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


...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

Apple Pie

...and applesauce cheddar turnovers.

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


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'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.