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Archives for : January1954

Homework for Dinner

Cold weather brings out a better cook in me and I am less likely to depend on my standard roast beef, spaghetti, and fried chicken recipes.  Stevie Junior was studying Sweden in school this week and I remembered that I had seen a great new recipe for Swedish Meatballs in a magazine.  I surprised him by making them for dinner.  Helping with homework at this level doesn’t challenge me too much and sometimes I even learn something.

I can’t recall if we learned about Sweden at all when I attended elementary school.  History was centered on the the war at that time and not repeating those mistakes.  My teen years were full of worries about another war, and I remember the relief I felt when Steve finished his military service.  I had gone to work after high school and really enjoyed making my own money.  That was the first time that I had the chance to choose my own clothes, hats, and accessories.  I remember feeling slightly extravagant paying for my first pair of really good gloves.  I wore them until the seams started to fray, and they now live in my trunk.  The variety of choices wasn’t good due to the conditions, but I loved handing over my own money at the department store.  At least everyone was going through the same circumstances.  It’s hard to remember now how much less choice we had in shopping just a short time ago.  Daisy and Stevie Junior have it pretty good these days.  Steve works hard to provide for us, and I keep a good home.

These Swedish Meatballs make a great appetizer also.  For dinner, I serve them over buttered noodles.

 

 

Swedish Meatballs

1 large egg

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 slices bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces

1/2 pound ground pork

1 small onion, grated

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon packed brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 pound ground chuck

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk egg and cream together in medium bowl.  Stir in bread pieces and set aside.  With mixer, beat pork, onion, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, brown sugar, salt and baking powder until smooth.  Scrape bowl as necessary.  Mash bread mixture eliminating large pieces.  Add to pork mixture and beat for one minute.  Add beef and mix in for 30 seconds.  Using wet hands, form 1 inch meatballs, place on greased tray, and bake for 25 minutes, turning once.

In skillet, melt butter, whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly add broth with whisk.  Add brown sugar and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium and reduce sauce to about 1 cup.  Stir in cream and return to simmer.  Add meatballs and simmer for 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

A Pirate’s Life for Me

The first card game of the new year was to be held at my house, and I was feeling a little uninspired.   Winter wonderland didn’t seem appropriate since we were beginning to feel a little cooped up.  I flipped through my magazines looking for something different but couldn’t quite settle on an idea that would be both unique and able to be pulled off in a short time.  Daisy came to the rescue when she asked me to color with her one afternoon.  I am a well-known colorer and take great pride in both my selection of colors and the terrific job I do of outlining everything that I color.  I find it very restful and didn’t mind a bit when she asked.  We flipped through a few used coloring books to find just the right page.  Daisy found a picture that took up two pages that we could work on together, and we discussed who would color what sections.  It was a boat on an island with treasure chests and swashbuckling pirates.  I looked it over, and felt a light bulb go off in my brain.  Island theme!  Maybe even pirates, and definitely treasure.  I was coloring with my hands, but my head was planning.  The island theme would take us out of our wintry doldrums and plant us firmly in a tropical zone.  I have a beautiful pineapple shaped bowl for serving, and could dig out the leis from last summer’s beach party.   The drink would have to be a show-stopper and not one of my usual dark whiskey choices.

Later that day, I took some time to flip through the encyclopedia and check out some real island pictures.  I’m wasn’t sure everyone would feel comfortable wearing island clothing mid-winter, but I could crank up the heat to add to the effect.  I called our phone tree queen, Gail, and told her to spread the word about the theme and the voluntary option to dress for the party.

Card party day started out with a brutal cold wind.  I finished up my cleaning and the food preparation and turned the thermostat to 80 degrees.  I could hear hot air blowing throughout the house.  I made a mental note to turn it back down after the party so Steve wouldn’t notice how much heat I used.  To my delight, everyone came dressed for the occasion.  I’m not even sure where Sarah found the grass skirt that she wore underneath her heavy church coat, and we took more time than usual showing off our outfits at the start of the party.   There was a lot of giggling.  The giggling may have been helped along by my secret weapon, my Really Rum Punch.  Not my normal liquor choice, but it worked for the party, and everyone enjoyed it.  Maybe I should try new things more often.  I wonder what else is in those coloring books…

 

 

Really Rum Punch

1  3/4 cups rum, mix up the varieties, if possible
2 1/2 cups pineapple juice
2 1/2 cups orange juice
2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons of maraschino cherry juice
Mix all ingredients together in a punch bowl.  Pour over ice cubes in tall glasses.

Golden Legs

Winter brings a vivid reminder of the true translucence of my skin.  I wear hose with a little color in them and stay away from the sheerest pairs.  I’ve never been a big fan of garter belts and have created more runs while snapping on my hose than I ever could otherwise.   I have learned to stay away from the edges of cocktail tables, cats with claws, and bushes with anything prickly.  Naked, the color of my legs can best be described as chalk.  I can even see tiny bluish veins sometimes.  I’m grateful that hemlines don’t show much of my legs and I tend to buy stockings with a little more color until spring arrives.  Warmer weather requires less clothing and my limbs deepen to a glowing tan when I’m outside with the kids more often.

All this talk of my legs gave me a great idea for dinner.  My Chicken Fricassee is always a favorite when its cold, easy to prepare, and clean up after.  I’m all for comfort and convenience.  And pants in January.

Chicken Fricassee

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons of butter, softened to room temperature

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small onion, diced into 1/4″ pieces

1 carrot, diced into 1/4″ pieces

1 celery stalk, diced into 1/4″ pieces

8 ounces of mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and quartered

2 tablespoons of flour

2/3 cup white wine

4 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon parsley

1 tablespoon thyme

1 bay leaf

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons tarragon

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  In a large Dutch oven, heat oil and butter, brown half of chicken pieces at a time for about ten minutes each side, and remove to a separate plate.  Repeat with other half of chicken pieces and remove.  Add onion, carrot, and celery, scraping up browned bits from the bottom.  Saute for eight minutes.   Add mushrooms, stir, and cook for about four minutes.  Stir in flour, and cook for one minute while stirring.  Add wine to pot, and bring to a boil.  Stir while base thickens and add broth. Place browned chicken and juices on top of vegetables in a layer.  Add parsley, thyme, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover for about 35 minutes.  Remove chicken to serving platter and cover.  Simmer liquid for five minutes or until reduced a little.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks and heavy cream.  Remove 1/2 cup of liquid and slowly whisk into cream mixture.  Stir cream mixture slowly into liquid.  Return chicken to pot, add tarragon and lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer.  Serve.

 

 

New Year, New Me

There’s a more modern me just itching to appear this year.  The children are less dependent on me, Steve is progressing well up the ladder at work, and my circle of girlfriends is closer than ever.  One of my resolutions this year is to have more parties and begin to entertain a little more.  It will be great for Steve’s career and fun for us.  It seems as though the first years with kids is spent in their care and feeding and the grown-ups don’t get to enjoy their friends as much.

Steve has been working on improving his poker game and has enlisted my help.  He’s been teaching me how to play after the children go to bed, and although I don’t understand everything that he’s talking about, it’s fun spending time together.  One night a week I set up a snack for us and we sit at the kitchen dinette and play.  There are many versions of poker to learn and “21” is my favorite.  In our small world, he plays with the same group of guys who are the husbands of my card party sisters.  He gets all serious when we’re playing, and I have to pay attention to what I’m doing so it doesn’t annoy him when I forget something that he’s already taught me.  The girls and I don’t play with such competitive energy.

Mags had a terrific New Year’s Eve party.   Mags and Harold have a lovely home with chic, modern furniture.  Their teal wrap-around sofa would never work in a family with kids, but suits their style well.  It’s always fun to remember how to be a socially adept adult and practice communication skills that don’t involve school, bathroom functions, or scolding.  Mags has a great stereo console with a radio and tv.  I would love to have one of those at our place for entertaining.  Everybody from the neighborhood was there, plus Harold’s banker associates, and business leaders from town.  Harold likes to hobnob with the movers and shakers and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run for political office someday.  He’s a great guy, very professional, and polished.  Mags makes his life comfortable at home and is a stunning asset of a wife for social events. Mags prepared great little appetizers, a spread of chips and dips on the cocktail table, and a full dining room table of sweets.   They have a great sideboard that functions as a bar when needed, and Harold was shaking and mixing different concoctions all night.

Just before midnight, we all gathered, and Mags lowered the music.  Harold toasted his “friends and foes” and then other men made their toasts.  Steve quietly toasted me and I gave him a great big kiss when the grandfather clock in the hallway sounded midnight.  Another year ahead of us all with the promise that it would bring.

When Steve left at the end of the night to relieve the babysitter, I stayed and helped clean up a little.  I washed and Harold dried, we chatted and chuckled at the night’s events.  We sang a rousing semi-drunk rendition of “How much is that doggy in the window” to entertain Mags.  She throws a great party, and I’m looking forward to our next year all together.