Thursday, July 30, 2009

Change is a-coming

What a busy bee I’ve been! In my efforts to grow my business I’ve been doing a lot of administrative duties, taking me away from the fun things for a bit. My new business name is applied for (Home Deconomics) and website is finally going to be built. As my husband always says, go big or go home!

I’ve been taking a lot of photos. Photos for a wholesale catalog as well as booth and product pics for juried shows. I spent a lot of time creating some items at a lower price point, now I’m developing some for the other end of the spectrum, more art show worthy.

I’m going to create some really nice new business cards (with pictures) and post cards (listing shows and markets I’ll be attending that season).

Hopefully I can get my ducks in a row and have my website and catalog ready by fall in hopes of adding wholesale business when the farmers market season has ended.

Hopefully I’ll get all my new goodies listed on Etsy soon (cotton napkins, book covers, tortilla warmers, craft aprons and table runners) . And that’s another thing…essentially starting over with my Etsy shop (and the new name).

In the meantime, here’s a peek at my newest product, oilcloth table runners. I sold all my prototypes already at the last market!


And if anyone knows of someone who does fun and unusual web design, drop me a link or send me an email please! I’m looking for retro-1950’s flair.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tangy Mustard Coleslaw

I was never a coleslaw fan. It always tasted so bland and watery. Even our favorite pub has crappy fresh-made slaw.

Then I tasted real home made slaw. I’m in love. Nothing says summer to me like cool, crisp, flavorful coleslaw. Where you can actually taste and identify the vegetables and the dressing merely compliments them, not hide them.

fresh organic veggies

This recipe if from the aforementioned Cooking Light magazine. Hubby and I love mustard and this recipe is a hit!

Tangy Mustard Coleslaw

7 cups finely shredded cabbage (I like to throw in a bit of red cabbage if I have it)

1 cup thin sliced red onion

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

2 Tbs sugar (use caution here, you can always add more later)

2 Tbs whole grain mustard (oh the choices!)

2-3 Tbs mayonnaise (someday I’ll make my own)

1/8 tsp salt & pepper

pinch of ground red pepper

*Combine cabbage, onion and carrot in a large bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and stir well (It might not look like enough dressing but it’s the perfect amount). Pour over cabbage mixture and toss well to coat. Chill before serving.*

fresh, homemade coleslaw

It was a hot day yesterday and I had a spontaneous urge to make this slaw for lunch. De-licious!

And just because I felt like it, I made a malted milkshake too!

vanilla malted

Monday, July 13, 2009

Spry – It’s Triple Creamed! or, Aunt Jenny Wants to Kill You!

My scanner is broken but I managed to dig up some previous scans of vintage cook booklets. These are a couple from Spry, a vegetable shortening, like Crisco.

Here are the front and back covers of the earlier one, I’m guessing the mid 1940’s. All the graphics inside are illustrated like the covers. I wish I had a scan of the inside to show you what “Aunt Jenny’ looks like.



Now here is the later version, perhaps late 40’s very early 50’s.


The copy on these cracks me up. “So digestible even a child can eat them!” Thank goodness for that! Below is a good shot of Aunt Jenny before she went off her meds.


The inside is where things get weird for me. Aunt Jenny is no longer illustrated. She’s a “real” person. My mother was the first one to notice something about sweet Aunt Jenny was…off. Like they tried to make her look older and more grandmotherly than she is.


An’ they go a bit o’erboard on the country speak, don’t you know. But it’s so down home you know good things are comin’ outta this kitchen!

“Land sakes Ebeneezer…!” 

Here she is serving up one of her “magic meat pies”. Looks awful suspect to me. And where is Mr. Aunt Jenny? Does he approve of his wife serving meals to single men? I think they’re hinting that ole Aunt Jenny is a bit spry herself *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*



There is just something about Aunt Jenny that gives me the creeps. The fake “grandma-ness”, the overly beaming smile and the over the top country slang is too contrived. I hadn’t noticed her creepiness until after I scanned the booklet or I could give you some great examples of her crazed grin. Like she just served up her niece in the magic meat pie.

Here is the back cover and a glimpse at the original Aunt Jenny. She is in the very upper right. Now that is a sweet grandma figure! I believe that Aunt Jenny. Sweet and kindly with rosy cheeks, not a smile frozen in rigor.


I do not like the creepy Aunt Jenny. She reminds me of smiling, overly happy people that are hiding something. Like a knife behind their back.

You know..if I squint just right I can make the copy above read “Aunt Jenny stars as Bride of Chucky”. Come ‘ere you! Aunt Jenny wants to bake you in, er, bake you a meat pie! You’ll DIE for it!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Favorite Cookbooks and Magazines

I learned to cook rather late in life. My mother never really learned to cook from her mother (“children don’t belong in the kitchen!”), and I never really learned from mine.

All through college I waited tables and got free or cheap meals. It wasn’t until I started working in bookstores that I learned the joy of reading cookbooks and took an interest in cooking for myself.

Being a bibliophile for most of my life, I bought many cookbooks that were gorgeously photographed, specialty cuisines, ethnic or regional. But I didn’t know how to actually cook out of them. I lacked even the most basic cooking common sense. So I covertly and slyly bought Cooking for Dummies. The recipes weren’t that great( i never cooked out of it) but it explained a few technical things.

After asking around I finally bought How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

I still use it to this day (there is now a new, revised version).

I’ve never been a dieter and normally eschew low-fat foods, opting for the bigger, fuller flavors of “regular” food. As I learned more about cooking I started getting more interested in healthier, lighter food. It was only because I was on vacation with little else to do but browse a huge stack of donated Cooking Light magazines, that I fell in love with them.

cooking light magazine

It is not diet food! It is about using fresh, quality ingredients and using herbs and spices to get great flavor while eliminating fat and salt. I have learned a lot from this magazine.

Now I have two bookshelves of the magazines and a recipe box over-flowing with Cooking Light recipes. I was ready for something new.

Enter the book, America’s Test Kitchen,

America's Test Kitchen Cookbook

Since I had grown up lacking the basic fundamentals of cooking, I’ve always been fascinated with the “whys” of cooking, with the chemistry and science of it all. While I have a few books that discuss this down to the molecular level, America’s Test Kitchen makes it easy by doing all the hit and miss for you, and then explaining why it does or doesn’t work.

It also provides product recommendations. Truly tested ones, NOT sponsored ones. So not only do they tell you which canned corn tastes better, but why, and why it works better than fresh corn in the recipe.

The publishers of America’s Test Kitchen also put out a few magazines, none of which really appealed to me before. Cook’s Illustrated was always a little too fancy and upscale for my tastes. But now that my skills have improved and I feel a little more confident, I now really enjoy the magazine.

Cook's Illustrated

There is no advertising in the magazine and a good number of the illustrations are detailed drawings. This is a very “how-to” magazine. It totally appeals to my inquiring mind about how and why certain things work. Like the book, it has product reviews and recommendations.

And now my latest fave, also from the same publisher, Cook’s Country.

Cook's Country


First I had to admit I’m a little bit country. Maybe because I’m getting older or maybe because my style has evolved, but there is a bit of country in me. I think part of it is a lot of my retro-1950’s style goes so well with, and often doubles as the country aesthetic. Cherries, roosters, apple pie and rick rack. Country and retro!  The magazine has a distinct country-retro feel that I like.

One of Cook’s Country regular features is Lost Recipes. Cooks looking for or sharing recipes from the past. The issue pictured above had recipes for 7-UP Pound Cake and Stained Glass Cake! I’m so in love. It doesn’t get more retro than that!

I still own, and use all of these books and magazines. I have long since weeded out the fancy books that I’ll never cook out of. Now I stick to a handful of proven favorites. As my tastes continue to evolve (jello? ok, maybe devolve!) I may use some less and find new favorites, but for now these continue to serve me well.

I don’t have children and I worked in restaurants all through my 20s and 30s so my cooking is very restaurant influenced. A piece of meat with a sauce, a sautéed or steamed veggie and an often garnished plate.

What’s your style? What are your favorite cookbooks/magazines and why? If you didn’t learn to cook from a family member how did you teach yourself to cook? What types of food does your family like best?