Category Archives: food

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.

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Checking In

Whoooo-ie, it’s been a while since I’ve had a day “off” to check in with all y’all! I’m not dead. Or even ill. I have been suuuuper busy. I can’t promise that I’ll get back to writing with frequency, but I have made a concerted effort in the last 24 hours to dust off (figuratively) the inventory at Tiddleywink Vintage.

Speaking of Tiddleywink Vintage, some items have been noticeably stolen from the Shoppette. This does not bode well for the continued existence of said Shoppette, so if you’ve been putting off a visit—and the rare ability to try on items—then you’d best get over there before the current lease expires in August. I expected there would be some theft, but it has averaged, dollar-wise, about 30% of actual sales, and that’s more than I’d allowed for.

Speaking of Tiddleywink Design (close enough), good things are afoot. One regular client has given me an unexpected raise, which is flattering, inspires confidence, and is also so very useful. Raises make an excellent gift. And then there’s a brand new client (potentially; contract in the works) that is in for an excellent design piece, should they decide to go ahead with the proposed project. The ideas are flitting around in my head like butterflies. Beautiful, silky, sleepy butterflies. I know I typically focus on the production end of things, but print design still tickles my fancy when the client has, or at least desires, a vision beyond “I don’t know, what does everyone else do?” You would not believe how often I used to hear that, and that is one reason why it’s important to choose clients as carefully (hopefully) as they choose you.

Related: I was chatting with a colleague yesterday, and she put forth an idea about visually testing interviewing clients before accepting a job. She was joking, but I think it’s an excellent idea. Not only will it red-flag designer/client head butting far in advance of any actual disagreement, but it also acts as a way of sussing out the visual style of a person who may have difficulty speaking in terms that us artsy-fartsy types use. I frequently ask clients to send me samples of what they like, even if unrelated to their specific needs, but I think many non-creatives feel overwhelmed by the request or quite frankly don’t know what they like and just send a random assortment of stuff in hopes of earning an imagined good grade. I’m paraphrasing here, but part of the discussion with my colleague went something like “I’m looking at a client’s submitted “mood board” and it makes me want to stab myself in the eye.” If we, as designers, take control of that task and ask the (potential) client to simply check boxes, it has the potential alleviate some undue stress on both ends. Maybe.

Also Related: I need a traffic manager. Can work remotely. Salary paid in baked goods. Or homemade ice cream.

Unrelated: I have TWO GALLONS of mango nectar, in two 1-gallon bottles. I’d intended to use them up making a series of delightful rum-based tropical drinks, but I don’t drink much and so haven’t gotten around to that. I asked (on IG and Twitter) for recipe suggestions, outlining that: I’d like to use up a GALLON of mango nectar before the open container goes fuzzy or vinegar-y, and I also noted that my household consists of only two people. The suggestions that I got, while all sounding tasty, mostly neglect to meet these confining restrictions. For instance: I’d have to make 448 mango-lemon cupcakes to use up the gallon. I’ll experiment today with a mango sherbet (creamier than sorbet because, well, dairy) and some mango iced tea. That should neatly use up a quart, anyway. The best suggestion was to donate the nectar to a food bank, and I think the second gallon jug will go that route.

Still Unrelated: I reached the 1,000 follower mark on Instagram, and so am running a giveaway contest. It’s Instagram-only, though, so you’ll have to take it up over there.

Upcoming Somewhat-Related Blog Post: Why I’m @ampersandwich on Twitter and IG, and @tiddleywink just about everywhere else.

Until next time!

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Withering Heights

Old leeks: don't look so bad once they're trimmed and washed

Old leeks don’t look so bad once they’re trimmed and washed

I love a pun. That doesn’t mean I’m good at them.

S’anyway. It’s Sunday night and the scheduled dinner is ham but The Boyfriend and I spent all weekend indoors watching the 55th annual March Meet via the live stream on BangShift.com (thanks for providing that coverage, BangShift guys), while I read from cover to cover a huge, 1940/41 Montgomery Ward catalog which really did take two dedicated days to get through. This means that not only have I not planned the week’s menu, but I certainly haven’t gone grocery shopping. I did, however, make some pressure-cooker chicken broth from a leftover roasted chicken carcass.

Well, what else is in the fridge? Among other things, some leftover mashed potatoes and two withering leeks. A-ha! I bet I can combine these items into a satisfying soup while simultaneously clearing out the fridge and feeling all thrifty-like!

Without further ado, the recipe:

IMG_0536

Withering Leeks Soup served with Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread

Withering Leeks Soup

2 Tbs salted butter
2 large leeks, sliced thin, darker greens removed
2 cups mashed potatoes
6 cups chicken broth

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 8-quart pot over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and start to brown. I didn’t time this, but probably 5–7 minutes. Add the mashed potatoes and broth, and cook until heated through—about another 5 minutes—stirring occasionally. If your mashers, like mine here, start cold from the fridge and as a fairly solid lump, it may take a few minutes longer. Longer still if your broth is also cold from the fridge. Once heated through, purée with an immersion blender* or, lacking one, purée in batches in a blender.

This is what you want the leeks to look like before you add the potatoes and broth

This is what you want the leeks to look like before you add the potatoes and broth

You can easily substitute vegetable broth to make this vegetarian, and if you prefer vegan recipes, also substitute olive oil for the butter. Make sure those leftover mashed potatoes are dairy-free!

Makes approximately 8 cups: 8 servings as a starter, or 4–6 as a main course with a leafy salad and some crusty bread.

Shown with: Jim Lahey’s original No-Knead Bread recipe. Which I baked in the same (hard-anodized) pot in which I had previously boiled the potatoes, and later cooked the soup. Simpatico.

Gratuitous Pyrex photo. This is my container of leftover mashed potatoes.

Gratuitous Pyrex photo. This is my container of leftover mashed potatoes. It’s a Hospitality Casserole (443 Cinderella bowl with 624 lid) made in 1959.

*If you don’t have an immersion (stick) blender, I promise that they really do come in handy. They’re inexpensive, clean easily, and save you from the hassle of—for instance—awkwardly pouring approximately a half gallon of soup into a blender in batches.

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Town Crier Flour: Lucky Low Cost Prize Winning Recipes

I have approximately a bazillion* vintage and antique cookbooks, and sometimes within the pages of those cookbooks I find hand-written recipe cards or mass-market pamphlets that have been printed up by a company encouraging the use of their special ingredient. Today’s post focuses on one of those pamphlets: Lucky Low Cost Prize Winning Recipes, promoting Town Crier Flour which was made by The Midland Flour Milling Co. in Kansas City, Missouri. There is no date on the pamphlet, but because it mentions that these recipes are part of a group of 100 “that were chosen from thousands”—and Town Crier published a book of 300 of these recipes in 1938—we can assume this predates 1938 by at least a few years. I love that the pamphlet includes tips for washing ink out of cotton bags. Flour sack towels (or dress), anyone?

It’s a small pamphlet, so I’ve scanned it in its entirety. Because the previews are so small (click on the images to see (and print) more legible versions), I’ll tempt you to click on the images by telling you they include recipes for:

  • Dutch Peach Cake
  • Pineapple Cookies
  • Graham Clover Leaf Rolls
  • Quick Brunch Coffee Kuchen
  • Lemon Fluff Pie
  • Baking Powder Biscuits
  • Golden Caramel Cake (with Caramel Syrup)
  • Bread
  • Bacon Muffins

…and of course, the previously mentioned Three Methods For Washing Ink Out Of Cotton Bags. None of these recipes have been personally tested by me (yet), but I encourage you to give one or two a whirl and let us know how it turns out!

Lucky Low Cost Prize Winning Recipes

Lucky Low Cost Prize Winning Recipes

TCF_in1

TCF_in2

The back of the brochure

 

*rough estimate

 

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Cookbook Envy

A couple of decades ago, my mom wrote up—and illustrated—a cookbook of her own favorite recipes. This cookbook contains all of the special treats that only my mom made/makes, and whenever I ask for one of these particular recipes, I’m denied with the reply, “It’s in The Cookbook.” I know that she has left this cookbook to me in her will, because she has told me in no uncertain terms that I cannot have it before she dies. And not a moment before. Cheery.

She lost the cookbook a few years back. No idea where it disappeared to, but confident that it was around somewhere.

The Boyfriend and I have been working on excavating the basement, which used to be living space before it became overrun with Stuff. We’ve set aside a large pile for VVA (and conveniently arranged pick-up through pickupplease.org), most of which consists of FIVE BOXES of books that my mother has left here for 9 years. Of course, my mother has gone through all of these boxes in her hunt for The Cookbook, but I invite here over for another peek to make sure there isn’t anything else in there that she wants.

She picks out a few keepers, and lo and behold finds The Cookbook! It turns out that it has been in my own possession all this time! AND I MISSED OUT. She won’t let me see so much as the cover. She does, however, donate the following to me:

Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design at the Met, Nov. 1974

Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design at the Met, Nov. 1974

Inventive Clothes 1909–1939 at the Met, Nov. 1974. Were an age-similar show to be curated today, it would be The 50s, The 60s, The 70s.

Inventive Clothes 1909–1939 at the Met, Nov. 1974. Were an age-similar show to be curated today, it would be The 50s/The 60s/The 70s.

And for that, I’m grateful. In the meantime, if I really want a dish of her frozen creamy raspberry swirl stuff, I’ll just have to beg my mother to make it for me.

 

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WABAC Wednesday: Applesauce Meatballs

Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes, 1949/1965

I’m not sure what I was looking for in the index of Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes, (published 1949, this copy printed 1965) but I spotted Applesauce Meatballs, checked the recipe, realized that I had all of the required* ingredients, and so put it on my cooking schedule.

It was “scheduled” for two weeks before I actually had the time and energy to make it. Not that the recipe requires much of either, but I’ve been that tired after work lately. Besides, Thanksgiving provided so many leftovers that cooking more food wasn’t necessary.

So. Applesauce Meatballs.
Serves 8 

2 lbs ground beef
1 cup applesauce
1 cup soft bread crumbs
2 eggs
salt & pepper to taste
flour
2 Tbs fat
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, minced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cups tomato juice

  1. Mix beef, applesauce, and bread crumbs; add eggs; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Shape mixture into small balls, roll in flour, and brown in hot fat.
  3. Place balls in a casserole.
  4. To drippings in pan, add vegetables and tomato juice; season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil; pour over meat balls.
  5. Cover and bake in a moderate oven (350°F) about 40 minutes.

If desired, the gravy can be thickened with a little flour-water paste before serving.

If I were REALLY obsessive-compulsive, I’d have cleaned that bit of tomato gravy off of the rice ring. Not that I noticed it.

Here’s where the above asterisk comes in: I had ground beef in the freezer, but used ground turkey instead. I did not have one stalk of celery, one green pepper, and one carrot. Or tomato juice, for that matter. What I did have, though, was a few small cans of V8 vegetable juice. Which seemed to me like the equivalent of all that tomato juice plus the infusion of a few other veggies. And would save me not only a  trip to the grocery store, but a bit of slicing. Because V8 is seasoned, I also left out the salt and pepper. As far as the fat goes, well, all of my readers keep a small jar of leftover bacon grease in the fridge, right? Right?

End result: these meatballs are delicious. I don’t detect any apple flavor, but the meatballs are tender in a way that makes me think perhaps the applesauce is responsible. The tomato gravy, in my case, did not require thickening before serving. Oh bonus! I got to mix apples and tomatoes in a single recipe again!

I’d forgotten to plan a side dish, or rather had forgotten that my planned side dish was to be the spaghetti squash which is still sitting on the counter, so in a panic I cooked up a batch of brown rice and used it to make the Easy Rice Ring from the same cookbook. Not much of a recipe, it’s really just the handy hint that adding a “generous amount” of grated cheese helps hold the ring together. Assuming you have some sort of ring mold in which to bake said rice. Of course, the Shoes & Pie Test Kitchen has a ring mold.

Throw some microwave-heated frozen green peas in the center, arrange the meatballs in a Crazy Kitchen Lady just-so sort of way, and voilà, you have the photo shown here. Also: dinner. I halved the recipe because the Significant Other is out of town, and I don’t mind eating meatballs 4 nights in a row but 8 is asking a lot.

Fussy.

Gratuitous Photo: This object is a, um, meatballer. I’m sure there’s a technical term of which I’m unaware. Automatic Meatball Scooping Tongs or something. It does not save any time, nor is it any less messy than rolling the meatballs by hand. Mostly because the meatball tends to fall apart when exiting the tongs, so you have to roll it back together by hand anyway. Which, frankly, is more satisfying than “machining” a meatball.

What it is good for, however, is keeping your meatball size consistent. I noticed that when I wasn’t using the tool, my meatballs were getting slightly larger with each new portion. That’s not a huge deal except that you want your meatballs to cook evenly, and that isn’t going to happen if the first and the last are wildly different sizes. Besides, you can also use the tong things to make tiny snowballs. To throw at tiny adversaries, I suppose. Anyway, if you have your eyeballed-meatball-portion sense under control, or if you have a #20 or #24 disher, skip this fussy little item.

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Future Past, Tense

I’ve been Way Too Hella Busy To Blog for a while. Still am, really. But I feel bad for neglecting Shoes & Pie, and you, my dear readers! Rather than catch you up with one painfully long post covering an unrelated variety of subjects, I’m going to try to break it into bite-sized chunks that I’ll post as the week progresses. In no particular order (as I’m writing this as much as a reminder/outline for myself as I’m writing a Table of Contents for you), I’ll try to cover:

  • WABAC Wednesday vintage recipe: Applesauce Meatballs and Easy Rice Ring (1949)
  • Kitchen Pr0n: Yes, it’s possible that I added more stuff to the Shoes & Pie Test Kitchen
  • Vintage Food Propaganda/Ephemera (scans)
  • How To: Shop An Estate Sale (subtitle: Myths, Truths, and Don’t Be That Person)
  • Crafts ’n’ shizz. Oh man, do I have so many crafts (sewing, painting, drawing, assembling) lined up, and not enough time!

So until next time (this afternoon? tomorrow?), see ya!

EDITED TO ADD: Oh right, I should write a post about what has now been dubbed Holy Shit Pie, as in, “Holy shit, this pie is good!” Which was the actual text I received when I packed a slice in the boyfriend’s lunch one day.

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