Saturday, October 23, 2010

23 October 1956 “Covetous of the Fitted Sheets, A New Comic, and an Easy Bread Recipe”

fittedsheet1 I have talked about fitted sheets before and yes they were available here in the 1950’s. But, I found this ad the other day in a 1954 magazine and I was instantly covetous! I want this style fitted sheet. Does anyone know if they still make them this way? To have the top and bottom sheet joined would be a treat for we homemakers making beds every day. Particularly if one had a large family. I also love the smart blue and white room, don’t you?
comicoftheday2I think the latest vintage comic I put on the site has an interesting observation: It is funny, yes, but telling. A home in 1950’s with six people might very well only have one bathroom, not so today. Children sharing rooms even into their teens and a family sharing one bathroom was normal. The opportunity for new home ownership was a wonderful result of post war American, but it was also a realistic goal a young family could afford. I also like the style of the drawing as well, don’t you?
whitebread5 I think I have shared this recipe before, but I will do so again. It is very easy. It is a traditional bread in the sense that you have to let it rise, knead again and rise a second time, but honestly a no fail recipe. I can’t recall where I got it originally, but it now sits in my hand on a little index card in my recipe file. It is much used.
Easy White Bread
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, approximately
Mix yeast and warm water in bowl until dissolved. Add the salt, sugar, butter, and milk and stir to mix.
Next I start one cup of flour at a time, as you may not need 3 cups or may need more, it depends on your humidity, elevation all that. You will know, however, as you want the dough to ‘chase the spoon around the bowl’ as they say. So you can pick it up and it is not too sticky.
Knead in flour and put in a bowl you lightly coated in butter. Turn it once (so it has a nice buttery sheen), place a towel dampened in warm water over it and place in a warm oven. I always turn my oven on warm as I am mixing it up and then turn it off when I put this into rise. It seems to make it a good environment for the rising. Let set one hour.
Next take it out (it will be like a science experiment the first time to see it so large-it is fun!) and re-knead a few times and shape into a cute little loaf shape and pop it into a buttered bread tin. Cover again with the towel, re-dampened warm and let set for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F.
Now, it is risen, so place it in the oven and bake about 40 minutes. You will know when it is down as it will have a nice brown top. And a bread is done when you can tap it lightly on top and hear an almost hollow thud.
This bread is SO easy. It just seems involved because of the time in between, but you can still do other things when this is going on. You will love this bread for toast, French toast, sandwiches. It cut’s a treat and stores well. And, if you make two or three loaves at once, will last a good sized family the week.
whitebread6 And look how lovely it rises and it is so wonderful warm from the oven with butter.
I also recently found out about the bleaching of white bread. My hubby read an article and shared it with me. I was shocked to find out that the way we bleach bread in this country is not even allowed in Europe and elsewhere. It literally involves bleach and, of course, is then in the flour. Actual bleached flour, as was often used, is done so by exposure to light. I have statistics and things, but I shall save that for another day’s post. Suffice it to say that I felt anger and frustration at our so called FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which seems to be more a voice for quick production and money for the few, than an actual federally funded institution that cares about the safety and health of our food. I now buy unbleached white flour. It tastes the same, is only a bit more yellow than bleached, and works the same as bleached flour. What makes me angry is I, who make most things from scratch, can simply make that choice to switch to better flour. Yet, all those of you out there who do rely more on store bought due to busy schedules and time cannot. Most things are made with bleached flour which literally is bleach. Think about a product we use with gloves when cleaning, needs warning labels on cleaning products, but is okay in our food apparently. It is actually illegal to bleach that way in other countries, which is scary enough for me. So, just a little bit of warning to any of you. Or if any of you know more about it, please share with us.
*Site news-new recipe of the week on main page, new vintage cartoon, and new video (the New Eames chair). I realized yesterday the design flaw in that all the new items appear on every page not only the Home Page. This would mean me changing ALL the pages every week. So, new changes just on Home today. Yesterday’s site day resulted in my working on the new menu link. In so doing I feel I may have mapped out and scheduled (you know I love making lists!) a main structure for myself for the coming year. The new menu (not yet uploaded) is almost a goal for me to flush out through the year. Like a great research and testing challenge for the year! It was almost cathartic, as if I was mapping out my knowledge for the coming year. I also think starting next week I will blog m-f and have Saturday be my site day and then Sunday answering reader question. Thank you all again.)


  1. One could easily make a top sheet into a fitted at the bottom two corners. I don't think the top and bottom are attached, the top just has corners at the bottom. You could just sew up the end and add elastic :)

  2. Rueby-isn't it funny how something so simple sometimes just escapes one! I use my sewing machine all the time and yet, when I saw that I thought, "Where can I buy that" Now I need to think was that the modern consumer me peeking through or was it the 1950's me, getting further into the marketing of the times and thinking, "BUY" before 'sew'?

  3. I'll try the bread! I'm stunned at the use of actual bleach in the flour in this country! Gak!

    I don't know if you can buy joined fitted sheets. I wouldn't like them, because I always undo the bottom sheet so my feet stick out. I feel like I'm in a strait-jacket with the top sheet tucked in at the bottom, lol.

    Notice the twin beds! My parents had twin beds!

  4. Mary-Isn't it funny, sleeping habits. I am the opposite and love to be 'tucked up tight'. Of course this might also be from practicality. Our old house is very draughty, especially upstairs. We do NOT use the heat upstairs, literally do not turn it on. There is only electric baseboard up there and the fireplace isn't workable (sealed up years back). Many a winter morn I wake up to actual frost on our old single pane windows. The cold shock of the old wood floor always puts me to mind of those who lived here in the past. Then, it is really more like MY YEAR 1855! So, lots of blankets and tucked in feet are a necessity around here. I know find it hard to sleep in heated rooms. When we stay at other's homes or any other place, if there is room temp controls for me, I will turn it off at night in the winter. Odd how habits form, isn't it?

  5. The bread recipe looks very good. I am going to try it. It has been a long while since I baked bread. I, also, buy unbleached flour.

    I am curious about the floral print on the wall behind the bed. I have seen things like that before. Would you happen to know what and how they did that?

  6. Although for many years prior to the 1950's (and today as well) they sold wall paper that was in essence a mural to be applied to the wall, I think this might actually be hand painted. If you want to view it in another pic the whole ad can be found on the website on the vintage advertising page here It seems to be painted on. One could certainly do an effect such as that easily with paint. Maybe we should try and come up with a way to do it ourselves and then do a 'how to'.

  7. Thanks for the bread recipe! I'm baking tomorrow and will try it.

    The bleach is scary. I knew unbleached was better on principle but never knew why.

    Sarah H.

  8. I remember those sheets when I was growing up. The bottom is a regular fitted at four corners sheet with the top sheet fitted at the bottoms. I haven't thought about them in years. They were certainly easy to use and now, thinking about all the left over sheet that I tuck under the bottom of the mattress, were made with less fabric waste.

  9. Just wanted to tell you that I love your blog & admire you for teaching yourself how to design, layout, & manage a blog.
    I too bake all my own bread & have used King Arthur unbleached flour for years. I recently noticed that our local Hannaford grocery store is now carrying KA unbleached cake flour. Wondering if you have tried that yet?

  10. I hate sleeping in a heated room too. My mother didn't really have heating in her house until I was already off to university. She had coal fired central heating but it only went on when the water in the tank was hot enough which meant having the coal fire burning for hours. I think the radiator in my room came on a couple of times a year at most. I'm well used to waking up with frosty windows and blue toes but my hubby is not so the heating goes on. I manage to avoid putting the heat on for a while so I get a couple of weeks each year when it's nice and cold when I wake up then he insists on heat and I'm back to kicking off the covers all night.

    I was just about to go do some baking, bread and veggie deli slices and maybe chocolate chip cookies if the boy gets his way. I'll give your bread recipe a shot. It sound quite similar to my usual sandwich bread recipes, the classic sandwich bread from the King Arthur website only they use powdered milk (probably because they sell their own stuff specially formulated for baking) and honey instead of sugar. They also have an excellent anadama recipe there which I make using black strap molasses for a lovely dark color, very good with winter squash soups. I use the King Arthur flour because it's unbleached and it's just better than the store brands. It's also available in a 10lb bag at Market Basket which lasts me a few weeks rather than picking up a 5lb bag just about every time I go.

  11. It is King Arthur and I feel good about buying it as well. I think someone told me to look into them a while back and it seems they are all American made, produced, offices etc. So, why almost feels their Patriotic duty to buy their flour. I also may have found a source for MA grown wheat where one can order the wheat berries. Then I could store and grind it as needed. Though, to be vintage, not sure how to grind. I would just use a coffee grinder, but not sure those were commercially available at the time.
    I really have trouble sleeping when it is too hot. When we sleep at my MIL I always shut the heat in the room, close up the door, slide a quilt under it (to save on wasting the heat in the house) and cracking the window. They live on the water and to smell it when sleeping, even in winter, is wonderful.
    When we lived for a period in a relatives Boat house on Buzzards bay, our upstairs room was unheated AND uninsulated. Very Victorian, but I loved it! The cold frosted windows in the morning, looking out on the cold water. It even got rather cold that winter and the bay froze up, which doesn't always happen to salt water. I think I just love water so much that it matters little if it is cold or not. I also really enjoy cold weather things, such as hot cocoa in front of the fire bundled up in a wooly sweater/jumper and wool skirt with my dogs on my lap. Ahhh, I think I am really looking forward to winter...

  12. One winter goal this year: A horse drawn sleigh ride. It has been years such I have done so, so will need to find a source for that. Any of my readers in MA have any suggestions?

  13. I sew the bottom of the fitted sheet to the top sheet all the time. I hate chasing the top sheet. Also works well in the RV, just easier to make the bed. I only sew the strip on the bottom of the flat sheet to the fitted sheet. I don't sew around the corner as my husband wants to "hang" his feet off the edge.

  14. You should be able to find an old grinder in an antiques store somewhere. I know I've seen a few around. I used to work with a teacher who had one and she'd bring it in each year and grind the wheat with our students to show them where flour comes from then they'd bake cookies with it. They were amazed to find out that you could actually make flour. It was a large metal contraption passed down from her grandparents with a vice to attach it to a table and you just put the wheat in the top and turned the handle till it was all ground.

    I really want a trip out to the King Arthur store and school in Vermont. It's just about doable as a day trip from where I am, only about 2 hours, but I'd love to go out for a couple of days and do a class or two.

  15. Rhonda-what fun! I love Vermont, Stowe is wonderful ski country, as I am sure you know. Have you been to the Trapps family lodge, (owned by the Sound of Music Von Trapps?) Beautiful country. I shall keep my eye out for this contraption you speak of. I could also use a hand crank coffee grinder, I am sure. I wonder if my 'modern 1955' Osterizer would grind wheat properly. It certainly makes wonderful sauces and things. I should share some of the recipes from the book that accompanies it.

  16. I have several sets of those sheets and they ARE attached to another. However, I cannot find new ones, so I make my own by attaching my top sheet to the fitted sheet. I just stretch the elastic on the fitted sheet and pin and sew the top sheet in place.

  17. I've actually only been to Vermont once, about 7 or 8 years ago. We stayed in a little inn way up in the mountains about halfway between Burlington and Montpelier.

    Funny story for this morning. I decided to make your bread yesterday but didn't get around to it till late afternoon and I wound up putting it in the pans for the final rise just before dinner intending to pop it in the oven after dinner. When I woke up this morning my first thought "oh dear god, I forgot to bake the bread!" That will teach me to mess up my schedule! It's kind of slumped down again and oozed over the edges of the pan a bit but with a little trimming and tucking I've got something that kinda resembles a loaf so I threw it in the oven. Hopefully it will come out edible but if it doesn't I'm sure I can make a big bread pudding and enough bread crumbs to last me a few months.


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