Monday, April 30, 2012
Well, I'm too sick to even keep my head up today, but luckily the library is closed to the public and my job of answering reference questions and the phone is not too demanding (sick days? Who needs sick days?). Will I watch The Amazing Kreskin on Hulu all day? I will. I don't know how I lived twenty six years on this earth without watching what is possibly the goofiest of all goofy 70's television programming. The last episode I watched had Barbara Feldon (Agent 99 from Get Smart) talking about how she writes circus themed poetry, and this one features country music singer Barbara Mandrel (does Kreskin have a rule where only Barbaras can come on his show?). Barbara Mandrel, in a gorgeous, almost Japanese print dress, is about the cutest thing, by the way. I want that hair!! Thank heaven for Hulu!!
Do you secretly (or unsecretly!) love crummy mentalists/magicians/hucksters? I remember, as a kid, watching Sylvia Browne and other "other side" psychics on daytime talk shows with my grandmother, and don't even mention the "psychics" portion of my favorite childhood tv show, Unsolved Mysteries. It! Was! The! Living! End! Hopefully, the healing power of swamis and the seventies will bring me back to life (that, and the shrimp quesadilla I plan on walking across the street for around noon) and I'll be back in fighting shape tomorrow with another installment of Your Power as a Woman.
Friday, April 27, 2012
People, meet Gentleman Jim and Flapper Fran. The snapshots didn't come with any kind of descriptive captions or names other than the St. Louis based developing company on the back, but we'll go with those descriptive monikers for the moment.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
|I choose you, Enid Collins!|
|Doesn't look like much yet, but wait for it...|
|Wait for it....|
Last but not least, I told Bab, "Snap one of me while we're at it!" Here's my 8 am, pre-coffee, overly-brightly-lit self in today's outfit:
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
|Remember the beginning and end of Citizen Kane, where CFK has amassed an entire warehouse full of treasures from around the world? Imagine that in my attic, but with more Goji jester girls than Van Goghs...|
Do you do that? Or are you good? It's nowhere near actual hoarding, but I feel like I do have a tendency, between my love of shopping, love of a deal and the general inexpensiveness of estate sale and thrift store shopping, to drag home WAY too much stuff sometimes. It's like my eyes are continually bigger than my belly, in terms of what I can actually proudly display. A two person house should not have thirty coffee cups (even if they're cute... let's pare down to just the cutest!) or fourteen lamps! I actually counted the other day, and there are fourteen lamps in use. Not even counting the ones in the attic, complete with shades, waiting for one of the others in the house to lose favor and be traded out for one of the benched lamps. Maddening! Not one cost more than $12...but even at the cut-rate, what is the "actual cost" of having to find places for and/or store all those extraneous lighting fixtures?
|It's not Hoarders-bad, but it ain't Hoarders-good, either...|
At any rate, let me pick your collective brains for a minute, and maybe you can help me to continue seeing the cleaning light!
What is your take on "spring cleaning"? How do you choose which items from an estate sale, however adorable and criminally inexpensive, come home with you? Do you have a particular method you use to keep your house less clutterlicious than mine, or is it something genetic I can't hope to improve upon naturally (creams? injections? Is there a miracle pill I can take)? Working around all these books, I've rustled up a stack of titles like Let Go of Clutter and Clutter Busting, and while I'd rather read a book about mummies or McCoy vases, I've vowed to settle down and try to learn something from people who do this professionally. Because again, how much better would my life be if I wasn't tied down by a dirty house and no time to clean it?
With all that in mind, I'll try to get you a picture of the (minimal! innocuous! completely inconsequential! but oh so fabulous) items I picked up at the sales last weekend soon.
Til next time!
Monday, April 23, 2012
My question today for all you vintage lovin' so-and-so's... to cook vintage, or not to cook vintage? Look at these ads with me and let's discuss, shall we?
Mwuh! Yeeech! Look upon this dish, millennial America, and despair (your waistlines). "Cheeseburger Loaf" is meant to be an improvement on the dinner staple of plain old meatloaf, but I don't know as adding a viscous layer of American cheese and a can of evaporated milk to the mix is necessarily a step up from what is already ketchup-y perfection. As Lileks-worthy as the above food illustration would seem, have you ever been to a Mexican restaurant where the management has taken proud photographs to show you the delicious comestibles available at their establishment? Chimichangas, quesadillas, and other pretty flippin delicious foods are rendered goopy, oily, and unappetizing by the camera's lens. And yet! If you ordered any of those items, and it came looking exactly like the photo, you would still eat it. The camera is not kind to "real food". Do you think this cheeseburger loaf is a victim of bad food photography, or is it just unappealing to you on all levels?
I love the "No Other Form of Milk Will Do!". So forget your other forms of milk, and embrace evaporated milk as your milk form of choice. This is a much more appetizing looking dish, in spite of the fact that I prefer meatloaf to tuna any day of the week. These "tuna puffs" are far more photogenic than the previous dish, plus you've got a host of greenery to draw attention from the "splat" look of chili sauce (which is optional).
However, this next recipe reminds me of an old school yard chant:
"U! G! L! Y! You ain't got no alibi, you ugly!"
How in the name of the Lord did anyone think this would sell cans of evaporated milk. I appreciate that Carnation Evaporated Milk comes from "contented cows", but I assure you that no one in my immediate family will be happy if I foist upon them the murky white chowder after ringing the dinner bell. "You just can't make it with Ordinary Bottled Milk"...well, probably not. Let's call the whole thing off.
I think the ad agency for Carnation really hit upon something when they switched gears from wholesome, hot, creamy foods-that-use-Evaporated-milk (and sick everyone out!) to the far safer culinary advertising grounds of ice-box-pies-that-everyone-thinks-are-delicious. Who...does not....like an icebox pie? Carnation Lemon Fluff Pie does not only look five-minute-easy-to-make, but is saved from gloopiness by the cute cherry garnish triangulating across its creme center. Because, as my beloved Ted Allen of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy says, "If it's not garnished, it's not finished." Bless him.
What about sherbet colored "Frosty Fruit Pies"? What about "yes"?
Betty Crocker's newest "Pie Discovery" warranted a two page advertising spread, with flavored fruit pies hoping to wipe out the ugly memory Carnation's involvement with the ham and pea and cream sauce monstrosity mentioned an ad ago. The flavors include "Frosty Pineapple", "Frosty Grape", "Frosty Orange" and "Frosty...." What the heck! How is "Frosty Prune" a flavor? Fifties' people, you are just going too far.
Which brings me to my vintage question of the day: as much as you love vintage cookbooks (and YOU KNOW I love a vintage cookbook), how often do you "cook vintage"? Are the recipes of the time right up your alley, or do you tend to steer clear of some of the creamy, rich, too-many-weird-flavors suggestions of the average midcentury menu? Do you have better luck with the desserts (as the above would imply) or do you make entree items as well? What non-cocktail recipes have you tried that were either hits or misses? Inquiring minds want to know!
I'll try to do something non-food oriented for you guys at some point, I promise. Had some great luck at the estate sales on Friday...will give you an update sometime this week, camera willing!
Til next time.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Good morning! As soon as I said the other day, "Nah, I don't really collect that many pictures of kids; a kid's a kid's a kid, you know?", I started to become aware of the many, many photos of children that are actually already in my collection! Do you ever do that, where you go, "Don't really have much interest in ceramic 50's planters..." and then realize you have like five already just by happenstance?
At any rate, here are three pictures of children who were SO CUTE, and SO PERIOD, that I managed to get over myself and purchase them at whatever dusty antique mall shoe-box they came from.
Most of the time (there I go generalizing again), I like look very closely at the backgrounds of old photographs, and this one is neat for the ornate trappings of a 1930's photography studio. The velvet bench gives us a point of comparison to see how tiny the little girl is, and the patterned carpet lends depth of field to the composition. I'm a big fan of this little girl's mini-length-baby dress (why were children's dresses so SHORT then and up until what seems like the 70's?) and her ducky little curl creating a "faux-hawk" effect in the middle of her head. You could see why this one was a keeper. Even though it's a picture of child.
I love this one for the little boy's expression and clothes. You can tell he slouched on into the photo's frame with a "Maaaaa, do I have to?" right before the picture was taken. This one reminds me of the beginning of some Scorsese fifties'-set mob movie, where it shows the young mug as a little kid running around in Brooklyn. How dapper does this guy look in his little fedora and six button jacket and tie, however? I love miniature adult clothes for kids and fully intend to dress my future progeny in shrunken down Humphrey Bogart outfits. Look out, world.
I think it was the palm tree that sold me on these sisters. The older child's rickrack trimmed dress is a dream, and the little expression on the younger's dour face is precious, but where were they on Easter Sunday that they had a full-on palm tree in the background? California? The glamour of the West! Do you see the older girl's t-strap shoes with white socks? I'm so doing that sometime next week.
Which kid (in spite of your, like me, obvious and total bias towards children's photography *cough* exceptnotreallyatall) do you favor? Do you have any funny photographs of little ones in your collection? Let a girl know!
With another rare Friday off, I have to dash to the estate sales, but I'll see you guys on the other side of the weekend! Hope yours is a keeper. :)
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
In speaking of grocery stores and diets this week, I thought we could stay on theme today with a little look into America's cupboard for a very familiar item: the tin can. I was searching the words "delicious meals" on Google Books when I came across two circa 1950 Life magazine with the above advertisements. You never know what kind of wingding thing will come up even when you put an innocuous enough phrase into the search box! "SACK O' SAUCE IN A CAN O'MEAT" was probably not going to win any advertising awards that year for the originators of the phrase, but gosh did it get my attention. The fifties' seem to have been the forefront for a culinary revolution of canned gourmet. Anything you can make we can "can" better, advertisements like this one screeched at the mid century housewife. Pie crusts! Whole chicken pot pies! Chow mein! All you need is a can opener and a brisk, dismissive attitude towards the "made from scratch" school of thinking.
On searching "in a can", I came across this series of menus and recipes prepared by the American Can Company in the early 1950's. You can click on any of the pages to get a better gander at what's inside, or the menu's title for the recipe in its original magazine.
Note! Alma Archer probably does not approve of these menus. Dieters, beware! Can food enthusiasts, rejoice! Non canned items needed are listed in italics.
1) Texas Barbecue Supper:
- Pineapple Lime Cocktail- 1 can chilled pineapple juice, lime juice
- Texas Kabobs- 1 can mushrooms, 2 cans Vienna sausages, 1 can luncheon meat, 1 can whole white onions, 1 can pimentos, pickle slices
- Tomato Barbecue Sauce- 1 can tomatoes, 1 can tomato sauce, seasonings
- Parsley Buttered Corn- 2 cans corn, seasonings
- Rancho Salad- 1 can of peas, 1 can of julienne carrots, celery, greens, cheese, dressing
- Grapefruit-Peach Delight- 1 can peach slices, 1 can grapefruit sections, maraschino cherries
- Good Hot Coffee- 1 vacuum packed can of coffee
TOTAL NUMBER OF CANS: 16INITIAL ASSESSMENT: I don't know how I feel about the Texas kabobs, owing to a life long aversion to Vienna sausages (though my grandaddy ate them by the case, lingering on the first syllable so he pronounced it more "VY-eee-nah"). And what is it with 1950's people's love of throwing a bunch of vegetables that don't necessarily work together, adding dressing and cheese or mayonnaise and cheese, and calling it "salad"? Can you guys think of any "salads" your parents or grandparents make that just don't make sense? I think I would skip this one save the pineapple lime cocktail, which sounds delicious.
2)West Coast Sea Food Supper
- West Coast Sea Food Supreme:1 can chicken consomme OR 1 can clam juice (what a decision to make!), 1 can pineapple chunks, 1 can tuna OR salmon, 1 can crab meat, 1 can chow mein noodles, 1 can shredded coconut, flour, seasonings, raisins
- Green Beans Amandine: 1 can green beans, almonds
- Tomato Aspic and Asparagus Salad: 1 can aspic, 1 can asparagus spears, greens, French dressing
- Sunshine Fruit Medley: 1 can fruit cocktail, 1 can apricot nectar, cornstarch
TOTAL NUMBER OF CANS: 11 (plus one REALLY CUTE fish shaped serving dish)INITIAL ASSESSMENT: Please give me that serving dish. No, really. I need it. I like the sound of this soup way better than the kabobs... I'm interested to see what coconut, pineapple, raisins, chow mein, and SEAFOOD tastes like together. Can cookery sure made some strange bedfellows out of these ingredient!
3) Cowboy Chili Lunch:
- Chili and Tamales: 2 cans Chili con carne, 1 can kidney beans, 1 can tamales, parmesan cheese, crackers, pickles, olives
- Boots n Spur Salad: 1 can pears, 1 can peaches, 2 can cherries (light and dark), 1 can lemon juice, honey, olive oil, salt, greens, cinnamon, ginger
- Dusty Road Dessert: 1 can chocolate sauce, 1 can mixed nuts, ice cream, instant cocoa mix
- Beer: As many cans as yourcowboys can drink...?
TOTAL NUMBER OF CANS: Undetermined, but at least 10, plus beer.
4) Pacific Coast Chowder Supper
- Clams Catalina: 1 can clams, 1 can anchovies, green pepper, pimento, bacon, "sea food shells" (What are sea food shells? Also, only two cans in this recipe?!)
- Sea Fare Chowder: 1 can cream of tomato soup, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can white tomatoes, 1 can peas, 1 can tuna, 1 can crab meat, grated onion, light cream
- Patio Salad: 1 can green beans, vinegar, olive oil, seasonings, cabbage, olives
- Golden Fruit Pie: 1 can orange juice, 1 can fruit cocktail, pastry shell, egg whites, gelatin, water, almonds
- Specially Good Coffee: 1 can of coffee
TOTAL NUMBER OF CANS: 9INITIAL ASSESSMENT: I think this was the menu that interested me the most from American Can's whole marketing-angle: homemakers can try menus of food they wouldn't normally use because of the ingredients' scarcity in their region through the magic of canned food. Plus, the Sea Fare Chowder sounds really good right now. For some reason. I don't know why. PS Did everyone have a secret arsenal of fish shaped dishes in the fifties'? Because here's another one. Covet!
Last but not least:
5) Baltimore Buffet
- Glazed Party Sliced Ham: 1 canned ham, 1 can peaches, cloves, fruit marmalade, brown sugar and spices, almonds
- Chicken and Crab Casserole Maryland: 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can boned chicken, 1 can crab meat, 1 can mushrooms, onion, milk, seasonings
- Arundel Salad: 5 cans vegetables of your choice (peas, green beans, lima, corn, etc), French dressing
- Hot Buttered Biscuits: 1 can of biscuits
- Fruit Cream Tarts: 1 can of pineapple chunks, pastry shells, vanilla pudding, heavy cream, sugar, cornstarch
TOTAL NUMBER OF CANS: 14 (plus four cute, illustrated, Dyna Moe like party guests)INITIAL ASSESSMENT: This menu includes a dish with chicken and crab TOGETHER IN AN UNHOLY UNION OF CAN COOKERY. I just don't know how to feel! Would it be delicious or disgusting? The whole-ham situation is intimidating, but look how pretty the table looks in the below spread. I might try this one as well.
What do you think? Are you brave enough to serve your guests dishes that were made from 90% canned materials? Are you, like me, the type to have a slight bias towards canned ingredients as not being "as good" as fresh, spurning the notion that they'll last longer and are more convenient for the sake of perishable but not-old food? Which one of these would you try, if sufficient courage was raised?
Til next time!
History of the tin can (there's a wikipedia article for everything)
American Can Apartments (in Louisiana)
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Good morning! I'm back into Alma Archer's 1956 book Your Power as a Woman and thought we would focus this week on D-I-E-T. If you ask me, no four letters of the alphabet can be put together to form a more miserable word. Having been a rotund, bookish grade schooler, I've been on some kind of self-imposed reduction plan pretty much since middle school, with varied results. That's almost 15 years of being hungry! I'm interested to know, in the pre-South Beach, pre-Atkins, pre-Duquesne, pre-health-smoothies days, how a woman with a couple extra pounds would best be rid of them. Without a mile-long list of health gurus (plus the internet) to choose from, how do you know what to eat and what to avoid?
Archer starts out by reminding us that "Excess weight is probably the one most common obstacle to achievement of womanly attractiveness and power...and overeating is certainly the major cause of excess weight." Think of classic comfort food like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, buttered rolls... in the age of casserole cooking, where every dish was swimming in hidden calories and overconsumption was the rule of thumb by which you could gauge prosperity, you can imagine how difficult it would be for the overeater to keep themselves FROM themselves and exercise portion control. I'm getting near teary-eyed thinking about how delicious all that food sounds NOW. So imagine if little old me didn't have a good grasp of what a saturated fat is, for example...Archer is here to help with a 14 day plan for weight loss.
Ya messed up, and ya ate seven too many pieces of that delicious Boston Cream pie. That's ok, because:
Hey! The cocktail clique! So me! I'm not a pastry die-hard but I do find it difficult to lay off the starches, so I guess that part applies to me as well. Before the plan, we're treated to a list of calorie content in everyday food items. Look at how there's no double cheeseburger or pepperoni pizza here...the list presupposes that you're eating the majority of your meals at home, just too much at them!
Again, no Wyngz, no Big Macs, just everyday food you could make in your house. Isn't that kind of interesting to think about, how much food fifty-plus years ago was made and eaten at home?
There's another page of calorie counts, but the highlights are a Chocolate malted (460 calories...why....why....) and a Tom Collins high ball (300 calories), and that's probably all you need to know.
Some caveats on calories:
Considering fad diets of later years (the diet plan laid out in Victoria Principal's The Body Principal, however much I love Pammy from Dallas, is pretty much an endorsement for anorexia), I feel like this is a relatively realistic plan for weight loss. Were you surprised at how much butter is included in the diet menus? The key thing in Archer's diet seems to be to cut out super-sizing your portions and to watch your sweets. Good advice for any of us!
And on the subject of comfort-eating:
Way to be melodramatic! But I believe what she says is true, in that I've spent way more time in my life eating because I was bored or bummed out that I have because I was actually hungry.
On the subject of alcohol:
And some tips for dieters to make the program a little less difficult to adhere to:
And if you mess up, don't skip the next meal to make up for it! How many times have I eaten way too much pizza and gone "Well, I just won't eat anything else today." Archer puts her dainty heeled foot down on you no good meal skippers:
And how about you, readers? If you do diet, how do you choose a reduction plan that doesn't leave you in hungry tears at the end of the meal? Do you think the plan she laid out is reasonable for a two week diet, or do you think measuring out the four ounces of salmon you get to have for dinner is just cruel and unusual punishment? Most of all, what do you think of her harsh-yet-encouraging tone? I'm oddly inspired!
Til next time!