Monday, July 30, 2012

My Husband Says Old Books Follow Me Home......

           Actually they don't, but it does seem that I have a penchant for finding something to love in the most dilapidated old books at an estate sale.  This one was so worn it had been put in a ziploc bag to keep the pieces could I resist when the package said "Handwritten Cookbook 1922"!!

           This time my treasure came in the form of a three-ring binder about 6" x 9" with what had been a very nice cover.  It reminds me of the texture and embossed look of a school yearbook; this one has a lovely scripted "Recipes" and a steaming casserole on the cover.  
           The inside back cover lists the maker and a patent (?) from December of 1904.  The inside front cover is inscribed by "Blanche"  with her thought "The way to a Man's Heart" and November 8th, 1922.  Was this something that this young girl used to collect recipes for her hope chest...from an era when proper young ladies began planning their future households early?   Was this a wedding gift?
           The dividers inside are alphabetical:  Cakes, Desserts, Drinks, Eggs, Fish, Game, Ices, Leftovers, Meats, Oysters (????), Pastry, Pickles, Poultry, Preserves, Salads, Soups, Vegetables, and Misc.  Never would have thought that oysters deserved a divider of their own!!  Each and every division has handwritten recipes... except for the Leftovers, Oysters, and Pickles!

            In some places Blanche's handwriting is hard to decipher, so please take these recipes with the proverbial grain of salt...they're just too charming not to share.  If there's a question mark, it means I think that's what it says!
Ice Box Rolls
1 quart milk: scald, cool
1 cup sugar ?
1 cup lard
1 cup mashed potatoes, cold
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
1 cake yeast, dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
1 quart flour
          Mix like you would cake dough.  Let stand one hour and add enough flour to make stiff dough.  Let raise (sic) and use as needed.

Graham Cracker Dessert
(not a lot of measuring here!!)
1/2# marshmallows
1/2 cup thin cream
1/2# dates
1/2# graham crackers
1/2 cup nuts
           Mix thoroughly and roll and cool in ice box.  Cut and serve.

Eggless Milkless Cake 
(If memory serves me correctly, this might have come from the Depression years?)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1/2 box raisins
2 Tbls. butter or lard
1 tsp each of allspice, cinnamon and cloves.
          Boil slowly for 15 minutes.  When entirely cold, stir in 1 tsp soda dissolved in 1/3 cup water.  Add this to 2-1/2 cups flour and 1 heaping tsp flour which has been sifted three times ??   Last of all add 2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 cup nuts.  Bake slowly for one hour.

Mrs. Miller's Salad Dressing
3 eggs
1 Tbls flour
3 Tbls sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1 small can Carnation milk.
Lump of butter.

           There's not a clue as to where to go from here......

G. Walrod's Salad Dressing
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 Tbls flour, mixed with the sugar
1/2 cup sweet milk
Pinch of salt
1 Tbls mustard
1 Tbls butter or oil

Beat together.  When good and hot, add 3/4 cup vinegar (?).  Double boiler.
One would assume that the double boiler was used from the start!

There are a couple more recipes that I'm still trying to decipher before I tuck Blanche's labor of love into my files.  

           In our hurried lifestyles today where scheduling around work, various practices for the kids, and looking for a bit of personal time in our lives is a constant headache, there's a bit of charm (and certainly nostalgia) in looking back at a time when by a certain time in the afternoon, the homemaker tied her apron around her waist, gathered her ingredients, and began creating a home-cooked meal for her family.  Children and husband came into a house filled with the aromas of home cooking and the words "Wash your hands and get ready for dinner."  

           We certainly have a lot of conveniences today that they never dreamed of...a lot of them we wouldn't want to give up!  There is a bit of wistfulness sometimes in looking old handwritten cookbook seems to share that with us!
             I found the lower three pictures in some copies of "American Cookery" from the 1920's which I have listed in my store "The Vintage Bookworm."

Monday, July 16, 2012

For the Love of Blue Willow!

          First of all, let me be perfectly clear that I don't need anything else collectible to love!  As a matter of fact, I've been trying lately to ignore any auction or estate sale that might tempt me.   This just proves what I've suspected for some time...some collectibles will find you!
         This particular collection belonged to a great-great aunt in a family who needed help in finding new homes for quite a few items of blue willow that she particularly doted on.  She absolutely loved the pattern and tended to surround herself with whatever she found....that included even sheets and pillowcases, tea towels, some extraordinary table linens, and pieces of the china in just about any form.  It was an extensive collection.  
         Since my husband and I both love the fresh clean look of cobalt blue and white, we said...not a problem!   In fact you'll find it in lots of places throughout our home, so this would be a labor of love...of course!   

          It's been downhill from there.....

         Armed with a sort of inventory list from the family and tackling 2 huge bins, I found myself surrounded with more pieces than I could ever imagine!  Every surface in the living and dining room soon had stacks of china on them! 

         Should have known......

          I started by listing just a few "cute" pieces in one of my stores and immediately met a great collector!  The kitty cat planter turned out to be a "twin" of sorts!  Clay Calhoun had a bank that matched the planter...the two pieces were identical in style and I had a new friend!  Clay has been collecting for some time now and loves to find unique pieces.  (You'll want to look at his Facebook page..."My Blue Willow Collection" with his name and see some fascinating items!)  After perusing the list I sent him, he asked for pictures of other pieces...and we were off and running.  And my education has fast become a priority!  I've been finding out how much I didn't know!

          The biggest surprise came when I started researching for him what was called on the list a "trivet."  

          Looked like one.....
         Didn't even come close!  According to a very helpful blog (Nancy's Daily Dish), this is called a "mezannine", more commonly a "strainer" or a "drainer."   They were used in the bottoms of serving dishes to drain the juices from meats, etc!  Innovative and practical!  (Thank you, Nancy.)  The one I had fit the bottom of a deep serving dish, a tureen,  that had its own platter.  Now it's in Clay's collection.
   I've been taking pictures and listing a few items as I go; what's been listed so far is on      
     The clever little dachshund can be arranged as you wish and will hold nibbles or condiments and such!  
         Obviously blue willow has kept up with the times with an instant coffee canister and an electric coffee pot!  With what other things I've already researched there will be some fascinating finds to tell you about.  

         By the way, the queen-sized sheets and pillowcases are stunning!   Just thought I'd drop a hint.....