Showing posts from February, 2016

Who does whipped cream better? The 1950s or today? (It's a whipped cream smackdown!)

This is a friendly competition between two similar products from two different Maine dairy companies. One of these containers of cream has many more additives--things that weren't added to milk in the 1950s and earlier--and has had more processing than the other. I wanted to know which would produce a prettier (and some would say healthier) whipped cream.

I used to live next to an Oakhurst dairy farm.

Oakhurst really stuck it to Monsanto when they first decided to not use bovine growth hormone (a Monsanto product) and added that fact to their milk packaging labels. Monsanto sued them but Oakhurst prevailed. I respect that immensely along with their support of local family farms.
Smiling Hill is a family farm that produces, processes and bottles(!) their milk in my town. They do not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides or artificial hormones. I just love that they still use bottles! This is where they accept returned bottles in their farm store where I brought mine earlier tod…


I've been very busy working on Thrifty Vintage Gluten-Free Recipes. This slice of apple pie made with an oat flour crust will be included.

My next blog post will be posted very soon. I'm facilitating a smackdown! You'll see...

Pumping Iron in the Waffle Lab, or, Another Day in the Vintage Test Kitchen.

I have this sexy early 1920s Griswold cast iron waffle iron that makes a beautiful hearts and star waffles.

I wasn't sure that it would work with an electric coil stove. It took me many tries to get this right, not just because of the iron, but I was also testing my own whole grain gluten-free waffle batter adapted from a 1920s recipe. As you can see, I had many fails:


Still a big fat NOPE.

Was I tempted to order a non-stick waffle iron via my Amazon Prime for something non-stick and new? No way!

This waffle iron is a beauty, and it's also very heavy. I got an EXCELLENT work-out yesterday. You don't just place it on the stove-top, pour in the batter and then wait. You have to keep flipping the waffle irons to ensure even heating on both sides, and when you do so you have to clamp down on the handles very tightly. I did test waffles for about six hours straight, so I'm not sure how many reps that equals but I loved it and looking forward to more! I am totally ser…

How people took a stand for weight in the 1950s

Here are more scans from my 1952 Spring and Summer Montgomery Ward catalog, this time sharing some bathroom weight scale options. How do they compare to today?

These scales only go up to 250 pounds! I took a quick glance at amazon best selling scales, and the trend for top sellers seems to be a max of 400 pounds.

This "doctor's type" scale goes up to 300 pounds, still below today's equivalent that goes up to 400 and up.
Also check out: Weigh Cool Ideas.

Happy Valentine's Day! My own recipe for fancy bittersweet chocolates filled with marshmallow and coconut!

I made these from scratch and they are fun to make and eat for a special Valentine's Day treat and/or gift. Everything tastes better when it's homemade with love, especially when you can control the sweetness and use minimally processed ingredients. The end result isn't machine-perfect, but food wasn't meant to be that way!

Averyl's Fancy Coconut Marshmallow Bittersweet Chocolates

1.5 bars of 4 oz Ghirardelli Chocolate Baking Bar, 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate: 960 calories
1/2 cup unrefined coconut sugar: 430 calories 1/4 cup organic non-fat dry milk powder: 120 calories 2 tbsp organic butter: 200 calories
Combine and blend ingredients in a double boiler, stirring until melted. Spoon melted chocolate into a candy molds (twenty candies worth) filling each halfway, then divide the following ingredients into each, using slightly more filling for larger pieces:

27 Dandies mini Vanilla marshmallows: 135 calories 2 tbsp Bob's Red Mill's unsweetened shredded…

Were women thinner in the 1950s and earlier because of smoking?

Click here for the 1930 ad image source and to see more in this collection of "keeps you slim" cigarette ads  from The Stanford School of Medicine.
In my book American Women Didn't Get Fat in the 1950s I debunked the claim that the reason women weren't obese in the 50s is because "they all smoked" as some have commented in response to my book (but apparently didn't read it.) In the Beta version of STAT: Reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine, Sharon Begley does a "gut check" of Fewer American Smoke. More Are Obese. Is There A Connection? What did her research reveal?

Given all the epidemiological evidence that quitting smoking causes weight gain, and the solid biological explanation of it, this paper’s finding of an 11- to 12-pound average gain is plausible. But it doesn’t prove that the decline in smoking was a significant contributor to America’s obesity epidemic.
This isn't surprising, and I encourage you to read her artic…

My 1924 Lemon Sponge Pie is a success!

This gluten-free lemon sponge pie recipe will be in my Thrifty Vintage Gluten-Free Recipes book. It's been a long day in my test kitchen. This was one of three recipes for today!

Meet & Greet with Chicago in Portland, Maine, February 4th, 2016


New for Spring & Summer 1952: Cool, Sunfast, Washable Skips

As inspiration for not just spring, but beautiful classic fashions that would look great worn today, I'll be scanning style picks from my 1952 Montgomery Ward catalog. I'll begin the series with these cotton braid "vamps":

"Summer casuals, no matter what their color. On in a jiffy, off in a jiffy. Elastic straps that fit snugly about ankles for comfort. Matching cotton twill covered platforms and arch wedge heels. Long-wearing rubber soles." $2.79 

"A riot of gay colors, perfect for summer beach play wear. Perfect companions for light cottons." $2.89

The "Why I Failed Department" Weight Loss Edition

I love this 1913 solicitation for The Country Gentleman magazine! What a great idea! I was thinking it can be applied to many things, not just problems of the gentleman farmer. "Crops that grew and flourished but yielded little" made me think of when I had lost weight on a gimmicky diet. It felt like winning but success was always fleeting. "Extensive plans that were intensive failures" is so epic-sounding! I can think of some examples in my own life; I'm sure we all have them. Sticking to weight and eating healthily, I'm thinking of everything I tried up until my success that I've shared extensively in my blog and book. It's very true that my past failures are complete motivators and indicators of what can never work for me.
What about you? What would you submit to a Weight Loss Edition of the "Why I Failed Department" as an example of what led (or can lead) to a more informed and successful next attempt?

What a peek into my closet reveals about my weight and self-image, past and present

Those of you who have weight to lose or who have lost and gained more than once understand the expense and challenge of maintaining a wardrobe that fits. By fits, I don't just mean in size, but what also matches our self-perception.

As you can see, the little black dress and the novelty linen skirt above both still retain their original Talbot's price tags. Are they new? No; I purchased them about fifteen years ago! They are both a size 6. When I originally bought them they didn't fit because I was a size ten. These pieces were my inspiration to take the excess weight off but by the time I did, I kind of forgot I had them, nor did I have a fitting occasion to wear them. Then I foolishly thought I was too old!
These are two size eight Ralph Lauren skirts I bought during a time that I was losing and gaining before I went retro with my eating. They fit for a while, then they didn't. Then they did. Etc. I love them a lot so I will see if I can get them tailored to fit me…