Category Archives: amusement

In Which We Eat Paste

Backstory: Every weekday morning, I pack The Boyfriend’s lunch. Also, as referenced in an earlier post, it’s one of my household tasks to plan the weekly dinner menu. To make this a little easier on myself, a few days of the week are always assigned a theme. Relevant to this story: Meatless Mondays (self explanatory) and WABAC* Wednesdays (wherein I choose a main dish recipe from one of my approximately eight gazillion vintage cookbooks).

Photo by Michael Bonnickson for "Tofu Cookery," © 1982

Photo by Michael Bonnickson for “Tofu Cookery,” © 1982

More Backstory: Sometimes life gets in the way of a week’s planned menu. In this case, a previous week’s WABAC Wednesday recipe, “Layered Casserole” from Tofu Cookery, ©1982. I’d chosen it specifically to use up a large amount of well-intentioned-but-still-unused tofu** that wasn’t getting any fresher sitting in the fridge. Grocery shopping had been completed before schedules changed, so now I also had the recipe-required spinach and mushrooms that needed using in a hurry. How convenient, then, that this particular recipe is also suited to Meatless Monday! I measured, I puréed, I poured, I baked. It smelled good. It looked good. Everything was going swimmingly.

Still More Backstory: When we eat at the dining table, The Boyfriend always waits until the I’m served and seated before taking his first bite. More often than not, however, we eat from trays while watching something on the TV. In those cases, he starts eating while I’m fiddling with the DVD player or streaming device. Such was the case last night, so he was a few silent bites into his portion of Layered Casserole before I had my first taste. My first taste, which resulted in my visceral exclamation of “It’s like paste!” One look over at him and his face indicated that he was in full agreement. I removed our laden plates to the kitchen and ordered Chinese delivery. While watching our evening’s movie and eating our replacement dinner, The Boyfriend leaned over and whispered in my ear, “I’d have eaten the whole thing and not said a word.” That’s love.

Further Backstory: Every weekday morning, our iPhone alarms go off at the same time. We turn them off simultaneously and wordlessly stay in bed a few minutes longer. I’ll shift my leg closer to him, and he’ll move his hand over to mine. A cat or two will wander over and sit on top of us. All silently.

The Actual Story: This morning, our alarms rang. We turned them off. We shifted. A cat came over and sat on top of me. After a moment, The Boyfriend whispered, “Please don’t pack me paste for lunch.”

_______________

* The WABAC Machine refers to a fictional machine from the cartoon segment Peabody’s Improbable History, a recurring feature of the 1960s cartoon series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The WABAC Machine is a plot device used to transport the characters Mr. Peabody and Sherman back in time to visit important events in human history. The precise meaning of the acronym WABAC is unknown, but the term is obviously a play on “way back”, as in “way back in time,” and the names of mid-century, large-sized computers that often ended in “AC” (generally for “Automatic Computer” or similar), such as ENIAC or UNIVAC. Indeed, according to Gerard Baldwin, one of the show’s directors, the name “WABAC” is a reference to the UNIVAC I.

** I like tofu.

Leave a comment

Filed under amusement, collections, food, romance, relationships, vintage

Don’t You Want Me, Baby?

I just saw the above ad on TV and asked myself, “Is it weird that the chickens are singing a song by Human League?”

Sometimes, I think I’m asking the wrong questions.

Leave a comment

Filed under advertising, amusement, music, nostalgia

How many toothpicks?

Rain Man: Toothpicks

The Boyfriend is a bit of a savant when it comes to Things Automotive. What others have to study and work to memorize, just comes naturally to him. Need a chart to figure an accurate bore dimension? No, all he needs is a caliper reading and the Pythagorean theorem. And a few seconds to calculate. Care to hear a list of the differences between a ’39 Ford De Luxe and a ’40 Ford standard? He can rattle those off in his sleep. Thankfully, he doesn’t. Or I sleep through it. Just last week, he had me pause a DVD we were watching so he could explain that the steering wheel shown in a Car: Interior scene could not possibly be from the car our characters were just shown getting in to in the previous Exterior shot. When he does things like this, which is frequently, I mutter “246. 246 toothpicks.” It’s in reference to the scene from Rain Man, linked above, in which Raymond is able to calculate at a glance precisely how many toothpicks had been knocked out of a box.

Fire King “Candle Glow” (1967-72) casserole dish with lid. This particular example is currently available from VintageLoveJunk

In the kitchen last night while I was serving dinner, The Boyfriend said that he liked the dish I’d put the mashed potatoes in. Without glancing over (because I knew what dish I’d used), I said “Thanks. It’s Fire King. The pattern is called Candle Glow.”

To which he replied, “How many toothpicks?”

2 Comments

Filed under amusement, big fat mouth, cars, collections, romance, relationships, vintage

Advertuesday!

Advertuesday? I think that should be nominated for Worst Portmanteau, 2012. However, what we have here are (vintage) advertisements, and it is Tuesday. The only thing that any of these ads have in common is that they all appear in the May, 1948 issue of Woman’s Home Companion. And that the magazine is too big to fit on my scanner, so rather than scans these are instead hasty photos, complete with uneven lighting and occasional glare. I hope you enjoy the look back! (Click each image to make with the biggering.)

Bon Ami scouring powder, 1948. STILL hasn’t scratched yet!

A model smile on Mrs. Ralph (Nicki) Ellis, by Ipana toothpaste, 1948.

Battle “infectious dandruff” with Listerine Antiseptic, 1948

Promise of a lifetime sparkle from Oxydol, 1948. Just what is IN this stuff?

Trade box tops (and a penny) for a Quikut paring knife, from Spic and Span cleanser. 1948.

Skip the dishes! Until you get Dreft dishwashing soap, that is. 1948.

Wanda Hendrix’s winning smile is the result of Pepsodent toothpaste (ahem, “dental cream”), don’t you know? 1948.

Invitation to make “Hash Mounds” for lunch with Armour corned beef hash, 1948

If it’s lovely to wear…it’s worth Ivory Flakes care. 1948.

Leave a comment

Filed under advertising, amusement, collections, design, fashion, food, kitchen, nostalgia, packaging, shopping, vintage

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!

3 Comments

Filed under amusement, collections, family, food, kitchen, packaging, reviews, vintage

Society Page

While researching the designer label on an evening gown I picked up this weekend for Tiddleywink Vintage, I came across the “society” page of The Pittsburgh Press, November 15, 1947. I hope you like these snippets. Click ’em to see ’em larger.

Dolores (Carr) Rothrauff, 1947

Bunnye (Wedner) Kramer, 1947

Dorothy (Parrish) Briney, 1947

Social Situations, 1947

Juke Box Wail, 1947

Long Skirts, 1947

Other News:

A day in Leadville, CO

  • The fella and I, along with his younger sister and their parents, went up to Leadville (Colo.) for a day trip over the weekend for the parents’ 40th anniversary. The dad lived in Leadville until 1958, so it was a trip jam-packed with anecdotes and information that really made for an interesting day. We saw the hospital where dad was born (now condos) as well as the tar-paper house where his mother was born in 1906. We went past the rectory where her father first stopped—ready to receive his last rites—when he arrived in Leadville, because he was sure that his arid-climate nosebleed was in fact a sign of the high-altitude-induced brain hemorrhage that would soon cause his death. :) An antiques shop in Leadville is where I found the aforementioned gown, but seeing as it’s not exactly a fancy-dress town, I’m not sure if it ever saw a dance floor locally. Perhaps it caught a performance or two at the Tabor Opera House before being packed away for many years.
  • Also acquired: my first piece (no, really!) of Fire-King Jadite ovenware! I’ve long been on the hunt for a single, affordable, useful piece. Yes, I could use a mug, but I have this whole matchy-matchy thing going and I likely wouldn’t. I once found a solo fridgie dish-and-lid for a reasonable price, but it was chipped. Then lo, what do I spy in the corner of the antiques store but what appears to be a smallishy loaf baker which is not only marked a reasonable $22 but also conveniently on sale for 20% off! Once I got it home I learned that it’s actually a fridgie dish but with the less common (?) “Colonial” style rim, and it should have a clear lid. This set came with the same clear, handle-less lids used on the Gay Fad painted series. Those seem more easily found online, so I may buy myself a Gay Fad set just to steal the lid. ANYway…pale green bliss!
  • The cherry-pie-that-didn’t-turn-out, I have decided, will make a delicious addition to a batch of homemade ice cream. Mmmm, ice cream!
  • The wardrobe dep’t. for “Vegas” placed another order! Woo!
  • Um, probably other stuff! Zippity doo-dah!

Very happy to be working this week on a project for Cooper House, who are not only pretty darn fab designers (and coders), but also wonderful friends. However, between that and a client meeting I have on Wednesday and a high-maintenance-pet-sitting gig I have going all this week: go away. I’m busy. I’ll be blogging (I hope!) but you have a reprieve from the baking/canning/cooking posts this week. Ta for now!

2 Comments

Filed under amusement, collections, day job, design, family, fashion, friends, nostalgia, shopping, the office, vintage

The Tale of the Curious Curio

Curio ad, scanned from a 1959 periodical

Okay, so it’s not so much of a tale, actually. Unless you’ve “heard strange tales about mysterious looking Hands.” I came across this small ad in the margin of one of my old magazines (this one from 1959) and I’m intrigued by this…thing. The cost of $3.48 wasn’t exactly small change back then: according to my handy inflation calculator, that’s the buying power of a little more than $27 today. But hey, it does come in its own lambskin bag! I’m just as curious about the semi-random capitalization throughout the ad as I am about the curio. The only other mention I can find online of the P. S. Bureau Co. (not the U.K. utility company) is another ad, this time for a Perpetual Prayer Cross.

I can’t tell you much about this curious curio, but if I ever run across one, I’m gluing a pinback to it and wearing it as a “strange” brooch!

Leave a comment

Filed under advertising, amusement, jewelry, vintage