Thursday, December 24, 2015

CHRISTMAS MENUS on vintage postcards.

Grace, Kindness, Good Cheer... I hope all of these are on your menu, not only for Christmas but all year long.  

Thinking about food, though, consider the following menu for Xmas Dinner at the U.S. Naval Hospital in New York in the year 1918.  

Nearly 100 years later this menu (without the cigars and cigarettes!!) will be served in many, many American households this Christmas.  

This was an important time on the world scene.  Consider:

Historical Events for December 1918
4th - US President Woodrow Wilson sails for Versailles Peace Conference in France, 1st President to travel outside US while in office
9th - French troops occupies Mainz
13th - US army of occupation crosses Rhine, enters Germany
15th - American Jewish Congress holds its 1st meeting
16th - German troops evacuate Finland, give over Kiev in the Ukraine to revolutionary forces and pull back from Estonia as Bolshevik forces move in
17th - Workers' and soldiers' councils take control of German government in Berlin, until elections in January selects new national assembly
20th - The Allies turn their attention to Bolshevik expansion in the East, landing troops in Crimea and Latvia
26th - After spending Christmas with American troops in France, Wilson goes to London for preliminary discussions about the forthcoming peace conference
27th - The Great Poland Uprising against the Germans begins.
30th - John E Hoover decides to be called J. Edgar Hoover 

Consider how times have changed.  


Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I find many cartoons by Hilary Price in her "Rhymes With Orange" comic strip to be delightful.   Today she offered "A Thanksgiving Pie-Ku."  

     "greetings, hips and butt -
       so much pie coming your way
       sorry - it's worth it."

The perfect Thanksgiving haiku, don't you think?

To you, dear friends, this lovely vintage postcard says it all.

Monday, September 28, 2015

THE BEST APPLE BREAD! Apple Measurement.


A delightful gift from a talented friend.
 Before I get into the details for the Best Apple Bread... EVER!!!, I have a little tip for those of you who cook with apples and have difficulty with certain recipes that call for using a specific number of apples.  You know what I mean.  When a recipe calls for, for example, three apples, precisely what does that mean when you are using apples from the tree in your back yard.  They may be little apples, or bruised apples, or .... simply not the big, beautiful apples we see in stores.  The apples that I use are "organic" which means that there is a lot of waste.  So, when a recipe calls for "three apples" I have no idea what is meant.  Well, here's the answer...

As a general rule, 1 pound of apples is equal to 4 small apples, or 3 medium apples, or 2 large apples.  And, 1 pound of apples is equal to 3 cups of prepared apples (peeled, cored and diced).

I hope this makes it easier for you to bake using apples.

Now, on to The Best Apple Bread!

APPLE BREAD.  Makes 2 large loaves.
*  4 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped
*  4 large eggs, beaten
*  1 cup vegetable oil
*  2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*  2 teaspoons baking soda
*  2 teaspoons salt
*  2 teaspoons cinnamon
*  3 cups all-purpose flour
*  2 cups granulated white sugar

Streusel Topping.
*  3/4 cup all-purpose flour
*  1/4 cup granulated white sugar
*  2 teaspoons cinnamon
*  1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick)

Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease two standard bread loaf pans and set aside.  Peel, core and slice the apples.  Cut into good-sized chunks, about 1 inch in size.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add the oil and beat until combined.  Add the vanilla, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Beat until thoroughly mixed.  Add the flour and sugar and mix on low just to blend.  Turn the mixer to high and beat until mixture is smooth.  The batter will be very thick.  Fold in the chopped apples, being careful to not break them.  Divide the mixture between the two pans.  To prepare the topping, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Cut the butter into the mixture until all ingredients are moist and crumbly.  Sprinkle equal amounts of topping on each loaf.  Bake for about 1 hour on the center rack of the oven.  The loaf should feel fairly firm when touched in the middle; if not, bake an extra 5 minutes.  Remove pans from the oven and cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes.  Finally, remove the bread from the pans and completely cool.  

Pans greased and ready to go!

Folding apple chunks into the batter.

Making the streusel topping.

Ready to go into the oven.
The final result is a very dense, deeply flavorful apple bread.  Store in the refrigerator, cut a slice, and heat it a few seconds in the microwave oven to bring out the flavors.  You won't even need butter!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Like most people, I cook most days and, yet, I don't post to my blog very often.  Why?  I prefer to only post recipes that I find to be exceptional, tried and true.  While I love our day-to-day meals, I'm not sure my readers, you, have interest.  You also want something special!  Am I right?

Which brings me to this Torta di mele (Apple Torte).  So easy, so delicious, so versatile.  I don't know where I got this recipe, but it notes:  "For a real treat, serve the torta with a glass of vin santo."  I can see that.  Vin Santo is a delightful Italian dessert wine.  Typically (but not necessarily) somewhat sweet, in a small glass it would be the perfect accompaniment.  

Torta di mele (Apple Torte).  Serves 8-12
*  2 large eggs
*  1/2 cup sugar (split)
* 1-1/2 cups unsifted cake flour
*  2 teaspoons baking powder
*  1-1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
*  2/3 cup low-fat milk
*  4-5 cups apples (I used a mix of apples but would recommend Granny Smith or similar)
*  1 tablespoon melted butter
*  Cinnamon 
Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Lightly oil a 10-inch springform pan or coat it with nonstick cooking spray.  Dust with a little flour, shaking out excess.  If your pan tends to leak, wrap the outside with aluminum foil.  Set aside.

In a large bowl beat eggs with a wire whisk; mix in 1/4 cup of the sugar.  Beat well.  Whisk in flour, baking powder and lemon zest.  Slowly whisk in milk.  Let rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel, core and quarter the apples, then cut into thin slices.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Pile in the apple slices, pressing down to make them all fit.  Drizzle the top with butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar mixed with cinnamon to your taste.  

Bake for 45 minutes, until firm to the touch.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and release the sides.  Place the torte on a platter, rearranging any bits of apple that have gone astray.  

Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream.  Other ideas might be to lightly drizzle with caramel sauce.  

The batter is quite thin.

Right out of the oven.  The foil around the springform pan alleviates any potential leaks.

If you like raisins, they could be added to this recipe, yielding a somewhat sweeter cake.  The original recipe didn't call for cinnamon at all; it suggested dusting with powdered sugar just before serving.  Whatever you do, I think you'll like this easy recipe.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Sorry that most of my posts these days are from the comic strips, but they're so funny!!!!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015


We had friends over for their "birthday dinner" a week ago, and I am just now getting around to posting one of the things we had that evening.  I served these stuffed dates as a little finger food to stimulate our appetites.   They were very tasty!  And, as you can see from the recipe below, they were very easy to make.  I made the cheese mixture the day before and finished them off about two hours before our guests arrived.  Needless to say, it was nice not having any last-minute preparation.

*  12 Medjoul Dates
*  2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
*  1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
*  1 teaspoon powdered sugar
*  1 tablespoon water
*  1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
Slit date lengthwise on one side and remove pit.  Blend together the mascapone, zest, sugar and water.  Spoon or pipe the mixture into the center of each date.  Sprinkle with the almonds.

This would be a nice addition to a dessert/cheese platter.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


We had a small potluck party at our house this past weekend and friend, Sharon, brought a fabulous rhubarb tart.  Since she was kind enough to send the recipe to me, I'm being kind and passing it along to you since it was really, really delicious and, as you can see, very easy to make.  ENJOY!!!

PER SHARON:  - this is a gluten free recipe, I did not make it gluten free as you can see below. The web link has some beautiful photos and more info on technique.

Rustic Rhubarb, Almond, and Honey Tart

For the almond paste:
1 cup (3.25 ounces / 90 grams) sliced almonds (or whole or slivered almonds)
6 tablespoons (2.5 ounces / 75 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (1.5 ounces / 40 grams) all-purpose flour 
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces / 85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 smallish eggs, plus 1 more for brushing the tart (or 1 1/2 large eggs, other half of egg reserved for brushing the tart)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
In the body of a food processor, combine the almonds, sugar, rice flour and salt. Process until the almonds are finely ground. Add the softened butter, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts and process to a paste. If the paste is very runny, cover and chill for 20-30 minutes until firm.


Using a sheet of parchment paper, roll out a single puff pastry to fit a large baking sheet. Wet the edges and fold about ½ inch all the way around to make a nice rectangular crust.

Spread the inside of the pastry with the almond paste

Arrange rhubarb on the almond paste. Lightly press them into the almond paste. Then sprinkle with 3 TBS of sugar.

Brush the edges of the pastry with the leftover beaten egg.

Bake  400º for 30 – 35 minutes.

Cool. Drizzle with about 4 TBS honey just before cutting and serving.

Monday, April 13, 2015


My rhubarb plants are beginning the season with new growth, which means that in no time at all I'll have a fresh harvest of rhubarb.  The thing is, though, I still have rhubarb in the freezer from last year that needs to be used up!  With that in mind (and, of course, with my unlimited craving for sweets), I decided to make:

*  1-1/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers (1 sleeve of crackers)
*  1 cup flour
*  1/2 cup packed brown sugar
*  1 teaspoon baking powder
*  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*  1/4 teaspoon salt
*  1 egg, beaten
*  1/2 cup buttermilk (see note below)
*  1/3 cup canola oil
*  3/4 cup chopped rhubarb (okay to add frozen)
*  1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut  
    Preheat oven to 375º.  Coat muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.
    Whisk together cracker crumbs, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a small bowl, stir together the egg, buttermilk, and oil.  Add to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.  Fold in rhubarb and coconut.  Fill muffin cups two-thirds full.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden.

As you can see, it would be hard to find a simpler recipe!  These turned out light, moist and delicious.  They also held up well in the refrigerator.

Note:  Buttermilk substitute = Put 1/2 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a 1/2 cup measure.  Add milk to fill 1/2 cup.  Let stand for 5 minutes before using.

Source:  Rhubarb Renaissance by Kim Ode

Sunday, April 5, 2015


JOYEUSES PAQUES = HAPPY EASTER in French.   Enjoy this old postcard, sent in 1927.


Friday, March 27, 2015


We have snow on the ground and it's about 34º outside.  What better day could there be to drive Downtown Minneapolis to take in the beauty of the Macy's flower show?!?

The theme of the flower show is "Art in Bloom" with each installment representing a major movement in art history such as classical art or pop art.   This sculpture of David greets visitors as they enter the show.  Psychedelic colored lights, shining on the statue, created a fascinating introduction to the show.

Notice the changing lights.

Shown below is the Post-Impressionist Garden.

Notice in the very large installment below the flowers beneath the sheer fabric.  A number of paintings from the great Masters were projected onto the fabric.   This was the Renaissance Garden.

The piece below reminds me of the works of Joan Miro.

Below is shown the Abstract Garden.

The floral selection complements this "Piet Mondrian" piece, below, perfectly!  The gardens in the photo above and below are both part of the Modern Garden.

There were a number of installments that were reminiscent of Dale Chihuly's glass works.

Below is the Kinetic Garden.

The amaryllis in this photo appears to be floating.  In fact, there are mirrors which create interesting illusions.
Below is the Art Nouveau Garden.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015



Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I was just brainstorming what to post today for St. Pat's Day... Previously I posted a recipe for Irish Soda Bread, and another time I posted a vintage postcard.  I could do another post of an Irish recipe; or I could do another post of vintage postcards, or something entirely different.  I decided on the vintage postcards, with a twist.  This time the theme will be beer, since many of us associate St. Pat's Day with green beer (or, for some, any beer at all!).

Micro brew beers are a hugely trendy thing at this time with thousands of small brewers making the news.  But, many years ago, we had only very large breweries, many in this area because of the large number of Germans who immigrated here.  

Fox Head Brewing Company, originally located in Waukesha, Wisconsin was one of the smallest breweries in the area.  Opening in 1946 in a building formerly run by a number of other breweries, by 1960 it was allegedly owned by the mob.  In 1962, the brewery was purchased by Heileman Beverage Company, LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and the Waukesha operations were closed.

On the back side of this postcard it says:
"City Keg and Bottle Beer Exchange,
1638 N. 12th Street
M I L W A U K E E"
Once the largest brewing company in America, the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company was founded in 1849, and had a huge presence in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.   In 1902 it achieved status as the largest brewery in America.  During Prohibition it changed its name from "Brewing Company" to "Beverage Company" and adopted the slogan - "The Drink that Made Milwaukee Famous."  A 76-day worker strike in 1953 resulted in the company moving to second-place status, and other problems over the years caused additional declines.  Finally, a worker strike in 1981 led to the sale of the company to Stroh Brewery Company of Detroit, Michigan.  According to Wikipedia, what remained of the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company products was sold to American Entrepreneur Eugene Kashper and TSG Consumer Partners in 2014.

Miller Brewing Company, was originally organized in 1855 and is still in operation with headquarters in Milwaukee.  In September, 1956 a series of sales led to partial changes in ownership of the company, first to the conglomerate W. R. Grace and Company, then to Philip Morris, then to South African Breweries, and finally, to Molson Coors, some of which companies continue to own interests in the Company today.

This shows the Administration Building of Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee.

One of the more interesting and famous breweries, Anheuser-Busch, began operations in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1852.  Following a long and interesting history, today Anheuser-Busch operates 12 breweries and some of the largest theme parks in America,  including Busch Gardens in Florida and Virginia, SeaWorld, and LegoLand,  

On the back of this postcard it states:
Home of Budweiser, Lager Beer
With 5,000,000 square feet of floor space, it covers 52 city blocks - an area larger than the famous downtown 'loop' district of Chicago.  It has an annual brewing capacity of 5,000,000 barrels of the world's finest beer.  The annual overall taxes exceed $54,000,000. "

On the back:
Thousands of visitors are welcomed and entertained here each year during visits through the huge plant, made up of 110 individual buildings, covering 70 city blocks, which is the home of BUDWEISER and other fine Anheuser-Busch beers.

This is a fold-out postcard.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Young-Quinlan Building in Downtown Minneapolis - Antique Dolls, Clothes and Accessories

When I started this blog five years ago, one of my goals was to comment on whatever life brings - not just recipes, not just gardening, but whatever happens in the course of a day.

Yesterday I was scheduled to work at the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  I was early so had time to kill.  There is a massive network of "skyways" downtown and, in no time at all, I found myself walking through a skyway in the old Young-Quinlan building at 901 Nicollet Avenue.

Second story of the Young-Quinlan building.
As a result of that walk, here is what I found out.  In 1894, the first ready-to-wear dress shop west of the Mississippi was opened at 513 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis by Elizabeth Quinlan and her partner, Fred Young.   After Mr. Young died in 1911, Miss Quinlan took over the successful business which focused on high-quality, modern apparel for men and women.  In 1926, she moved the store to 901 Nicollet in the newly constructed building designed by Frederick Ackerman of New York, the architect who had designed her home at 1711 Emerson Avenue South in Minneapolis just two years earlier.  His design incorporated Miss Quinlan's desire to have a "beautiful home" for her merchandise.  It was, and still is, an elegant building which was given historic preservation status in 1979.

Fortunately, the owners of the building have set up beautiful glass and wood cabinets (perhaps they are original to the store?) to highlight some of the early Young-Quinlan merchandise.  What a pleasant surprise to come across this display as I walked through the second level of the building!

Merchandise cabinets.

Miss Quinlan traveled to France to find an artist to design the image to be used on the store's boxes and for all other purposes.  He painted this picture of a woman without the gold beads.  Miss Quinlan was concerned that a picture of a nude woman would not go over well in Minneapolis.  With a flourish, the artist grabbed his brush and quickly painted in the gold beads about the shoulders.  With that, the painting became the official image of the Young-Quinlan store.  Notice this image on the hatbox in the photo below.

Mens' Accessories

I was so pleased to see that these charming objects have been preserved and are on display for others to enjoy.  Coming across this delightful display reminded me that there are so many things in life that can fill us with so much joy, when we least expect it!  

To read more about Elizabeth Quinlan's very interesting life, follow this link and this link.