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Archives for : September1953

Shady Pines

I’m happy to report on the success of the Chipped Beef.  My toast was perfecto!  Steve apologized for showing his disappointment with breakfast.  It seems that he nicked his face with his fancy new electric razor and couldn’t find the styptic pencil.  Stevie Jr solved his dislike for his cords by coming home with a hole in one of the knees.  I might be able to patch it.  Daisy’s curls sprung from her head like an angelic halo, and I made a mental note to buy her some new barrettes and bows.

My plans for today include making a batch of Banana Bread for Junior to take with him on his scout troop trip to Shady Pines tomorrow after school.  The scouts are going to teach the residents how to tie knots and then demonstrate some bird calls.  The trip will count toward their wilderness badges.  The residents might not have much use for the knots or the calls, but at least they will get a treat for the effort.

I’ve been saving the ripest bananas each week in the freezer compartment so the bread will be moist and flavorful.  They felt perfectly mushy last week when they thawed slightly while I defrosted the freezer.   If some scout could invent a reliably defrosting freezer, I’d personally give him a badge!

 

 

Best Banana Bread

4 extra ripe bananas, smashed

5 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 beaten large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place smashed bananas into a large bowl.  With a large wooden spoon, mix melted butter into bananas.  Add sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Mix together.  Sift together: baking soda, salt, and flour.  Add to mixture and stir.  Butter a small loaf pan.  Pour banana mixture into prepared pan and bake for  60 minutes.

 

Allow pan to cool on its side for 5 minutes.  Gently tap out bread and cool completely (if you can!)

 

Tasty Chipped Beef on Toast

 

3 small packages of dried beef

 

1/4 cup butter

 

1/4 cup all purpose flour

 

1 cup milk

 

1 cup half & half

 

dash of black pepper

 

dash of nutmeg

 

 

 

White bread to toast

 

 

 

Slice dried beef into ribbons.  Place butter into skillet and allow to melt on medium high heat.  Whisk in flour, pepper, and nutmeg.  Add milk and half & half slowly and continue to stir.  Allow to simmer for one minute and add beef.  Simmer until beef is hot.

 

While beef is simmering, toast thick slices of white bread.

 

Spoon beef mixture over toast.

 

 

 

I like to serve the Chipped Beef with chilled fruit on the side.

 

 

 

Burnt Toast

The curly white wisp from my cigarette drifted slowly upward.  I linger over the second smoke of the day because it’s my quiet time.  I rationalized that I use this time to plan my day, but I’m not always a good planner.  Today I used the time to reflect on how to relive the morning.  Steve Jr. made  a fuss about wearing the light tan corduroy pants I just bought him.  I had no idea why.  Daisy’s curls (how did she inherit them?) were particularly hard to tame, and I brushed her head too hard.  She didn’t make a peep through the process, but I knew from the snap of her head that I was too rough.

The real problem was the toast.  It ruined the morning for everyone.  While Steve dresses, I listen for clues to start his breakfast.  He needs a good meal to deal with all the stress of his job.  When the shower turns off, the skillet turns on low.  The buzzing of the electric shaver is the cue to crack the eggs.  When the closet door closes, the toast descends.  Same sequence every day.  I never check the setting on the toaster, because I’m the only one who makes toast.  While the toast browned, I opened the back door a crack and enjoyed the feel of the cool morning air.  It was the burnt smell that alerted me.  I turned to check the toast as Steve, Junior and Daisy all rushed into the kitchen.  Junior was about to continue his complaint about the pants, but Steve’s mood superseded.  I realized what had happened when I saw the setting set at high.  I scorched my fingers pulling out the toast.  I dropped the blackened toast into the porcelain sink.

Steve’s pique silently noted my ineptness.  I scooped the perfectly set sunny-side up eggs on a plate and placed it next to Steve’s freshly-squeezed orange juice.  The kids shoveled cereal into their mouths, gulped their juice and rushed out the door waving good-bye for the relative safety of the bus stop.  Steve’s fork squeaked against his plate as he ate.  I busied myself by tossing the offending toast into the garbage.  I managed a contrite smile as I handed him his briefcase and felt his quick dry kiss on my cheek.  The message was clear; incompetents burned toast.  Our picture perfect morning upended by a dial on the toaster.  I remember my mother used a contraption that sat on the stove to make toast.  No dials, just good old-fashioned mother power.

I’ll have to redeem myself tonight with dinner.  I took one last drag and stubbed out my Chesterfield.  Later, I spotted the perfect recipe while thumbing through my recipe box.  Chipped Beef on Perfectly Toasted Bread.  It’s not as if you can even see the toast under the creamy gravy.  But it will be perfect.

Maude’s Meatloaf

1/3 cup of milk

1 cup of white bread, torn into small pieces

1 lb. ground chuck

1 lb. ground pork shoulder

1 small finely grated onion

2 large eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard

2 teaspoons table salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, mix milk with bread.  Add ground chuck, ground pork, onion, eggs, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Mix together gently with clean hands.  Lightly butter large loaf pan.  Form meat into loaf and place in large loaf pan.

Mix together ketchup and barbecue sauce.  Spoon sauce onto top of loaf.  Bake for approximately 70 minutes.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes after cooking.

 

Leftovers make great sammies!

Meatloaf Mania

I must have been the last to arrive with my contestant.  I saw three other loaves sitting side by side on the counter.  One had a beautiful deep ruby red sauce coating the top, one looked as though there were veggies mixed in with the ground meat, and the last one was a free form masterpiece.  Sarah looked a little nervous but gladly took my sample.  I had purchased a new pan, and told Sarah that it was hers to keep for participating in our crazy contest.  I asked Sarah if she had told her family about the plans for dinner.  She told me that the kids were actually making judging forms and that Roger hadn’t said much after she let him know what was going to happen.  I offered a “good luck” and left.

I kept thinking that perhaps I would hear something that night about the outcome, but we hadn’t really discussed when Sarah would share the results with us.  I felt inspired and made a big dinner with chili and homemade cornbread.  Steve enjoyed the meal, gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek and the kids ran off to take baths.  When we were laying in bed, I told him about the contest.  He chuckled at the thought that we had actually made a contest out of meatloaf.  Maybe it was a mundane topic, but a staple in our dinner repertoires.  I wondered how I would feel if I felt that I had to prepare dinners for Steve based on versions that he had been fed when he was young.  At least I had that freedom intact.

The next morning I got a call from Mags to meet at 10 at Sarah’s house.  I asked Mags if she had any news on the results.  She seemed delighted to tell me that she had never heard Sarah sound so happy, but didn’t know the results.  I walked over to Sarah’s and entered to see everyone already lined up on the davenport with coffee cups in hand.  Sarah entered the room looking like sunshine itself.  Her smile was as wide as her face.  She giggled a little as we fidgeted nervously.  “Spit it out,” Mags yelled.  Sarah giggled again.  She made quite a scene, taking a cup, pouring her coffee, setting it down for the cream and sugar additions, slowly stirring away.  She lifted her cup, took a quick sip and gently lowered herself into a chair across from us.  This was getting frustrating, but she deserved a chance to create her little drama.  “Well,” Sarah said, “it was quite a dinner.”  Sarah went on to explain how much fun they had during the contest.  The kids acted like judges, describing their favorites, rating each different version, while Roger and Sarah listened and enjoyed the show.  Roger got into the action, and actually told everyone how much he hated his mother’s meatloaf.  It seems as though he had never liked meatloaf night because it reminded him of being a little boy, having to clean his plate, sit up straight, and make polite conversation.  Sarah relaxed after his revelation and swore the children to secrecy never to tell their grandmother about the night.  We had all gotten caught up in her delight at having changed meatloaf night into meatloaf delight.  Gail finally asked her which version won the contest.  Another “well” was followed by the explanation that they all won.  Everyone loved the red sauce, the free form, the semi-soft veggies tucked into meat, and my version of Mom’s Meatloaf with the invisibly grated onion.  Sarah said that she was going to finally make her own version based on all of them!  We clapped for her joy and poured more coffee.  Who knew meatloaf could be so much fun?

 

 

Meatloaf Games

It started out as an innocent conversation about our mundane recipes for rolled meat.  We all sat enjoying the last few minutes after the card game before we returned to our wifely duties.  Let me add that no good decisions were ever made after playing cards and having multiple cocktails. We all seemed to have somehow decided to make meat loaf for dinner.  It’s easy to put together in the morning and just toss into the oven after our afternoon of cards.  We chuckled a little at the relative sameness of our decisions.  Mags started to discuss her recipe, Judy Anne joined in with her version, Gail added her take on the ingredients, and I added my thoughts on what should go inside.  We all turned to look at Sarah, who hadn’t said a word.  She stared back at us and quietly admitted that she wasn’t really thrilled with the way she made hers. It seems as though she was using a recipe that her mother-in-law had given her when she first married.  She admitted that she really wanted to make a different version but didn’t think that she could change since her family had enjoyed the other version for so long.

Mags, acting as ring-leader, decided that we were going to have a competition and help out Sarah.  The rules were relatively simple.  We were each to make our version of our meatloaf and Sarah and her family were going to rate them.  This would allow Sarah to start serving a version of her own based on the winner.  We decided on next week for the big test.  Sarah looked a little worried and mentioned not wanting to break a family tradition.  As usual, Mags managed to say something that helped Sarah understand that the competition was just a ruse to let her family get out of their meatloaf rut and allow her the chance to break out.  I’n not sure if it was the cocktails, but there seemed to be a little twinkle in everyone’s step as we broke up the party.  Let the games begin!

Caramelized Onion dip

2 tablespoons oil

4 cups of chopped yellow onion

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onions and cook until the onions turn brown (12 minutes).  Stir in brown sugar, salt, and pepper.  Lower heat and cook gently for about 25 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together sour cream, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.  Add cooled onions and place mixture into a pretty serving bowl. Cover with wrap and chill.

Let’s Make a Deal

Wednesday already!  I’ve got to get moving today to get the house straightened up before my early hair appointment at Florene’s Beauty Salon for my set.  Before I leave, I’ll put together my contribution to the card party – Caramelized Onion Dip.  Gail is the hostess this time and she always wants something new and special.

I’ve discovered that the card party means different things to each of us.  Gail loves to show off her house and she always chats more than usual when she is the hostess.  She likes to gossip and knows a lot about what is going on in every family.  Her husband, Gil, is a doctor who makes house calls and isn’t home at a set time everyday.  Gail fills her time with the not-so-mundane events in every else’s lives and movie magazines. Gil rewards her lack of complaints with interesting medical details on his patients.  When we first moved to Monterey Park, I took the kids to Doctor Brown’s office, so Gail has never had access to our personal medical issues.

The card party hostess has responsibilities – theme, assignment of food tasks and the preparation of a great cocktail for the participants.  The cocktails require the most time because we play “cocktail critic.”  We all tend to like sweeter drinks with a solid base of booze.  I’m making my special creamy onion dip because it’s sturdy enough to stand up to dipping.  I prefer to slather it on salty potato chips but it works with cut-up veggies too.