changed my life from my 1955 project it really became that list. It then gave me a further push to consider other things from then that I could continue to learn and then incorporate in a realistic way into today’s living.

One of those things has been to make my own mixes. As I now work about 15 hours out of the home, I find with my increased responsibilities, mixes and make-ahead really do help. Though I am not willing to use store made because of many of the questionable ingredients. However, it is surprisingly easy to make your own mixes and make-ahead. Giving oneself an arsenal of such easy homemade mixes actually can give the homemaker, even the working one, a leg up on staying healthy and homemade.

Here is a 1950’s commercial for Betty Crocker Cake mixes:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

19 March 1957 “Pink Heaven: A Pink Brick Ranch & Mental Health Then and Now”

pinkheavenarticle1 Today we are in the Pink! This article from one of my 1957 Magazines tells a fun little design story that I find very 1950’s. First is that we have a couple who can afford to hire a Hollywood decorator yet their house is a manageable little ranch style house and not a McMansion. And I also applaud the gutsy way that the 1950’s approached modern design. Despite the house style being quite modern and though it has the colonial use of brick, is far from a traditional house. Yet, they used loving Colonial or Early American design and in a rather pleasing way inside. It makes one pause and consider Ricky and Lucy’s house in Connecticut on the later years of I love Lucy. Yet, much as the Victorian’s did with their brash use of colors on their ornate “Gingerbread” facades, these homeowners have no qualms painting the brick exterior of a house containing a colonial look, fresh 1950’s Pink! I think that level of fun and exuberance should be applauded and maybe easily applied in our own modern little homes. Sometimes when the world seems a bit darker a little pink paint might be a good jolt of joy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

17 March 1964 “ Happy St. Patrick’s Day & Movie for a Sunday: Doris Day & Rock Hudson”

stpattyskoolaid This St. Patrick’s Day we are taking a quick little sojourn to the early 1960’s. Advertising is beginning to ramp up its volume and reach. The increase in prescription drugs and therapists is also beginning to touch the masses. How one feels or the evaluation of one’s emotions is starting to appear in younger people’s conversations.

We must remember pre WWII the idea of therapy and even prescription drugs for any ailment other than one that was life threatening was almost un-heard of for the general public. In the more cosmopolitan cities, such as New York, having a therapist or taking ‘drugs’ (that is prescriptions drugs) for ailments of the mind may have begun, but in Middletown USA, such concepts were quite foreign.
sendmenomoreflowersposter So, on the theme of the changes coming out of the 1950’s into the 1960’s I thought today’s Movie Sunday would be Doris Day and Rock Hudson’s film: Send Me no more Flowers.. It has the farcical comedy misunderstandings of a late 1950’s movies, but with some of the new themes coming to the decade of the 1960’s in Drugs and therapy and dreams. Even the concept of hypochondria, as the Rock Hudson character feels in today’s film, is a very 1960’s sort of problem. If one were expressing illness when there was none in the 1940’s, they would not have been given a pill, but told to “buck up and go outside and get some fresh air”. Time, it seem, are a changing.

Friday, March 15, 2013

15 March 1950 “Lessons for Today from the 1950’s We Could All Use: Part 2”

lessonsfortodayimage Today we are going to continue on with the Lesson’s from the 1950’s. I hope all understand that I do not mean to sound glib or pedantic or even preachy. I also know that complex problems of today aren’t easily solved. But, I also know that there is much to be said of common sense. And during the post war decade of the 1950’s we had the propaganda of public schools, TV, and increased print ads to help convey messages. And for the most part, the message of the day was use common sense, think before you act, and these are some basic rules that we, as human beings, can use to all get along and to try to make a better future.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

13 March 1950 “Lessons for Today from the 1950’s We Could All Use: Part 1”.

1950slessonimage I found myself contemplating life lessons. To consider what we could do, in our modern daily life, to better emulate the positive aspects of the past. A life-rule upon which to measure choices, decisions, and actions; a code from the 1950’s. This need not just be for those of us who find ourselves so attracted to that time, but real and practical advice that could and should be used by all and sundry here in the 21st century. And so I came up with a sort of check list that I thought might be fun to consider.
Dress up for the Movies. I could have called this ‘try and look presentable’ or ‘have an ounce of pride in yourself’, but to me the epitome of that ideal that we owe it to ourselves and those around us to look ‘good and presentable’ is sort of condensed in that act of people dressing up in the 1950’s to go see the ‘pictures’.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

9 march 1954 “A peek in a 1954 Small Kitchen and Laundry & Interesting Magazine Recipes: Edible Centerpiece and Soup Milkshakes”

smalllaundry1 I may have shared this article with you before, but I couldn’t find the images and so have scanned them again. The clever use of small space and the wonderful color combination of navy, sage green and aqua is really lovely. As an owner of a very tiny kitchen, I can appreciate the need for sound proofing and hiding of storage and necessities.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

6 March 1954 “Making the Building Block of Cooking: Stock”

       By the 1950’s, soup and stock were readily available in many forms; cans, bouillon cubes, even frozen. Here is a lovely little recipe for Clam Bouillon gelatin using canned stock bouillon.

     Broth, in many ways, is the main building block of cooking. It is the base for soups, gravies, sauces, is added to other meats and stews and cooking meats. It can be used to prepare rice and vegetables in to add flavor. It is a sort of starting point to really learning to cook.. And in most cases by the late 1950’s broth, that cook’s building block, wasn’t even needed.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

3 March 1950 “Film for a Sunday: What the Butler Saw and Taking Stock, Let’s share”

Today I am presenting for your Sunday enjoyment a wonderful little British comedy from 1950 entitled, “What the Butler Saw”. It was directed by Godfrey Grayson and starring Edward Rigby, Henry Mollison and Mercy Haystead.It is a jolly little film about an Earl and his butler and a fun light one hour film good for a Sunday afternoon.
In my last post on drippings and fat we had a comment about making stock. I thought that would be a fun post to write and thought we should all join in. Therefore, today any of my readers who have their own recipes or hints for stock, do share them in the comments. Or, if anyone has specific questions about stock making, do so here as well and we can address them in the Stock making post. I think it would be relevant to also address fat rendering. And we can see how to render our own lard and fats and what we can make with such various renderings from simple suet to lovely pork fat and even coveted goose or duck fats. So, do share any ideas, tips or questions as to that.
I hope all have a lovely Sunday and before we go to our film here is some fun fashions for 1950. And as always, Happy Homemaking.
49dior 49fashion2

Friday, March 1, 2013

1 March 1951 “Keeping & Using Fat and Drippings”

girlinpan Today I thought we could talk about keeping drippings and fats. The lovely leftover from cooking meats is in fact kitchen gold and is a great low cost but high quality way to aid your kitchen endeavors.

Keeping fat has long been the norm. It was only recently, after the First World War, that new products began to be made that would be an artificial version of such fats. But, even well into the 1960’s, saving fat was rather a normal household occurrence and jars and canisters existed solely for this purpose. And such a jar, rather bought our reused coffee tins or canning jars, often sat on the counter near the stove for easy access of pouring in new and taking out old with which to cook again.

Let’s look at some darling dripping and grease containers.

drippingjar1With my own love of sailboats, including having a red sailboat in my kitchen window, I would love this drippiings jar. And indeed it is for sale, but it is $54 and a bit out of my price range for something I can easily use a canning jar for. But, I may find one one day while at a tag sale.

 greasejar1 This jar seems to have been part of a set.

drippings30sThis lovely Anchor Hocking version is from the 1930’s. This version as well as the pink lidded can be found at Ruby Lane.

greaseset Here you can see that often a Grease/drippings jar was included in a canister set it was such the norm to keep fats and drippings.

Storing and saving fats/grease/drippings is not hard. It is cost effective and really no trouble at all and your subsequent dishes will be the better for using such saved fats. You can strain them before storing and in fact some of the 40’s and 1950’s version of grease containers had a lift out strainer at the top, as seen here:greasejarstrainer 

I had been using cheesecloth, but recently at my part time job, I was lucky enough to come into some paper coffee filters. The rules of the day dictate anything that hits the floor for a second gets tossed out. You would not want to even know the amount of stuff that simply gets tossed. But, being the odd little duck that I am, most at work now know to save any damaged or out of date food for me and my chickens. And I often find a use for most things that ‘hit the floor’ and are ready for trash. They make new grease holders with pouring spouts like this one which can be bought for $14 here.newgreasejar I am not affiliated with this nor do I get any money for it, but thought it’d be worth to share the link.

This is how I came into possession of a stack of large round paper coffee filters. They make straining easier because they are very fine and then you toss them away. But, I suppose one could consider that these white filters may very well contain bleach, I don’t know. When I have exhausted my supply I will simply return to cheesecloth. I keep a few specifically for the job and they get soaked in hot water and hand washed and hung to dry. Otherwise I find they get shredded in the laundry. But, the main point is to strain your drippings/fats. Any food stuff left in is what will become rancid and spoil your kitchen gold. However, with that said, my Bacon grease I do not strain. It contains little bits of the bacon and really I like it that way. It goes into the ice box, so no worries about rancidity. And it is my most oft used fat, so it gets replenished more. Some day, when I can have land, I will raise a pig a year and that lovely creature will provide for us all year. They say the only part of a pig you don’t use is the squeal. But, were I to raise one, maybe we could record its delightful little squeal as a cell phone ring or some such. One does hate waste so!

Back to drippings, the shelf life for fats I found by investigation seems to be 6 months in the ice box/fridge and 9 months in the freezer. I have almost no freezer space, so my precious freezer space is kept for other things. I simply decant mine in canning jars and put in the fridge. I usually keep some on the stove (Bacon fat usually) in a little container this time of the year. And during the warmer months in the ice box. My old house has an unheated kitchen so many foods can be left out in my kitchen that a more warmer heated kitchen may not be privy too.

When you store your fats in clear glass jars you can see that when they settle you have that lovely bit of congealed fat on top, that actually acts to preserve and seal out air form the drippings below. This is similar to the process of canning where one aims to restrict oxygen from the food, as in the case of sealing wax on top of jams and preserves or when the air is removed from a canning jar. Oxygen gives life to bacteria and restricting it allows food to last longer. Add Chemist and Scientist to the ongoing list of ‘jobs’ a Homemaker must master.

Often when I cook a big roast or chicken I let the fat and drippings congeal in the pan. If you are worried you can let this happen in the fridge, but I let it happen on the counter. I figure I use my fat in a hot state so it is reheated to a safe temp to kill any harmful bacteria. Also, as previously mentioned, my kitchen is quite cool in the winter months. After the drippings have congealed, you can see the layer of thick white fat on top. I will scoop this off as best I can and put in a jar separate from the drippings. Underneath you will see a lovely clear brown/yellow (depending on the meat) gelatin/Jell-O/jelly. You can pick it up in sections and like the old jell-0 commercials, ‘watch it wiggle’. I will take these “Jell-O” shots and put them in a glass jar separately. These are kept in the ice box and are added, as you would the mixed fat, to soups, stocks, etc. I find that this clear form of the drippings are good for soups, not making them greasy, and for dropping into rice while cooking, and on vegetables when you roast them.

Therefore, my general rule is when I cook or roast fowl (chicken goose duck game birds), I let the fat settle then keep the grease (white stuff) separate. This can be used for anything from greasing pans to simply frying an egg. The gelatin I save separately, as this pure dripping is perfect for soups, stocks, adding to veg and rice while cooking and so on. But, with bacon I save it all together and do NOT strain it or separate it. A simple scoopful from the jar to grease muffin tins, or spread some on a cookie sheet before roasting vegetables will give it a bit of a fry up while in the oven. Just 400 F for about 45 minutes, flipping once toward the last 10 minutes will really impart that lovely bacon flavor.

One can even save drippings/fat from cooking fish. And as a curmudgeonly old penny pinching New Englander, I also save the water I have boiled lobsters in, the water used to steam mussels, clams, etc and I have been known to boil the leftover mussel shells a second time to add to a stock for seafood stew/soup/or chowder. This you would want to use right away or toss. It would quickly spoil and make your kitchen smell rather bad.

The general populace today may view saving fat and grease as a sort of ‘low class’ or working class endeavor. While, in fact, the best chefs know that to achieve high art cuisine one will often use fat and drippings and never things such as simply processed oils or shortenings. In fact Goose grease is considered the ultimate in fat/drippings. And Duck Confit, made in drippings and traditionally stored in its own drippings for preservation, would be considered today rather high brow or gourmet.

Let’s consider the confit. This is one of the oldest ways of preserving food and originated in Southern France. Today, Duck Confit would be considered gourmet food and to make it, one would need to buy duck grease which can be, literally, upwards of $40 dollars to make a proper confit. These are often made with duck and sometimes goose as well, and usually the legs, slow cooking on low heat in the oven in its own fat. This creates a lovely flavorful meat with a crispy skin.

However, a confit is simply cooking a meat (and this can be poultry, and pork as well, but to the French if it is not duck or goose than it would be pork en confint that is in confit) and then storing it sealed in its own fat. This is in a sense a Jell-O mold holding the food and was an excellent way to store food before there was refrigeration. You see again we keep out oxygen and it is hard for bacteria to get through the gelatin to the stored meat. Science and chemistry at work before we knew it was such a thing.

The main point is this: experiment. You cook your own food and you see there is something left over. You make other foods that require fats so the connection happens. Many people are simply tossing away a wonderful chemical preservative free item. A product far superior to what they spend money on at the market. You save money and are more in control of what you are using and eating, so it is really win win. I think much of what we view of as icky or gross today is simply the result of propaganda of some sort whether through advertising or views imparted by TV shows.

Many a person may turn their nose up or be disgusted by saving fat from your home cooked food to use again, yet have no issue eating over processed foods and fast foods. If many people were allowed to see what actually happens to make ‘food’ in factories, from margarines to the processed way ‘mechanically separated meats’ are made for nuggets, patties, etc, they may see what truly is disgusting and also rather not very healthy. But, alas, I have come to realize that such general views are not for me to change or worry about. I haven’t the money nor the endless media outlets to get my own points across, but am happy opening the eyes of a few people here and there who may stumble upon my blog and think, “Hmmm, I didn’t consider that”.

And, I don’t feel I am being too ‘pushy’ in my suggestions, as I have come to realize these things myself. Prior to 1955 I happily cooked very little, ate from microwave and plastic bag foods, and never thought twice about, well, most things. We can choose, in our lives, how much we wish to discover and control in our daily actions. Some may only want some change while others may want to evaluate every aspect of their life. Either way, we do live in a time when there are endless sources of information literally at our fingertips and so we need only bother to ask ourselves, ‘Why” and then to begin to search for the answer. We may find that we are happy the way we have been doing something or that our actions are not new but really old ways still being done. And sometimes, as often I find, we see new Old ways of doing things that make more sense and cost less. This was the case with drippings and grease. And if you are uncertain of saving fats, try it once. Take a tiny bit of your leftover bacon grease and use it the next day to cook your eggs, make your pancakes or simply pop some popcorn in a pan on the stove with bacon grease and you will be hooked. The more we can make our own the more control we have over what we eat. And if one is going to the bother of cooking and roasting food, then why throw out one of the best parts!

I would love to know what other ways you store your drippings and what recipes or ways of using it you may have, lets hear it!

Happy Homemaking.

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