Betty Crocker’s potato salad & what we ate for dinner

There are hundreds of different variations to potato salad but today I’ll be sharing one specifically from my Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook; part of the cooking-through challenge.

Interestingly enough, the French Dressing I just happened to try a few weeks ago, so it was quite easy to whip up a batch.

Potato salad is such an easy make ahead dish and a great accompaniment to those summer barbeques.

As you know, I am trying to stay true to the ways things were done in that decade, so I went to my number one source, my Mom who was married in 1950, to find out if I am supposed to peel the potatoes after boiling or before.  I had vague memories of her peeling them after.  She confirmed that is how she did it, but it was no big deal to peel them before.

Potatoes are a much softer, floury consistency and the skins are quite thin here in Germany, I found it was easier to peel them before boiling.

Here is a picture of the potatoes  after mixing in the French Dressing.  I then let them chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours, like the recipe states.  They really don’t look “cubed” to me, I probably could have done a better job there but I was in a bit of a hurry.

I then added the salad dressing and eggs just before serving and of course garnished it with some parsley.

This particular evening I needed a quick dinner so I just served it up with some mini würtschen(frankfurters) and this is what our light, evening meal looked like.

Keep or Toss? Happily Mr. said definitely a keeper.

My Thoughts?  It had a nice creamy texture and the taste was very mild which is a switch from the vinegar taste of many potato salads in our region.

Thats it for this week!  Be sure to pop back in next week as I am going to attempt one of the more difficult salads in this cookbook.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Is there really such a thing as Salad Etiquette?

Why, yes there is!

If you have been following along this month,  you  might remember  that Salad is the category as we make our way through the Cooking-Through Challenge.

In the spirit of the 1950’s housewife, I am immersing myself into many aspects of this era.  As promised, it’s time to share with you a few of my favorite questions and answers according to  Mrs. Crocker’s thoughts on Salad Etiquette.

Q. Is a salad fork always necessary? 

A.  A dinner salad may be eaten with the same fork as the main course.

Q. How should I serve a bowl of mixed salad or a platter of salad?

A.  It may be passed; but he individual serving should be easy to remove.  Or the hostess may serve it onto salad plates and pass them around the table.

Q.  Should dressing always be passed?

A.  Some salads are served without dressing so that their beauty of arrangement will not be marred; these require the passing of dressing.

Just one more…

Q.  Should one eat the salad green?

A.  Yes, it is a part of the salad and is intended to be eaten.

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Whats coming up next on the blog? Well, last night I tried creating another new dish in the salad category that doesn’t have anything to do with lettuce.  I’ll be sharing that with you friday, so make sure to stop by to find out if my husband gave it a thumbs up or not.  😉

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Five easy cleaning tips for a happier home

 

I know, it’s a cheesy title but I am “Happily Mrs.” and those that know me, know that I like to clean.  For many, I know it is not something that you may enjoy at all and that’s okay.  Today, I want to share my top five tips that may be able to get you on your way if this is an area you really would like to “clean up”.

Funny that my number one tip has nothing to do with cleaning, but I feel it is the most important before starting the cleaning process.

  1.  Tidy (or straighten up) before cleaning.  Don’t confuse “tidying up” with cleaning.  They really aren’t the same thing.  I found personally that cleaning is actually enjoyable if we aren’t trying to dust around old newspapers lying around (or tablets and chargers tangled up), blankets crumpled on a couch or last nights snack remnants reminding me that I really should not have eaten that before bed.
  2. Assign one cleaning task a day.  I know that sometimes we just don’t have time in our busy lives for a designated “cleaning day” or that something of importance comes up on that cleaning day. Or, we are just overwhelmed with the idea of cleaning.  I have certain days assigned for dusting, vacuuming, bathrooms, floors, mirrors and glass, etc.  Honestly, it only takes 10 to 20 minutes a day. I only do them monday through friday.  I am just too busy on the weekends.  Another thing I do, if I will be gone most of the day or out-of-town, I will double up and do two tasks the day before, than I don’t feel behind or overwhelmed when I am back home.
  3. Clean by task, not by room.  Cleaning is so much quicker and easier when you pick up your dust cloth (and polish, if you choose) and start at one end of the house and only dust.  This is so much easier than toting a pail of products and tools around the house and cleaning everything room by room.  Same on the days I vacuum, it seems so much easier and quicker to do the whole house at once.  I always make the last room the one where I store the cleaning item or tool.  It really does save time, I find.
  4. Don’t overload on cleaning products.  You do not need as many as you think.  I used to buy every product and tool under the sun thinking I could clean better with designated products for designated areas.    These days with multi-purpose sprays and micro fiber cloths, it really is that simple. You may be surprised at the small amount of products I use for a person who enjoys cleaning.
  5. Clean-up and put things away right after you use something.  For example, it really only takes 15 to 30 seconds to hang up the towel and  wipe the bathroom mirror and sink after you are done getting ready in the morning.  Wash the dishes or put them in the dishwasher right after eating.  If you are consistent with doing these things, your home will always look clean.  Remember the words of Lucy Ricardo – “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

I realize I could go into so much detail about cleaning, routines and organizing.  I am by no means perfect at it I just love the outcome.  There are times my house is a bit messy and that’s okay, I just don’t let it pile up.

If we start small and dig deep to find the discipline to keep doing these formerly dreaded tasks, they will become a habit.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and see how much you can get done.  It may surprise you just as it surprised me.  I have actually found I have more time to do and enjoy hobbies I had forgotten about.

One last thing that could help, if you have children, make cleaning time fun.  Set a timer, hand them a cloth and let them follow you around the house dusting.   Or set the timer for a tidy-up time, they pick up their toys while you tidy up your things. They love doing this, it makes them feel grown up and a help to mom or dad!  Not only is it a huge help to you, it sets a good example and forms a good habit.

Do you have a cleaning tip or hack that works for you?  I would love to hear about it. Am I the only one who really does enjoy cleaning? Is that weird?

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The perfect salad topper – It’s as simple as French Dressing!

Last week, for the cooking-through challenge, I shared Betty’s version of the basic green salad.

Of course every salad needs a dressing and as I was looking through this section of the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook (my book for the challenge), I thought, why not try the recipe on page 335 for French Dressing.  Typically, I am not a fan of it but… I felt like trying it this time.

My guess as to why I like it now, because it is a basic key recipe.  Nothing extra added to tweak it and most likely I don’t care for the taste of those “tweaks”?  I don’t know, I am making this up as I go along and it sounds right to me.

Anyways, on with the ingredients needed.

Sugar, salt, paprika, mustard, pepper, lemon juice, salad oil and onion juice.  I have a glass jar that I always use for dressings.  Funny thing, a creamy french dressing came in it and we didnt’ care for it, but I liked the jar.

Mix everything together and shake and voila!

You have a really tasty salad dressing!

Keep or Toss?  Another keeper!

My Thoughts?  I  definitely could have found a better way to photograph the dressing for you, now that I think about it!

Be sure to stop by Mary’s blog to see what recipes she is cooking up during this month.  She is using the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. 

 

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Basic Green Salad – “There can always be a salad!”

As I am cooking my way through the “Salads” category this month, I thought why not go back to the basics.  Today I am preparing a  green salad just as Betty Crocker suggests.  Although she states, “There can always be a salad”, meaning just by glancing in your refrigerator, cupboard, or garden, will convince you that you will always have the available ingredients.  Of course she is very considerate and gives the housewife a general plan on how to use what you happen to have on hand.

For this salad though, I took the amounts suggested for 3 people and used only the ingredients mentioned in the Amounts for Green Salads section, found on page 339 of the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.

Since I am trying to stay true to the recipes for this challenge, I used romaine and a little spinach.  Those were on the list of  “A Variety of Salad Greens gives interest to salads” list, found on page 337.

Before I show you my result, can I just add, I thought it was interesting that onion was not mentioned in the vegetable amounts for green salads and have never added celery before either.   I am learning so much  this month, even the proper way to wash and prepare lettuce, add the dressing and so much more.  Yes, I did say we will be discussing salad etiquette and don’t worry, we will as manners and etiquette are a favorite subject of mine.  Okay… I know, I can get chatty when I talk about something I enjoy.

Here is my very basic, Green Salad.

I chose to make French dressing to go on it and I will happily be sharing that adventure with you next week!

Funny thing, I can’t find my salad tongs anywhere!

I’m curious… Do you put onion in your green salad?  Or celery for that matter?

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How to remove stains from white dishes

I finally discovered a way to remove dark stains and scratches from some old white dishes that I inherited.  They weren’t dirty, just marked from years of use.

I tried to photograph the stains, but the camera did not seem to want to focus on it.  This plate in particular was quite bad, brown stain over most of the plate.  I always kept this one on the bottom of the stack, although I only own five.

First I sprinkled some baking soda on the plate.

Rubbed fairly gently with a damp cloth.

The stains on this plate were so bad that I needed a little reinforcement, so I added just a dab of vinegar.

I’m not sure if this would be recommended, but I rubbed this plate again and it took the stains off and even some of the scratches.

Only one of the five plates needed this treatment, the rest came clean with a bit of baking soda and some gentle elbow grease.

I don’t know if this process would work on all white dishware.  These are about 30 years old and were made in West Germany.  It is good solid porcelain, so if you do attempt this way to remove stains from your dishes, do try a small area first.

I am so glad I decided to try this.  I didn’t want to have to buy new plates, just because these were stained, but I couldn’t keep using them when I had company over.

Sometimes, it’s just the simple things that make such a big difference.

In case you live in Germany and wonder what the equivalent to baking soda is – the proper translated word is Natron and you can find it sold in little packets in any grocery store and in a larger box (like Arm and Hammer baking soda size) in your local drug store.

 

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Coffee Chat – a 3 month experiment as a “fifties” type housewife

Another coffee chat so soon?  Yes.  Sit down and let me pour you a cup of coffee, I have some gossip for you!

As you may know, beginning in a few days I will be participating in a “cook-through” challenge where I pick a cookbook and every month pick recipes from the designated category to cook.

I began looking through the book of my choice, The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, and came up with an idea.  Why not try to see if I can live ca. 1950’s housewife as well.  Not the glam vintage version that is found around the internet but a real one like mom, grandma and aunts.  Although I consider them quite “glam” too.  It would be more like adapting their way of everyday life into my modern-day life.  Okay, honestly, a little Marilyn could be fun at times too! 😉

I have always been drawn to that era, it is nothing new.  In fact, I have many vintage pieces around my home and in my closet and jewelry box.  It’s not the “glam” I am drawn to really it’s the ideal, the values of the time.  The simplicity. Living a bit more intentionally.  Not hearing phones beeping and such.  The constantly being connected.  I just feel as if there is something missing lately.  Okay,  I know you are saying how can you blog if you don’t use the internet?  Like I mentioned above, I am going to be adapting my version of this era into my daily life.

The other day as I was going through this idea in my mind, my first thought was, vlog it on YouTube or create another blog to document this journey but then I realized I would be defeating the purpose of this experiment and  be spending more time online where I truly wish to limit my time spent getting lost in the world-wide web, which admittedly, I do.   I m not against the Internet, I believe it has its good points for research, connecting with family and friends, and all of you wonderful people.  You see, I experienced childhood without the internet.  But…how do I explain?

For me it’s about materialism too, which truth be told, I honestly struggle with.  Not that having things is a bad thing.  It is important to have a good quality (not quantity) of living.  I want to enjoy the everyday details of life, not hurrying up to get them done like I do sometimes so that I can hop online or watch tv series’ before heading out.  You know, last week, I was hurrying up to wash the dishes which is my most dreaded task anyways and this crazy thought came to me, “Thank goodness I have dishes to wash because that means we have food on our  table.”  It led me thinking about  so many other things which I take for granted, that I just can’t write about it this post, because I would be typing for hours!

So this is what I thought I would do.  Since I am so passionate about this “experiment” of mine.  I will just have a coffee chat with you about every 10 days or so to share little updates on how I am doing or what I am working on.

My biggest resource is not found online at all.  I am so thankful Mom is around to answer my questions about this era, in fact we talked about that time in detail, the last time I got to visit with her.   After all, she was the original “1950’s” housewife, married in 1950 even.  You know, maybe a more appropriate term would be “traditional” housewife?

I have also read books from that time on home economics, read  Sheila Hardy’s book, watched the Coronet Instructional Films and enjoy reading Grandma Donna’s blog.  Her and her husband are spending the year living exactly as it was in 1942.  I find it inspiring and so interesting.  I’m not going that far as to have every aspect of our lives as it was in 1950, but to give you an idea, here are some things I or we already do that is so similar to that era.

  • Walk or ride my bike to the grocery store about every other day.  It’s true, we do not own a car
  • I do set a table every night for dinner and serve a regular meal, mostly cooked from scratch.  I love eating at the table together, always have. Even if he has to work late.
  • Hang most laundry and iron.
  • We actually live in an apartment building built 49 years ago, third floor, no elevator or central air conditioning even. Our heating is through old cast iron radiators even.
  • My husband and I do have “traditional” roles as husband and wife, like in that time.  I love it this way!
  • No i-phone.  I do have a cell phone, but no wi-fi connection unless I am at home and it is turned off between the hours of 9- 10 pm and 9 am.

You know, I can’t think of anything else, at this moment, I guess that is a good start.

Real quick as I think we just finished our coffee, here is a list of things I will be implementing, some may sound crazy to you , but  I feel this is so necessary for me to try out, that’s why I am giving myself a 3 month limit.  I know I could live this way for a week or two, but can I implement these changes into my life on a permanent level? Do I want to even?  Okay, the list…

  • makeup – a real classic housewife did not wear a lot, not if they were poor to middle class.   I really wear too much, honestly, I can’t wear blush without bronzer and highlighter!  I think this will be the hardest area for me to simplify it to what was used in the 50’s.  I am going to tackle this aspect over the weekend  and put the rest away in a closet for 3 months.
  • Hair products and styling tools… need I say more?
  • Household products.  I own every brand of everything to clean items I don’t even own.  I will be whittling it down to basics & put the rest away for now.  Can I clean as well withouth them?
  • Clothing – picking out the pieces that I love and need, and will fit into my small closet.  No extras.
  • My kitchen, I’m not sure what I can do, its pretty simple already.  No garbage disposal or dishwasher or blender even.  A small refrigerator and an almost non-existent freezer.  I will have to see what I can do there. I think a fifties housewife had more than I do!
  • Internet usage and TV.  Remember only watching an hour a week as a kid?  I will give myself, one hour a day to work on my blog and to keep up with my favorite bloggers out there, although not the weekends.  We do watch  baseball quite often though, which we won’t be changing.  After all, baseball is an extremely vintage sport! I am looking forward to rediscovering some of my hobbys though and crocheting more.

Of course, I will keep you posted on my progress or failures, if you would like.  To sum up…  I’m not really changing everything in my life to emulate the 1950’s.   I have just decided I am so tired of how loud and over connected this world is at the moment.  It’s not that I am disconnecting, just trying to go back to living the way my parents raised me.  Implementing some details I loved from grandmas house.  I am not going back to “living in the past”, just rethinking and changing the way I do live now without the modern-day consumerist influences.

Would I like to look like this every evening?

or like Mrs. Cleaver?

oh…. one more, please?  It’s a fun one!  Lucy?

You bet,  I really love the elegance, classic and clean look of that era!

I promise to keep the future coffee chats a bit (a lot) shorter than this by only focusing on one aspect of my project per chat! That is if I can last through 3 months even.

One final thought which might paint another picture as to why I have decided to try this. I remember something my dad said to  me once.  “I was an advertisers dream.”  I should have listened to him then, but of course I kept on thinking, “but I need that”!  lol

Need… now that is an interesting concept!

Enjoy a wonderful weekend!   See you next week!

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When Less Finally Becomes More

I have a little secret to share.  😉  Something that I don’t think my family and closest friends even know as I have never shared it until now.  In fact,  I have kind of hidden it.  Honestly,  I don’t think these changes would have happened if not for moving here.  So grab a cup of coffee or tea and let me tell you a little story.

It began in 2007 actually.  An organic store was opened near where I worked.  I believe they are now called Whole Foods although this place was on a much smaller scale.  I was intrigued, to say the least.  I slowly learned about the importance of organic, learned what eco-friendly meant and for the first time realized that chemicals really aren’t a good thing.

At that time, many thought it was just more expensive and did not make a big difference.  I  introduced organic milk and a few other items to my children.  But … it was a new concept for me and controversial topic in the media and with family.  I felt it was better to spend a bit more for healthier options. I still wasn’t “on board” with it all.

Fast forward to 2010.  A life changing year for me.  Now I had to pack up all my belongings into 2 suitcases, a large hockey bag and two small boxes to be shipped overseas.  Really?!! How does one do that?  My whole life packed into that?  This was my first lesson in stuff.  What is more important, material things or living?  Okay,  I took the bait.  It was a good start.

The problem came that next year.  I was homesick and felt that I needed to replace all those items that I left behind.  My shopaholic tendencies came back.  Shopping always used to make me feel better.  Do you know what?  It did not make me feel better, it made me feel worse!  Our home is only 65 square meters and does not have closets (which is the norm in Europe).  I was suffocated and constantly cleaning and re organizing spaces.  I was losing the battle of where to put my stuff.

Now I turned to the internet, books and documentaries to see if I could find any type of education on the topic, in English as I was also learning  a new language at this time.  I was really feeling connected to the topics of minimalism and a zero waste lifestyle.  It seemed like how I have wanted to live for so many years but modern day society was telling me otherwise.

Thankfully I did find many great resources out there.  Inspiring men and woman who have gone through the process of minimizing.  Decluttering their lives. I read it all.  I watched documentaries on how waste affects not only us but our planet.  Then…. didn’t do all that much about it.  I was a bit overwhelmed.  I mean, I already don’t have a car.  I walk, bike, use public transport and travel by train.  Isn’t that being zero waste and minimal?  Haha.  It may be a start but…. no, I wanted more than that.

Still,all this knowledge I acquired and living in a country where consumerism is not all around you – something was happening inside of me.

I figured out last year finally, that I was letting stuff consume me.  Could I let go? I am happy to report yes.  I can and have, although slowly.

Here is an example, I wrote a post a while back about my goals.  Creating a capsule wardrobe was one of them.  At first I did not want to get eliminate many pieces.  All of the “what if’s”.  I did pair my closet down quite a bit,  still my whole wardrobe was too much to fit into my suitcase, which was my ultimate goal.  I was okay with that.

More recently, I realized I still was not wearing half of the items in my already paired down closet.  They just didn’t suit my lifestyle as I am always on foot or bike and in all kinds of weather.  My wardrobe has now taken on a whole new look, which I had better share in a separate blog post.

The nice thing about letting go of stuff, material items that really don’t serve a purpose is you find room to really breathe.  There is more time to do the things you really want and that truly matter.

You can save so much money as well.  Seriously,  the savings is incredible.  When one doesn’t spend money on bringing things into the home, you automatically find you have more money to do things you want or may need.  Pay off bills, travel etc.

I no longer need to make lists to remember what groceries to buy.  It becomes natural.

To wrap up todays post, I would like to share some of the items I have let go of so far which in turn have created a positive impact on my life.

  • Household cleaning products for every task.
  • Clothes that I do not wear
  • Tissue
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic water bottles
  • Most of my makeup (but not all, as I enjoy wearing some)
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Non-recyclable items
  • Hair products (this does not mean shampoo, just all the extras)
  • Many skin care products (they didn’t do anything different anyways)

I am still working on eliminating and replacing items with sustainable alternatives.  Although,  I am at a much happier place already with the changes I have made so far.

So there it is, my secret is out.  I am a minimalist or I would rather call myself a cozy minimalist,  I like furniture, books and a few select items of decor, just not so much of it anymore.

Sometimes moving or seeing another culture can truly be life changing.  I am aware now of the positive impact of living a zero waste lifestyle, eating healthier foods.  Not only is better for the environment but it can really de-stress ones life as well. This lifestyle change did not happen over-night for me, in fact it is still a process that I am just letting evolve.

What I do know, that now when I see an advertisement for some beautiful designer bag or new and improved bathroom cleaner, I no long find my self thinking, “Oh, I need to get that!”