Nostalgic Home

A Vintage View of Homekeeping

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.


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.


Watergate cake with cover-up frosting January 13, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Vintage Recipes — LotusMama @ 9:46 am

It all started innocently enough on Sunday morning. I sat down to do a little crocheting on a baby blanket before the rest of the house was awake. I typically like to have some background noise going while I crochet so I flipped on the TV, which just happened to be tuned to an infomercial hawking Time-Life’s Romantic Classics of the 1970s. Every song was one I knew. Now, given that I was born in 1971, my musical decade should be a little later but truly I probably know more 70s songs than any other decade. The commercial only played snippets of the songs but I got to hear Helen Reddy’s You and Me Against the World, Neil Sedaka’s Laughter in the Rain and one of my all-time favorite groups, Bread. In fact, IF this song doesn’t sum up the 70s love ballads, I’ll eat a whole pot of fondue:

I was listening to these bits of the 1970s, wishing they would play a bit of David Cassidy (they never did) and thinking I should get some John Denver songs off iTunes (because I wasn’t going to shell out 5 easy payments of $29 bucks for the compilation) when the next bit of 1970s culture hit me, though later that day.

My grandmother gave me her collection of vintage crochet patterns, circa 1975. There were many cute patterns mixed into the acrylic wonder that is 1970s crochet, but as any crochet fan will tell you, things kinda hit the skids for the craft during the 1970s. This was the age of bright orange ponchos and granny square hats, crochet bikinis and purple acrylic roller derby outfits. Crochet has only just begun to recover.

It was no coincidence that I was wearing my “bell bottom” jeans – well, bootcut is sort of like bell bottoms – and a pair of green suede wedgies. All I needed was a “Starsky and Hutch” style sweater and I would have been right in style for 1975.

Alright, so clearly I have the “Me Generation” in my mind lately. Sure, I enjoy reruns of Charlie’s Angels and I’ve been known to groove out to ABBA; I even saw KC & The Sunshine Band at my state fair and I still think Englebert Humperdinck is the best male singer ever.

Ok, I’ve said too much. Humperdinck has pushed me over the line, hasn’t he? Perhaps you will forgive me if I share another 1970s gem with you – the Watergate cake with cover-up frosting.

My family has loved the Watergate salad for years but I just discovered the recipe for the cake. Apparently, they are both likely named for the infamous break-in and cover-up; one explanation I read is that Nixon loved pistachios. Well, nothing says presidential crimes like pistachio pudding. So, if you are feeling a little nutty, get your Bee Gees album going (you know you have one) and try out this recipe.

“Here is a fantastic cake recipe that I like to prepare for special occasions,” writes Nels Wenman. “It was sent to me by a cousin in Arizona.”
Watergate Cake with Cover-Up Icing
1 (18 1/2-ounce) package white cake mix
1 (3 1/2-ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
3 eggs, unbeaten 3/4 cup oil
1 cup lemon-lime carbonated beverage
Cover-Up Icing
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil and lemon-lime in a bowl. Beat until well-blended. Pour into a greased and floured 13X9-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes. Cool. Spread with Cover-Up Icing and sprinkle with coconut and pecans.
Cover-Up Icing
2 (1 1/2-ounce) envelopes nondairy whipped topping mix
1 1/2 cups milk
1 (3 1/2-ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
Beat whipped topping mix, milk and pudding mix together until smooth and thick.”
—“My Best Recipe,” Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1976

I found the recipe at my favorite historical food site so all proper credit has been given; I too am not a crook.


Random Recipe Monday – WWII cake November 10, 2008

Filed under: Baking,Hard Time Helpings,Nostalgic Homemaking,Vintage Recipes — LotusMama @ 4:25 pm

Veterans’ Day is tomorrow. Right now, the population of new veterans seems to be growing and the population of old veterans declining. No matter the war front, we are grateful for their service and I hope everyone can thank their veterans or remember the ones that are now gone.

In that spirit, I thought a recipe from the past might be interesting and for those who are lucky to still have WWII vets in their lives, perhaps a bit nostalgic. I found this recipe at recipecurio, which is a new site to me but one I’ll be checking out frequently – she has done a great job preserving older recipes.

This particular recipe was written in the time of rationing so you’ll notice the absence of butter or shortening. Not such a bad idea from a cholesterol standpoint anyway. I think the “milk” should be whole milk though. The cake recipe is called “spring beauty” but lemon flavor in November sounds fine by me.


1 cup sifted Swans Down Cake Flour
1 teaspoon Calumet Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons hot milk.

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift together three times. Beat eggs with rotary egg beater until thick enough to stand up in soft peaks (5 to 7 minutes); add sugar gradually, beating constantly. Add lemon juice. Fold in flour, a small amount at a time. Add hot milk and stir quickly until thoroughly blended. Turn at once into ungreased tube pan and bake in moderate oven (350° F.) 35 minutes, or until done. Remove from oven and invert pan, 1 hour, or until cold. Remove from pan.


Fabulous Fifty State Tour – Oregon and Sour Cream & Raisin Pie September 16, 2008

Filed under: Baking,Fabulous Fifty State Tour,Vintage Recipes — LotusMama @ 6:19 pm

I have always liked driving into Oregon. Sure, there is some gorgeous scenery, quaint towns and lovely coastline, but mainly because it means that I don’t have to pump my own gas. Yep, you can’t pump your gas in Oregon, and I find that very civilized. The state also lacks a sales tax, which certainly is appreciated by those folks who live along the southern Washington border and who don’t mind committing a little fraud to buy big ticket items. Not that anyone from Washington would do such a thing.

The Beaver state has more than gas and sales tax going for it, though. It is the place for hazelnuts, peppermint and black raspberries – though I don’t think I’ll try them all at once, thank you. Lewis and Clark, the original road trip duo, explored there and who can forget the adventures of The Goonies along the coast near Astoria (goodbye, One Eyed Willie, goodbye). Matt Groening (Simpsons, Futurama), Ursula K LeGuin (fantasy author), Tanya Harding and Courtney Love have all called Oregon home – certainly all creative types in their own special way.

The state motto though has me puzzled: “She flies with her own wings”. Ummmm…I don’t get it. Maybe some savvy Oregonian can clue me in. And speaking of unusual, the state’s official seashell is the Oregon hairy triton. Wow, that’s something you don’t hear about everyday.

So I guess this was a long way of saying that Oregon is a bit quirky – but in a good, wearing birks with socks, loving hiking and trail mix, we have 231 state parks, kind of way. And what better way to celebrate that off-beat spirit than a vintage sour cream & raisin pie recipe from Scappoose, Oregon. Nothing says off-beat like raisin pie to me.


Random Recipe Monday – Sourdough Bread August 11, 2008

Filed under: Baking,Vintage Recipes — LotusMama @ 8:42 pm

I am in a Western state of mind lately. It probably got started with watching 3:10 to Yuma, which was a good movie once the thing got started. I’m also doing a bit of research into my great grandmother and her journey in a covered wagon to San Francisco. Add to that my wish to take a City Slickers-type vacation to a dude ranch, and well, you can see why Western stuff is popping up lately.

For the most part, I’m not a big fan of Western style culture. I don’t own cowboy boots, I don’t dig rodeos or even country music. Roping and riding aren’t my hobbies and I wouldn’t know a working end of rifle from the business end of a cow. All that said, however, I still find the lifestyle of the pioneers and those that journeyed out into the west to be fascinating.

I mean, imagine coming to a land with nothing but the provision in your wagon and your own self-reliance. No grocery stores, no mercantiles, no place to restock your food pantry. Hard enough to imagine baking bread on a daily basis, let alone needing to keep a starter going for the yeast. I find it amazing that people not only survived but thrived in this kind of environment.

So, as I just finished making a peanut butter sandwich for NR on grocery store bread, I salute those pioneer cooks who did it the hard way. Here is a recipe for a modernized sourdough bread. I think I’ll mix up a mess of pork and beans, a loaf of this and rent a few more Westerns from Netflix. Yeehaw, everybody.


Ace of Cakes we ain’t August 4, 2008

Filed under: Baking,Holidays,NR,Vintage Recipes — LotusMama @ 6:35 am

We had NR’s birthday bash on Sunday and it was a fine day for it. Sunny skies, warm but not too hot, tables in the shade and family willing to travel to our house in the hinterlands – good times. We chowed on rootbeer glazed ham, curried potato salad and baked beans. NR had chosen “ham on a ham bone” for his meal, so I finally found a ham shank that would fit the bill. Finding a ham that isn’t pressed meat with water added is not as easy as you would think.

He also did a look-see through my copy of “Hello, Cupcake” (see the widget at the bottom for info on this fun cupcake book) and selected bowling pin cupcakes (of all things). I expected him to pick the sharks or the horses or even the big alligator, but nothing doing – it was bowling pins for the non-bowling kid. Alrighty, that was what he wanted, so that’s what I was going to make for him.

Or make that “we” were going to make for him. Hubby stepped up to the challenge and almost single-handedly crafted these towers of cupcakes and donut holes. All would have been well if I hadn’t made a mistake on the frosting side of it. Truth be told, I don’t often do canned frosting because I don’t care for the flavor. I have in the past used a canned cream cheese frosting that tastes pretty good so when the recipe suggested canned frosting, I went with my whipped cream cheese. Bad idea. The frosting needed to be warmed to a melty goo consistency so the cupcakes could be dipped (think chocolate dipped ice cream cones) and the bowling pins given their white veneer. Unfortunately, the whipped cream cheese frosting decompressed and turned a strange yellowy-white.

Never ones to be defeated by confectioners’ sugar, we opted to merely frost the pins with the frosting and omit the dunking. The end result was a bit more impressionistic than we might have hoped but NR liked them just the same. As the birthday boy, he ate the one bowling ball that accompanied the pins.

Worry-wart that I am, I decided to make a back up dessert to the cupcakes. I just wasn’t convinced that they would taste alright (they did). Our back up was a 7-UP cake – NR is a big fan of lemon/lime sodas. I had never made one before but the ingredients were fairly straightforward, if laden with butter. I mixed it up, plopped it in the bundt pan and hoped for the best.

I think, in the end, the cupcakes were favored more than the 7-UP cake. The cake was fine, if a bit dense like a pound cake, but it didn’t have a big lemon/lime taste. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but if I made it again, I’d add some additional zing to the mix.

So, this is all a really long way of saying that hubby and I are not Aces of Cakes yet, but we gave a good attempt with those cupcakes. They were fun to make (when we weren’t freaking out over yellow frosting) and how often do you get to debate the merits of carved donuts with your spouse?

If you are interested in the vintage 7-UP cake recipe, check out this one. I used a version from America’s Lost Recipes, but this one is pretty close.