Nostalgic Home

A Vintage View of Homekeeping

Paul Blart and Sloppy Joes February 2, 2009

Filed under: Cooking — LotusMama @ 10:23 am
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You might find this hard to believe but I’ve never made a sloppy joe. The name is what turns me off. It’s so..sloppy. Plus, whenever those Manwich commercials come on, I always think “Gee, that doesn’t look good” so sloppy joes have never made it into my repertoire.

Until tonight that is and it is thanks to Paul Blart, mall cop. For anyone who saw this film (and I’m with you in your suffering) you know that Paul Blart thinks his sadness would be cured by some sloppy joes and sweet potato fries for lunch. I’ll agree with him on the sweet potato fries, but sloppy joes? I chalked that comment up to Paul’s too frequent consumption of mall food.

Not so, says hubby. He loves sloppy joes. In fact, he made a point of saying that he’d be happy to have some anytime I wanted to make them. Alrighty then….I guess sloppy joes are now on the menu but I don’t have a clue how to make them. Perhaps this list of different recipes for sloppy joes will give me some help. I really can’t go with the Manwich stuff – honest. The name alone makes me shiver.

Any advice from fans of sloppy joes?


When life hands you cable, make french pot roast January 30, 2009

Filed under: Cooking,Global Homemaking — LotusMama @ 1:39 pm

I’m trapped home today, all thanks to the cable guy/gal. It’s a long story, best saved for some snowy night in front of the fire, but suffice to say that our long-awaited high speed internet will be installed today – between noon and four o’clock. 

Or so I believe. Which means I’m stuck home today. I could have gotten up early and done the few errands I have hanging on me but morning are generally reserved for “school time” for NR and heck, I just didn’t have the oomph in me today anyway. So we’re putting off the pharmacy and the library until tomorrow.

The good news about being at home with no plans to leave is that I can finally try out a time-intensive recipe that I’ve been wanting to eat – French style pot roast. Considering this very old dish used to take up to three days to make, I won’t balk at the four hours or so it is going to take today. Most of the that time is hands-off time – roasting in the oven – so I can get some crochet done while I watch “Amelie” (and finally know why so many people love this French film).  Wow, you’d think I planned all this Gallic fun in advance but it is just a coincidence. Quel Surprise!

The red wine is reducing on the stove and the garlic cloves are all pressed. I can tell you that the house smells delicious and if I only had a fresh baguette to munch on, I’d be a happy camper (or whatever that translates to in French) right now. But I’ll get by with my ham sandwich until dinnertime.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.


The Pantry Challenge January 27, 2009

Filed under: Cooking,Resolutions,Righteous Fury — LotusMama @ 10:31 am
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Food prices are insane. No matter what you buy, the price of it has gone up – sometimes by quite a bit. People have been complaining loudly about gas prices, especially when it was over three bucks a gallon, but hardly a peep was mentioned about the rising cost of butter or milk or kumquats (love the word, hate the fruit). Not nearly enough attention is focused on this issue. Everybody has to eat and everybody should be able to eat good food but with prices as they are that isn’t always possible. Life, liberty and the pursuit of produce, I say. Time for a uproar on the status of our vegetables, a State of the Pantry address to let us know just what is being done about the inflation of pork bellies and orange juice. Maybe I can email Keith Olbermann somehow and get him to do a Special Comment. “You, Sir Loin, should be ashamed of yourself and your constant grabbing for more money…”

Anystew, after a trip to the store for a bit of this and a bit of that which prompted much agitation at the cost of said this and said that, I decided to challenge myself to clean out my pantry and use up what I have. I’m going to stretch my dollar by digging out those cans of beans, those half-empty boxes of rice or pasta, the lone jar of spaghetti sauce or tomato paste or chicken broth.

The trick to this particular challenge is that I didn’t know I would be doing this so I didn’t stock up on essentials – onions, beef broth, crushed tomatoes. What I have in the pantry is what I have to work with – all week. No beef broth? Ok, I have bouillon cubes. No tomato sauce? Ok, I have tomato paste. Sure, you can’t swap out everything for something else – nothing will substitute for onion, even onion powder – but I’ll have to get creative with what I have.

For example, tonight’s dinner is going to involve ham because that’s what I happen to have. I have half a bag of Great Northern Beans, carrots (but no onions). I think I’ll be making a batch of Navy Bean soup. I have some biscuit dough in the fridge, so that will probably go with it. The leftover soup will by Hubby’s lunch tomorrow and the frozen hamburger is thawing right now for some kind of meatloaf tomorrow. No ready-made bread crumbs in the pantry so I’ll be making those from scratch – which is better anyway.

Things might get dicey as I only have 11 eggs in my fridge right now. Those eggs are going to have to last all week and if I bake bread or make cookies or do anything that takes more than 1 or 2 eggs, I’m going to be in hard shape. Can’t really substitute an egg. Even milk I could get around – frighteningly, I happen to have some powdered milk in the cupboard for some recipe that needed it – but eggs are pretty tough to fake. So I’ll be checking my plans carefully and making sure that my eggs last me until the end of the week.

What’s the point of all this? Well, first and foremost it is a chance to see what I can do with what I have. I’m one of those bad planners that tends to go to the store several times a week for different ingredients because I’m coming up with dinner plans only a day or so in advance – I know, it’s a bad habit. Remember, magpie.

Secondly, it’s my own little protest against the price of food right now. A sit-in, at the kitchen table. And finally, it is a chance to really go through my cupboards and use up what is languishing in there. My pantry is tall and deep so things get pushed to the back and they stay there, mainly because I can’t see them. Eventually, we’re going to revamp the pantry so I can pull out the shelves, but for now it is what it is.

So wish me luck on my little challenge. I’ll report my progress and perhaps photograph my soon-to-be empty pantry as evidence. I wonder if the new administration will have a Food Prices Czar appointment soon. I have a feeling that we could use one.


Toad in the Hole and Bubble & Squeak January 26, 2009

Filed under: Cooking,Jane Austen,Vintage Recipes — LotusMama @ 9:18 am

How do things get their names? One day Ogg discovers the flamey thing on a piece of wood and decides to call it fire? Someone happens to mix together chocolate, eggs, flour and comes up with Devil’s Food? I’m always wondering how things became and how they were named. Looking back, even just into culinary history, I have to wonder about the discovery of yeast, the creation of souffle and eating really stinky cheese. How sad that the person who figured out the right proportions of fat and flour to make pastry is lost to time. Unlike more modern kitchen creations, we don’t have magazine articles and contest winners to tell us the cook behind chicken and dumplings or oatmeal cookies, but for some recipes we do have some really wonderful names.

Has anyone tried Toad in the Hole or Bubble and Squeak? Two English recipes with probably the best names ever. Toad in the Hole is sausages (containing no toad) that are cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter and Bubble & Squeak is mashed potatoes cooked with cabbage. Our Toady recipe is not to be confused with Eggs in a Basket, which is a fried egg cooked inside a piece of bread with a hole in the center. Toad in the Hole seems to have been around since the mid-1700s, and likely had a precursor of “pigeon in a hole” which actually did contain pigeon. Ahem. I’ll stick with toad…err…sausage. Although sausage can be….oh well, best not to think about it.

Another Brit gift in the world of interesting food names is Bangers and Mash. Quite simply large sausages and mashed potatoes, Bangers and Mash sounds far tastier (and even better if you put on a heavy British accent).

For those fond of Ms. Jane Austen and cheese (not necessarily in that order), why not give Welsh Rarebit a try (Apparently, she was a fan of “toasted cheese”, a cousin of this dish). No rarebit or rabbit is involved, merely loads of cheese, cream and some yummy toast. Why is it that the recipes with the best names are always so full of fat? Hmmmm.

Well, I’m off to fry up a little sausage for my own Toad in the Hole. If you know of any wonderfully wacky food names, please pass them on.


I’m at W-C-h-i-l-i in Cincinnati….. January 21, 2009

Filed under: Cooking — LotusMama @ 9:11 am
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My sum total of knowledge about Ohio is that 1) there is a river with that name, 2) it is an important state to win in presidential politics and 3) that the late 70s-early 80s TV show “WKRP” was set in Cincinnati.

I used to really like the show. Perhaps because I had a distant relative that reminded me of Herb Tarlek and Les Nessman, rolled into one. Maybe it was because Howard Hesseman was hilarious as Johnny Fever. Or maybe it was because I was still a kid; I watched a re-run recently and the funniest thing I saw was the retro clothing and Loni Anderson’s hairdo. It was during this viewing that I concocted the theory that Gary Sandy (Andy) hasn’t aged and is now working as Nathan Fillion. Check out the resemblance:

180px-wkrp_bailey_and_andymalreynoldsfirefly(Thank you wikpedia for the images.)

You see the resemblance, don’t you? Really? No? Oh well.

But I digress (and quickly change the subject). I said that I knew three things about Ohio but I should have listed a fourth. Watching an episode of Cook’s Country on Sunday, I discovered Cincinnati Chili. It’s about as different from chili as you can get really; more of a sauce than a chili. It is served on top of spaghetti. The spices involved are chili powder, minced garlic, oregano, allspice and cinnamon. Yeah, cinnamon. There are no beans in the chili – those are served on top like a topping.  No crushed tomatoes either – tomato sauce is used.

I know, it sounds weird. For people used to western style chili this is something really out there. Curious to see what makes this dish famous, I made some up using Cook’s Country’s top recipe. I was skeptical at putting the raw hamburger in the simmering sauce (the meat cooks there, no browning ahead of time, as I’m used to) and I really was doubtful about the cinnamon. I piled the spaghetti on a plate, doused it with the chili and used kidney beans, cheese and some sour cream as toppings. The first bite was…interesting. All I could taste was the cinnamon. But once I got over that, the flavor and the texture with the spaghetti kind of grew on me. NR pronounced it “great” which he never does with chili. Hubby agreed that the next batch needed less cinnamon. The recipe called for 1 1/2 teaspoons and I think I’ll be dropping it down to half a teaspoon total.

But yes, we’ll be making it again. I’ll try some raw red onion on it next time for a little punch. It was curiously good and though not really chili in my book, good enough that we’ll make up another batch and tweak it some more. Maybe we’ll even watch WKRP episodes and I’ll look for more evidence for my Gary Sandy/Nathan Fillion theory. (Ah gentleman, I jest, I jest….or do I?)

I would share the exact recipe with you but I had to register with Cook’s Country to get it and I doubt they would like me to share it. So you can either register yourself at or do a google for Cincinnati Chili. Beware of recipes that call for chocolate or cumin; neither was in the recipe.


Apres ski? January 15, 2009

Filed under: Cooking,In Season,Vintage Recipes — LotusMama @ 10:35 am
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Strangely, I had a dream last night about skiing. I say strangely because I’ve only been skiing twice in my life and that was many years ago. On both occassions, I was fairly certain that I would be dying that day on the slopes, which of course begs the question why did I do it twice?

Anyski, I had this dream right before waking up and now of course all I can think of are ski lodges, hot chocolate and wool sweaters. Today, we have plenty of fog (which I always enjoy, except when driving in it) but no snow. Not that I could take advantage of snow for skiing even if I had it, unless I planned to use spatulas as skis.

So, what’s a snowless ski bunny to do? Ski the Web of course:

Apres SkiA 1970s ski party*, complete with fondue – what could be better than that? Ok, a few things could be better than that, but this is fun too. Luckily, I have my mother’s Betty Crocker recipe cards, with those great retro photos (retro now, perfectly stylish then). Check out these beauties:

apresskiFor your retro dining, apres ski pleasure, here is Oven Stew, Hot Cran-Apple Cider and Cheese Fondue:

Oven Stew

4 pounds beef round steak cut into 1 inch cubes

4 cups of sliced carrots

2 cups sliced celery

4 medium onions, sliced

2 cans (5 oz each) water chestnuts, drained and sliced

2 cans (6 oz each) sliced mushrooms, drained

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2tablespoons salt

2 cans (16 oz each) tomatoes

2 cups Burdundy (2 cups water plus 2 teaspoons instant beef bouillon can be substituted for the Burgundy)

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In roasting pan or 2 Dutch ovens, mix meat, carrots, celery, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms. Mix flour, sugar and salt; stir into meat mixture. Stir in tomatoes and Burgundy. Cover; bake 4 hours or until meat is tender. 12 servings.

Hot Cran-Apple Cider:

In a large kettle, combine 2 quarts apple cider, 1 1/2 quarts cranberry cocktail, 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed), four 3 inch sticks cinnamon and 1 1/2 teaspoons of whole cloves. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Strain. 25 servings (about 1/2 cup each)

Swiss Fondue

1 pound Swiss cheese (aged 6 months)

2 tablespoons flour

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 cup dry white wine (Rhine, Reisling, Chablis)

2 tablespoons kirsch or sherry

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspooon nutmeg

Dash white pepper

Dippers (below)

Cut cheese into ¼ inch cubes (about 4 cups). Sprinkle flour on cheese; toss until cheese is coated. In earthenware fondue pot, heat garlic and wine over low heat until bubbles rise to surface (do not allow wine to boil). Add cheese mixture, ½ cup at a time, stirring after each addition until cheese is melted and blended. Stir in kirsch and seasonings.

Transfer pot to source of heat at table. Adjust head to keep fondue just bubbling. Speak Dippers and swirl in fondue with a figure-eight motion. Stir fondue occasionally. If fondue becomes too thick, stir in about ½ cup warm white wine. 4 servings.

Dippers: 1 inch cubes crusty bread, cubed cooked ham, cooked Brussels sprouts.

*Great photo found here.


When I say tofu, you say delicious…Tofu – January 8, 2009

Filed under: Cooking — LotusMama @ 1:17 pm

Did I miss hearing the Delicious part of that chant? Ok, I know there are many many many people who love tofu, who eat it all the time and who wax poetic about bean curds. That has never been me. I can honestly say that the very few times I’ve tried tofu I have not liked it. A couple of those times were my own feeble attempts and once was in a restaurant – I think I had my mind made up to hate it before I tried it so that one doesn’t count either.

So, what’s the beef? Errr, what’s the bean? Well, the bean is that like most of us, I’m trying to start the new year off on a better foot, so to speak. I’m trying to up the fruits and veggies that we eat (and no, the raspberry jam I’ve been inhaling the last few days on french toast doesn’t count). My little family has two very picky eaters who really don’t like things that are 1) new, 2) green, 3)healthy, or 4) not pizza. That makes adding good stuff to the menu difficult.

But I have a promise from Picky Eater No 1 that he will try to give tofu another chance (Picky No 2 hasn’t had it before, so I have been raving it up as the best thing ever). The trick is finding a recipe that uses tofu to its advantage. Since tofu is fairly bland, I thought finding something with a sauce that has zip would be a good. Our experiment tonight is Tofu with Peanut-Ginger Sauce. Peanut sauce is usually an ok flavor enhancer with the Picky Eaters and this recipe even works some spinach into the mix – talk about getting a double whammy of veggie goodness. Yeah, it has peanut butter, but heck, one hurdle at a time. Besides, I’m convinced the tofu, spinach and mushrooms cancel out any issues with the peanuts. I’ll let you know how the recipe goes tonight. I really hope that it works well for us all because we can use the break from beef. (It won’t be a long break because tomorrow is Corned Beef and Spuds for dinner – Mmmmm)

If you have any favorite tofu recipes, please pass them on. I’m on a mission to add this bean curd to our menu.