Archive for November, 2007

Cookies You Can Heave Across the Room

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks
May turn up on your cooky blocks.
And then the learning time is through
These ‘blocks’ are good for eating too.

Eating. Or tossing.


I gotta admit — these are pretty elaborate, Martha-level projects. I mean, take a look-see:


Only a lonely Martha would have the time to egg-yolk paint delicate pictures on cookies as a “learning time” for the absent neighbor children she has sued and/or alienated. That is why I say they are perfect for heaving across the room.

That and the inevitable listeria from the “paint.”

[tags]Betty Crocker, Bake up a Story, vintage cooking, cookbooks, Picture Block Cookies, Martha Stewart[/tags]

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

I made my Mom’s chicken noodle soup today. Not necessarily because it was her birthday, but because it felt good since we’re all nursing colds. I remember in my early teens when I was suffering from probably the worst sinus infection I’ve ever had, and my dear mom made a big pot of this soup for me to have any time I needed it. It was the perfect medicine — comforting, soothing therapy. I ate bowl after bowl while watching Gone With the Wind for the first time.

So I want to post the recipe. It’s one of those that I don’t have written down. I just have called Mom enough that I now know it by heart. This is the way my mom and my aunt and their mom always made good ol’ chicken soup.

  • A chicken. A big one. I don’t like the icky parts (heart and what-not) because it makes the broth weird. But you do want the neck. Boney parts are the key.
  • Boil that baby with some leafy celery sticks (not cut up) and a couple yellow onions with the fuzzy ends cut off but the skin on (the skin makes a nice color) and a bay leaf. Add salt and pepper if you remember it. About 1-2 hours. It’s done when the meat falls off the bones.
  • Take out the chicken and set it aside to cool. If you have the time, cool the whole pot of broth to skim the fat off. If you don’t have the time, I’ve actually had better luck with throwing in lots of ice cubes and spooning them out since the fat attaches to the ice.
  • Spoon out the bay leaf, the celery sticks, and onion if you can. If not, strain it with some cheese cloth in a colander.
  • When the chicken is cool enough to touch, pick off the meat and throw it back in the pot.
  • While you’re warming up the soup again, cut up some celery and carrots and throw them in. I like a lot of carrots. Cook them for around 30 minutes.
  • Close to dinner time, fix the noodles. I got the Manischewitz fine egg noodles this time because that’s what Mom always uses.

The Chciuk/Kaminski secret for making this soup successful is to never mix the noodles with the soup until it’s in each serving bowl. Otherwise the noodles get weird. And this way each person can get as many noodles as s/he wants.

If Dad were writing this blog post, he’d interject here how he liked to eat this soup when he was a kid. He’d get a lot of noodles and pour the soup over it. He’d eat every drop, and then salt the remaining noodles down and lick the plate clean. Then he’d probably eat the entire apple pie that my Grandma used to fix him for every dinner. Yes, a whole pie!! Every day!

As my Grandma Chciuk used to say, “a hearty appetite means a hard worker!”

So there you have it — all my family secrets. Happy 79th, Mom!!

[tags]chicken soup, chciuk, kaminski[/tags]

Storybook Dough

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Christmas is the time for stories,
Of maiden’s love, and princes’ glories,
Of Peter Rabbit’s thieving deeds,
Of Johnny’s sprouting appleseeds.
So gather round and let us look,
Into the Cooky Storybook.

Did you know that? You’re supposed to tell stories about rabbits and spring planting at Christmas? Methinks Ms. Crocker is off her . . . . Nah! That joke’s almost too easy.


Now, the bunny’s cute. The carrots and apples are just meh. But look at Cindy’s slipper up there. Exactly what kind of weapon dons that delicate creature’s foot? And why would Miss Betty suggest that we eat it?

[tags]Betty Crocker, Bake up a Story, vintage cooking, cookbooks, Peter Rabbit, Cinderella[/tags]

The Duel

Monday, November 26th, 2007

The gingham dog went “bow-wow-wow!”
And the calico cat replied “mee-ow!”
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,

Why not throw caution to the wind and make some cookies that can duke it out right in the oven?


It looks like kitty has already suffered some wounds (both fresh and healed over) from Gingham Dog’s rod-iron armor. Ouch!

[tags]Betty Crocker, Bake up a Story, vintage cooking, cookbooks, Eugene Field, Gingham Dogs, The Duel[/tags]

Who needs Martha?

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

In looking for holiday recipes, I found this little circa 1961 gem from Betty Crocker: Bake Up a Story. It’s apparently got quite the wide kitsch appeal since you can buy it all over the web.

01 Cover

On your “Cook’s Tour through Storyland,” you may find “sugar plum dreams.” Make sure you note the color and flavor advice. Wouldn’t want to have a blue lemon cooky!!


Just look at those jewels! You can even make “fancier” cookies, but they still look a little too . . . well, extruded for my aesthetic sense.


I think those sugar plums are marching into those childrens’ heads, not dancing.

[tags]Betty Crocker, vintage cooking, cookies, Bake up a Story[/tags]

1939: The Fourth or the Last Thursday?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Up until 1939, Thanksgiving was on the last Thursday of November. When November has 5 Thursdays, like it does this year, it bugs retailers who think that they’ll get fewer shopping days.

In 1939, FDR caved to pressure from those business interests and declared the fourth Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving. When he gave his presidential proclamation that year from the Little White House in Georgia, few celebrated with him. Most Americans were pretty peeved that he was messing with tradition like that. Just for the record, here’s what he did say back in the day:

I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday, the twenty-third of November 1939, as a day of general thanksgiving.

More than three centuries ago, at the season of the gathering in of the harvest, the Pilgrims humbly paused in their work and gave thanks to God for the preservation of their community and for the abundant yield of the soil. A century and a half later, after the new Nation had been formed, and the charter of government, the Constitution of the Republic, had received the assent of the States, President Washington and his successors invited the people of the Nation to lay down their tasks one day in the year and give thanks for the blessings that had been granted them by Divine Providence. It is fitting that we should continue this hallowed custom and select a day in 1939 to be dedicated to reverent thoughts of thanksgiving.

Our Nation has gone steadily forward in the application of democratic processes to economic and social problems. We have faced the specters of business depression, of unemployment, and of widespread agricultural distress, and our positive efforts to alleviate these conditions have met with heartening results. We have also been permitted to see the fruition of measures which we have undertaken in the realms of health, social welfare, and the conservation of resources. As a Nation we are deeply grateful that in a world of turmoil we are at peace with all countries, and we especially rejoice in the strengthened bonds of our friendship with the other peoples of the Western Hemisphere.

Let us, on the day set aside for this purpose, give thanks to the Ruler of the Universe for the strength which He has vouchsafed us to carry our daily labors and for the hope that lives within us of the coming of a day when peace and the productive activities of peace shall reign on every continent.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and thirty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and sixty-fourth.

Now I wonder what he ate on that day? His favorites were scrambled eggs, fish chowder, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, and fruitcake — foods he could “dig into.”

1863: It’s official!

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Other presidents made T-giving proclamations. Adams even seemed to get a little hung-up on making sure they were days of “humiliation” not thanksgiving! But we have Abraham Lincoln to thank for making Thanksgiving a national holiday. Here’s his proclamation:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful providence of almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.

Lincoln’s God is much more involved and merciful than Washington’s. I find that very interesting. But I’m a history geek.

I wonder what Lincoln ate that day. Maybe he had his favorite — Chicken Fricassee?

1789: The Very First Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Washington wasn’t the sentimental sort. He was duty-bound to the core. But he started the tradition of remembering to thank God for His blessings. The historian in me is intrigued by this first T-giving proclamation. No feasting per se, just remembering and praying. And you can hear the deist perspective in his words too with God originating our world, but still detached from it.

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

How would we remember to be thankful if we were the first to proclaim a day?

2007: Recipes Just in Time

Monday, November 19th, 2007

My favorite recipe for Thanksgiving is from Mona Faye herself. “Cranberry Salad” is just right — a nice blend of sweet, tangy, creamy, and nutty. It’s a perfect accompaniment to the turkey, I believe. So I want to share: 


And if you want to make some good ol’ fashion’ stuffing, Mona Faye remembers how her family made turkey stuffing way back when (from an earlier comment):

I remember Mama making Thanksgiving dressing to take out to Aunt Marie’s house (the old “home place”) where the whole family gathered each year.  She made it in a huge dishpan or the bottom of her big granite roaster.  First she crumbled up stale bread crumbs which she had been saving for weeks.  Sometimes she would add a batch of corn bread also.  I was allowed to put on my little apron and help with this chore.  She boiled the giblets separately and then cut them up finely.  To this broth she added a large onion and 1/2 a bunch of celery, cooking them until tender.  She added this mixture, salt and pepper, fresh sage to taste (lots), and 4 eggs. Tasting is crucial at this point, as is consistency.  Not too dry, but fairly moist. Add drippings from turkey or chicken boullion at this time, if necessary. This was cooked in the oven separately from the turkey, until brown on top.  Mmmm!  Can just taste and smell it now!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Giving Thanks

Monday, November 19th, 2007

After a far-from-brief break, Mona Faye’s Kitchen is back — just in time for the holidays! So . . . we all know that T-giving hasn’t been with us for long. And it’s not the pilgrims we can thank for our turkey and trimmings. It’s Lincoln & FDR.

But the Pilgrims did feast and they did feast with those native around them. Feasting is a celebration of grace and thanksgiving. Always has been for people of the Book. So what did that motley crew eat? Edward Winslow describes it in A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth from 1621:

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

The History Channel explains that they probably ate few veggies and sweets at that time. Meat — venison, wild turkey, lobster, seal, and swan — dominated the menu.

Didn’t know the Pilgrims were on Atkins now, did you?