Saturday, January 31, 2009

What's Cooking? Granola!

Granola has long been a breakfast favorite of mine. I would make it from scratch on occasion but I always eat it up so quickly no one else gets a chance. Now that we're trying to be more frugal and cereal, especially granola, is so expensive, I decided it was time begin making in on a regular basis. To make it more economical I now buy most of the ingredients in bulk at Costco. Oats, nuts, honey etc, and share the excess with my mother, who taught me the joys of homemade granola at a young age.
Just about the easiest breakfast food ever, granola is so easy to tailor to your preferences. You can't really mess it up unless you burn it, turning it bitter. The key to all the wonderful flavors is toasting the ingredients before baking.
This is a very basic recipe and you can add or subtract to preferences.
About 8 cups.
One container of Quaker rolled oats (about 6 cups) Not instant or 1-minute oats
2 cups mixed nuts and seeds - walnuts, almonds, sunflower, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews etc. Chop larger nuts.
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
pinch of salt and any spice you like (cinnamon, nutmeg etc)
About 3/4 cup honey (I put in almost a full cup for a little more sweetness)
1 cup raisins
1) Preheat oven to 300
2) Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add the oats and toast them until fragrant and turn color slightly, about 5 minutes or so, depending how deep your pan is. Stir frequently. Pour oats into large bowl. Next add the nuts and toast several minutes, add coconut and toast for several minutes.
Next add salt, spices if any, and stir to mix. Add nuts to bowl with oats. Stir in the honey, mixing well.
3) Spread onto 2 cookie sheets and bake for 20-30 minutes, occasionally stirring and rotating pans. Do not let it over-brown.
4) Remove from oven and stir in raisins. Let cool completely before storing.
If you make a half batch you can do step 2 all in the pan, just cook the oats a minute or two less before adding nuts. No need to transfer to a bowl.
I dare you not to have a bowl before it cools completely!

(Apologies for no line breaks. Sometimes blogger likes to have it's own way.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Two day, two towns, a lot of thrifting

I spent the last couple days at my mother's and we had some fun!

I have finally discovered the joys of thrifting. Used bookstores, thrift shops, yard and rummage sales, oh joy! It's been a two-fold process actually. First I just shopped around for cookbooks and jello molds. Second, it's been about getting interested with my mother in preserving and stockpiling our pantries.

Along with my goofy finds like the ones pictured here, we are collecting books on canning/preserving, drying, vegetable gardens and any other book on preparedness and self-sufficiency, making as much home-made as possible. Also tins, jars and Tupperware for pantry storage (I'll get more into this in another post). Vintage or newer, as long as it's in good, food-safe condition.

Along with my sharing my retro finds I also hope to share some valuable information from these other books. Knowing how to make a good gelatin mold may not be a valuable skill but knowing how to make your own cleansers is. Getting back to basics is a good thing. Gelatin, not so much.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Mighty Meat Loaf

It's been mighty chilly in my neck of the woods and comfort food sounds awfully good. And what's more comforting than meat loaf? While going through more vintage cookbooks I came across the Better Homes & Gardens Meat Cook Book (1967).

I love the BH&G cookbooks. They are always lavishly illustrated with graphics and photos. I can't wait to add more to my collection! But let's get back to the meat of the post. shall we?
There is a whole chapter on ground meat amd meat loaves. And not just beef. They also desecrate ham, veal and lamb! This photo has so much going on it's hard to focus. Oh where to start? The colorful and tangy chili-sauce topped Twin Meat Loaves? Or perhaps the traditional Favorite Beef Loaf with herbed tomatoes? No, I think the Glazed Ham-loaf Ring takes the cake. Er, loaf.

I won't list the entire recipe for each loaf but I must share some of the highlights. The "chili-sauce topper" on the Twin Loaves is complicated- roll loaves in bread crumbs and dump hot sauce on it. What technique!

The Favorite Beef-Loaf is a traditional recipe with one secret ingredient no longer found in modern kitchens. Good old monosodium glutamate. Mmmm, MSG.

The show-stopping Glazed Ham-loaf Ring is first glazed in a sweet and sour sauce, then drizzled with a zippy mustard sauce (vinegar, egg and mayo)!

Now get out there and make a mighty meat loaf! Your family will hate you for it!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Odd Product Photography

As I said yesterday, I've been scanning my collection of vintage books and ephemera and uploading them to Flickr. It's a blast to look through all these and to laugh at the unappetizing food and out of date fashions. It's also interesting to note the changes in product photography as time goes on.

But some just defy all tradition. Take these photos from a Kerr Home Canning booklet, 1958. It's just bizarre. Ok, I get the scripture/bounty reference but what's with the ferns and cherries? And how about this one below. Mauve walls, well ok, that's just the era, but what's with the "framed" fake roses? And the way the shot is set up the flowers almost steal the focal point of the photo.

This is by far my favorite. Porcelain deer figurine, pine boughs, strawberry shortcake and a frosty jar of preserves!

If any of you have ever taken basic drawing classes you know that you always get stuck doing still-life arrangements for a while. They are usually a random collection of objects - a bottle, shell, pillow, steer skull and bicycle wheel. These photos remind me of those objects. Totally random and thrown in for visual interest.

I'm just not sure how on earth it's supposed to encourage you to can your own goods!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Vintage Magazines and Questionable Foods

One of my goals on the road trip was to find more vintage goodies. I hit the jackpot! I picked up oodles of vintage magazines such as this Calling All Girls magazine I had never heard of before. I also picked up a bunch of Cosmo's, Mademoiselle, and Good Housekeeping, all from the late 1940's. For a $1 each!

I also found more of these little cooking booklets. Usually, but not always product-sponsored, they are always packed with unusual (and regrettable) recipes and great photos.

And of course, the cook books. I have quite a few now and it's apparent that it's become a habit. I have found dozens of Flickr groups sharing all manner of these items and I'm afraid I'm going to destroy these gems in the process of scanning them all!

And an ever popular item, vintage ads.

Mmmmm, breaded, deep-fried bananas!

I'll be sharing many, many more in the future but feel free to check out my Flickr and my Flickr groups to see the wealth of vintage fun out there!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

...Wait, weren't you already married?

No, but we are now!

My sweetie and I have been together for 9 years but never married. I suppose I'm just about the only woman who never dreamed of a big wedding and doodled my future married name on every surface when younger.

My sweetie travels a great deal for work and once in a while I like to go with him to see some of the country and just because I otherwise wouldn't see a whole lot of him! This trip took us through WA, OR, CA and NV. About 8 hours outside of Las Vegas I decided I was ready to tie the knot and Sweetie was game too!

We called up a friend who lives in Vegas and recruited him as witness and driver (he found us the adorable Little Chapel of the West) and bang! Married!
So I had to laugh when I got home and saw the pile of vintage books near my computer, waiting to be scanned. On the top of the pile....

Appropriate, no?

Circa 1946 this book is old-fashioned to say the least. My favorite part is the extensive 8 page compatibility survey in the back. Each answer rates you points, the more points the more likely the compatibility. It was too long and out of date to be fun to fill out for myself but some of the more interesting questions include:

*Age at which you stopped going to Sunday school
*Number of "steady" relationships before meeting your spouse
*Number of social organizations you belong to
*Are parents of superior or reputable status in community
*Under 'marital status of parents' you receive the highest score if your mother is dead!
*Big points for growing up in the country but now living in the suburbs

We celebrated our 2 week anniversary yesterday :D

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm back! Again.

I went on the road with my sweetie for two weeks fully prepared to be digitally mobile when my laptop dies the night before departure. Figures. Anyway, I'm back, with a new camera, a load of great new vintage cookbooks and some other big news to share.

Come back tomorrow to find out what it is!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 never smelled so good!

I'm back from my unintentional blogging hiatus and ready to renew and redirect my blogging efforts. Part of this will be getting back to the basics of running a home, now and 1950's style! I have a wonderful resource at my fingertips with a great collection of vintage home, cooking and etiquette books that I hope to share with you!

But for now I'll leave you with a taste of one of my resolutions. Bread making! I love making bread but do it seldom enough that it still holds a lot of mystery for me. It really is such a magical process. And my most favorite scent in the whole world...fresh baked yeasty bread!

This week I tried Sourdough for the first time. I made my started and watched it over several days like a kid watches a fishbowl. Finally it was time to play with it. I love my Kitchen Aid for kneading, especially since I don't have a proper spot in my kitchen to do it by hand.

I loved watching it rise. Both times! I've never made a round loaf before and purely enjoyed shaping that wonderful dough into the right shape.

I've known for a while that my oven is a little on the hot side but didn't account for it well enough, thus the loaf is a little darker than I like. But the die for! And while it wasn't nearly as sour as I'd hoped (new starter already a-bubbling!) it made for an excellent artisan bread. Yay! Isn't it perdy!
How many of you make your own bread? What's your favorite?