Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year Part II...and Part III of Bachelor Mother



Ooops! Sorry about that.

And a comment: I listened after I made the first post. It doesn't compare well to the Lux broadcasts, especially script-wise. The movie is far better and much funnier.

Still, it's a nice little diversion. I hope you enjoy[ed] it.

Happy New Year!

Here's a radio version of Bachelor Mother (1939) starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven originally.

Enjoy!

It's one of my favorite holiday movies, it covers the whole week and even shows Times Square on NYE!






Oh, and here's something to listen to while you're having that hangover--I mean, Champagne--brunch tomorrow afternoon:

Listing Times
Direct Link on LoudCity

This is one of--no, the best--online source of vintage jazz I know. The live broadcast takes place tonight, but it will repeat tomorrow. Check the first Dismuke link for worldwide programming times.

Happy New Year!!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Loot

Do my friends know me?


Are they wonderful?




YES.

Many, many thanks to Sue, "Ann Gibson", and Rae and Scott.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On the 4th Day of Christmas...



...I'll give you another recipe.


This is my favorite "new" recipe of 2010.

The original is from a September 1930 issue of Women's Home Companion, for candied grapefruit peel.

I've made this so frequently since first trying it on Halloween night that I've done a little tinkering. If you've tried to candy peel before and failed, or you never have tried and would like to, this is the recipe for you.







Candied Grapefruit Peel*

2 1/2 c. sliced peel, trimmed of excess pith (white portion)[~3 halves]
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. grapefruit juice
granulated sugar


Cut peel into strips and boil in lightly salted water for 20 minutes (time from when water comes to a boil). Repeat twice, for a total of three 20 minute boils. Drain well each time, and use fresh water for subsequent boiling.

Combine sugar, water, and grapefruit juice into a clean medium sized saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.

Add peel, bring to the boiling point (stirring as little as possible) and cook to 230 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Drain immediately. It will cool quickly. As soon as it is cool enough to handle (in five minutes or so), lay the strips out on a cooling rack. When completely cool to the touch, roll in granulated sugar and leave to dry overnight.

Store in a container with a tight lid; I layer the pieces of peel in more sugar. This will keep for weeks, but can be stored in the freezer if you prefer.


*Orange and tangerine also work very well. Lemon is not recommended.

CAVEATS, etc., etc.

1. Buy a candy thermometer. They are not expensive!
2. Follow the directions. You don't need to hang out in the kitchen the whole time. Set the timer for the three boils.
3. Drain immediately. If you leave the peel in syrup it will become stiff and hard and won't taste of much but sugar.
4. DO leave to dry overnight. If it's put away too damp, it will mold, even after having been candied and rolled in more sugar. Sugar is a preservative, but it's not a miracle worker.

5. Enjoy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Knitting 2010


I have photos of most of it. This is the tea cozy I made for DH. It's based on an online pattern but the color work is my contribution. It's specially made for the Danish teapot from the 30s, made of pewter, which he uses nearly every morning.

These are the boot socks I made for him. They're from a 40s pattern I've used before; in fact, I made a solid cream colored pair for a friend of ours, too.


This is the Wurstwaermer dog sweater. (You can purchase the pattern on Ravelry. It's about $3.00 and the profits go to a shelter in Michigan.)
The friends who have the dog for whom it was made told us that as soon as they put it on her, she curled up and went to sleep, happy as could be. So those of you who have doxies, or doxie mixes, it's dog-approved!

This is a Kindle cozy, for the latest version. I made it for my mother's new Kindle. The yarn is cone yarn from the stash, and the button is a hand-carved wooden button, Art Deco in period. This is my own pattern.

I also made the large Cozy for my MiL, and a neck warmer from burgundy homespun for a friend, but I don't have a photo of the neck warmer. I forgot to take one before wrapping it, and we didn't have our camera when she unwrapped it.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and Boxing Day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve and plum pudding for all


I have been busy! Let's see...here are the cookies I made:

almond spritz
hazelnut chocolate spritz
fruit & nut bars
noels
cranberry brownies
lavender shortbread
chocolate cocoanut kisses
cream cheese cinnamon
Christmas hermits
peanut butter Kiss

...and candied peel (lemon, tangerine, orange & grapefruit), mince pies, and plum puddings too.

Today I'll be making a liverwurst and cream cheese roll and a cheese ball for tomorrow's open house, and that's all, folks! (Except for making our brunch tomorrow.)

Here's a little plum pudding action, Part I:




Thursday, December 09, 2010

Cookies and boxes and knitting. Oh, my.

I'm getting there. The last boxes of Christmas gifts and cookies are packed up and ready to go. It's hard to believe I've already sent some out!

But now the cookie stocks are seriously depleted, and surprise! I think I need to bake some more. Well, I want to.

Thus far I have made noels, fruit and nut bars, Christmas hermits, cranberry brownies, peanut butter Kiss cookies, lavender shortbread and almond spritz cookies.

Now that I have a feel for the cookie press, I'm going to make some more. They look so professional, and besides...they make me think of my grandmother. She wasn't a cuddly, stereotypical grandmother, but she had a cookie press (my sister has it) and she used it.

More gift knitting--nearly all of it--is done, and even wrapped. I'll be glad when I can post some photos here. At least this time I've remembered to take pictures before wrapping them up.

I hope everyone is having a good holiday season. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Holiday Bonus

[This post owes its existance to Kate, whom I know from Knitty. Thanks!]

Holiday bonus...maybe this is a bit shallow, but for me the holiday season is a time when my talents--knitting, cooking, baking, singing--feel less like indulgence than something positive.

Mind, I don't sing professionally anymore. But we went to a Lessons and Carols service on Sunday, and in singing there it felt as though I was contributing to the happiness of the occasion and the people around me.

There are times, and plenty of them, when I feel guilty for knitting, or baking or (fill in 'hobby' here) during the daytime. This feeling has certainly intensified since I have been unemployed.

But in preparing for the holidays I am creating gifts for the people I like and love. These actions (or recreations) are producing something that will, I hope, make those people happy. And at least in the knitting, I am saving us some money. I have a very large stash of yarn. And vintage buttons. Very little has been spent on buying the raw materials for the gifts I have made this year.

So, in preparing for the holidays I get a bonus. The joy of giving, coupled with a kind of validation, give me a lift beyond the beauty of Christmas and the New Year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meanwhile, in Santa's workshop...



...in a manner of speaking. That's the first day's baking. Two kinds of Christmas cookies (noels and peanut butter Kiss cookies), plus plain peanut butter cookies for DH.

The wrap/shawl/lap afghan is a large Cozy (pattern for free on Knitty) which is to be my MiL's Christmas present. I bound off, washed and dried it today.

Yesterday I made lavender shortbread and fruit and nut bars. We'll be well-stocked for our open house on Christmas Day!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!



I'm thankful for many things this year: my husband, other family, friends, good health...our house.

And as always, knitting (yarn!) and food.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

But I AM knitting...really

It's just that it's all gift knitting. And some (though not all) of the recipients read the blog, and so I'm stuck keeping track and/or griping about it on Knitty, to the cats, or to DH.

In other news, I did make DH's birthday cake today. Chocolate with chocolate marzipan filling and almond buttercream frosting. The leftovers I turned into cupcakes (filled) for the Rhode Island Antiques Mall Black Friday Sale.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And now, for the Circus



Here we are...another Chifferobe event. Lady Medusa and The Ringmaster!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Getting Closer...and a birthday wish

...to the holidays and all. But first: Happy Birthday, Meg! (My baby sister...who turned none-of-your-business this year. Wish I could see you today.)

We went for a drive yesterday and ended up at the North Shore (Manchester-by-the-Sea, Beverly Farms, etc., in MA). A lovely day and a gorgeous area.

The first thing we hit was a church craft fair/Christmas sale. We passed on the crafts, but found some wonderful things at the White Elephant sale...including tins for holding cookies, a nice glass jar for candies, a needlepoint pillow and more. Cost? A whopping $2.00!

The book sale yielded some goodies, too; DH found a birding guide, we got a few vintage boys adventure books, and I found another narrow basket--I use them to hold produce on the cellarway. I've paid as much as $10.00 for one. This one set me back twenty-five cents. And...DH spotted a vintage Swansdown Cake Flour promotional booklet from 1939. It's in sad condition, but still readable. The endorser is Kate Smith (the Kate Smith who sang Irving Berlin's "God Bless America"). Great recipes! I'm going to use the Almond Butter Cream frosting for DH's birthday cake in a week or so.

We pressed on, to a LYS, as I needed yarn for a gift project. We stopped at the shop we've been to previously and walked in on a signing and trunk show for Ann Weaver.

Yes, we bought the book! DH has already requested the cabled scarf/wrap, etc. pattern (can't remember the name of it now); about 200 yards of worsted cables, with button and buttonholes to take it from one incarnation to another.

She was fun to talk to, and we stayed a while. She was also very gracious about a scarf and hat I designed and made last year (I wore them yesterday), but never wrote up. It's not on the blog, though I might have mentioned it in passing.

She's even offered to be a test knitter. So if you're reading this, Ann, I really do intend to find the pattern notes and send them on; failing that, I'll read the end results and send that. I'm not sure exactly when, but I will do it!

I am doing some knitting--and finished some more--but can't mention any of it until after the holidays.

On a final knitterly note, my KnitPicks package just came. I used the gift certificate my sister sent me more than a year ago and used it toward a couple of blocking board squares and some sock yarn. It was on the doorstep when we came home last night!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day / Armistice Day

Today is Veterans Day (US) or Armistice Day. "Happy" seems an odd word to tack on to either one, but it's an important day to remember.

So to all the veterans I know--and don't know--thank you. This includes my father, my great uncle, my husband and father-in-law, my good friend Nathan, my ex-husband and his father...and many, many more.

There are many books about war, in all centuries, non-fiction and fiction. If you are interested in a slightly biased account that is an excellent first-hand depiction, I recommend The Ladies From Hell, by R. Douglas Pinkerton.

He was a Scot who penned a fairly short, terse memoir that includes enough of the horrors of trench warfare to give an idea of what these men--mostly very young men--went through.

At present, there are several modern mystery authors who write of the post WWI period, including Jacqueline Winspear, who writes the Maisie Dobbs series.

An excellent post WWI (Great War) mystery of the Golden Age of mystery is Dorothy L. Sayers's The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. Her own husband, Mac, was a veteran who suffered from mustard gas damage and shell shock.

So, again: thank you everyone, for serving your country.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Cocktail Time

This is an Ideal Cocktail, courtesy of the Savoy Cocktail Book.

Recipe:


Ideal Cocktail

2 parts gin
1 part Italian [sweet] vermouth
3 dashes Maraschino liqueur
1 tbl. grapefruit juice


Shake over clean ice; strain.

The original recipe calls for "a small nut" for garnish. (I passed.)


Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

On your mark...

Go! Here we are heading into the holidays. I got a jump start with all that preserving / canning.

Since I went so crazy last year, with the tree being decorated almost entirely with handmade ornaments (I'm not sure I ever want to see royal icing again) this year will probably be relatively low-key in that respect.

Thanksgiving first, of course. As we ate at home last year, we're going out this time. DH doesn't want to make it into a trip, so we'll be dining locally at one of the "fine" restaurants in the area--we're spoiled for choice, so it's bound to be good, no matter the place.

I think I want to make a dessert, though. Once we climb out of our food coma, there will be something good on hand...a couple of years ago I made a cranberry polenta tart, courtesy of a recipe from the New York Times. That's a front-runner; so is apple pie. We found more RI Greenings!

So what are the Christmas plans?

*See if the tree will be safe with the traditional ornaments, now that the cats are three.

*Finish the (minimal) gift shopping and send things off. I probably won't include cookies this year, it will be preserves instead.

*Do the bind-off on MiL's gift, which is otherwise finished. The second gift is done, too (can't show it, I think the recipient reads the blog), and I need to dig out the pattern for the third gift to be made.

*New this year: mince pies, now that I have the homemade mincemeat. Also, I want to make a plum pudding. On Halloween night I made candied orange and lemon peel, which are necessary for a traditional pudding.

*Dinner at home, as usual, though maybe we'll do the big one on Christmas Eve and then have brunch, followed by tea on Christmas Day.

Everyone take a deep breath, make your lists, and we'll all be fine. (Bookmark this and feel free to come back and laugh at me in about five weeks if you like.)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Vote




It's not a right everyone enjoys, even today. Revel in it; let your voice be heard.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Only seven





Only seven trick-or-treaters this year. But a five year old did tell his mother to tell me that we had good jack o'lanterns, which I was glad to hear. It was fun to carve them.

The smiling fella is copied from an October 1926 Good Housekeeping (one of the ads), and the other a product of my retro brain. I think he looks the part, too.

I hope you had a happy Halloween. Ours was good...and I've got lots of roasted pumpkins seeds. A nice dividend from the pumpkins!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

All Hallow's Eve Eve

The mask and its holder.

I hope you've got lovely spooky plans for this weekend.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tick...tick...tick...

...Halloween is approaching.

This year we are not giving a party of our own, but will be going to a Chifferobe event.

That is, DH will be attending and I'm one of the actors; the main event theme is a murder mystery.

I've made myself this to go with the mid-30s gown I'll be wearing:

This is how it looked a few days ago while still drying. It's a paper mache mask, made with newsprint and old-fashioned flour paste. It's since been painted and attached to a stick.

Tonight's the night, so with any luck I'll be posting photos of our capers soon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Recipe: Cranberry Marmalade

I've received a request for the cranberry marmalade recipe. The title of this blog post is linked to the original post about the making of it; those photos will give you a good idea of what it should look like, start to finish.

Cranberry marmalade is just a little more refined than cranberry relish, and contains the same sort of ingredients.

The making is straightforward, but you will have to be on hand for most of the cooking; as with most preserves, the high sugar content makes it liable to catch, and when the cranberries first begin to cook, they will foam quite high and need to be stirred down frequently. Make sure the pot/kettle you use has high sides. A 4-1/2 quart dutch oven is just large enough.

Cranberry Marmalade

2-1/2 lbs. washed and picked-over cranberries (frozen may be used)
2-1/2 lbs. white sugar
1-1/4 c. grapefruit juice
1 lemon; 1 orange; 1/4 grapefruit


Strip the zest, discarding the pith (the bitter white portion of the peel); cut into very thin slivers and set aside. Juice the citrus fruits next; set aside.

Stir water & sugar together until dissolved, over low heat. Add cranberries, juice, and zest.

Simmer until it jells. (This should take about an hour.) The simplest jell test is this: dip a wooden spoon into the mixture and allow the liquids to drop off the long side. When two drops come together into one before falling, the mixture is jelled. Cranberries contain plenty of natural pectin; it's not necessary to add any more.

Pour the mixture into sterilized jars, and cover. When cool, cover with a thin layer of melted paraffin. When that has cooled, add one more. When all wax is solid, replace covers and store in a cool place.

If you prefer to process in a water bath, process for 25 minutes.

Makes approximately ten 8 oz. jars.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Last Four Apples

I had to do something with them.
Dutch Apple Cake, circa 1939, from The New Hood Cook Book: 1195 Modern Recipes, Covering All Types of Food Preparation in American Homes.

Quite a few 30s cookbooks have recipes for this treat. There is some variety in prepartion, but it's generally a combination of sliced apples and rich biscuit dough. This particular recipe puts the apples on the bottom, in a mixture of brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and a bit of cream.

It's very good; I've made it once before, and it improves on standing. And I recommend it be served as indicated in the cookbook, with some heavy cream. Pry out your serving, flip it over, and dribble the cream through the apples and the brown sugar sauce. It makes a marvelous breakfast!

And yes, I made one more preserve: apple-ginger marmalade. The initial recipe was from 1930, but it was too sweet for me, and didn't contain much ginger, so I fiddled with it quite a bit. We'll see how it is after a few weeks.

Next time, I hope, there will be some knitting content. I'm working on those plain gray socks for DH. Very cozy, ribbed all the way. I've finished the first one, and cast on for the second last night.

And I'll have an antique knitting item to show, too. My husband found me a dpn case in a local shop yesterday. It's gold-stamped leather, and to my untutored eye, it looks like an Edwardian piece, probably picked up overseas on vacation. Very pretty, and still useful. One steel needle is still in the case, I think it's a 000.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cranberry Marmalade...harvest canning continued

It's not unlike cranberry relish, but it's cooked longer and has a more delicate flavor. I'm pretty well pleased with this recipe, but next year I will probably double the citrus.

We'll be giving some of these as gifts, some with the usual breakfast stuffs, and I can't wait to try it with roast duck!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mock (Green Tomato) Mincemeat

Two posts today! I've had a few requests for the recipe, and it seemed easier just to put it here and provide links (yes, this means that I'm lazy).

This will make two scant pints. Lots of booze...if you want to make it less costly, use all cider, and give the stuff a drink now and again in the traditional manner, instead of canning it.

You could also easily up the apple/tomato portions to one pound each. I had only 12 oz. of green tomatoes, so that's what I used.



Mock (Green Tomato) Mincemeat

1 navel orange (pulp free of membranes, chopped; zest chopped)
zest of one lemon; half its juice
~12 oz. finely chopped (peeled, cored )apple
~12 oz. finely chopped (cored) green tomato
1/2 c. each of these dried fruits: currants, cherries, cranberries
1/4 c. each of these dried fruits: golden sultanas, apricots
2/3 c. sugar; 1 tbl. molasses
3/4 c. brandy [I used cognac)
1/4 c. Cointreau
1/4 c. sweet cider
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. clove
5 grinds black pepper
1/8 tsp. salt



Chop all fruits and zest in roughly uniform size...about equal to a large raisin for dried fruits, 2x as big for fresh. Mix everything together.

Simmer over very low heat, stirring frequently so it doesn't catch, for two hours. It will be very thick, dark, and sticky. Taste for seasoning; adjust if necessary. Remove cinnamon stick.

If canning, process for 25 to 30 minutes in a water bath.

More apples

Applesauce and bourbon apples.



















Yesterday I made mock (green tomato) mincemeat.









Does anyone know where I can get traditional mini pie tins? I think we're having mince pies this Christmas!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Apple Roll-Call

Thus far...

apple marmalade, cinnamon apple jelly, cider applesauce, bourbon apple slices, and Dutch apple cake.

Tomorrow: green tomato/apple mock mincemeat.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Jelly Cupboard

Here's part of what we brought home on Sunday.

And here is DH, doing his part.


Apple marmalade under way...


As of this evening there's a second batch, and a batch of cinnamon apple jelly. Next I'm planning on applesauce. Any more ideas? I think there will still be apples!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Actual Knitting Content

Though we went apple picking today, I thought I'd post a genuine FO, one that has even reached its recipient.

This is a simple pattern from Lion Brand online, one of the freebies. It's a three to six month old size, and the yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash.

I picked up the buttons months ago, because even though they're far too cute to be worn by an adult, who am I to resist cats + yarn? (I knew they'd come in handy for some garment or other.)

It was a quick knit; I think about 4 days start-to-finish.

More on apples later this week. And vintage cookbooks. And...marmalade, pies, and cakes.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Apples

By definition (overseas and everwhere but Vermont, I think), I'm a Yankee. Not born in New England, but upstate New York...and I grew up thinking Yankee, reading Yankee Magazine and devouring books on the Northeast and New England.

Part of that heritage is apples. When I was small we'd occasionally go apple-picking and to the cider mills in the area. From my early 20s to 2008, the only orchards I saw were the ones I drove past on my way to somewhere else.

Last year DH and I finally went apple-picking. We picked half a bushel of apples and I made apple marmalade and did quite a bit of baking.

The marmalade was an enormous success with everyone who tried it and I want to make at least twice as much this year. I'd also like to experiment a bit with apple pies...when we last visited Concord, MA I picked up a wonderful cookbook devoted entirely to baking apple pies (!) and am looking forward to trying some of the recipes soon.

Macintosh aren't in season any longer, so we'll be dealing with other varieties. The one variety that I have been searching for for most of my life--I kid you not--is called the Rhode Island Greening. Particularly appropriate now that I'm living in Rhode Island, isn't it?

I first read about it in a children's book set in the 1940s. The main character's mother decides she'll bake a pie to enter at the fair if she can find some of these heritage apples (they date at least to American Colonial times).

With the recent push for organic and heritage varieties of produce and meat I have high hopes, but we haven't found any yet.

It's entirely possible that I will simply have to buy my own tree. They are available, but it'll take up quite a lot of space in our small yard.

If anyone out there knows of a local orchard where I can find some, I'd be grateful!

And after I make the marmalade, I will post the recipe. As it happens, I found it in the (hardcover) Yankee cookbook, first published in 1939.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Still cooking. And knitting.

It's this autumn weather (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). I can't resist. Today I'm making chicken liver pate from the left-over livers that didn't make it into last night's meat loaf. And we'll have that with toast points. For a main course, sauteed mushrooms over toasted or fried polenta.

As for the knitting, it is ongoing. As usual, a plain vanilla pair of socks. These are really plain; just anklets made from my tough-as-nails (but comfortable) slubby yarn. This is the plum color.

There are two other pairs, too. One for DH, in blue, and a yellow pair for me, both designs from More Sensational Knitted Socks.

I finished a baby sweater that just reached its destination. Medium blue (Cascade 220 Superwash) with great buttons, kittens playing with a ball of yarn. And I've made a neck cowl for a Christmas gift. It's done and blocked; I only need to sew on the buttons.

There are two cardigans under way. One is corn yellow, worsted. The pattern is from the late 30s. I am also making the 1921 cardigan I mentioned a few posts ago. The yarn is peach colored sports weight.

And...I still have not put the early 30s pullover together! Ridiculous, I know. It will only take me a couple of hours at most, and I'll have a new sweater. (It had better fit.)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The New Blog Header

I owe this to two people.

One: the person who took the photo at a Chifferobe event early this year (I need to get his or her name and give credit).

Two: Ami of Charm City Daily .

Most of the credit goes to Ami. Many, many thanks!!!

Gem Brownies

I love brownies. Who doesn't? (Maybe the benighted creatures who don't like chocolate...but no one else springs to mind.)

My brownie recipe, which I will not be posting here (sorry, a gal has to have some secrets), is very adaptable. I make "regular" brownies, cranberry brownies, and gluten-free, dairy-free brownies. They're all good.

But there is one drawback; it's difficult to get all of them out of the pan and looking good. Brownies don't have to be pretty, but they shouldn't resemble the dog's dinner.

On Tuesday I went to a little dinner party and wanted to bring something sweet with me. Baking a regular batch of cookies would have taken too long, and I decided to try something different.

This is what I found: one basic brownie recipe will make 40 gem-sized brownies! I lined the gem tin with tiny paper frills (mini cupcake papers) and put about one teaspoon into each. Baked for 25 minutes, turning the pans a few times, and cooled, they were perfect.

Then I iced them with a mixture of milk chocolate and one square of bitter chocolate, with a dash of butter, and topped with colored sprinkles before the chocolate set.

Perfect little bites!

Now I want to make cranberry brownies that way for Christmas, topped with candied cranberries.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Happy October

Not that we're having what I'd call classic October weather...it's windy and breezy, true, but muggy. And the rain keeps spitting.

Even so, October. And to me, that means fall. I love fall. It's my favorite season, bar none, and even all these years out of school it makes me think of new beginnings, or at least a new start on an old project.

That means my book. I started an historical mystery in 2009, and was moving along very well until about a year ago, when I ground to a halt. Didn't outline the plot thoroughly, it got too complex, and bogged down in details (the story of my life, but not the story of a good mystery).

So here I go again, this time sparked not only by the month October, but also a chance remark by an acquaintance (a published writer) on Facebook. Thanks, Margery!

I will also be updating and changing the blog somewhat. I've changed the title to simply Art Deco Diva, though the link remains the same, at least at present. The photo at top has been changed, and I'm working on a proper header, which might take some time, as the code Word uses gives Blogger indigestion.

Here's to continuation and improvement, and new beginnings! Cheers.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cooking (and baking) from the Pantry

It's something I like to do. I mean that it's not only thrifty, but an interesting challenge, to make meals or desserts with what's on hand. There's a charm to it, a feeling that one has managed to fit puzzles pieces together. It's fun.

In addition to the 1933 Monitor Top refrigerator, we have a small chest freezer in the cellar. I love that thing, and it's the most modern kitchen appliance we own. It enables me to make stock and freeze it in large quantities and small, turn leftovers into something interesting and put the result away long enough to be appetizing again and buy food, meat particularly, when it's on sale.

Today I realized the cookie jar was empty and when I came to again it was quarter to four and there it was: gingerbread oatmeal cookies, plum-raspberry crisp, pan-roasted chicken with rosemary and root vegetables, and (for tomorrow) chicken ragu to be braised in beef stock and red wine, with more root vegetables.

All of the ingredients were here. The chicken had been defrosted from the freezer (five legs) and had to be used up; there was leftover beef stock and red wine. I keep potatoes and onions in the cellarway and always keep the baking cupboard (really) stocked.

The tricky part is cooking for two rather than four or more...DH gets as bored as a five-year old with leftovers, and I really hate to waste food. But I'm learning.

Here's the recipe for the cookies (adapted from Gingerbread: 99 Delicious Recipes from Sweet to Savory, by Linda Merinoff).

Gingerbread Oatmeal Cookies ~ 70 cookies

1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. molasses
1 c. white sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. white flour
1-1/4 c. rolled oats [uncooked]
3/4 c. bits of candied ginger

__________________________________________

Before you begin: pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Heavily grease cookie sheets, and when putting the dough on them, bake no more than 6 per sheet [they begin to stick only a minute or so out of the oven, and this way you've got a fighting chance to get them off the sheet without disaster].

Melt the butter and allow it to cool slightly.

Measure out the dry ingredients and whisk together. Beat the molasses and vanilla into the butter, then add the egg and blend. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together.

When the oven is hot, space the cookies at least 2" apart on the sheets (they will spread). Make each from one heaping teaspoon full of dough. If you like, neaten with your fingers after dipping them into cool water.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes, turning half-way through to ensure even baking. Use a spatula to remove and put onto racks quickly and carefully. If they stick too much, return to the oven for a moment and try again.

Cool cookies completely before storing. These are rich, a little sticky, chewy and crisp at the same time. If you like molasses you'll love them.