Friday, July 31, 2009

In the Vintage Kitchen: Dinner on Friday

Meat loaf (supposed to be served cold, but I thought not)
Fried potatoes (always a yes, especially with my new-found love for my classic electric skillet!)
Sauteed cabbage
Cucumber spears and tomato slices
Oatmeal cookies and diced cantaloupe (I used the melon instead of the applesauce the menu called for, since I had it, and I must confess I added chocolate chips to the cookies!)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

In the Vintage Kitchen: Dinner on Thursday

Pork chops with apples (instead of buying chops I bought a pork loin and sliced it into very thick boneless chops--for about a third of what I would have paid for chops. This is a very easy thing to do! Pork chops were seared in a hot skillet, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and left to simmer for about twenty minutes until done but still juicy. I cooked the apple slices in a little brown sugar and water in another skillet.)
new potatoes (should have been creamed but we love them plain and simple)
yellow squash (substituted for the green bean dish the menu called for--we had green beans last night and the squash is beautiful right now)
whole wheat bread and butter (I love this careful touch!)
salad (not in the cookbook but who cares? We want it every night!)
jelly roll (a sponge cake rolled around homemade strawberry jam, which I served with fresh figs off the tree because they're so beautiful)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In the Vintage Kitchen: Dinner on Wednesday

Baked macaroni with ham (a dairy-free variation on macaroni and cheese, with a white sauce made from homemade chicken broth instead of milk, topped with nice toasty bread crumbs)
green beans from farmer's market
cucumbers vinaigrette
• and cottage pudding with cherries for dessert. Turns out this is really just a moist cake and the fruit sinks to the bottom. So serve it upside down with a cloud of whipped cream and revel in the charming vintage name.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In the Vintage Kitchen: Dinner on Tuesday

Beef stew (seemed a little heavy for a summer supper but that never stopped the kids!)
Beets and their greens (believe it or not these are fought over at the table)
Blackberries with light cream (and I added chocolate chip cookies to the dessert plate)
• Took it upon myself to add a green salad to the menu since I made the stew without any additional vegetables.

Monday, July 27, 2009

In the Vintage Kitchen: Dinner on Monday

This week, for fun, our dinner menus are coming straight out of my 1940s cookbooks. The seasonal menu planning sections are my favorite, as they give such telling glimpses into those ideals of family life. I have had to tweak a few things to accommodate a dairy-free boy, and to account for the fact that lamb has gone up in price in the last sixty years!

Monday's Dinner (from Meta Given's The Modern Family Cookbook, suggested as "Seasonal Foods in Thrifty Balanced Menus for the Month of July"):

Quick-baked catfish (fillets are rinsed, rolled in breadcrumbs, drizzled with oil, and baked at 500, quite successfully)
Greens (I braised kale in a little bit of bacon grease and some water, simmering for about an hour)
Cornbread and butter (uh-huh)
Radishes (I omitted the green onions from the plate; no one will eat them raw)
Sliced peaches (instead of the suggested bananas. Peaches are *more* seasonal. I also left out the top milk, which I am interpreting as half-and-half).

I completely left out the "escalloped" potatoes as there was hardly room on the plate or in our stomachs. Besides, we'll be seeing plenty of potato action later in the week. A very generous meal!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Inspiring Linen Apron

Moving my stash into my new shelves I've uncovered some forgotten treasures. Like this bit of vintage embroidery. Thought it would make the perfect overlay to a linen apron.

Long calico ties pick up the bright colors,

and it's finished off with some co-ordinating rickrack. I'll be putting it in my shop soon.

Lately I've gotten excited again about all the linen that's available at the thrift store. Those straight linen dresses of ten years ago yield the best fabric. Don't overlook it!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Bright Linen Quilt

How one thing doth lead to another! I made a linen bib backed with canvas, did a running embroidery stitch to outline the bird applique, and *loved* the juxtaposition of materials. The way the fabric flopped in my hand, the rough textures of the fabric and the smooth gloss of the pearly floss.

The natural next step? An entire quilt top pieced out of thrifted linen dresses. Backed in canvas (no batting) and embroidered around each square.

This thing is so bright it's going to attract hummingbirds and wild bulls--not so great for a picnic!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Curtains in the Sewing Room

Still working on this delightful but hard to configure space. The sewing room now has its first curtains ever and they are so helpful for managing the extreme sunshine. Proving that simple and utilitarian can be the best, plain cotton canvas hung from clips looks, to my eye, like expensive linen! These took about five minutes to make as I simply did a narrow machine hem at the top and bottom and left the little fuzzy selvages alone. I love them!

Lagniappe in the form of a casually-constructed pincushion. My dress form is wearing the bedjacket; this is the waistband from the cotton sweater. I folded it in half the long way, rolled it up, and secured it with a pin. Perfectly handy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Late Summer Bulbs

Every single year I am surprised when these pop into bloom in the late summer. They sneak open in the flower beds while I'm inside enjoying the air-conditioning.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cotton Wrap Dress: Vintage Mail Order 9577

Trim. Neat. Competent.

I love this dress on Clara. It suits her elegant figure, it's comfortable, and it's not too sophisticated or too jejune.

Just right for this in-between year.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Smock for Tools

So my sewing room has been an unusable mess--first the floor was completely filled with yet-to-be-mounted cabinets, then the cabinets were hung and all the fabric was in stacks in another room, then the shelves were being painted, and you know how the re-doing a room dance goes.

I am like the man without a country when I can't sew. I did take some vicarious sewing satisfaction in helping my Sewing Circle girls work on their projects, but not the same!

Now, at last, I am back at my machine. I made a little boy's smock which David graciously modelled. Because it's all about tools. Tools to help you rebuild the sewing room. Screwdrivers. Tape measures.

And a headlamp, because he wanted it.

(Look for it in Etsy later this week!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Quiet Lawn

Having just done the airport run to bring Felix home, I stayed here at the house this evening while everyone else went, of all places, contra-dancing. Wonders never cease!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Frederick at Sewing Circle

"There was a weighty silence, during which the parrot threw out a general invitation to join it in a nut."

--P.G. Wodehouse, "Uncle Fred Flits By"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Sensible Life, With Dessert

I've been asked how we stay healthy when we're all the time baking sweets. It's very straightforward: there are enough people in this house that a pie yields one piece per person, with an extra slice for the Giles and the Composer to share, if they did a long run that morning.

A layer cake yields dessert for two nights--one piece per person. A batch of cookies makes dinner dessert, and some for the next day.

The key to a sensible life, with dessert, is moderation. Don't take more than your share. Because if you do, not only will you get chubby, you might get socked!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vintage Teen Dress: Simplicity 2547

Clara made this!

She did a great job and got all the major parts together . . . then she went to chamber music camp and ran out of steam. We gathered it up off the sewing table this morning and charged ahead.

Zipper. Buttonholes. Buttons. Hem.

Until all that was left to do was a photo shoot under the sugar maple.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Mixed-Fruit Pavlova

A lovely casual-but-special dessert, pavlova makes good sense after last week's egg-yolk-heavy German chocolate cake. The rule of thumb is 1/4 cup of sugar for every egg white, plus a dash of cream of tartar and a little vanilla. If I'm going to fill it with peaches, I use almond extract too.

This one is filled with green grapes, strawberries, and sweet cherries--I had planned to include two peaches, but Giles got to them first. Fruit gets nice and juicy if set in the fridge with the juice of a lime and a little brown sugar ahead of time. Pile it in on top of whipped cream.

My egg whites were from neighbor Phyllis' super power chickens. They needed about thirty seconds in the mixer--seriously--before they were standing up as straight as a ruler, and about as thick as butter.

Monday, July 13, 2009

An Easy Daisy Birthday

At this point I don't even try to re-invent the wheel--a flowered cake, cold melon, a sweet fruity drink, and friends at the swimming pool. Those elements seem to delight all three of the girls with their July birthdays.

Daisy celebrated her 5th today. Her guest list? Her brother and sisters, three teenage friends, and two grandparents.

And Elizabeth, the American Girl, who will be staying on past the party.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lunch at the General Store

Yesterday at the cabin we headed into "town" for our lunch.

Town just has the one business. It's a store. And a cafe. It's everything you need.

It's not country on purpose. It's just country. I love that.

Giles loved his hamburger. He's ordered this before. Every time, the waitress warns him, "Now honey, that's going to be a really big sandwich." Every time, he finishes it in five minutes. It's the one-pound burger.


Friday, July 10, 2009

A Pit Stop at the Peach Orchard

We have to pass the peach orchard to get to the cabin.

A pit stop at the peach orchard is a pit stop in paradise.

Only in paradise are there these flame-colored jewels hanging from living trees. The flashes of color in all that green!

And then you start eating . . . .

Thursday, July 09, 2009

What Teenagers Do in the Summer

. . . just speaking out of my own experience here. . . .

They get jobs doing food photography for the state paper (requiring me to make specific pies on demand to illustrate coming articles). They run with their papa.

They go off with other teenagers and insulate houses for the elderly poor. For hours at a time, in the heat. They swim and swim.

They sew dresses from vintage patterns. They bake lots of bread. They play lots of chamber music.

They plan huge get-togethers with other families, requiring me to make lots of food and go to the lake. They watch Andy Griffith.

They head out on birding trips in the desert Southwest, too involved in the birding to call home (well, he did call once: "I made it here. Gotta go, we're after a burrowing owl!").

They make an incredible amount of laundry. They practice diving. They sing.

They hike eighty miles at scout camp. They read chapter books to Daisy.

What will they do in the winter?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Daisy Reading

Well, "reading."

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Thrifted Platter

Turquoise, you are my friend these days.

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Weekend Trip to a Big City

A 75th birthday to celebrate with an uncle! So we spent the weekend in St. Louis.

Besides the party fun, and the eating and talking with family, we loved hanging around in Forest Park.

It's absolutely steeped in vintage charm. From the Jewel Box conservatory to the Art Museum, it just feels like the 1920s and 30s to me. In the basement of the art museum Clara and I drooled over the Art Deco furnishings on exhibit. Geometric coffee and tea sets. And a corn set! With a little pot for melted butter, and salt and pepper shakers. And imagined a Grace Livingston Hill villainess admiring herself in the Deco vanity mirror . . . .

Time to wander the paths, a cool pearly sky, and a cardigan in July.

Not our usual 4th, but a treat indeed.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Chocolate-Drizzled Shortbread

It is so easy to take shortbread cookies to the next level. If, say, you need to take a plate of something to the reception following your daughter's chamber music performance.

I'm sure everyone knows this, but just melt 1/3 cup of chocolate chips in a bowl, scrape them into a sandwich bag, and snip the tiniest corner off the bag. Squeeze over the cookies, and you'll be fancy.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Wrap Skirt for Bella: McCall's 5430

I've had this drapey denim in my stash a *long* time. So long I had to work around a big sun-bleached streak on the fold.

The pattern I picked up last week at Hancock's (doesn't 99 cents feel like no money at all?) because I'm *sure* my mother used this pattern when I was growing up. And I was inspired recently at ShopSCAD where the fashion students were selling cotton wrap skirts lined with vintage printed sheets (but for $130!).

I chose the view with the cascading drape, and cut out a crazy thrifted floral sheet lining to peek out so very cutely. And faced the waistband and the ties with the floral.

Sadly the skirt appears to dip in front in this picture, but I don't think it does in real life.

One last note: I assembled the waistband and ties wrong, so I had to make a giant buttonhole for the tie to pass through. I like it even better than the real assembly, and I didn't have to sew on any buttons!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Loaf Cake

Bella made this Madeira Cake from her favorite Nigella cookbook. I just glanced at the recipe--no madeira, just a crusty lemony loaf with a little lemon zest and a beautiful sugar topping.

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