Monthly Archives: August 2012

Jellofetti Cake!

Broken glass? No, gelatin cube!

What my family lovingly calls Jellofetti Cake is in truth a reworking of an official Jell-O® recipe called Crown Jewel Dessert, previously known as Broken Window Glass Cake—because that’s appetizing, no?—when it was introduced in 1955.

This is another was-going-to-be-a-tutorial post, but honestly, if you hit a stumbling block while making packaged gelatin, my photos aren’t going to help you. Shown here: A scan of the recipe as printed in The Joys of Jell-O (1962), with bonus recipe for Ginger Fruit Mold because I didn’t feel like editing it out. Click for embiggerating so you can actually read the recipe(s).

Do you remember back in the first paragraph when I said my family (and by “my family” I mean “Grandma Wink”) reworked this? My grandmother’s interpretation is what we’d now call a “mashup” of the Dessert (crumb crust) and Pie (ladyfinger) versions. So here’s what you do: line a springform pan with split ladyfingers (sides and bottom; you’ll need two packages). No crumb crust necessary, no cutting ladyfingers to fit within the confines of a too-short pie pan.

Jellofetti Cake, née Crown Jewel Dessert, née Broken Glass Cake

I never got my grandmother’s own personal version of this recipe (she is notoriously bad at sharing her recipes, which is a shame because she was an excellent cook and we didn’t press the issue before her mind started to wander, now so very much is locked away inside her head and even she can’t reach it) but I am confident that she did not use Dream Whip® or Cool Whip® or any other “whipped topping” that was not simply whipped heavy cream. My example here looks a little “short” because I’ve been dipping into my cream to lighten my coffee. Note to self: buy milk. Anyway, just whip up a pint of cream. I don’t even bother to add sugar.

Another place where I don’t add sugar: to the gelatin used for the fluffy filling part. I mean, really. Is Jell-O not sweet enough for you? That step in the recipe makes me wonder if lemon flavored Jell-O wasn’t always pre-sweetened, which would make it a considerably less bizarre accompaniment to all of those tuna-in-lemon-gelatin salads.

Also variable: I make that last batch of gelatin with pineapple juice if I already have it on hand, but water works just fine. Here’s what I’ve discovered about this recipe: I have tried many different combinations of gelatin flavors, and it always tastes similar (sweet, vaguely fruity) in the end. That ½ cup of pineapple juice isn’t going to make too much difference. Don’t fret if you don’t have it. The current version of this recipe, as culled from the Kraft recipe site, doesn’t call for adding sugar, or pineapple juice, or any kind of crust for that matter. They also suggest molding it in a 9 x 5 pan, which I think makes it look quite unfortunately like pimiento loaf. :P

leftover cubes for snacking

This recipe is going to take you about 9 hours from start to finish, but 8 of that is just waiting for the various batches of gelatin to gel. Prepare the first three the night before, then finish the rest in the morning. You’ll still need a few hours of chilling time after the last step, so plan way ahead. I typically only use about ½ to â…” of each flavor of the gelatin cubes, and impatient kids can snack on those while they wait.

My grandmother always served this to finish out our family’s Easter dinner, but I’ll make it just about any time someone asks nicely. It’s great in the summer when you don’t want to turn on the oven, but it will go limp if left at room temperature for a few hours. Considerably faster if you’re attempting to serve it outside on a hot day.

I just realized that you could probably make an adults-only version using vodka instead of cold water wherever it’s called for, but take away people’s keys. I’ve never met anyone who could eat only one slice. This could lead to serious trouble.

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In Which Things May Change

I laundered. I steamed. I took photos. I ran out of oomph.

Last week, I said I’d be posting some charming vintage aprons in the shop.

I didn’t forget. I gave up. By the time I’d steam-burned my hand for what seemed like the 427th time (and I’m pretty good with a garment steamer, seeing as I’ve been using them for something like 6 or 8 years now), I hit the proverbial wall. I’ll sell these aprons for $8-$12 a piece, and for what?

I’m tired. I’m tired of driving the miles to wait in line to push through crowds to paw through filthy, wrinkled piles to dig out the gems.

Tired of inspecting every seam every button every snap, of hauling loads to the dry cleaner, of hand-laundering what I can or have to, of re-sewing hems and re-attaching buttons, of steaming steaming steaming to get every single piece photo-ready.

Tired of fighting with cameras and lighting stands and buying photo bulbs that are NEVER bright enough, of losing half of my basement (and thank goodness I have a basement) permanently to photo studio/inventory/shipping supply storage.

Tired of color-balancing photos, of taking measurements, of researching labels*, of researching price comps, of writing descriptions.

Tired of answering umpteen questions** from potential customers, and so rarely getting a “thanks” in return.

Tired of paying for every listing, paying for every sale, paying for every credit card transaction, paying for advertising space that doesn’t return the investment.

 Tired of trying to figure out the perfect storm of tags that will actually get my listings to show up in searches in the bizarre and ever-changing world of Etsy “relevance.”

Tired of re- (and sometimes re-re-re-) listing items that don’t sell the first time around, even when they’re in perfect condition, a wearable size, and better priced than my competitors.

Tired of packing boxes and writing out Customs forms and making trips to the post office.

Tired of what a mad nest of paperwork my income taxes have become.

Tired of feeling oppressed by the sheer volume of inventory that isn’t yet photographed/listed.

All of this excess is…excessive. I am very seriously considering consigning my entire inventory at one of the local brick-and-mortar shops. Tiddleywink Vintage‘s stock (and back-stock) would easily quadruple what Jolly Goods currently has to offer in the clothing area. Or maybe Night & Day Vintage would have room. I could sell off my backdrops, my mannequins, my studio lighting. I’d get my basement back, and some free time. But…

I’d miss it. Yes, everything I’ve griped about above is true. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve never done this for fame and glory and easy money. (Ha!) I do it because I see beautiful vintage clothing that is potentially destined to become next year’s shredded Halloween costume if I don’t get it in front of the eyes of people who also appreciate its worth.

As other enthusiasts have noted, vintage clothing is getting harder to find. These items are 50-60-70 years old (or more), and they’re aging out. We can take all of the care we can muster, but we wear this clothing. Over time, fabrics deteriorate. Threads break. Buttons fall off. Zippers jam. Drinks get spilled. And yes, some items become next year’s Zombie Crawl*** costume. As time goes on, more pieces get lost to the rag bin. Can I, in good conscience, let it all go?

Time will tell. But time, and my patience, is running short.

*This part is actually right up my alley, but it’s frustrating that I spend hours researching items so that I’m confident they’re properly attributed, and then I see other sellers who so blatantly don’t bother. And we probably have equivalent revenue.

**I don’t mind as much when they’re good, valid questions. I mind very much when they’re stupid, thoughtless questions that could be answered by reading the item description. I understand that the item may not be your size/style/exactly what you’re looking for. I won’t be hurt if you don’t buy the item being discussed. But for goodness’ sake, say “thank you” when I answer your questions!

***Another seller grieved over the vintage piece sold to a customer who then gleefully exclaimed that she actually planned to shred and blood-stain it for a Zombie Crawl costume. We can’t always win.

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Filed under collections, fashion, for doing the right thing., life-threatening clutter, shopping, vintage

Monday Rounderp

Hey HEY hey, it’s Monday! We’ll start with our weekend update, then proceed with the upcoming week’s schedule (tentatively).

“Racing,” or in this case, “Hanging out in Bob’s roomy trailer while we wait for the thunderstorm to abate.” Note the ingenious use of the blower tray as a snack table.

Weekend In Review: Well, it was a rainy weekend in Great Bend, Kansas. Which is terrific for such an agricultural community currently suffering from severe drought, but not so great for drag racing. Still, both cars managed to squeeze out a few passes and when Pam Wamser won the weekend’s event in her (supercharged, of course) ’53 Studebaker Commander, she was shining enough for whatever sun we’d been missing. Everybody’s tent survived the weather, which was a big improvement over our last trip to Great Bend in which nearly everybody’s tent was broken and/or shredded by the relentless wind. However, the digger sustained some engine damage on one of Saturday’s passes and will need a going over this week to see if the guys can turn her around in time for next weekend’s race in Kearney, NE. Oh, and by the way, someone who had eaten a slice of Love Apple Cake without knowing its secret ingredient commented on its tastiness, in particular the filling! Take that, Daniel! :D

Tuesday: In which I grapple with an idea which may have run its course.

Wednesday: Howzabout I show you how to make what we in my family refer to as a Jellofetti Cake? No baking required!

Thursday: I’ve been promising to design “hero cards” for the Reminiscin Racing team. Will I get them done before the last race of the season? Unpaid gigs tend to get back burnered. Let’s check on the progress today.

Friday: Pot luck. I have to gather my things so I can go sit on a baby (what, that’s not what I’m supposed to do?) and don’t have time right now to schedule something for Friday. Woo, could be exciting!

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Kitchen Pr0n

Oooh, Baby, is that a Microplane in your pocket or…

No, that just doesn’t work. Wrong on so many levels. Let’s just get right to the meat of the matter (hey, that’s better) and see what “new” equipment we have here in the ShoesAndPieTest Kitchen! (Clicking photos will biggerize them)

First up: A Norpro gravy separator. I’ve occasionally considered that having one of these would be handy, but it became somewhat of a necessity for some particular recipe I made a while back, and I had to work my way around removing the fat from a sauce without having time to let it cool. I since bought this, and was immediately disappointed when I removed it from the box. I’m sure it would perform the intended task quite well, but the handle is so uncomfortable that I plan to return it as soon as I find the receipt. My grandmother (or maybe it’s my mom) has or had a pretty Pillivuyt gravy boat/separator for years and years. I’ll see if that one is “available,” or buy my own.

Next: This embossed and yet unidentifiable pie pan. A search for “FK pie pan” brings up a myriad of Fire King bakeware, which this obviously is not. If you have any information, please share in the comments! I got it because it’s a smaller diameter pan than usual, and will be easier to tote around when that sort of thing is necessary. Don’t ask how many pie pan I have. I swear, I’m done buying them now.

Another: Is there such a thing as cute ice? Yes, when it’s made in this vintage Icicles (An Admiration Product) tray! The tray freezes 84 tiny little cones at a time. Sort of like having crushed ice without the need for a crusher.

Finally: Ooooh, a genuine Microplane grater/zester! I’ve had a less-efficient zester for years, but when one of the metal teeth thingies broke off I decided it was time for an upgrade before the next one broke off in my food. This number zests a lemon with ease (see resulting lemony cake here) and can also be used on ginger, nutmeg, hard cheese too! My other zester couldn’t make that claim. I had my choice of handle colors, but of course the Test Kitchen gets red. Again: ooooooh.

What’s your favorite new or new-to-you kitchen gadget?

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Cherry Picked Inspiration

Necklace with 8 Bakelite cherries on red celluloid chain and 5 green celluloid leaves. Extensive wear to plastic coating of cherry stems and cracks and wear to red jump rings attaching cherries to chain. Bakelite bow pin with 7 marbled Bakelite cherries. Wear to plastic coating on stems. Glue residue around stem hole on back of bow. Realized auction price of $575 in 2004.

Bakelite |ˈbāk(É™)ËŒlÄ«t| noun trademark - an early form of brittle plastic, made from formaldehyde and phenol. Designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society in recognition of its significance as the world’s first synthetic plastic.
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: named after Leo H. Baekeland (1863–1944), the Belgian-born American chemist who invented it, + -ite.

One of the first plastics made from synthetic components, Bakelite was used in electrical insulators, radio casings, kitchenware, jewelry, and children’s toys.

And it sounds really good when it clunks together. And the colors are deep and rich and take on a warm hue as they age. Over time, many pieces of Bakelite jewelry broke or were thrown away. Those that remain are collectible, and can run into 100s of dollars. There are companies who still manufacture Bakelite-type plastic jewelry (the Retrolite line from Classic Hardware, for instance) but the manufacturing process is labor-intensive and the jewelry can still seem expensive for “just plastic.”

Red Bakelite cherries and green celluloid leaves dangle from a black celluloid chain. A red Bakelite cherry dangles from screw-back earrings. In excellent condition with some wear to the plastic coating on the stems. Ca.1940. $325 via Lavender Gardens at RubyLane

One of the more collectible lines of Bakelite jewelry is a collection that may or may not have been called Cherries Jubilee, originally produced in the 1940s. (I can’t find documentation to support the nomenclature, but I’m not a professional researcher.) If you search online for the necklace in this line, you’ll find many examples in a wide price range, from original sets to reproductions. While some are worth every penny and some bear an inflated “market value,” they’re all out of my pathetic little price range. So, it looks like it’s time once again to Get Crafty!

I’d had the vague mental plan to recreate my own version of this necklace for a Very Long Time. It wasn’t until I was looking for a bit of chain in order to carry out a clever earring storage trick I’d seen on Pinterest that I realized I could accomplish both projects with one purchase. So, while I was at it, I picked up some plastic beads, a packet of head pins, and some filagree bead caps.

Supplies
white chain, $1.99
lucite crackle beads $1.99
lucite leaf beads $1.99
4in head pins $1.49
7mm bead caps $1.49
7mm jump rings (in my stash)
toggle clasp (in my stash)
Total Cost: $9
Parts Left Over: many bits, I’ll make matching earrings at the very least.

Reproduction necklace hand sculpted by artist Melody O’Beau, $50 (available with or without ladybugs)

This was going to be more of a tutorial, but here’s the thing: if you actually give enough of a whit about making jewelry to have the proper tool for making loops on head pins, then you can already figure out how to put this together. If, however, you love it so much that you need to run out and buy round-nose micro pliers just to make this necklace, comment below and I’ll break down all of the steps for you.

Now, my version contains more metal parts than the original (head pin “stems,” bead caps, chain) and the plastic bits don’t even pretend to look like Bakelite, but I was going for the general effect, not a precise reproduction. If I wanted a “real deal” look, I’d buy the hand-made version (and matching pin while I’m at it) from Melody O’Beau because she deserves to get paid for all of the work and care she puts into hers.

And fini! My version will work just fine, for now.

More vintage necklaces from around the ’net (clicking on any of the photos with prices will take you directly to that item’s sale page):

Multiple plastic cherries with green celluloid leaves on a green celluloid link chain in a gold-tone setting. This set is in excellent condition. $200.00 via JewelDiva.com

Bakelite Cherries Necklace features red cherries with highly etched leaves and a red link chain. This necklace is in excellent condition! $850.00 via JewelDiva.com

BAKELITE red carved cherries necklace with green plastic leaves on a red coated chain. There is slight wear on the stems. $395.00 via morninggloryjewelry.com

Excellent vintage condition with everything intact. Moderate stem wear. $399 from 3438nancy on Etsy

BURGUNDY BLACK AND GREEN FRENCH BAKELITE NECKLACE WITH DANGLING CHERRY FRUITS. CARVED DETAILS ON FRUITS AND LEAVES.
EXCELLENT CONDITION AND TOP QUALITY. $163.20 via French-Bakelite.com

Big Fat Resin Cherries ‘Bakelite’ Cherry Necklace, $110.00 via antiquesartcollectibles.com

Apple juice Bakelite cherries with green leaves on double strand of celluloid links. $184 via MichellesVintageJewelry.com

Circa 1930s or 1940s. The cherries are translucent red Bakelite and the chain and leaves look like celluloid. The green stems look like they were replaced over the years. All is in very good condition. $345 via Best Jewelry Stores

 

 

 

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Sewing Lesson: Drawstring Pouch

I’d mentioned in Monday’s post that I have recently purchased a, um, personal care device that allows us chicks to…well, in the words of the manufacturer, to “go in style.” Let’s get to the point: it allows me to pee while standing, and dressed. If you’ve ever gone camping, on a long road trip, or spent an entire weekend at a drag strip, you’ve wished you had one of these. I’ve practiced with it twice now, and I can see how this could be very handy. However, it’s a bit bulky to carry around and doesn’t fit into any pocket.* What’s a lady to do? A crafty lady sews up her own custom waterproof pouch from materials she already has on hand!

First: gathering supplies. I have a scrap a monster fabric left from a previous project (::waves hello to Daniel::), a slightly torn, clear vinyl shower curtain, a short shoelace, and a tiny carabiner that fell off one of my reusable shopping sacks (see note at conclusion). I’m pretty sure I can whip up a drawstring bag!

Step one: measure the zip-top bag in which the device is packaged. Step two: cut fabric and vinyl to size, plus a little extra for seam allowance. My fabric scrap is long and narrow, so I left it folded on the bottom and cut the vinyl to match. One less seam to sew! Step three: pin in place, right sides together. NOTE: I’ve found an old spaghetti strap, removed from a dress, to use as a loop to which I can later attach the carabiner. It’s pinned into place, and will become part of a side seam.

It stitches up on the machine pretty well. This vinyl is more slick than upholstery vinyl, and doesn’t stick to the throat plate but does need some manual assistance to help it feed. Okay, next step: I need to sew a channel for the drawstring. While the pouch is still inside-out, I fold over about ¾” of fabric and hand-sew it into place.

Now to turn it right-side-out and use my seam ripper to open a few stitches in the new channel area, along a side seam. I use a bodkin to help push the shoelace through, but you can use a safety pin attached to one end of the string and feel your way through the channel.

Hey look, the pStyle will fit!

I did have to run to JoAnn to buy the cord stop ($2.79 for 2) so while I was there, I priced out tiny carabiners. If you want to make your own clippy pouch and don’t conveniently have a carabiner around, they’re sold in the Kids Crafts department in packs; $4.99 for 8 assorted “fun” shapes. If you find yourself shopping at JoAnn with any regularity, I advise you to download their mobile app (Android, iPhone, iPad) so that you always have a coupon handy. I saved 50% on the cord stops, bringing the price of this project down to $1.40!

Yes, I could have taken a few extra steps to make a nicer finish on the drawstring cord channel. But you know what? It’s a pouch for something I pee into. I’d rather spend that time talking to a friend, or reading a few pages in a book. Priorities: check them. ;)

*There are a few competing devices made from more flexible materials which fold and/or roll up to fit in a pocket, but I chose this one for myself after reading reviews of every brand I could find. It was a very close race, this one happened to win for me. Your choice might be different.

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Vintage Victuals: Love Apple Cake

love apple n. : A tomato. [Probably translation of French pomme d'amour (from the former belief in the tomato’s aphrodisiacal powers) : pommeapple + deof + amourlove.]

1937 and wouldn’t that pattern make a fabulous dress print?

For those of you not “in the know,” I collect old cookbooks. I frequently read them cover to cover, like a novel. Sometimes, I even cook something out of them. I’m particularly attracted to recipes that use tomatoes in unexpected, perhaps ill-advised ways, as evidenced by the now-classic Ketchup In Dessert experiment. So when my mom bought me a copy of something called Royal Cook Book from 1937 (brought to us by Royal Baking Powder), and then found a recipe inside for Love Apple Cake, well, it was just a matter of how soon I could get into the kitchen!

With the exception of Jell-O booklets, I usually don’t see the same unfortunate recipe repeated in books spanning the years. However, when I found myself at the grocery store knowing that I needed a few things for this recipe but not remembering exactly what, I did a quick online search and found a nearly identical recipe printed in the February 11th, 1935 issue of The Pittsburgh Press. So we can assume that this recipe has some redeeming quality, in order to have survived for at least two years.

An excellent Valentine party dessert, according to the Pittsburgh Press, February 11th, 1935

Now, this is not a (semi-)traditional tomato soup spice cake. This depression-era Love Apple Cake is a three-layer white cake with a tomato filling, and then coated with 7 Minute Frosting. Let’s break this down into segments:

White Cake

Oops. Not-so-white cake.

You can use your favorite recipe for white cake (may I suggest this one if you’re baking at altitude) but because I’m recipe testing, I’m using the specific recipe in the book. The caveat here is that the White Cake recipe is proportioned for two 9-inch layers, but the Love Apple Cake instructions say to pour it into three 8-inch layer pans. So okay, the layers will be thin. No problem. Except that the instructions make no adjustment in time or oven temperature! I follow the instructions as written, and wind up with three thin, overcooked (okay, burned) layers. NOTE: The only difference twixt the book recipe and the newspaper recipe is that one calls for granulated sugar, and the other for confectioner’s sugar. Even the time/temp are the same (375° for 25 minutes).

7 Minute Frosting

I finally have a double boiler! Yay! More on that in Friday’s post. I can now make 7 Minute Frosting without fumbling around with a bowl set on top of a saucepan. What I don’t have, however, is a hand mixer or egg beater. The Shoes And Pie Test Kitchen is equipped with a stand mixer, a stick blender, and whisks. What do I need an egg beater for? Well, 7 Minute Frosting for one thing. I whisked as hard as I could by hand for 7 minutes to no avail. I even poured the resulting mixture into the stand mixer to see if I could fix it, but wound up with something akin to marshmallow fluff. I should have saved it for future Rice Krispie Treats, but foolishly poured it down the drain (damn!) and started over. I wound up making an Italian Meringue instead. (Note for non-cooks: same ingredients, different cooking method.) Good thing I overbought eggs!

Tomato Filling

This is the part you’re curious about. The recipe specifies unseasoned tomato juice, but I could find no such thing at the supermarket. Even the low-sodium tomato juice contains added salt so I wound up buying a can of tomato paste (ingredients: tomatoes) and thinning it with water to a juice consistency. Everything else went smoothly, although I’m still a bit perplexed by the instruction to “cook mixture until thick and clear.” Have you ever SEEN tomato juice? It’s not going to magically become translucent. I am going to assume the author means clear of lumps. Maybe. For your use and enjoyment, the Tomato Filling recipe:

1 cup unseasoned tomato juice
grated rind of 1 lemon
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2½ tbs cornstarch
1 tbs butter
2 tbs lemon juice

Heat tomato juice with lemon rind. Mix cornstarch and sugar and add [to] tomato juice, stirring all the time to prevent lumping. Cook mixture until thick and clear, stirring constantly. [Remove from fire and] Add lemon juice and butter. [Cool before filling cake.]

…wherein any additional information in the newspaper version is shown in brackets.

End Result

Overall, it does make for a serviceable cake. It would look even nicer if I decorated it with red candy hearts, as suggested in both versions. The contrast between the white layers and red filling would be more pronounced if my layers hadn’t yellowed from over baking. But how does it taste? Surprisingly good. The cake layers are a bit chewy because they’re, have I mentioned, over baked. I will be making this again, though, so I’ll make adjustments there. The Italian Meringue cooks up even faster than a 7 Minute Frosting, but they’re so close in all respects that the choice is yours to make. The tomato filling is mostly lemon-flavored, due to the zest and lemon juice. My version may be somewhat more tomato-y than intended, because I self-mixed a pretty thick “juice” from the tomato paste. Still, anyone who didn’t know would be probably not be able to guess the extra flavor. You’ll wind up with a bowl full of leftover egg yolks, so try to have something in mind to do with those. I didn’t, and cringed from the waste when I poured them down the drain. Next time, I’ll use them to make a batch of lemon curd. Which is also a delicious cake filling!

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