Hankies

I am talking about those cloth wonders that everyone had, if you are old enough to remember life before the disposable tissue (Kleenex) replaced it.

Hankies were made for both men and women and could be found at the local five and dime and the finest department stores.

Men had two options dress hankies and work hankies.   Work hankies were red or blue cotton bandanas.  The were likely selected to not show all the dirt and grime of the many physical jobs held by of men at that time.   On the other hand men who worked at what we now call white-collar jobs, bankers, store managers and our own Dads when they got spiffed up in their best clothes would all use white hankies.  Maybe those nice white hankies might be monogrammed, special ones that they received as a gift.  Though who was likely to get their hankies mixed up and need to know which was theirs by the monogram?

Women on the other hand had an amazing collection of ever-changing hankies to choose from.  Hankies came in all sorts of colors.  Some had lace and others had embroidery.  Some were printed with all different sorts of flowers, and others a heart or Christmas tree to remind you of the season.   Really special ones were not square at all, but had edges that were scalloped, or followed the edges of flowers that were stamped on the cotton material.   I never remember seeing my mother use her hankie for herself.   On the other hand I remember more than once my mother pulling one out of her purse and wetting it with her tongue to clean my face.   I also remember her pulling it out and holding it over my younger brother’s nose telling him to blow, and then of course putting it back in here pocketbook, the right color for the season (that is another story for another day.)

If you are old enough to remember hankies then you also have a memory of your mother asking you if you had clean hankies before you headed for church or to visit special friends houses.   One of my  grandmothers had a drawer full of hankies and I can remember going through that drawer on Sunday morning to pick the perfect hankie to use that day.

Many a young girl, me being one of them, learned to iron on hankies.   My grandmother wrote about learning to iron hankies with the old flat irons you heated on the stove, so this ritual has been one of many generations.     I started first with the colored work hankies, so you could not tell if I scorched fabric, and a less than perfect iron work hankie was not an issue.  Ironing all those little scalloped and lace edges on the fanciest of hankies took skill.   It was something you worked up to.

Hankies were also gifts. I have a dear friend and she and her sister were given hankies by their mother every year on Valentine’s day.  My friend, Pat, still has many of those  yet though she is in her 70’s, and cherishes the memories that her collection tells.   Though her mother is no longer alive to give  her hankies she finds herself drawn to hankies when in stories with vintage linens, to look and see what hankies they might have.  When I was young I can remember once going to our local Ben Franklin and picking out a box of two hankies for my first grade teacher.  It was a difficult decision and they had perfect, not just any hankie would do, as your teacher wasn’t just anyone, she was a special lady.  At that time a hankie was a suitable and thoughtful gift.

Hankies another thing that in less than a generation no one will know that they were once more thank a disposable piece of everyday life.

Martha Stewart Doesn’t Need to Worry

I recently decided that I was going to make decorated sugar cookies in the style of Martha Stewart.   I bought sprinkles, paste food coloring and 4 Halloween cookie cutters.  I dug out my decorating bags and tips.   I looked up recipes on the net, including decorating ideas. I was off.

Hours later I can tell you Martha Stewart doesn’t need to worry.  It seemed simple, but something got lost in execution.  Oh well they tasted good with a cup of tea and I am sure that my friends won’t turn them down.

By Diana who is Playing Without Limits. Posted in Cooking Tagged

Perfect Waffles

Waffles have always been one of my husband’s favorite breakfasts.  On the other hand I can think of nothing worse for breakfast than a dense, heavy waffle.  Folks and restaurants say that Belgian waffles are lighter, but all the Belgian waffles I ever tasted were regular waffles made in a different waffle iron with bigger squares.  Bigger squares don’t make your waffles lighter, it just makes bigger holes for the syrup or whatever you put on your waffles. 

 This all changed when I read a magazine  article on “True” Belgian waffles vs. American waffles. According to this source if you don’t have yeast in your waffle, they are regular waffles no matter what kind of iron you make them in.  I wasn’t sure about the yeast, but I was sure the author was right about the second part, the iron will not make a  crummy waffle better. I was intrigued.  I read on.  Belgian waffles were not a quick breakfast.  The yeast had to work.  All of this meant you needed to get up early, or make your batter the night before and let it raise in the refrigerator overnight. 

Intrigued or not all of this sounded like a lot of work for something I was not sure was going to be really any better than the waffles I had experienced up until  then.  This recipe was so different, lots of work or not I had to try it.  It was defining moment for me in the food world.  I like true Belgian waffles.  I like then allot!  Here is my recipe, credit goes to Cooking Club of America for this one.

Belgian Waffles

1 c. warm water (110-115degrees)
1 pkg yeast
3 eggs, room temperature
1 c. warm whole milk
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 c. flour (I use 2c. white, and 1c. whole wheat – American needs the whole grains)

  • place 1/2 cup of the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle with yeast.  Let stand 10 minutes until foamy.  This tells you that the yeast is working
  • in a large bowl whisk eggs until blended.  Stir in the sugar, the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water, milk, butter, vanilla and salt.  Add the foamy yeast and mix well.
  • slowly add the flour to the egg mixture. Beat until smooth.
  • let rise until double in size. Choice: cover with plastic wrap and towel and let sit one hour, cover and put in the refrigerator overnight.
  • bake in waffle pan until golden brown and crisp. 

Note: These waffles raise more than American waffles you may be used too, so don’t overfill your waffle iron.

Yield: 1 dozen 4 inch waffles.

Cupcakes A Lost Art

I read the other day that cupcakes were another one of those “things” that lifestyle watchers predict will go the way of the Edsel car.  There is just no need or desire to make little decorated one serving cakes.   The loss of the cupcake  is another piece of  the 50’s and 60’s era has run its course and is destined to become only nostalgia.

When I was a child cupcakes were the most amazing special treat.   It was a cake all your own that you ate from beginning to end.   It did not have to be  the same flavor that your brother, cousin or best friend  who sat right next to you and took their treat from the same plate.   Each of you got to choose your favorite flavor.  Cupcakes of my childhood were always decorated, not just frosted like regular cake.

My mother was a room mother when I was in primary school one year.  A room mother was a mom who made sure you had special treats for the holidays you celebrated.  I don’t know if she was always the cook for all our special treats, but almost always they were decorated cupcakes.  Some times she made both chocolate and vanilla as choices, with a  few marble, where mom cleaned out the bowl.

I remember Grandma gave  my mom a book of how to decorate cupcakes.   This was not the Martha Stewart style of cupcakes but simple ideas that worked for kids and moms.  My mom never mastered the pastry bag, so there was no clever frosting decorations from her.  She was the queen of adding special candy to the cupcakes and making them special.  If there was more than one flavor they were decorated two different ways to let the kids know which flavor they were getting.    Halloween brought cupcakes with chocolate frosting and a big orange candy pumpkin on the top or frosted orange with candy corn eyes and a licorice mouth.    Christmas came and we had green and red colored sugar on the top, with little silver candy balls, the kind that almost broke your teeth when you bit down on them.  Color sugar and sprinkles was reserved for very special occassions.  Valentine’s Day mom would include conversation hearts on  our pink frosted cupcakes and even the cake was pink cherry chip.   Once mom dyed coconut green and put “grass” and jelly bean eggs on our treats for Easter (back in the days when you still celebrate religious holidays in school.)  All her kids ate coconut, little did she know that grass would not be a big hit.   

Now days we don’t allow home-baked goods in the classroom.  Many holidays are not celebrated.  I think we have lost one of the joys of childhood, cupcakes and all the joy and laugher they  brought.

By Diana who is Playing Without Limits. Posted in Cooking Tagged

Rush, Rush, Rush

 

John painting house trim.

 

When nice weather arrives in Montana we all rush out and start doing all those things we postpone during the winter.

Starting in spring and all summer long we fill the long days with as many  fun activities as we can fit in. BBQ with friends.  We spend time hiking, walking and running.    We pick another ghost town or two from the book and get out and visit it to poke around.   That alpine visa with wildflowers calls our name.   If you are a horse person, that horse is fat and sassy and a good mountain ride is good for both of you.   Fly fishing is calling you and you listen and head out with your pole.    We sit on the deck and watch the beautiful sunsets.  We lay out on the hammock and watch the stars above.   The list is endless and keeps us going all summer.

Now it is fall and that honey do list looks awful long and the nice days are short.   Now is the time that we rush, rush, rush to get as many done as possible before the snow arrives for good.   We still have a little painting to get done on the house, cheatgrass to spray before there is snow cover and our list goes on an on.

I hope all of us remember to not spend every minute but to also enjoy the days of fall as well.

Brother Dear

My Younger Brother and I

Today I talked with my brother who recently underwent surgery.  It was cut short by other health issues, that prohibited completion of all the desired procedures.  He is younger than me and as a youngster I felt the role of protector as his big sister.   He eventually grew taller and larger than I and I think we may have swapped roles.

Now as a adults I am not sure who holds which role.  I  love him dearly no matter the role in life and pray for his health and recovery.  He is my brother dear.