Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Homemaking Tips from 1933

I was cleaning my bedroom earlier tonight, and was distracted by my bookshelves. Yes, it happens often:) I pulled out my copy of Foods and Home Making by Carlotta C. Greer, published in 1933. I thumbed through it to find a few tidbits I could share with you. I love the tip on how to be seated and how to sit properly in a chair. I have two teenagers that would have trouble keeping their feet on the floor!

Butter Spreaders: Individual knives are used for spreading butter on bread or crackers. Butter spreaders may be used for placing cream cheese or marmalade on bread. Do not spread these foods on bread. A butter spreader placed on a bread and butter plate parallel with the edge of the table is easily grasped with the right hand.

Eating Crackers with Soup: It is good manners to break up crackers and drop them in soup. Crackers should be eaten somewhat as bread. Break off a bit at a time and eat the small piece without dipping it in the soup.

Crisp Crackers: If crackers are allowed to stand exposed to the air, they absorb moisture and lose their crispness. They become crisp again when heated. Place crackers on a pie pan or baking sheet. Bake them in a hot oven-400 degrees F-for 8 to 10 minutes.

Cake Failures

-Cracked Crust: too much moisture or sugar or baking powder

-Dry: too much flour or too slow of an oven

-Tough: too little fat

-Heavy: too little baking powder or falling during baking or after removing from oven. Falling of cakes may be due to-

1.Too much fat or sugar or baking powder
2.Too little flour
3.Jarring during baking

How and where shall we be seated at the table? Custom makes some things correct. It has been customary to stand behind the chair in which we are going to sit at the table. Stand until the hostess starts to sit down. Then, unless it is inconvenient, move to the left of your chair and be seated. Rise from the left of the left of the chair, also. Sit straight in your chair with your feet resting on the floor-not on the rungs of the chair. If this position if not comfortable, you may cross your feet, but not your knees.

On OFL we have an article on one family's tradition of "sewing day".


Monday, September 27, 2010

October Garden Tips

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

We are almost to October believe it or not. Autumn officially arrived last week, though in California I hear it feels like the middle of summer with the heat wave they are going through right now. Here in Michigan we are back to cool mornings and nights down into the 40's already. It's time to start preparing for cold weather while the days are cool and sunny.

Once the frost starts damaging annuals, or they simply aren't looking nice any longer, pull up the plants and put them in the compost pile IF they are healthy and without mildew or other disease. There are some exceptions: if you want the plant to reseed where you have it now, then leave on the seed heads and allow them to dry and scatter. I do this with morning glories, calendula and nasturtiums. Some annuals have seeds that birds enjoy and those can be left too.

Do clean up any plants, leaves, fruit, vegetables or debris that looks diseased. Do not compost, but bag it up and dispose or burn if you are allowed to do so where you live. Some diseases and pests can survive the winter if left on the ground throughout the winter.

If you have small ponds or water features with plants, you can trim the leaves off once they turn yellow. It's better to remove fallen tree leaves from the water as they gather there instead of waiting until spring. These can be composted also.

Reminder: I know I've nagged about this, but remember to pull up your nonhardy bulbs once the foliage has died back or after a light frost. This includes: tuberous begonias, caladiums, cannas, dahlias, gladioli, and tuberoses. Gently wipe away the dirt with a rag and store them in peat, sawdust or even shredded newspaper in a dry cool area that doesn't get colder than about 60 degrees throughout the winter.

Lastly, clean your tools before winter after you've finished your fall chores. Wash them with soapy, hot water and dry off with a rag. Sharpen any that need it and rub wood handles with mineral oil before putting them away.

Enjoy these lovely fall days. ~Brenda

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Muffins or Gems? What is the Difference?

I've always wondered what the difference was between a muffin and a gem. Gem recipes are always lumped in with the muffin recipes, and are made in muffin tins. So, what IS the difference? It's a little like Jello became synonymous with gelatin, though it was a brand name. The Gem Company made and sold kitchen equipment, including muffin tins. They were such a popular company that people started calling muffins cooked in their tins "gems". I looked through my cookbooks and found some recipes for gems to share.

Apple Gems
Modern Priscilla Cook Book, 1924

1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. molasses
1 cup milk
4 sour apples

Sift dry ingredients, add molasses and milk and beat until smooth. Peel and chop apples, adding them to batter. Put into muffin-tins and bake in a moderately hot oven. Time in oven, 25 minutes. Temperature, 375 degree F. Servings 12.

Raspberry Bran Gems
Good Housekeeping's Book of Menus,
Recipes & Household Discoveries 1926

1 cupful graham flour
1 cupful whole-wheat flour
1 cupful bran
1 teaspoonful soda
2 teaspoonfuls baking-powder
1 tablespoonful sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoonfuls cooking oil
1 teaspoonful salt
2 cupfuls sour milk or buttermilk
1/2 cupful raspberry jam

Mix all the dry ingredients together; add the oil, the egg well beaten, the sour milk, and the jam. Beat together thoroughly and pour into well-greased gem pans. Bake twenty-five minutes in a 400 degree F. oven.

Notes: You can sour milk by taking away a tsp. of milk and adding a tsp. of vinegar to the remaining milk. Let it sit a minute, stir and use. If you have non-stick coated muffin pans then just spray with cooking spray instead of greasing or buttering the pan.

Date Gems
Rumford Complete Cook Book 1934

1 cup chopped dates
2 cups flour
1/2 level teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 level teaspoons Rumford Baking Powder

Stone (pit) the dates and chop coarsely. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut the shortening into the flour, then mix in the dates and form to a stiff batter with the beaten egg and milk. Bake in hot, well-greased gem pans in a moderate oven about twenty minutes.

Note: Moderate usually means 350 degrees F.

On OFL we have muffin recipes that will be great to bake this fall.