Archive for January, 2011

Dear Readers,

Here’s a continuation of the material I read in Bulletin No. 22 concerning the fashion trends in 1924.  It is quite fascinating and I will quote directly from the bulletin.

“On Fifth Avenue

The fashions of this season are surprisingly like those of last.  Isn’t that just wonderful news?  Take out your last summer frocks and the trusty old flat iron, and there you are!  As one fashion authority puts it, ‘There are lovely new models in all the shops but there are no new fashions’.

The long slender silhouette is still the mode.  And if one doesn’t happen to be long and slender, one simply acquires a gown with slenderizing lines!

Skirts, to be sure, are a bit shorter — and sleeves — well, they almost aren’t.  An elbow-length sleeve is now considered long.  If the cuffs of your old dress are worn or there is a hole in the elbow, so much the better.  Just snip off the sleeves, the shorter the more ‘vogue-ish’.  However, if you happen to prefer real sleeves, be comforted – lots of nice people still wear them.

Many of the new frocks have neither belt nor other wasit-line indication – the so-called mandarin style.

You should have an envelope bag of embroidered or plain material to harmonize with your street costume.  Canary yellow and almond green are popular summer shades.

The scarf was never so popular.  Whether of material to match one’s gown or of any bright colored fabric from soft wool to sheerest chiffon or printed crepe, it is a graceful and often transforming addition to one’s costume.”

Hope you enjoy reading about fashion trends of 1924.  I found the wording of the article to be quite interesting.  What do you think?

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

I first wrote about this cookbook on April 22, 2009 in the post entitled “When A Dollar Was A Dollar in 1937”.  An old grocery list in my father’s handwriting citing the prices of various grocery items was discovered in this book.

Well, I want to return to this well-worn book that once belonged to my Grandma Harris.  It was printed by the Borden’s Evaporated Canned Milk Co. as a clever way to promote their product.  The book was actually a binder meant to hold bulletins “issued from the Borden Building, New York City, for the benefit of members, making possible the frequent exchange of good recipes, household hints and club news”.

Bulletin No. 22, the first one in the binder, was issued in the summer of 1924 and contained a listing of summer menus.  Here’s a suggested dinner menu:  “strawberry cocktail, creamed sweetbreads and mushrooms with royal sauce, tiny new potatoes with butter and parsley, new peas, asparagus salad, rhubarb pudding and coffee.”  Sounds intriguing.

Here’s how “strawberry cocktail” is concocted.  No, it doesn’t include any liquor.  “Arrange strawberries, cut in pieces, sliced pineapple, grapefruit, and orange pulp in cocktail glasses in alternate layers with a sprinkling of powder sugar.  Pour over a mixture of the juices from fruits and maraschino syrup.  Serve very cold.”

Part of the bulletin ws devoted to members’ suggestions.  Here’s one for left-over pastry from Mrs. S. A. S., Waco, Texas.  “Left-over Pastry – 1.  Roll bit of left-over pastry rather thin, cut into triangles, oblongs or fancy shapes, prick with a fork and bake.  Spread with jam or marmalade.  2.  Roll out pastry very thin in strips, moisten edges and spread with a little snappy cheese.  Roll up, pressing edges firmly together; brown lightly in oven.”

I enjoy reading about meal preparation in the 20’s.  The ingredients are somewhat different but you can see that these homemakers were quite interested in communicating about cooking.  They are the forerunners of today’s cooking blogs.

In Part 2, I’ll tell you about fashion trends of the 20’s, as there is a section of the bulletin entitled “On Fifth Avenue”.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

In answer to the above question, it’s a tasty salad that can be made in advance consisting of green beans and French dressing and a few other surprises.  Recently served this salad at a dinner party and it was well received.  It came from an old cookbook of mine that I love:  “The Elegant But Easy Cookbook” by Marian Fox Burros and Lois Levine.  Purchased this book in the early 70’s and I am still discovering great recipes from it.  Try this salad at your next gathering.

Armenian Vegetable Salad

2 – 9-oz. pkgs. frozen cut green beans, slightly undercooked

1 – 7-oz. can pitted black olives, drained and sliced

1 – 4-oz. jar pimiento, drained and sliced

1 bunch scallions, white part only, sliced

1 – 8-oz. can button mushrooms, drained

Marinate overnight in well-flavored French dressing (I used about 1 cup Wishbone French dressing.)

Serve without lettuce in large glass bowl for this is beautiful as well as delicious.  Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin!

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Dear Readers,

Wikipedia defines peer pressure as the “influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values or behavior to conform to group norms”.

As a child my parents warned me of the perils of negative peer pressure.  My Mom’s famous line was “Just because so-and-so jumps off a bridge, doesn’t mean you have to follow them!”  My parents encouraged me to be a leader not a follower.  They wisely counseled me to not be afraid to be different.  Some days in the school cafeteria, I felt a little lonely munching on the carrot sticks Mom packed in my lunch box, while everyone else snacked on potato chips and pretzels.  Little did I know she was building my character in addition to promoting a healthy eating habit.

When my time arrived to raise children in the 70’s and 80’s, I gave them the same advice about peer pressure handed down to me.  My warning was worded a little differently:  “If Tommy runs over a cliff,are you going to follow him just because everyone else does?”

My kids would roll their eyes at this remark but they wisely heeded it.  My son was confronted with school mates who sported $100 sneakers.  We told him there was no reason to overspend on shoes just because everyone else wore them.  My daughter faced the same peer pressure when all her girlfriends clamored for “Cabbage Patch” dolls for Christmas.  The dolls, at that time, were overpriced because of a production shortage deliberately staged by the toy manufacturers.  We told Jude not to be swayed by the fact that everyone had one.  We convinced her not to let peer pressure define who she was or what she wanted.

Fast forward to 2011.  Peer pressure is raising its ugly head again and it’s mainly among seniors.  Trying to keep up with all the technological advances is our form of peer pressure.  We see many of our friends using I-phones and blackberries.  They read books on “kindle” and are frequently “skyping” family and friends.  Not wanting to feel old and out-of-it, my husband recently succumbed to peer pressure from an old friend to join “Facebook”, even though he’s not that interested in social networking.  Here’s where Mimi’s peer pressure kicks in.  I see my husband accumulating more and more “friends” and I’m getting pretty darn jealous!  If this continues, I may be forced to join “Facebook”.  And if that happens, can “tweeting” be far behind?

Keep smilin’!

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Mouthwatering Brunch Item

Dear Readers,

Here’s the recipe for A Blintz Souffle that I served to the family during the holidays.  They loved it and you could serve it for brunch or breakfast any time of the year.  It is also easy and can be assembled the night before.  It came from an old Pillsbury recipe booklet. 

A Blintz Souffle


16-oz. carton (2 cups) small curd cottage cheese

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

8-0z. pkg. cream cheese, softened


1-1/2 cups dairy sour cream

1/2 cup orange juice

6 eggs

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup Pillsbury’s Best All Purpose Flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired

Dairy sour cream

Apricot preserves

Grease 13 x 9-inch pan.  In small bowl, beat all filling ingredients until well mixed; set aside.  Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off.  In blender container, place 1-1/2 cups sour cream, orange juice, eggs, butter, flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder.  Cover; blend until smooth, scraping sides often.  Pour half of batter into prepared pan.  Drop filling by teaspoonfuls over batter; spread evenly.  (Filling will mix slightly with batter.)  Pour remaining batter over filling.  Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake, uncovered, 50 to 60 minutes or until puffed and light golden brown.  Serve topped with additional sour cream and apricot preserves.  Makes 12 servings.

To cut down on calories and fat, I used low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat cream cheese and lite sour cream.  Do not use fat-free cottage cheese, cream cheese or sour cream.  Fat-free products alter the taste and texture of this recipe.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Isn’t it a treat to receive fresh flowers for a birthday or special occasion?  They are such a luxury and we all want them to last forever.  Well, here are a few tips on how “to get the most bang from your bouquets”.  These tips are from an article written by Barbara Mahany of the Chicago Tribune.

1.  Keep the water clean.  Bacteria can clog stems and hasten rotting.  Use the packet of powder from the florist or concoct your own.  Here’s a recipe from chemistry.about.com:  Combine 2 tablespoons each white vinegar and sugar, 1/2 teaspoon household chlorine bleach and 1 quart warm water.

2.  “Ditch the scissors: Use a sharp knife or garden shears.  Scissors merely squeeze and crush stems”.

3.  “Cut on the angle:  You might think this boosts the water uptake, but really it keeps the stems from resting flat against the bottom of a vase and blocking the entry point for water.  By cutting off the bottom inch or two, you remove the natural seal that formed when the stem was first cut”.

4.  “Short is good:  Shorter stems allow water to get to the bloom more easily”.

5.  “Lose the leaves:  You want the energy surging to the bloom, don’t you?  So don’t provide a detour into the leaves.  And don’t think of having any foliage under water, where it will swiftly break down and turn to goo”.

6.  “Cut the heat: Room temperature tap water (not lukewarm, not chilly) is the happiest bath for most bouquets”.

7.  “Storing fresh-cut flowers for six hours in a cool corner of the basement can triple the vase life”.

8.  “Ditch the swamp water:  OK, sometimes it’s a pain to airlift a big bouquet and change the water.  Sam McGee of Prufrock Floral and Botanical Design in Winnetka, Ill., shares this trick:  Instead of budging the flowers from the vase, hold the vessel under a running faucet for about five minutes.  As the water spills from the vase, you are essentially changing the water without moving a bloom.  Once it’s crystal clear you are back in business”.

Hope you find this article enlightening – I certainly did.

Keep smilin’!

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Dieting? Try Soup

Dear Readers,

Soup is the dieter’s best friend because it fills you up and is relatively low in calories.  This recipe “combines sweet carrots with fresh orange, dill, and a touch of milk for a refreshing creamy soup without the cream”.  This Carrot and Dill Soup contains 95 calories and 3 grams of total fat in every cup.  The recipe is from an old issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.

Carrot and Dill Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium celery stalk, chopped

1 can (13-3/4 to14-1/2 oz.) chicken broth

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt or celery salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup milk

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Dill sprigs for garnish

1.  In 5-qt. Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 15 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, with vegetable peeler, remove 4 strips of peel (3″ x 1″ each) from 1 orange and squeeze 1 cup juice from both oranges.

3.  Add orange-peel strips to Dutch oven and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring.  Add orange juice, carrots, chicken broth, sugar, salt and pepper and 4 cups water; heat to boiling over high heat.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 25 minutes or until carrots are very tender.

4.  Remove strips of orange peel from soup.  In blender, with center part of cover removed to allow steam to escape, blend soup in small batches until pureed and smooth.  Pour pureed soup into large bowl after each batch.  Return soup to Dutch oven; stir in milk and chopped dill; heat just to simmering over medium heat.  Garnish each serving with a dill sprig.  Makes about 10-1/2 cups.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Latin In Kansas

Dear Readers,

Last May I traveled to Wichita, Kansas with my son and his family for a wedding.  A friend of Andrew’s was getting married and he was part of the wedding party.  Since Maggie was just two months old, I accompanied them to lend a helping hand.

We stayed in Old Town Wichita where I discovered St. Francis Church, three blocks from our hotel.  It’s the oldest Catholic church in Wichita, built in 1902.  I noticed a sign saying there was a Tridentine Latin Mass being celebrated on Sunday at 8 AM.  It was a convenient time for me to slip away from the family to attend the mass.

Wasn’t sure what “Tridentine” meant but I did remember Latin Masses as a child.  What would it be like to worship in Latin as an adult?  I soon found out and was very disappointed.  Excessive formality permeated the celebration.  There was a lot of incense and bowing of the celebrant.  The mass lasted 1-1/2 hours but the homily was extremely brief.  Two male servers supported the arms of the priest every time he genuflected.  Only the priest and servers recited the Confiteor in Latin in hushed voices.  The celebrant faced the alter with his back to the congregation. Holy Communion was distributed at the communion rail and only placed on the tongue.  There was no “kiss of peace” or handshake among the parishioners before Communion.  Women wore long chapel veils covering their heads.

I felt lonely and uninvolved; kind of like a spectator during the ceremony instead of a participant.  The prayers murmured in Latin seemed cold and distant.  I wondered if God considered prayers in Latin to be superior to prayers in English.  Connecting to my  Creator under these circumstances was impossible for me.  Hooray for Pope John XXIII who “threw open the windows of the Church” with his modernization of the mass.  I sincerely hope the Church never goes back to worshipping in Latin exclusively.  I don’t want to feel like a stranger in my own congregation!

Keep smilin’!

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