TGHP, Day 4: I’ve been possessed!

Today I baked like a woman possessed. I have seen The Exorcist, and it wasn’t that kind of sweary, head-spinning possession, so Im figuring it was a much friendlier ghost that possessed me. Maybe Julia Child? Everything I made today turned out well, and I was irrepressibly cheerful and Google tells me that she passed away in 2004, so it’s entirely possible.  I don’t mean to get all “It was a ghost” on you guys, but really, all the evidence points in one direction.

url-2It was her!

First up was a simple pumpkin bread with dried cranberries and pecan bits. I didn’t take a picture because it was a gussied up boxed mix, but it turned out splendidly. I made two pans of it– one decoy cake for the family to try today, and one for the freezer for midmorning teatime with company.

It’s funny that I make decoy cakes, but that’s how it has to be with Batman in the house. If she sees a baked item cooling, she will help herself to it, regardless of whether she’s been explicitly forbidden to do that very thing or not. Frosting gets poked, the cookies dwindle until there are only 3 left on the cooling rack (“there’s still some left. Maybe if I space them out evenly, mom won’t notice 90% are missing?”), and cakes end up gouged. Its impossible to recover from in any aesthetically pleasing way.   She can help herself to the test batch, make suggestions on how it might be better, and most importantly, leave the real baked goods alone.

IMG_20140109_085709Batman wuz here!

Anyway. The pumpkin bread was pretty darned good. The “recipe” is simply to make the mix as Ms. Crocker tells you, then stir 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup dried cranberries into the mix before pouring in your pan and baking.

It was easy. Too easy, as a matter of fact. I understand how those prepackaged cakes are great for the career gal (that’s what we call them, way back here in nineteen-fif-sixty-mumblemumble) but it wasn’t really what I had in mind for baking today, so I ended up developing a recipe.

Wait. That sounds far too fancypants and gives me far too much credit for knowing what I’m doing in the kitchen. I did develop a recipe, but it was more because I didn’t realize until halfway through making a recipe that I was out of a key ingredient or six and had to substitute on the fly. You know how your home ec teacher told you to alwaysalwaysalways read through recipes before you actually did anything, just in case you didn’t have everything you needed? Naw. Unnecessary. Just have a sense of adventure and call it ‘recipe development’, and you’ll be fine.

Recipe I kind of invented: The Fruited Cinnamon Roll Things, or, “What happened to all of the raisins?!”

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You’ll need:

Dough of your choosing, dried fruit, spices, butter, brown sugar.

Use your favorite cinnamon roll dough. I made mine in a breadmaker’s dough cycle, because I felt far more like pushing a button than actually kneading. Use your breadmaker, make it the old fashioned way, or use some pre-made cinnamon roll/pizza dough from your grocery refrigerator case. Seriously, do whatever you want. Even if I were going to come to your house and judge you for your choice, you could be condescending and tell me that you were simply developing a recipe, and there’s nothing at all that I can say about that. Fair’s fair, and shhhh…. I do this all the time.

For the filling, I used 1 1/2 cups chopped up dried fruit mix (apples, apricots, peaches and plums) and a handful/end-of-the-bag of pecan bits, tossed with 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp of nutmeg, 1 tsp of ginger, and a dash of salt because the salt shaker dropped out of the cupboard and landed in my bowl, spilling some. I’d say a scant 1/16 tsp of salt, but feel free to omit that part because it’s messy, unnecessary and startling. Use what you want though– I’m not here to tell you how to live your life or how to bake fruit into things.

Roll out the dough, brush with 2 tbsp melted butter, then sprinkle about 2/3 of the filling mix on to the dough. Roll it up and pinch to seal.

Lightly spray your pan with baking spray, then melt 1 tbsp of butter in there, and sprinkle the rest of the filling mix into the pan.

Slice the filled roll, then place slices into the prepared pan. Let rise again until doubled in size, which for me was about an hour.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden brown and your house smells ah-MAY-zing.

It_smell_good_Img01 When you get this look on your face, they’re done.

Take out of the oven, let cool for twenty minutes, invert onto your serving plate and glaze.

Since I had no idea how to make a glaze, I sort of winged it. I know it’s this thin frostingy stuff that has no flavor other than “toothhurtingly sweet”, so I aimed for that. I used 2 tbsp of milk, a dash of powdered ginger, and 2 tbsp of date molasses in a glass measuring cup, then topped up the measuring cup with confectioner’s (icing) sugar until it measured just over a cup. I stirred it until it was smooth, then drizzled over the warm rolls.

Johnny Rotten deemed them “blue ribbon at a state fair” good.

Batman’s response to them was “Mrrrrrhhmmmmpphhmm”, with two thumbs up, because her mouth was full.

They’re really rich. They’re really sweet. They’re really great for getting rid of those ends of boxes of dried fruit that I had sitting in my pantry.

IMG_20140109_062243I’m actually really proud of these, and I think I should be.

Julia-Child

You know, maybe I didn’t actually channel the ghost of Julia Child today. I think I did something more important: I channeled the spirit of Julia Child, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

TGHP, Day 3: The Golden Age of Hot Dogs

Please forgive my lateness on this post. I was headachy and feeling yuck last night, and everything I wrote reeked of hot dog water and self pity.

Apparently you couldn’t swing a cat in a mid20th century cookbook without either hitting a gelatin mold recipe or a recipe involving hot dogs.

From the Good Housekeeping ‘Keep Cool Cookbook’, published in 1967, came yesterday’s lunch.

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It’s obviously a loafy thing, and we all know how I love loafy things.

I couldn’t see that photo and just pass it by, you know? It’s too full of hot dog and loafiness. It’s the year 1967 itself, mixed into a pan and baked lovingly for 35 minutes.

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See? Easy, especially if you decide that the gravy is an “over my dead, cholesterol riddled body” accompaniment and don’t make it.

So yes, I made it bright and early in the morning, so I wouldn’t get lost in my cleaning fume high and forget.

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There’s a bottle of 2008 Albarino with it, because 1) I am a lady of class and distinction, and 2) what else would you have with hotdog loaf thing?

Unfortunately, it was stone cold and full of semi-congealed hot dog grease by the time that Johnny Rotten was due home for lunch. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on it, despite his desperate hopes that I would, so I cut off a generous slice, and grilled it with a bit of butter in a pan like I would a grilled cheese sandwich, and hoped for the best.

He tentatively, gingerly cut off a piece, and put it in his mouth like he was expecting it to bite him back.

“This.”, he said, then paused.

“Ahuh? This what?”, I encouraged.

“This is actually really good. It’s like a corn dog, but the crispy grilled outside makes it better than a regular corndog! You should make this again!”

I couldn’t believe that I didn’t notice that before. Cornbread plus hot dog equals corndog, no matter how you make it or what you call it. This frankfurter loaf is the perfect food for people who love corndogs but are irrationally afraid of food on sticks, who really love loaf pans, or maybe live in an area where sticks are hard to find or something.

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Someone should tell this guy that he can just use his loaf pan, instead of going out to look for sticks on the frozen tundra.

Final judgment: Frankfurter loaf was a success. Not just an “It’s okay for a vintage recipe” success, but a “nom, this is good, you should make this again” success. Would recommend.

Housewifin’: The Rules of Engagement

As you already know, I have decided to pretend Im a productive, cheerful 50s housewife for 3 weeks instead of actually being a 10s slovenly, snarky housewife. Why? Heck, I dunno. Maybe I want to get the house cleaned well and properly. Maybe I’m looking for a challenge and/or absurdity. Maybe I’ve lost my mind.Image

If you guessed, “She’s lost her mind”, you’ve guessed right!  Please grab your winner’s spoon and stay afterwards for your era-authentic prize– a big steaming bowl of weiner mixup!

If I’m going to do this– and I so am– there have to be clearly laid out rules of engagement, no? I need to have direction and a schedule, or I seriously run the risk of reworking this task in my head until it involves nothing more than me watching Mad Men episodes while drinking old fashioneds all day in bed.

Its been a bit tough finding good information on what life was really like for post war brides. Obviously, families then were as different as families are today, so what life might have been like for your grandmother isn’t necessarily what life was like for mine. The television and advertisement portrayal of housewives of that era ought to be taken with a grain of salt too. Im sure that Leave it to Beaver had just as much in common with the average woman then as Sex and the City has to the average woman now. Grains of truth? Yes. But perhaps, even likely, not the whole truth.

Anyway, I’ve had to cobble together what I think it may have been like then, and I have had to figure out how to fit my 2014 life into that idea for a few weeks. It’s not a time machine, and it’s not perfect, but I think– hope?– that it’ll give me a good sense of the spirit of this self imposed assignment.

From what I’ve gleaned, the housewife of the 1950s:

-attempted to make her home consistently pleasant, welcoming and clean.

-attempted to make herself attractive to be around, both in physical appearance and mannerism. It seems this is was mostly for the benefit of the husband.

-was thrifty, organized and capable of a wide variety of tasks

-filled a support role in the lives of her children and husband, providing them with a stable, relaxing environment to the best of her ability.

This all sounds pretty good, and I think I could definitely stand to build new, better habits.

Im going to attempt to follow a 50s housewife schedule and meal plan as faithfully as I can, but I am not going to be spending money or permanently ridding myself of modern conveniences so that I can look or act the part more accurately. I’m totally going to make an effort to stash the yoga pants (my dear, sweet yoga pants, for whom I already pine…) and look far more presentable during the day, but I’m certainly not going to be shopping for a poodle skirt so I can look 1950s while making this effort. Likewise, Im not putting my washer and dryer up on Craigslist so I can hunt down an authentic washboard and laundry mangle. My cell phone stays with me, and it stays on, and no one will get hurt.

Im also not about to compromise my family’s health by insisting on a full 1950s menu. Good grief, have you SEEN the amount of cream of mushroom soup they put on everything? Have you? It’s the sloppy, gloppy, brown lumped definition of terrifying. I dont think any of us would feel very well at all after a sudden switch like that. So, 4-5 dishes a week will be pulled from my vintage cookbooks, but I am not going to cook up all meals from the cookbooks.

Finally, I’m aiming for that general time frame, and Im not terribly concerned about it being a little wrong. Some of my cookbooks are from the 60s, some are from the 40s, and Im definitely not going to starve because those books are a few years off. I suppose everyone is just going to have to Deal With It. To make it up to you, I’ll be posting choice recipes from my collection, and daring encouraging you to try them. You’re welcome and/or I’m sorry for that.

So yeah! This officially starts when everyone goes back to school and work, and I’m looking forward to it!

Photo: ‘You’re welcome’ and/or ‘I’m sorry’ should be said again. Did I mention yet that I’ve probably lost my mind?

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Nine volt apple pie

This is a note to myself, so that next time I want to make apple pie, I wont hulksmash through the kitchen trying to remember what I did and how I did it. Maybe you’re not a hulksmash baker, but I am. Not remembering how much sugar I need makes me angry, and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Ahem. Back on task.

Nine Volt Apple Pie*

Makes 2 9″ pies.

– 4 pie crusts, ready made, unless you feel like dallying about with making pastry. Making pastry makes me angry and sweary, so I don’t. Judge if you must.

– 10 or so granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and sliced.

– 1/2 cup butter.

– 3 tablespoons allpurpose flour.

– 1 teaspoon (or more, or less, or whatever you feel like) ground cinnamon. Note: paprika and cayenne both kind of look like cinnamon, but really should not be substituted for it 99% of the time. Who knew?

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

– 1 cup demerara sugar

– 1/4 cup water

1. Preheat over to 425F.

2. Put the bottom crusts into the pie tins. Trim off excess.

3. Pile sliced apples into the pie crusts evenly.

4. Slice the other two pie crusts into one inch strips and make a lattice crust. Over, under, over, under….just like that basketweaving class you took in college instead of calculus!

5. Admire your work or vow to learn weaving, as the case may be.

6. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour. Once all the flour has been incorporated, add the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Stir-stir-stir! Burnt sugar smells terrible. You do not want this. It will make you angry and sweary.

7. Pour the sugarbutterflourwater mix over the pies evenly and slowly, so it doesn’t splosh everywhere, because sploshing is messy and gross. Don’t believe? Google it. Filters off, of course, for full NSFW understanding. You don’t want that nonsense in your kitchen.

8. Put in preheated oven for 15 mins. Lower the heat to 350 and allow to bake for another 40 minutes or so.

9. Let cool, and either slice it up if you’re fancy, or just grab a fork.

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*– Please note: while this is called nine volt apple pie, it is not actually recommended to put batteries in it. Cranberries would be okay, as would walnuts or raisins. But no batteries. Thank you.