Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mrs. Beeton Everywhere You Look

"Do you remember Mrs Beeton's illustration for a simple supper party? Three epergnes of red roses down the centre, and smilax trailing everywhere?"

"Our old edition had a picture of a tray for an invalid," recalled Amy. "There were two trumpet-shaped flower vases with carnations, as well as two or three dishes complete with silver covers, a coffeee pot, milk jug and sugar bowl. I don't think you could lift the thing, let alone stagger upstairs with it. But I must say it looked superb."

"I pity anyone being taken ill at my house. A plate of toast and a mug of tea would about be my limit."

Village Centernary, by Miss Read

I missed the Masterpiece Theater a couple of weeks ago about Mrs. Beeton, a Victorian-age Betty Crocker/Heloise/Miss Manners type. You can read about her here.

Village Centenary is set in 1980, so you can see how wide-spread an influence Mrs. Beeton's book enjoyed. Here in our house, it would be poached eggs on toast and 7-up, but most probably served on the couch, so Mama can still run things. Otherwise, of course, everyone would be In My Room, and recovery would be delayed, anyway....

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Future Newbery Winner

[Note: You need to know that Joe Hardy sleeps in our basement, in the room next to the laundry.]

Last night, I sent Alvin Fernald down to the basement to rearrange the load in a washer that was making a whole lot of noise and rocking back and forth. He came back upstairs to say:

"One of these mornings we're going to find that the washer has walked all the way into Joe's room, climbed up in his bed, and pulled up the covers."

Wouldn't that make a nice idea for a children's picture book?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Yummy Is in the Eye of the Beholder

"I am waiting patiently in line at the Londis market with my Mullerice and a jar of bramble jam when I notice what the burly fellow in front of me is buying. It is a tin of--wait for it--Mr. Brain's Pork Faggots.*

* In a rich West Country Sauce. What, still not hungry?"

--Sixpence House--Lost in a Town of Books by Paul Collins

Gotta love foreign food, or at least the stuff that's "foreign" to us. Then again, you don't really *have* to love foreign food.

I am probably one of your less adventurous eaters. I have tried Vegemite--once. As well as caviar--once. No need to belabor the thing.

My daughter Violet was able to travel abroad twice during her college days. She went for a month to Oxford/Cambridge (forget which, sorry) with a side trip to Ireland. She walked into a grocery one day to find a package with a conspicuous American Flag sticker on it: Corn Dogs!! Eaten By Millions Of American Schoolchildren Every Day!! Poor schoolchildren--probably the number one reason I chose to homeschool....

She also went to an American Style Restaurant, and ordered an American Style Cheeseburger and milkshake. We all know that Europeans don't "do" ice in their drinks, but her "milkshake" was decidedly Not Frozen, either. Kind of like the Frosty Mix at Wendy's before they put it in the machine to freeze it.

Then there was the Burger. It's condiments were "distinctly American?" [not.] Shredded cheese and Chutney. I'm sure you've seen it at Burger King: "The NEW Shredded Cheese/Chutney Burger!"

I don't mind if they are Distinctly British, but for goodness' sake, the population has never heard of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. When Violet told them of this tasty treat, the reaction was, "oh, dear. Why would you want to mix chocolate and peanut butter?" She sent some to her friends that Christmas...

My family took a trip to Canada in 1966, when McDonald's hamburgers were 15 cents. Going out to get a burger and fries was a Fun Vacation Thing.

The restaurant we went to was not a McDonald's, but Daddy ordered like it was. Seven burgers and Seven fries, please. The waitress's eyes got Very Large as she asked him to repeat his order. "Are you sure you want seven orders of fries?"

She came back with seven Platters of fries. These are the size your entire Applebee's meal is served on. Daddy: "could you bring us some ketchup, please?" When she went back to get some ketchup, we saw her whispering to the other servers: Look at Those Aliens Over There. We figured out that the bottles and bottles of Malt Vinegar sitting on the table were for the fries. Daddy tried it; I was loathe to put anything labeled Vinegar on my food. But that explained the little round I had learned in music class: Fish and chips and vinegar, pepper, pepper, pepper, pot.

We ate fries (cold) for a bedtime snack. Daddy wanted to take them in the car the next morning, but Mother said No Way. *That* foreign adventure was Over.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Invitation

Last night was Blackeyed Susan's dance recital. She was in a dance called The Invitation by Maurice Skylar. You may know the song: "To Him who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb/be blessing and honor and power and glory forever." A very haunting instrumental. I did not get photos during the performance due my poor position in the church, but Susan and her friend Ashlee posed for me:
Susan is the dark-haired one. Here is one more:
Here is Susan at the cookies-and-punch soiree with her Daddy. The heavy makeup was starting to transform her into Racoon-Girl:
These events show clearly how little time we still have our lovely daughter at home. She is fourteen--Already! Sitting in the audience, I could see her beginning to look more like my mother, and Susan's two sisters.
The most fun of the evening was Laura Carrot (age 2 1/2) sitting behind me, when two girls on pointe with full romantic tutus (the long ones) in aqua with aqua satin tops with LOTS of sequins did a dance. Laura (with HUGE wide eyes): "There's one Princess! There's TWO Princesses!!" She was able to meet the "two princesses" and Blackeyed Susan gained points with Laura when she told her that the Princesses were her friends.
A beautiful night.

Friday, May 11, 2007

J E L L O !!

Gotta love this fabric. If you grew up in the 50's and 60's as I did, Jello was a Big. Deal. "There's always room for Jello!" the ads told us. And the colors! Red--Strawberry with bananas added was a favorite. Sometimes the school lunches would have Orange with shredded carrots, or (ugh) Green with shredded cabbage. I guess Jello couldn't decide if it was a Salad or a Dessert. FYI--in the 31+ years that I have been married, a Jello Salad has never appeared on my table.

Jello was good for other things, as well. Knox Unflavored was used for strong fingernails. Jello-water was used when babies had tummy trouble. Just put a spoonful in a water-filled baby bottle. Some nutrition, they said, and it usually stayed down. (though I remember a Jello-water shower I received one time...) Now we have Pedialyte. Where's the fun in that?

And what is it with Jello? Or is it just me? I have several boxes in my cupboard, that become invisible. It's like I never think of serving Jello for dessert, unless I do the Fourth of July United States Mold with Red jello/Lemon jello mixed with ice cream/Blue jello. (Hello. There is just something WRONG about blue jello. Oh, yeah, and blue popsicles.) So there those packages sit, month after month.

I don't *do* Jello Jigglers, though. The consistency is just too weird for me. I always think that somebody Just Made It Wrong. Don't mess with my Jello.

There is the fake color/flavoring thing, of course. But I guess I am just old enough to think Jello is cool, *in spite of*. So if you have a package in your cupboard (and I *know* you do!) make some tonight and have some Fun.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Things are Hoppin' at the Barn

I am late making this for Blueberry's first birthday, because I could not find my pattern. It is a barn tote bag, with ten animals inside. I made one for Alvin Fernald's first birthday, eleven years ago. Here you see the bag. Standing in front are the piggy, chicken, bunny, and cow: Not to be outdone, the goat, ducky, lamb, and horse push everybody out of the way, so they can get in the picture:
What kind of farm would you have without a gingham dog and a calico cat?
I am so proud of myself. I finished Sweet Pea's first birthday present two weeks early. It is the book Little Pea, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I made a nice, soft Little Pea out of bright green flannel:

Whew. Not another birthday until July.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Nature Study

"Paul looked, with new wonder, at the blossoming cherry tree, which overhung the low stone wall of the next-door garden. For the first time he noticed, with a thrill of joy, the delicate white flowers suspended by thread-like stalks to the black tracery of the boughs. Those threads, he realized suddenly, would dangle cherries later where the flowers now danced, and he would be able to hang them over his ears and waggle his head gently from side to side for the pleasure of feeling the firm glossy berries nudging his cheek. It was a moment of poignant discovery for young Paul, and he felt a thrill of pride as he realized that he knew now exactly how the cherries came to be. In future they would be doubly beautiful, for he would remember the glory of that pendant snow even as he sensuously enjoyed the feel of the fruit against his face and the cool freshness in his mouth as he bit it."

Thrush Green by Miss Read