Monday, April 26, 2010

Reminiscing: 500 Snacks (Bright Ideas for Entertaining)

Gentle readers, this might be the best (read: most horrible) cookbook that I have made fun of to date. This particular copy of 500 Snacks is torn, tattered, and taped, which means that someone used it a lot. That frightens me. So, journey with me into the world of 1940s snacks...

Check out these enticing recipes right at the beginning of the cookbook. Stock up on sandwich bread, olives, and anchovy paste so that you, too, can make "Daisy" and "Igloo" canapes. Don't these look delectable?

Moving right along, we come to the staple of the 1940s American diet, the spread. Fish, meat, cheese--this cookbook has them all, including a recipe for liverwurst spread. The caption for the photo says "The canape tray is in all its glory at a party."

The first thing that I read when I turned to this page was "1/2 cup ground tongue." I think my eyes are trained to look for that word when I read these cookbooks. Anyway, the piece de resistance on this page is the "Pie Canape," which is an indescribable combination of rye bread, garlic, butter, mayonnaise, caviar, parsley, "sieved egg yolk," cream cheese, anchovy paste, Shrimp Spread and Salmon Spread. And look at that photo! This is so complicated and the end result is so horrible--how is this concoction worth all of that work and 1 1/2 ounces of caviar? Also, I can tell that Father of Ken was not involved in creating the concentric circles because they are terribly flawed.

Side note: For special occasions, we used to make baked Brie in a bread bowl when I was younger. Father of Ken, ever the engineer, was always in charge of cutting a perfect circle out of the bread bowl and it was always absolutely flawless. He also used to be in charge of putting my hair in a ponytail with those little hair ties that have the balls on the ends. My ponytail was perfectly centered on my head and no strand of hair was allowed to escape the ponytail holder. I have always had very thick hair, so this was no small feat. I'm sure he was thrilled when I cut my hair short.

Hot Tongue Canapes! Liver Canapes!

I included this page just for Mother of Ken, who loves the word "melange." Doesn't this one sound awful?

Why are they called "Celery Trunks?" That is so unappetizing. How about that tray of crap on the right side of the page?

One of my favorites, the "Jellied Loaf" is featured prominently in the photograph below. That meat tray on the right leaves me at a loss for words, plus there is another tongue-based recipe on that page.

Just for Leah, a whole column of "Balls on Picks:"

Also, a "Ham Mold" and a recipe for "Sail Boats," which seem extremely complicated.

Don't forget about the all-important "Liver Sausage" hors d'oeuvres:

I'm with them on the caption that says "almost anything you like can be rolled in bacon." I'm not with them on the "Gherkins in Dried Beef Rolls" or the "Sardines/Anchovies in Blankets."

I stared at this photograph for several minutes, trying to figure out what those things on the skewers are. They appear to have some kind of coarse coating, but none of the recipes call for anything that would cause that. They look like hush puppies, no?

Mmmm--"Baked Liver Patties!"

Aspic, Father of Ken's favorite. This page is full of some of the worst recipes I have ever seen in a single space at one time AND there is an awful photo to go with them. Here is a sampling of the recipes: "Jellied Bouillon with Frankfurters," "Sliced Veal in Aspic," "Tongue Mousse," and Jellied Calf's Liver." I love the caption: "Frankfurters take on new glamour in this gleaming aspic." Really? 'Cause that is one of the least appetizing molds I have ever seen. I love how the cut hot dogs stand up along the edge of the dish with the sliced eggs in the inner part of the mold. This looks like someone tried to preserve the worst foods of the 1940s in gelatin so that it could become part of the "modern home" exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History forever.

Turn the page, and you get this:

"Whole hard-cooked eggs in this jellied tuna loaf add a gay and decorative note." I wonder, would it be inappropriate to serve this with some "Fish Balls?" Too much seafood?

Having seen so many recipes for "molds," I thought you might like a lesson in unmolding these dishes--here's a step by step guide, complete with photos:

Well, I'm thoroughly grossed out. Enjoy your next tongue-free, mold-free meal!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We're Not Gonna Take It: Commitment

Remember those group projects in school when one person did all of the work for the whole group? Remember thinking that once you got out of school and into the real world, that wouldn't happen any more? Just me? Well, I obviously failed to take into consideration the fact that the people you were in school with who were unable to do their part of the group project go out into the real world, too, and they continue to behave the same way. As Mother of Ken says, "this behavior works for them."

I am currently on the board of a non-profit organization--I'm actually the "president" of this board, if you will. In this capacity, I try to lead by example. I never ask anyone to do anything that I won't do, I help with every project that needs an extra pair of hands, I take the lead on things that no one else picks up, and if I say that I will do something, I do it. But this isn't about me and I'm not looking for recognition.

This is about me being sick of dealing with people who commit to do something and fail to follow through. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the world's longest lasting and worst group project. If you say that you will help with a particular project, then please follow through with that commitment. Do not whine about how busy you are, how difficult it is to fit this into your life, how much of an imposition this is for you, etc. If the aforementioned are true, then graciously refuse the request for help/participation in the first place.

This seems to be especially true for non-profit organizations. For some people, these organizations are clearly at the bottom of their list of priorities--always the first thing to be set aside when something better or "more important" comes along. Unfortunately, non-profit organizations are a hugely important part of maintaining civilized society, so someone has to step up and keep these organizations running smoothly.

Think about how much more we could do for the world if we all did what we said we would do--how many more people could we feed or clothe or shelter if we worked as an effective group?

I'm going to make a wild guess here and say that it is very likely that if you are busy, etc., etc., but you follow through with your commitments, good things will come back to you and you will still have time to fulfill all of your other obligations. Try it and see if I'm not right.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stranger in Town

I have been away from blogging for the last several days because Mother and Father of Ken were here visiting. They were supposed to arrive on Saturday evening, but due to a demonstration of stupidity at the Detroit airport that can only be rivaled by the US Postal Service, they did not arrive until Sunday.

Now that the weather is a little nicer, they helped me with some yard work to improve the curb appeal of the house since it is on the market. We planted the flower beds, cleared out the dead stuff, and made everything look much nicer. Father of Ken also took care of several other small projects including fixing the sump pump, repainting the house numbers, and replacing the light bulb in the hall going upstairs. Here are the results of our hard work:

Much better. We're having a big open house this weekend, so the timing was great.

On Monday, Father of Ken had to take care of some business on the west side of Seneca Lake, leaving Mother of Ken and I to shop. We were quite successful.

On Tuesday, we went to the Episcopal church in Moravia, NY (where there is also a nudist colony that we did NOT visit) to see their carved wood sanctuary and stained glass windows. Our next stop was Auburn, NY and the Willard Memorial Chapel, the only extant chapel in which everything was designed by the Tiffany Co. After lunch, we went to the Cayuga Museum, which is also a historic home and a huge disappointment because they do not label anything. Imagine going into a really cool old home full of random artifacts including clothing from various time periods and a huge exhibit of photos and news articles about Vietnam with absolutely no explanation about what anything is, why it is there, or anything else. That was a bust.

However, I have finally succeeded in seeing the Seneca Falls Historical Society Museum after three tries. M and I tried to go twice in October, but had no luck. Mother and Father of Ken and I went on a whim on a Tuesday in April and we were able to get a private tour of the historic home in which the Historical Society is housed. The house is 23 rooms and we saw all of them--read all about the house on their website if you're interested in more information. As we were leaving, the woman who gave our tour told us to stop at Bellwether Cidery to try their hard cider. Delicious--we really enjoyed our tasting and brought three bottles home with us. We only drank one, but I'm saving the other two for when I move and we need a refreshing beverage ;-)

Wednesday we spent in Ithaca since Mother and Father of Ken had to get to the airport in the afternoon. We went to Cornell to see Sage Chapel and the Abraham Lincoln exhibit at the library as well as the Johnson Museum of Art. After lunch, we went to the new soda fountain at Palmer Pharmacy downtown before Mother and Father of Ken had to head home.

In all, it was a productive, relaxing mini-vacation for everyone and McKenna especially liked having house guests. She has been moping around for the past few days and gazing forlornly into Mother and Father of Ken's room.


This week's favorite thing is the Belvah bag. You can find these bags in some local gift shops, on Amazon, and on other websites. I have three and I love them all. Mother of Ken and I first saw these bags last summer at a little shop in Iola, Kansas called Party Girls. They make them in a wide range of styles--everything from diaper bags to makeup bags and a lot of people like them because they can be embroidered.

I bought this purse, which is navy with white polka dot grosgrain ribbon accents and a navy and white gingham lining:

The bows are detachable, by the way.

I also bought this overnight bag to match my purse:
I have used both bags a lot in the last 9 months--they are fabulous. The fabric is microfiber, so it is very durable and the bags are not very expensive. I also have this bag, which M gave me for Christmas.

Friday, April 9, 2010


This week's favorite thing is OKA b. shoes. These shoes are proof that shoes can be comfortable, durable, and attractive. Take that, Crocs! [Side note: Grandmother of Ken calls Crocs "Gators" because she can't remember the correct name.]

The salon where I get my hair done carries OKA b. shoes, so I started seeing them a few years ago. The ones at the salon are all flip flop styles and I don't wear flip flops, so last summer, I decided to go straight to the source and see what other styles they offer. The website is fantastic:

Why do I love these shoes?

1. They are made in the US.
2. They come in slide styles and not just in flip flop styles.
3. They are washable.
4. They are slip resistant (anyone who knows me will tell you that this is crucial for me).
5. They are antimicrobial.
6. They have special reflexology beads built into the inner soles.
7. They are very durable.
8. They are recyclable.
9. You can dress them up or down--they're great for travel.
10.They come in their own little storage bag (very appealing to an organizing fanatic like me).

I bought two pairs last summer and then Mother of Ken found a sale on them at a store where she lives, so she bought me three more pairs. I currently have three Madisons, the style pictured below. Mine are navy with a navy and white bow, pink with a pink, black, and white striped bow, and black with a black and white polka dot bow.
I have one pair of Jasmines in black (the black is shiny, so it almost looks like patent leather):

I also have one pair of Carolines that are red with a red bow:

These shoes are so comfortable and so easy to wear--you won't regret getting a pair or five. They're a great investment because they are so durable and the styles are classic. I wore my Jasmines all over Williamsburg last summer for long days of walking and my feet felt great. They're especially great for summer because you can wear them around the house, to the pool, to the beach, to a party, to church, or wherever else you're going. There are new colors and styles every season and they also have men's and children's shoes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reminiscing: Homemaking with a flair

Gentle readers, when I happened upon this treasure in a flea market, I just knew it was for me. "Flair" is my middle name. I like to think of myself as someone who injects as much "flair" into her homemaking as possible, but I know that I have much to learn. Elegantly sashaying to you all the way from the fall of 1971, I bring you Homemaking with a flair:

The conversation that I imagine when I see this photo:

"Darling, thank you for this beautiful Styrofoam cup. I've never seen anything like it."
"You're welcome. Are you certain that you will be able to maintain your Flair in that polyester ensemble?"
"Oh, yes. And if I get too warm and begin to lose my Flair, I'll just take one of the feathers from the table arrangements and use it as a fan."

Notice that this is volume four of a series. There are more of these out there and I must find them. I must learn how to put together "an imaginative table setting" and "an out-of-sight outfit." "Let the Flair begin!" (This book is full of random capitalization.)

I invite you to journey back in time with me and enjoy the advertisements in particular.

Thankfully, they provide extensive details about this ensemble in case you want to buy one for yourself. "...[M]ake your appearance in a striking hostess outfit. Guests may forget you're the cook as well. The perfect holiday outfit shown here is by KORET OF CALIFONIA (R), of 100% Dacron (R) Polyester, completely machine washable. Hostess skirt about $27. Shell about $20. Simple, elegant, and easy care. And, most of all, it sets the tone for fun with a flair."

Did these people consider where you normally see bottles in brown paper bags? That's not what I would call "Flair," but to each his own.

First of all, what is some of this crap? Second of all, who wants to dine next to that painting? Where is the Flair?

Now this guy knows about Flair:

You can buy this cookware in "sparkling flame" or "savory avocado."

Here, we have more Flair. Nothing says "Flair" like a styrofoam ball. Plus, you can make one of these in less than an hour!

It would be difficult to resist this man, dressed in his "Flair-ful" plaid jacket and mustard yellow turtleneck. As for the lady, we have another ensemble from KORET OF CALIFORNIA (R). "You'll reflect the holiday mood yourself, with the accent on flair, in an outfit by KORET OF CALIFORNIA (R)." This one is also made of Dacron (R) Polyester and it is sure to attract a man who appears to have walked off of the set of a 1970s soap opera.

I'm not sure how much more "Flair" I can take. Here, we have "Tartar Steak" formed into a "loaf or mound" and "Norwegian Paste" formed into a "mound." I have no additional comments to make on the appearance of these "mounds" in the photograph.

Moving right along, don't forget the fruit cake, which screams "Flair!"

Ah, the Christmas buffet. I'm okay with the fare, although it probably isn't anything that I would serve at my own table, but I'm frightened by the sea creature platter that holds the shrimp. Nothing says "Flair!" and "happy holidays" like two intertwined, angry, grotesque sea monsters sneering at everyone from the middle of the table.

One word, and it isn't "Flair": yuck.

Whenever I see the words "dogs" and "cheese" in the same sentence, I recoil in horror. Most dog owners know what I'm talking about--cheese and dog digestive systems do not get along.

Is that Captain Furillo from Hill Street Blues? The lady is "serving her punch with a flair in the outfit shown here by KORET OF CALIFORNIA (R). Personally, I would have chosen an outfit that matched the punch, but that's probably why "flair" isn't capitalized here.

You always want to go out on a high note [(c) George Costanza] with a picture of some raw ground beef. Do you think that the boullion adds "Flair" or "flair"?