Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Mummy Meatloaves
My Facebook friends have already seen these adorable and yummy Mummy Meatloaves but I had to post them for Halloween. They were delicious and relatively easy (not including the piping of the mashed potatoes) so I will make them again. Plus, they are healthy!
The secret ingredient is a grape tomato in the center of each one. I halved the recipe since it was just for me and my BFF, Karen. (And the kitties had just a little too!)
I’ll leave you with a few pictures that I took around my neighborhood. Happy Halloween to all.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Julia Child, Julie and Julia, Descoware, Pyrex

Notice the Chococat bookmark? 
I just started reading the book "As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto." Much to my surprise, I am loving it! Not only does it reveal Julia's cooking techniques and her road to publishing the first volume of the legendary "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" but it also illuminates the attitudes and political climate of the 50's. In one letter Avis tells Julia that all her friends have electric dishwashers and how horrid she thinks the whole concept is. She refuses to ever get one.

I still have a long way to go with the book but based on what I've already read, I just know I will continue to love it. I took a break and watched Julie and Julia, a movie which I taped a long time ago and never got around to watching. Do NOT watch this movie if you are also reading "As Always, Julia." From the very beginning, there are huge inconsistencies with the portion of the movie that deals with Julia Child, Avis and the publishing of her first book. And the inaccuracies continue throughout. This kind of thing drives me NUTS. I am guessing that the writers (Nora Ephron, Julie Powell) thought it made for a better movie but it pretty much ruined the whole thing for me. Knowing that Julia Child did not like Julie Powell's blog (which they do mention in the movie), it made me think that she would HATE the movie since her life was not portrayed accurately. Oh, well. She and her husband's grandnephew are credited as writers for the movie because their book "My Life in France" was used. (Julia's husband was deceased when she was working on this book, which was published posthumously.)

Le Creuset stopped all production of Descoware
 after they purchased the company.
The other thing that has bugged me about the movie is that Julia Child (played by Meryl Strrep) is shown using a Le Creuset cast iron round casserole. However, my friend Karen collects Descoware so I know all about it and that it was Julia's choice. I wonder did she also use Le Creuset or is it a product placement for the movie? I did read on the web that Le Creuset sales soared after the movie came out. The movie does use the same color of pot as the popular Descoware "cherry flame" but you can clearly see that it is marked Le Creuset. In the movie, they also show this same Le Creuset casserole in the Smithsonian's display of Julia Child's kitchen. I went to the Smithsonian's website and looked at all the pictures of the actual display but I couldn't tell which brand the pot was. However, I did learn that Julia liked cats in the kitchen - just like me!

Okay, so I know I've gone on and on about this pot thing but it just bugs me that a TV show like Mad Men can try so much harder than a major motion picture. Sigh.

As a result of the movie, I have reserved "My Life in France" and "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" from the library and plan to read them soon. I may even try to cook an aspic recipe! After all, I do have a vintage ring mold that I have been dying to use.

What does all this have to do with vintage Pyrex? Well, nothing really. But I have a few cool pieces from Goodwill and one is from the early 60's. I'd like to imagine that someone made a recipe from Julia's book in this very dish!

Here is the 60's piece. Wouldn't it look great with mushroom caps in it? This piece is from the "Town and Country" Pyrex collection which was sold from 1961 to 1967.

Underneath is a 1.5 pint refrigerator dish. This is the first piece I got and I knew NOTHING about vintage Pyrex at the time. After some research, I found out that because of the rectangular stamp on the bottom and the style of the lid, that this is not from the 50's but most likely from the 70's (which is okay too - just not as valuable.) I'm not sure which way the lid fits on top as both ways seem to work.

By the way, the blog Pyrex Love is not only entertaining but a source that I use often to research older pieces, such as this one.

The last piece in my "new" collection is a 4 quart bowl from a four piece bowl set of the "daisy" collection. Here is a great ad from 1970 that shows that the set retailed for $5.95. It will be perfect for my father's famous Clam Dip (which also was Helen Gurley Brown's favorite splurge item as described in my original Single Girl's Cookbook!!)

I think Julia would appreciate that there is a cat in my kitchen! Thanks Stormy.

“She was my first cat ever, and I thought she was marvelous. ” 
― Julia ChildMy Life in France

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Last of Sheila and the Spice of Life

On Friday nights, I sometimes go to the Friday Film Forum "...a volunteer program dedicated to the art and history of motion pictures." They show classic movies released prior to 1976. Because of them I have seen two Charlie Chaplin movies, a great Tony Curtis movie (The Sweet Smell of Success), Robert Mitchum in Farewell, My Lovely, Steve McQueen in The Cincinnati Kid, and White Christmas on the big screen! (There are others but I can't think of them right now.) As you can see, I do gravitate to the later movies. So when I heard that they were going to show The Last of Sheila from 1973, I was very excited. (Remember, I am in to all things 70's right now!)

Well, besides this movie having lots of twists and turns in the plot, I really loved it because it was totally 70's all the way. Maybe even more than The Bob Newhart Show, my current guilty pleasure.

Within the first 10 minutes of the movie, the following things happened:
1) The mushroom lamp that is on Roger Sterling's desk in Mad Men was on a Richard Benjamin's desk.
2) Dyan Cannon and Raquel Welch talked about The Sleeping Beauty Diet which is featured in the book Valley of the Dolls. (It's not talked about in the movie - read the books folks, it's a classic!!)
3) Dyan Cannon drinks a TAB! (Look for the iconic can at the very bottom of the picture, towards the middle.)

So in conclusion, I would recommend seeing this little gem of a movie, not only for Dyan Cannon's crazy, hippy 70's outfits, but for a great story that will have you second guessing "who did it" and wondering how James Coburn kept his teeth so white!

Speaking of all things 70's, I've decided to start collecting pieces of Corning Ware with the popular 70's pattern "Spice of Life." I'm sure you've all seen it as it was very popular all the way through the mid-80's. After Thanksgiving, I am going to start selling off my Pfaltzgraff and replacing it with vintage Pyrex (I will have another post about this soon) and this cute mushroom and vegetable pattern. I should end up ahead monetarily becasue my Pfaltzgraff pattern is discontinued and sells pretty well on eBay. As for the Spice of Life, I intend on only getting it at yard sales and thrift stores. I got two perfect pieces today for under $5.

I have a total of four pieces, the first piece which was given to me by my BFF, Karen! So far, all the pieces I own I have French phrases on them but it appears that many were made without any words on them as well. I do adore the French phrases.

Now you all know what you can get me for Christmas!! 

Le Romarin (Rosemary) with lid is a 10x10x2. It doesn't list the quart size so I filled it with water and it took 10 quarts to fill it. Maybe this size isn't ever measured in quarts??
La Marjolaine (Marjoram) was the gift from Karen. It is a 2 quart.

Le Persil (Parsley) is a 6 1/2 inch pan. 
Le Sauge (Sage) is a 2 1/2 cup saucepan with a cute pouring spout. I am thinking about using this for my gravy at Thanksgiving since I don't have a gravy boat. What do you think?

I believe that all of these pieces originally came with lids. I am hoping that all glass Corning Ware lids (made by Pyrex) are interchangeable so that I will be able to get some to fit, eventually. Also, all four of these pieces say that they can be used on the range, oven and microwave. How cool is that?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October Social

We have a Social Committee for the condos where I live. This month they put on a Day of the Dead/Pumpkin Carving Party. These parties are always a LOT of fun because even though there are more than 500 units, it seems that mostly my neighbors show up. So it's like a block party or something. There are always plenty of drinks for the adults!

Some of the spooky food included cemetary brownies that my friend Maria made, popcorn in baggies that looked like skeletal hands and mice eating cheese. Of course, I used my candy corn tray again and there was a cool punch with finders and hands in it.

Crafts for the kids (and adults!) included skeleton making with wine corks, pumpkin carving and paper flowers.

Although I helped with other pumpkins, here is my Owl Jack O'Lantern. It was quite tedious but a margarita helped me power on!

I also made two paper flowers.

(You can click on any of the pictures to bigify.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21st is Céline Day

No, really, it is! You can find it lots of places on the web, such as here and here. According to Wikipedia, "In France name days (in French: fête) have long been very important in everyday culture and it's still traditional to give a small gift to a friend or family member on their name day."

Here is a card that my Mother gave me years ago.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Candy Corn Cupcakes for Bunco Night

My good friend and neighbor invited me to attend her Bunco Night last night. (I was a substitute.) It really was a fun night with a great group of ladies! And I had the high score for the evening. Whee! Beginner's luck, I guess.

Anyway, I asked her if I could bring dessert as I wanted to try and recreate these cute candy corn cupcakes that I found on the cool blog The Sugar Turntable.

I used a chocolate cake recipe that I like because they are so light and moist (secret ingredient in them is sour cream and of course I added additional cocoa powder!!) I had never made them as cupcakes but so far every cake that I like works as cupcakes too. And for the filling, I completely made up a recipe that was delicious! Very light and fluffy. Email me if you want it!

So I started by using only cupcake liners that mimicked the colors of a classic candy corn. Once the cupcakes were baked, it was very hard to tell unless you were really looking for it.

After I made the cupcakes, I filled two test cupcakes. I discovered that the colors were too light and also that each layer needed to "set" before the next one was added so that there would be more color definition. I added a chocolate ganache to the to top and then decide that the candy corn "popped" if another dollop of white frosting was on top of the ganache. Karen was kind enough to come over and eat one of the samples right away!

I darkened the yellow and orange fillings and started working. The cupcakes had been made the night before and chilled in the fridge as that makes them easier to work with. I cut a cone shape out of the top and then cut off the bottom of the cone (to eat later!!) I used a piping bag and put in a little white. Then I put them back in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill. Then I used a tasting spoon to put in the orange filling and back in the fridge. Then I piped in the yellow on top and put the cupcake top back on and yes, back in the fridge.

With some of the cupcakes, once the tops were back on a little bit of the yellow filling could been seen. These got more ganache on them to cover up any yellow or lines of demarcation.
After I put on the ganache (which was so hot that a DROP burned my hand), I put the cupcakes in the fridge again so the ganashe would set. Then I piped two dots of the while filling on top and inserted a candy corn. Then I put them all back into the fridge to work on the candy corn tray.

For the tray, I used a plastic tray on top of a wooden tray. (My sister gave me this wooden tray a long time ago for my birthday.) I placed four candy pumpkins at each quarter point on the rim. Then I put a dot of peanut butter on the back of each candy corn and placed them up and down around the tray. I sprinkled loose candy corn on the exposed parts of the green tray. I am going to use the trays again for another party this Saturday (with fresh candy corn on the green tray of course.)

Unfortunately, I waited until I got home after the party to cut the last one open. It had been at room temperature for several hours and the knife smeared the colors. But it still looks pretty cool.

Would I make them again? Probably not. As an old boss of mine, Angelo, used to say "the juice wasn't worth the squeeze." However, I would make the recipe again with all the filling just white. They were DELICIOUS. Like a hostess cupcake but a million times better.

I ran out of the yellow filling after 12 cupcakes so for the remaining cupcakes, I just filled them with the white filling using a long Bismark tip 230. I just smooched in filling until the cupcake was bulging and some was coming up. I then covered that up with the ganache. Lastly, I used a star tip to pipe some orange frosting. The frosting wasn't cold enough when I piped it, so it collapsed under the candy corn. These were pretty simple and still quite yummy too.

Lastly, I just had to post this picture of Karen's vintage chip and dip bowls. How cool are these? I will definitely be borrowing them for my Valley of the Dolls parties!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Owls, owls, owls

I guess I've always had a thing for owls. I've heard one in the trees when I lived in Georgia but I've never actually seen one wild in person. But one can dream....

Anyway, I thought I'd show you some of the owls in my home right now, besides the already mentioned owl wreath. I have many owl "projects" in the works so this is only a sampling.

 The green owls were a surprise gift from a good friend. (Yes, that's me in the picture. My mom blogged about that very picture here: Wishing For Snow.)

The large owl on the wall is a bread basket. I had a clock up there but my cats kept trying to nibble on the owl, so I hastily threw him up there to keep him from harm's way. And that's where he has stayed.

The owl with the scissor eyeglasses is a recent birthday gift from my parents. It also holds string and had been hanging in their laundry room for years. And it's covering up an eyesore, a blank plastic switch plate, too!

The owl outside was meant to scare squirrels and it did for a while but now they just ignore it. This owl is all over Southern California. Oh, and my cats freaked when I first brought it home!

If you love owls, then you should check out one of my FAVORITE blogs, My Owl Barn. I visit it almost everyday. Nothing but OWLS!!

I've had the silver owl for a long time. It's not the greatest picture of it but I wanted to show how well it goes with my mod lamp. And notice my prized book by legendary Helen Gurley Brown - Single Girl's Cookbook. I'll be using it for my upcoming Valley of the Dolls party!!

The orange owl is from South America and is supposed to be good luck. A good, well-traveled friend gave it to me and I keep it over the ashes of Caj and Miska.

If you've seen me recently, then there is a good chance you've seen me wearing these earrings. I wear them several times a week. I mean, really, owls go with everything!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cupcake Dishcloth Apron

As I was doing laundry today, I thought I'd share this cute little apron that I made a while ago.

My friend Arlene got me two cute dish towels for Christmas last year. I took some organza ribbon that I had on hand, pulled out my Hello Kitty sewing machine, and tada!! A cute little apron that I use all the time!!
(click on picture above to "bigify")

Wanna closer look at the cute Hello Kitty spoons? They are from a past Yogurtland promotion.

Pom Pom Wreath

My good friend Arlene started a blog Lemon & Wildwood and has inspired me to start blogging again. So over the next few weeks, I'll try to catch up on a few of the crazy "projects" that I've been doing while I am also looking for work.

In case you hadn't already heard, I am currently into all things late 60's and early to mid 70's. I saw this cute idea to make a pom pom wreath over here. However, I decided I was going to make it as cheaply as possible. I bought a straw wreath from the dollar store and vowed not to spend more than a dollar for each yarn. Ugh...I went so many places and it was much harder than I thought it would be to find dollar yarn. So I didn't really get the colors that I wanted and some of the yarn was not the greatest quality. Plus, the yarns were different textures resulting in different looking pom poms.

I made over 70 pom poms. Since I thought I would only be making 40 or so, I used my little stork embroidery scissors which ended up giving me a blister on my finger. Ouch!

But I think the final result was worth it? What do you think? I have it on my bedroom door right now but will hang it on my front door after my Halloween decorations come down.