Monday, April 30, 2012

The Amazing Kreskin



Well, I'm too sick to even keep my head up today, but luckily the library is closed to the public and my job of answering reference questions and the phone is not too demanding (sick days? Who needs sick days?). Will I watch The Amazing Kreskin on Hulu all day? I will. I don't know how I lived twenty six years on this earth without watching what is possibly the goofiest of all goofy 70's television programming. The last episode I watched had Barbara Feldon (Agent 99 from Get Smart) talking about how she writes circus themed poetry, and this one features country music singer Barbara Mandrel (does Kreskin have a rule where only Barbaras can come on his show?). Barbara Mandrel, in a gorgeous, almost Japanese print dress, is about the cutest thing, by the way. I want that hair!! Thank heaven for Hulu!!

Do you secretly (or unsecretly!) love crummy mentalists/magicians/hucksters? I remember, as a kid, watching Sylvia Browne and other "other side" psychics on daytime talk shows with my grandmother, and don't even mention the "psychics" portion of my favorite childhood tv show, Unsolved Mysteries. It! Was! The! Living! End! Hopefully, the healing power of swamis and the seventies will bring me back to life (that, and the shrimp quesadilla I plan on walking across the street for around noon) and I'll be back in fighting shape tomorrow with another installment of Your Power as a Woman.

Til then!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Photo Friday: Flappers in the Sun Edition

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I found this non-descript portfolio, about the size reproduced above, in a box of photos at an estate sale in Inglewood a few years ago. Nashville-ites who know the area, it was one of those big Tudor houses near the library on Gallatin Road, the HUGE 1920's and 30's houses built on the main drag, many of which have been converted into law offices, dental offices, or in one memorable case, a palmistry shoppe. The layout of the house featured a rabbit's warren of twisty, narrow little rooms on the first floor, and a slope-ceilinged second floor area up a central set of stairs, and just lo-o-o-ots of stuff. As it was a Sunday, everything was deeply discounted and I bought the whole box of pictures for less than five bucks, thinking I would go through it later to enjoy the treasures. I'd forgotten all about them (remember how I said I was a kind of, sort of a hoarder?) until I was scanning some from the box in, and met the cutest little couple in doing so!

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People, meet Gentleman Jim and Flapper Fran. The snapshots didn't come with any kind of descriptive captions or names other than the St. Louis based developing company on the back, but we'll go with those descriptive monikers for the moment.

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As much as I like any kind of vernacular photography, the kind I like best, being a little dress-a-holic, is seeing the detail of old clothes in old photos. I thought this was Flapper Fran, but in looking at the other photos, and by way of the clothes, turns out this is her cousin Flapper Frieda! The second flapper is wearing a daisy of an outfit in sharp heeled satin pumps with little bows on them, a straight-up-and-down flapper dress with tiers of ruffles at the bottom, a drop-bead neclace, corsage, and the de riguer cloche hat of the day (the coat from the first picture seems to have taken a powder). Frieda, Fran and Jim are posing on and in front of some kind of public building, but I can't tell from the photos what building. Is this a shot on the courthouse steps just after they've been married ? Or is it just a good looking building on an afternoon stroll downtown?

Gentleman Jim's friend, Gentleman Hal, makes an appearance in the next shot:

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Something about the posing in this one reminds me of a ventriloquist and his dummy. Am I right? Dig Hal's tie.

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Whoah! Double vision! Flapper Fran and Flapper Frieda together. See how similar their faces are? I assume they're related, but again, by the lack of markings, I really have no way to tell.

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Frieda and Hal together. It looks Frieda and Hal are a couple, and then Fran and Jim are a couple. Don't you love making conjectures about old pictures with no hope of ever finding out if you had the context correct? It's kind of fun and it's kind of sad, thinking there were at least four people at one time who knew exactly what was going on in each of these photos.

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THIS IS PROBABLY MY FAVORITE. Moving out of town to the country side for a picnic, the foursome pose in various rocky/scenic places around an old wooden bridge. I love the stiff body language and scowling faces of people in the pre-digital-camera, how-did-I-look-no-erase-that-one era. Those planar, Cherokee cheekbones remind me of Loretta Lynn and my own great-grandmother on my dad's side. Look at that dress!

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This one turned out very fuzzy, but look at Jim's hat. Nice hat, Jim.

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Rethinking straw for the summer 1929 season, Jim removes the hat for a solo portrait. See the sharp crease in his pants and the short-at-sides-longer-at-top-F-Scott-Fitz haircut. Handsome, huh?

Last but not least, Fran looking as rawbone and skinny and scowly as her cousin:

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I still love it.

Do you have any vacation/day trip photos in your collection that tell a narrative like Fran + Jim + Frieda + Hal? Which flapper styles do you wish would make a comeback so you could copy Fran and Frieda's look without looking like you're doing a stage production? Have any good estate sales coming up this weekend? Let us know!

Have a great Friday, and we'll see you on the other side of the weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Weekend Finds

Good morning!

The 8 AM sunshine found me running out into unusually temperate weather this morning with an armful of estate sale goods to photograph for you (and posterity) in the omg-I-only-have-five-minutes-before-we-are-DEFINITELY-going-to-be-late time window. "Bab, do you have my coffee?!" I hollered (sweet, patient, more of a morning person beloved of me man that he is, he did), snapping the last few iPhone pics at the actual speed of light, slugging a shoulderbag full of gym clothes and my handbag into the car, and zooming off to work, giddy with the accomplishment of having eaten breakfast, pulled myself together in a presentable fashion, staged an impromptu photo shoot, AND left the house relatively on time. That said, I don't think these snaps turned out too bad! Gloat, gloat, gloat.

Wanna see what I got?

Hi-ya, handsomes!

These two lookers were in a rubbermaid container under a table full of Christmas decorations at a sale off White Bridge Road, mixed in with a bunch of empty picture frames. "How much do you want for these old pictures of my boyfriends?" I asked the clerk, expecting a "Oh, those are [actual anathema to my ears] very collectible...let me see..." and a two digit price tag I'd have to suck up in spite of my better instincts. "All the pictures are a dollar," she says. You could've knocked me over with a feather. Notice that Glenn Ford, though habitually very good looking, is even more smolderingly attractive than usual in this studio shot, almost Tyrone Power-like, and that Humphrey Bogart is smiling. Smiling! You almost wouldn't recognize him. I'm so happy they came in their original little frames as well.

A friend told me these are poppies. Why don't I know more about varieties of flowers?
Against my will almost, I'm getting really into flower-print 30's dishes. I bought a set of dinner and salad plates, tea cups and saucers in a pink flower print at a now-closed Goodwill in Brentwood two or three years back for $20 (unheard of! I was really putting myself over the rollers on whether or not they were a "good buy"). After some googling, I found out the company had gone out of business after WWII, and the plates themselves were marked as being from 1935! Earlier this year, I found more tea cups and saucers in a similar print (though a different flower) from the same company and with a 1937 marking. This one (and a matching one I bought at the same sale) is from 1937 as well. I just don't know how people take such good care of these things! I have plates from 2007 that are just ready for the dustbin, and these are seventy years older! $3 apiece = less than Goodwill. Killer deal.

We love it so, so much.
This Enid Collins purse was actually coming out of a box of purses the seller was just setting out when I pulled up to a sale in 100 Oaks. An ebay dealer and I stood like cartoon vultures as the woman placed each item on the card table. I saw a couple glints of the embellishments as it came out of the box and I swooped. I think I actually swooped! Enid Collins for $4? Girl, that bag is mine, though. In spite of the anti-clutter manifesto I wrote yesterday (btw, thank you for all your comments and suggestions!), I can never have too many of these. And what a bag! All the stones look to be intact, and it's a "secret message" Democratic donkey bag! I didn't even get that part of it until I saw the title on the side:
 
I choose you, Enid Collins!


Last but not least, the really killer find:


Doesn't look like much yet, but wait for it...

Wait for it....


Almost there...


BAM!

I could not BELIEVE I found this glove and purse set, early fifties'/late forties', practically new, at the same sale as the Enid Collins bag, for $3. I hate to keep mentioning prices in an act of unbridled gaucherie, but THREE DOLLARS?! You can see why I have such a hard time buying things for "vintage retail" on ebay or etsy. It's so hard to justify heavy purchases, even when the price is actually fair for what they're selling, when one is used to swap meet prices. These accessories are going out on the town with a green with brown-and-grey fur Marlene Dietrich jacket I have with the boxiest shoulders you've ever seen, the first cool day we get. I could just actually die they're so cute.


Last but not least, I told Bab, "Snap one of me while we're at it!" Here's my 8 am, pre-coffee, overly-brightly-lit self in today's outfit:


Not the most flattering pose, but I told you we were on the run!

How did you guys fare at the sales this weekend? Did you  have any "hot streaks" or killer finds? Let a girl know!

See you for photo Friday (how is it already Friday?!) tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Clutter, Clutter, everywhere!

Good morning!

Well troops, I had the first of my new work schedule perks bestowed upon me this past weekend-- every other working week, I end up with a schedule that allows me Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off. Off! THREE DAY WEEKEND, Y'ALL. I used to take having just scads of time to lie around and watch the clouds roll by for granted as a student and for three years as a high school teacher, with the three month summer vacation guaranteed. Lemme tell you, three days off all in a row, for the working girl I am today, is hard for me to wrap my brain around. You mean I don't have to go to work? At all? For three days? What do I even do?

While I *did* hit upon some pretty stellar finds at otherwise lackluster sales on Friday morning, you want to know what I did Saturday and Sunday? I cleaned. LORD, DID I CLEAN. I pulled things out of drawers, closets, cabinets, and boxes. Under beds, over armoires-- no piece of clutter was left undisturbed! I've been living in a state of "extreme house distress" for a couple weeks, since I vowed to excavate the closet in Bab's "man cave" to divest it of my party clothes and extra afghans and God-knows-what-all that accumulates in a closet with a door if you give a pack rat like myself half a chance, so it was time to take a stand against clutter.

Remember the beginning and end of Citizen Kane, where CFK has amassed an entire warehouse full of treasures from around the world? Imagine that in my attic, but with more Goji jester girls than Van Goghs...


Almost ten bags of kitsch-be-gone later to the local Goodwill (Nashvillians, the Eastland Goodwill is actually brimming with my cast off goods this month, take advantage of my estate sale gluttony and getcha some), I feel like I might actually just maybe be able to keep my house clean! Matthew was a lot of help ferrying the Glad bags to the drop site solo so I wouldn't try and fish out a record-I-don't-even-like or shoes-I-haven't-worn-in-years for old times' sake. I can't help myself. And yet! For someone who loves throwing parties as much as I do and having people over to the house, what a coup it will be to be able to call up a friend for dinner chez moi without having to cordon off portions of the house as embarrassingly unviewable. Finally, the sentiment of wanting a house that doesn't make me crazy and allow me to constantly misplace things in a tornado of clutter has trumped my attachment to said tornado. And I hope I can keep it up!!

Do you do that? Or are you good? It's nowhere near actual hoarding, but I feel like I do have a tendency, between my love of shopping, love of a deal and the general inexpensiveness of estate sale and thrift store shopping, to drag home WAY too much stuff sometimes. It's like my eyes are continually bigger than my belly, in terms of what I can actually proudly display. A two person house should not have thirty coffee cups (even if they're cute... let's pare down to just the cutest!) or fourteen lamps! I actually counted the other day, and there are fourteen lamps in use. Not even counting the ones in the attic, complete with shades, waiting for one of the others in the house to lose favor and be traded out for one of the benched lamps. Maddening! Not one cost more than $12...but even at the cut-rate, what is the "actual cost" of having to find places for and/or store all those extraneous lighting fixtures?

It's not Hoarders-bad, but it ain't Hoarders-good, either...
Are you a meticulously clean person? Or have you, too, felt the shame of having to haul a huge stack of books with no particular home into a back bedroom amongst unfolded laundry and an unmade bed to make at least PART of the house presentable? My mother and my grandmother were/are always SUPER bad about spring cleaning and purging their houses of unnecessary items. I love them, but rethinking household management of items was never a strength. If there was a shelf or a box or a cabinet to put it in, whatever spoon, wall hanging, fifteen year old dress was STAYING. The time frame for  onset of this behavior in my grandmother confuses me, as there's neither hide nor hair of the wackadoodle, adorable Heywood-Wakefield esque end tables I see in family photos, nor the fifties' console tv, nor any other atomic age trappings...yet any item that drifted into the house past the year 1975 is still in the house. Like a dinner guest that won't leave. Who knows? Maybe semi-hoarding was her midlife crisis.In my mom's case, the pack-rattin' was actually kind of a boon for high school age me, as despite a slight height differential, we were about the same size, and her entire bicentennial high school wardrobe was pretty much intact in cardboard boxes in the attic when I discovered them in seventh grade on an expedition into the attic for Christmas decorations. Dresses, skirt and blouse sets, and what seemed like endless patterned shirts were worn and worn and worn until eventually being decommissioned from sheer tattiness. Do you ever wonder if the deep crimson-with-with-sheer-black-overlay Homecoming outfit from the year 2000, so heinous to you now you practically have to use tongs to put it in the going-to-Goodwill pile, will someday set the pulses of future generations of vintageophiles racing? I hope not, but I reckon so.

This wasn't one of the dresses, but this is a lot like a lot of the dresses.

At any rate, let me pick your collective brains for a minute, and maybe you can help me to continue seeing the cleaning light!

What is your take on "spring cleaning"? How do you choose which items from an estate sale, however adorable and criminally inexpensive, come home with you? Do you have a particular method you use to keep your house less clutterlicious than mine, or is it something genetic I can't hope to improve upon naturally (creams? injections? Is there a miracle pill I can take)? Working around all these books, I've rustled up a stack of titles like Let Go of Clutter and Clutter Busting, and while I'd rather read a book about mummies or McCoy vases, I've vowed to settle down and try to learn something from people who do this professionally. Because again, how much better would my life be if I wasn't tied down by a dirty house and no time to clean it?

With all that in mind, I'll try to get you a picture of the (minimal! innocuous! completely inconsequential! but oh so fabulous) items I picked up at the sales last weekend soon.

Til next time!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Carnation Evaporated Milk (1953)

I'm sorry to be stuck in such a rut, but I just can't get over ads and recipes for 1950's convenience foods. Today, I've whipped up a batch of Carnation Evaporated Milk ads from the year of our Lord 1953. Wanna see the recipes for which early 1950's housewives were clamoring? I kno-o-o-ow that ya do.

My question today for all you vintage lovin' so-and-so's... to cook vintage, or not to cook vintage? Look at these ads with me and let's discuss, shall we?

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Mwuh! Yeeech! Look upon this dish, millennial America, and despair (your waistlines). "Cheeseburger Loaf" is meant to be an improvement on the dinner staple of plain old meatloaf, but I don't know as adding a viscous layer of American cheese and a can of evaporated milk to the mix is necessarily a step up from what is already ketchup-y perfection. As Lileks-worthy as the above food illustration would seem, have you ever been to a Mexican restaurant where the management has taken proud photographs to show you the delicious comestibles available at their establishment? Chimichangas, quesadillas, and other pretty flippin delicious foods are rendered goopy, oily, and unappetizing by the camera's lens. And yet! If you ordered any of those items, and it came looking exactly like the photo, you would still eat it. The camera is not kind to "real food". Do you think this cheeseburger loaf is a victim of bad food photography, or is it just unappealing to you on all levels?

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I love the "No Other Form of Milk Will Do!". So forget your other forms of milk, and embrace evaporated milk as your milk form of choice. This is a much more appetizing looking dish, in spite of the fact that I prefer meatloaf to tuna any day of the week. These "tuna puffs" are far more photogenic than the previous dish, plus you've got a host of greenery to draw attention from the "splat" look of chili sauce (which is optional).

However, this next recipe reminds me of an old school yard chant:

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"U! G! L! Y! You ain't got no alibi, you ugly!"

How in the name of the Lord did anyone think this would sell cans of evaporated milk. I appreciate that Carnation Evaporated Milk comes from "contented cows", but I assure you that no one in my immediate family will be happy if I foist upon them the murky white chowder after ringing the dinner bell. "You just can't make it with Ordinary Bottled Milk"...well, probably not. Let's call the whole thing off.

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I think the ad agency for Carnation really hit upon something when they switched gears from wholesome, hot, creamy foods-that-use-Evaporated-milk (and sick everyone out!) to the far safer culinary advertising grounds of ice-box-pies-that-everyone-thinks-are-delicious. Who...does not....like an icebox pie? Carnation Lemon Fluff Pie does  not only look five-minute-easy-to-make, but is saved from gloopiness by the cute cherry garnish triangulating across its creme center. Because, as my beloved Ted Allen of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy says, "If it's not garnished, it's not finished." Bless him.

What about sherbet colored "Frosty Fruit Pies"? What about "yes"?

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Betty Crocker's newest "Pie Discovery" warranted a two page advertising spread, with flavored fruit pies hoping to wipe out the ugly memory Carnation's involvement with the ham and pea and cream sauce monstrosity mentioned an ad ago. The flavors include "Frosty Pineapple", "Frosty Grape", "Frosty Orange" and "Frosty...." What the heck! How is "Frosty Prune" a flavor? Fifties' people, you are just going too far.

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Which brings me to my vintage question of the day: as much as you love vintage cookbooks (and YOU KNOW I love a vintage cookbook), how often do you "cook vintage"? Are the recipes of the time right up your alley, or do you tend to steer clear of some of the creamy, rich, too-many-weird-flavors suggestions of the average midcentury menu? Do you have better luck with the desserts (as the above would imply) or do you make entree items as well? What non-cocktail recipes have you tried that were either hits or misses? Inquiring minds want to know!

I'll try to do something non-food oriented for you guys at some point, I promise. Had some great luck at the estate sales on Friday...will give you an update sometime this week, camera willing!

Til next time.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Photo Friday: Sunday Best Edition



Good morning! As soon as I said the other day, "Nah, I don't really collect that many pictures of kids; a kid's a kid's a kid, you know?", I started to become aware of the many, many photos of children that are actually already in my collection! Do you ever do that, where you go, "Don't really have much interest in ceramic 50's planters..." and then realize you have like five already just by happenstance?


At any rate, here are three pictures of children who were SO CUTE, and SO PERIOD, that I managed to get over myself and purchase them at whatever dusty antique mall shoe-box they came from.

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Most of the time (there I go generalizing again), I like look very closely at the backgrounds of old photographs, and this one is neat for the ornate trappings of a 1930's photography studio. The velvet bench gives us a point of comparison to see how tiny the little girl is, and the patterned carpet lends depth of field to the composition. I'm a big fan of this little girl's mini-length-baby dress (why were children's dresses so SHORT then and up until what seems like the 70's?) and her ducky little curl creating a "faux-hawk" effect in the middle of her head. You could see why this one was a keeper. Even though it's a picture of child.


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I love this one for the little boy's expression and clothes. You can tell he slouched on into the photo's frame with a "Maaaaa, do I have to?" right before the picture was taken. This one reminds me of the beginning of some Scorsese fifties'-set mob movie, where it shows the young mug as a little kid running around in Brooklyn. How dapper does this guy look in his little fedora and six button jacket and tie, however? I love miniature adult clothes for kids and fully intend to dress my future progeny in shrunken down Humphrey Bogart outfits. Look out, world.


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I think it was the palm tree that sold me on these sisters. The older child's rickrack trimmed dress is a dream, and the little expression on the younger's dour face is precious, but where were they on Easter Sunday that they had a full-on palm tree in the background? California? The glamour of the West! Do you see the older girl's t-strap shoes with white socks? I'm so doing that sometime next week.

Which kid (in spite of your, like me, obvious and total bias towards children's photography *cough* exceptnotreallyatall) do you favor? Do you have any funny photographs of little ones in your collection? Let a girl know!

With another rare Friday off, I have to dash to the estate sales, but I'll see you guys on the other side of the weekend! Hope yours is a keeper. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

American Can Company Regional Recipes (1951-1954)

Hello again!

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In speaking of grocery stores and diets this week, I thought we could stay on theme today with a little look into America's cupboard for a very familiar item: the tin can. I was searching the words "delicious meals" on Google Books when I came across two circa 1950 Life magazine with the above advertisements. You never know what kind of wingding thing will come up even when you put an innocuous enough phrase into the search box! "SACK O' SAUCE IN A CAN O'MEAT" was probably not going to win any advertising awards that year for the originators of the phrase, but gosh did it get my attention. The fifties' seem to have been the forefront for a culinary revolution of canned gourmet. Anything you can make we can "can" better, advertisements like this one screeched at the mid century housewife. Pie crusts! Whole chicken pot pies! Chow mein! All you need is a can opener and a brisk, dismissive attitude towards the "made from scratch" school of thinking.

On searching "in a can", I came across this series of menus and recipes prepared by the American Can Company in the early 1950's. You can click on any of the pages to get a better gander at what's inside, or the menu's title for the recipe in its original magazine.

Note! Alma Archer probably does not approve of these menus. Dieters, beware! Can food enthusiasts, rejoice! Non canned items needed are listed in italics.

1) Texas Barbecue Supper:
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  • Pineapple Lime Cocktail- 1 can chilled pineapple juice, lime juice
  • Texas Kabobs- 1 can mushrooms, 2 cans Vienna sausages, 1 can luncheon meat, 1 can whole white onions, 1 can pimentos, pickle slices
  • Tomato Barbecue Sauce- 1 can tomatoes, 1 can tomato sauce, seasonings
  • Parsley Buttered Corn- 2 cans corn, seasonings
  • Rancho Salad- 1 can of peas, 1 can of julienne carrots, celery, greens, cheese, dressing
  • Grapefruit-Peach Delight- 1 can peach slices, 1 can grapefruit sections, maraschino cherries
  • Good Hot Coffee- 1 vacuum packed can of coffee

TOTAL NUMBER OF CANS: 16

INITIAL ASSESSMENT: I don't know how I feel about the Texas kabobs, owing to a life long aversion to Vienna sausages (though my grandaddy ate them by the case, lingering on the first syllable so he pronounced it more "VY-eee-nah"). And what is it with 1950's people's love of throwing a bunch of vegetables that don't necessarily work together, adding dressing and cheese or mayonnaise and cheese, and calling it "salad"? Can you guys think of any "salads" your parents or grandparents make that just don't make sense? I think I would skip this one save the pineapple lime cocktail, which sounds delicious.

2)West Coast Sea Food Supper

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  • West Coast Sea Food Supreme:1 can chicken consomme OR 1 can clam juice (what a decision to make!), 1 can pineapple chunks, 1 can tuna OR salmon, 1 can crab meat, 1 can chow mein noodles, 1 can shredded coconut, flour, seasonings, raisins
  • Green Beans Amandine: 1 can green beans, almonds
  • Tomato Aspic and Asparagus Salad: 1 can aspic, 1 can asparagus spears, greens, French dressing
  • Sunshine Fruit Medley: 1 can fruit cocktail, 1 can apricot nectar, cornstarch

TOTAL NUMBER OF CANS: 11 (plus one REALLY CUTE fish shaped serving dish)

INITIAL ASSESSMENT: Please give me that serving dish. No, really. I need it. I like the sound of this soup way better than the kabobs... I'm interested to see what coconut, pineapple, raisins, chow mein, and SEAFOOD tastes like together. Can cookery sure made some strange bedfellows out of these ingredient!

3) Cowboy Chili Lunch:
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  • Chili and Tamales: 2 cans Chili con carne, 1 can kidney beans, 1 can tamales, parmesan cheese, crackers, pickles, olives
  • Boots n Spur Salad: 1 can pears, 1 can peaches, 2 can cherries (light and dark), 1 can lemon juice, honey, olive oil, salt, greens, cinnamon, ginger
  • Dusty Road Dessert: 1 can chocolate sauce, 1 can mixed nuts, ice cream, instant cocoa mix
  • Beer: As many cans as yourcowboys can drink...?

TOTAL NUMBER OF CANS: Undetermined, but at least 10, plus beer.

INITIAL ASSESSMENT: I'm biased because I just read a Sunset Party Planning book that talks all about having a cowboy party for your little buckaroos, complete with chuck wagon and cow roping games, but I would do this. I don't think I've ever had a canned tamale! The unadventurous cuisine of my household growing up didn't give me much of an opportunity, but all that can change! How cute are the names of these dishes, also.

4) Pacific Coast Chowder Supper

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  • Clams Catalina: 1 can clams, 1 can anchovies, green pepper, pimento, bacon, "sea food shells" (What are sea food shells? Also, only two cans in this recipe?!)
  • Sea Fare Chowder: 1 can cream of tomato soup, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can white tomatoes, 1 can peas, 1 can tuna, 1 can crab meat, grated onion, light cream
  • Patio Salad: 1 can green beans, vinegar, olive oil, seasonings, cabbage, olives
  • Golden Fruit Pie: 1 can orange juice, 1 can fruit cocktail, pastry shell, egg whites, gelatin, water, almonds
  • Specially Good Coffee: 1 can of coffee

TOTAL NUMBER OF CANS: 9

INITIAL ASSESSMENT: I think this was the menu that interested me the most from American Can's whole marketing-angle: homemakers can try menus of food they wouldn't normally use because of the ingredients' scarcity in their region through the magic of canned food. Plus, the Sea Fare Chowder sounds really good right now. For some reason. I don't know why. PS Did everyone have a secret arsenal of fish shaped dishes in the fifties'? Because here's another one. Covet!

Last but not least:

5) Baltimore Buffet
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  • Glazed Party Sliced Ham: 1 canned ham, 1 can peaches, cloves, fruit marmalade, brown sugar and spices, almonds
  • Chicken and Crab Casserole Maryland: 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can boned chicken, 1 can crab meat, 1 can mushrooms, onion, milk, seasonings
  • Arundel Salad: 5 cans vegetables of your choice (peas, green beans, lima, corn, etc), French dressing
  • Hot Buttered Biscuits: 1 can of biscuits
  • Fruit Cream Tarts: 1 can of pineapple chunks, pastry shells, vanilla pudding, heavy cream, sugar, cornstarch

TOTAL NUMBER OF CANS: 14 (plus four cute, illustrated, Dyna Moe like party guests)

INITIAL ASSESSMENT: This menu includes a dish with chicken and crab TOGETHER IN AN UNHOLY UNION OF CAN COOKERY. I just don't know how to feel! Would it be delicious or disgusting? The whole-ham situation is intimidating, but look how pretty the table looks in the below spread. I might try this one as well.

What do you think? Are you brave enough to serve your guests dishes that were made from 90% canned materials? Are you, like me, the type to have a slight bias towards canned ingredients as not being "as good" as fresh, spurning the notion that they'll last longer and are more convenient for the sake of perishable but not-old food? Which one of these would you try, if sufficient courage was raised?

Til next time!

Further reading:
History of the tin can (there's a wikipedia article for everything)
American Can Apartments (in Louisiana)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Your Power as a Woman: Diet, diet, diet!

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Good morning! I'm back into Alma Archer's 1956 book Your Power as a Woman and thought we would focus this week on D-I-E-T. If you ask me, no four letters of the alphabet can be put together to form a more miserable word. Having been a rotund, bookish grade schooler, I've been on some kind of self-imposed reduction plan pretty much since middle school, with varied results. That's almost 15 years of being hungry! I'm interested to know, in the pre-South Beach, pre-Atkins, pre-Duquesne, pre-health-smoothies days, how a woman with a couple extra pounds would best be rid of them. Without a mile-long list of health gurus (plus the internet) to choose from, how do you know what to eat and what to avoid?

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Avoid becoming five or six times the size of your refrigerator, if possible. Why is this woman's head so big... How big must her body be?!

Archer starts out by reminding us that "Excess weight is probably the one most common obstacle to achievement of womanly attractiveness and power...and overeating is certainly the major cause of excess weight." Think of classic comfort food like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, buttered rolls... in the age of casserole cooking, where every dish was swimming in hidden calories and overconsumption was the rule of thumb by which you could gauge prosperity, you can imagine how difficult it would be for the overeater to keep themselves FROM themselves and exercise portion control. I'm getting near teary-eyed thinking about how delicious all that food sounds NOW. So imagine if little old me didn't have a good grasp of what a saturated fat is, for example...Archer is here to help with a 14 day plan for weight loss.

Ya messed up, and ya ate seven too many pieces of that delicious Boston Cream pie. That's ok, because:

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Hey! The cocktail clique! So me! I'm not a pastry die-hard but I do find it difficult to lay off the starches, so I guess that part applies to me as well. Before the plan, we're treated to a list of calorie content in everyday food items. Look at how there's no double cheeseburger or pepperoni pizza here...the list presupposes that you're eating the majority of your meals at home, just too much at them!

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Again, no Wyngz, no Big Macs, just everyday food you could make in your house. Isn't that kind of interesting to think about, how much food fifty-plus years ago was made and eaten at home?

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There's another page of calorie counts, but the highlights are a Chocolate malted (460 calories...why....why....) and a Tom Collins high ball (300 calories), and that's probably all you need to know.

Some caveats on calories:

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So. How do we use this knowledge to create well balanced menus? I chose a few from the 14 day plan to give you a taste (ha ha):

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Considering fad diets of later years (the diet plan laid out in Victoria Principal's The Body Principal, however much I love Pammy from Dallas, is pretty much an endorsement for anorexia), I feel like this is a relatively realistic plan for weight loss. Were you surprised at how much butter is included in the diet menus? The key thing in Archer's diet seems to be to cut out super-sizing your portions and to watch your sweets. Good advice for any of us!

And on the subject of comfort-eating:

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Way to be melodramatic! But I believe what she says is true, in that I've spent way more time in my life eating because I was bored or bummed out that I have because I was actually hungry.

On the subject of alcohol:

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And some tips for dieters to make the program a little less difficult to adhere to:

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And if you mess up, don't skip the next meal to make up for it! How many times have I eaten way too much pizza and gone "Well, I just won't eat anything else today." Archer puts her dainty heeled foot down on you no good meal skippers:

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And how about you, readers? If you do diet, how do you choose a reduction plan that doesn't leave you in hungry tears at the end of the meal? Do you think the plan she laid out is reasonable for a two week diet, or do you think measuring out the four ounces of salmon you get to have for dinner is just cruel and unusual punishment? Most of all, what do you think of her harsh-yet-encouraging tone? I'm oddly inspired!

Til next time!

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