Simple, Spiritual, Outdated Living in a Vintage New England Home on the Southern Coast of Maine

Friday, December 25, 2015

Highlights From My Christmas Eve and Day

I'm exhausted from the past few weeks, but very satisfied and satiated. I hope you are having a peaceful Christmas! Here are some highlights from my Christmas Eve dinner, morning and Christmas day dinner in pictures:

Christmas Eve dinner table settings

Tiny Tim approaching his Christmas morning banana split
 Tiny Tim with my 1950s Santa
After the presents were opened and put away
Some of my vintage ornaments on display in my sunroom
My circa 1950s/60s Evergleam Pom Pom aluminum tree
Christmas day dinner
Standing rib roast end slice, roasted new red potatoes, heirloom carrots

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tis the Seasoning: Interrupting Christmas Cookery and Preparations for...Corn Muffins? Yes. Because, Cast Iron!

I bought myself a Christmas present on ebay that arrived this morning: a vintage Griswold cast iron muffin pan! Despite running around getting ready for tomorrow night and Christmas day, when I saw my "new" pan I had to stop all of my preparations to test it out.

I gave it a cleaning and re-seasoned it, then made absolutely delicious gluten-free molasses corn muffins that slid right out of the pan. (I think I need vintage cast iron everything in my kitchen.)

These are 100% whole grain, moist and my own adaptation of a 1930s recipe from the Great Depression.

The original recipe and my reimagined gluten-free version will be in my next book. 

I'll be back sometime on Christmas Day to share some of my festivities with you. I hope you're not stressing too much and able to savor the season!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Personal Updates

This pic was taken a few days before my guinea pig, Chauncey suddenly became ill and had to be put to sleep. As upsetting and unexpected as it was, something horrible followed a few days later.

My guinea pig Tiny Tim stopped eating. It's not uncommon for guinea pigs to become depressed and stop eating after the loss of another beloved pig. They didn't share cages but they were right next to one another. Despite my hand feeding him he developed a bad case of bloat which is almost always deadly. I rushed him to the vet where he almost died. They had him on oxygen and his lips turned blue. His prognosis was poor and I didn't think he would make it through the night.

That was one week ago. I have been nursing my boy with belly massages on a heating pad and hand feeding him, including getting up in the middle of the night. He wasn't in any pain but just wouldn't eat. He fought me when I tried to feed him via oral syringe. It wasn't looking good and I was devastated. My pigs are my kids. But it seems like he has turned the corner this morning! He is eating on his own! He is acting more himself! I am praying his healing continues!

In addition to being sleep-deprived I'm fighting off a cold. My housemate caught it from work and you know how that goes. I'm pretty sure I'm looking a bit haggard right now so thankfully I was able to get a pic in front of my tree before the ensuing fiascos.

Some good news is that I mailed my 99 year old Nana a box of my Needhams and she loves them! EXCEPT!

"I bet these are fattening!"

"They're healthy."

"I don't care about healthy. How many calories do each of these have?"

That's my Nana! She has maintained her slim figure her entire life. Even at 99, she's still watching what she eats. She eats anything she wants in moderation and weighs herself every day

The package she sends me every year is due to arrive today via UPS. Inside is my stocking jam-packed with goodies!

I hope your pre-holiday preparations aren't too frantic...or fattening!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Maine Government: Bacon is a basic grocery food staple but peanuts are a processed snack food. What?

The state of Maine government has declared that, as of January 1, 2016, while bacon is a "grocery staple" that is exempt from being taxed (not new), any nut that has been shelled, salted or roasted is a processed taxable food (that's what's new):

The versions of Bulletin 12 “Retailers of Food Products” and Bulletin 27 “Sales of Prepared Food”, effective for January 1, 2016, have been revised. They can be viewed at The following summarizes the revisions:

Bulletin 12
Nuts and seeds that have been processed or treated by salting, spicing, smoking, roasting, or other means will become taxable on January 1, 2016. The revised bulletin now draws a bright line between unprocessed raw nuts and processed nuts. See pages 4 and 6. All shelled nuts will be taxable while nuts in the shell will be exempt except those that have been salted, spiced, smoked or roasted.

How is it that a heavily processed product like bacon is considered a non-taxable staple but shelled or salted nuts are so OMG processed that they are lumped in with candy and soda?! You can see the list here. Yet peanut butter is a staple.

What a junky message they're sending to the public. Maine is experiencing an all-time high rate of obesity like the rest of the country. People shouldn't be penalized for peanuts! Nuts that have simply been shelled are a wholesome, minimally processed and healthy food despite being calorie dense. Also, have you ever seen cashews sold in the shell? Nope. The bacon lobby must be louder than the peanut gallery.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Study Shows "Dove Effect" of Plus-Sized Models Discourages Healthy Eating

Those exposed to the acceptance ad had less motivation to be in better shape,” the study, published by the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, states.

In some parts of the study, participants were offered snacks or asked to put together their ideal meal, and answers varied based on which ad they’d seen.

Accepting larger bodies increases a person’s tendency to choose unhealthy foods and decreases their motivation to get in shape, the report called "The (Ironic) Dove Effect" went on to say.

Just like I suggested in my book!

Studies have blamed the media for promoting anorexia acceptance by glamorizing unhealthily thin models, so why wouldn't the opposite be applicable? Why should for-profit companies selling products to women be in the business of telling any woman what makes her body acceptable? Why not just show women of all sizes modeling clothing and products?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Retro Recipe: Deviant Christmas Sugar Cookies *Reimagined* from a Vintage 1929 Recipe

As I mentioned in a previous post I'm operating on a limited budget right now so I'll be baking Christmas presents: boxes filled with my own baked goodies. They will include my usual real, artifice-free healthier versions, because I care, with one exception: I want to include some Christmas sugar cookies with full-out fakery on top, specifically red and green dusting sugars in addition to refined white sugar in the cookies. Why?! Because I care.

I know the recipients like it and don't have the same concerns that I do. I don't hand out raisins to kids when they come trick-or-treating at Halloween. They get candy! It's the same idea with Christmas giving.

My recipe is still gluten-free because I need to sample the finished products, plus I want to offer the internet a vintage gluten-free option that does not use white rice flour or Xanthan gum which is a name for bacteria gum. Yum?! No. You can read more here at the bottom of the page.

My inspiration comes from 1929. The original recipe:

My own gluten-free version of this vintage sugar cookie:

1 cup whole grain oat flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup non-GMO, non-hydrogenated shortening
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a bowl, sift the oat flour with the baking powder before mixing it with the potato starch and tapioca flour. In a separate bowl cream the shortening and sugar before adding the eggs, well-beaten. Add the flour about a half cup at a time and beat together with an electric mixer until it's smooth. With a spoon finish mixing it together until you have a nice dough. Dust a cutting board or other surface with some potato starch and roll out with a rolling pin.

Cut out the cookies with holiday-themed or plain round cookie cutters before adding the dusting sugar (which, of course, is totally optional.)

I went through a few different batches in the oven until I got them just right! I had success with baking them on a very well-greased cookie sheet in a preheated 375° oven for only about 5-6 minutes. When they were in longer they became fragile and crumbled when I picked them up. Let the cookies cool completely before removing them from the sheet. You may have different results with baking temperature and times since actual oven temps vary from one another.

I ate a couple of the cookies after the initial sampling. I'm very happy with how they turned out because I think they are reasonable impostors for gluten-containing sugar cookies with some supermarket holiday spirit sprinkled on. So my cookies are fakes of fakery?!

Then again, I guess NOT! I saw this this morning in my local supermarket. What is up with this literally over-the-top fakery bakery stuff?? (Purple beads?? Smurf blue goo??)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

RIP My Dear Chauncey

My darling Chauncey, who I've had since he was a tiny baby, was two months shy of six years old which is up in the years for guinea pigs. Yesterday morning all seemed normal with him. In fact the photo above was taken only a week ago. He ate his breakfast of lettuce and apple slice as usual. I left to do some Christmas shopping and when I returned he was in visible pain. I rushed him to the vet and x-rays and exams revealed some very serious medical issues with a poor prognosis. In addition he had been living with congestive heart failure which I had been managing with medication. It's too painful to detail, but the medications they gave him for yesterday's symptoms didn't help and I had to rush him back to the vet later in the day. His decline was sudden and serious. Late yesterday I had to make that hard unselfish choice that pet parents must do, and set him free. RIP my dear Chauncey.