Coffee Chat: Thoughts on Creamed Chicken, the Fifties Housewife & other things

Long time no chat.  Hi there!  Let’s just jump right in with todays chat,  I hope you have a cup (or pot) of your favorite beverage nearby.  Today, I’m drinking ice-cold sparkling water with a slice of cucumber.  It’s HOT! I mean, Africa hot!!  Its 28 degrees (that’s 82 in farenheit) in my kitchen right now and its early in the day.

I tried another recipe from the Betty Crocker Picture cookbook for the cooking-through challenge.  The key recipe for Creamed Chicken.  It was really easy and quick, especially having leftover chicken breast to use.  I poured the mixture over egg noodles as suggested and it looked nice but the flavor to me was quite bland.  As you know, I followed the recipe exactly.  If I do make it again, I would definitely season it up a bit.

Unfortunately, I have no picture  (sorry) as the batteries ran out on my camera, it only uses batteries and of course I did not have any of the right size in the house.

So with that said,

Keep or Toss?  Hmmm….. probably toss, but not sure yet.

Now on to other things as to where have I been?  We ended up having company last week and we did a bit of travel.  A river cruise on the Danube from Plattling, Germany to Linz Austria.  Absolutely beautiful!

 

We had about 5 hours on the ship, leaving at 9:00 a.m.  We spent the rest of the day exploring beautiful Linz. 

Then hopped on the train back to Germany.  Long, exhausting but wonderful day!

We also went to watch baseball in Regensburg to enjoy the Euro Cup games.  So wonderful watching the different countries compete.  I love that we live near a baseball city too.  One thing you may not know about me but my husband and I are baseball geeks.  In fact, he is so knowledgeable about the sport, including statistics and players from the early days, one would think he is American.

What else, oh, I finally got my garden finished.  Happy to say that I  have a few things actually growing!  We have had Barbecues and been enjoying visiting with extended family.  Also, did two 32K bike rides.  Finally, swimming at the beach.   It was a wonderful week!

But now… its back to the grind and as I mentioned, the heat.  I am not sure what I will be cooking for the cooking-through challenge for the rest of this month.  Normally, I have a plan and I do (or did), but I just can’t cook in my kitchen in these temps.  We do not have air conditioning, in fact, Germany does not do air-conditioning or ceiling fans even.  This includes many restaurants and stores.  I am not kidding.  I guess grilling, wasn’t quite a thing in the Fifties yet. The heat wave is only supposed to last the rest of this week, so we will have to wait and see what happens then.

Other things… Remember back when I said I was going to try three months has a 50s housewife?  Well, here are the results of that experiment.  The 1950s housewife prided her self on running an efficient home and always looking and dressing modern.  She did not wear clothing or hairstyles that her grandmother wore.  I still have many of the core values I was raised with, I think I run a pretty efficient home,  I am frugal, although Happily Mr. is the king of frugal living.   As for clothing and hairstyles, I do have a vintage dress I love.  I can do pretty much any hairstyle if I so choose.  My hair usually has a mind of its own though.   I have stopped shopping though or should I say buying.  I do enjoy window shopping but finally don’t feel the need to buy.  I have enough to work with to look my best and that is finally good enough for me.

This experiement did make me reflect on a few things though.  Making do with what you have.  I learned it is more society telling  me I need  new and improved items and new styles, although, in reality, I don’t.   Sometimes, something a bit worn may just need a simple makeover or a needle and thread.  I also didn’t realize how much food I waste.  I guess I still am adjusting to buying only for two and having a european size refridgerater.  I have more recently changed my grocery habits a bit which ironically is very similar to the housewives of the Fifties.

As to limiting my internet usage and social media, since that wasn’t around in that decade,  I have to tell you, my hardest part was watching YouTube videos, I did not realize how often I will sit down in the middle of the day and watch a few!   Now, in the middle of the day, I do take a break, if I am home, but I watch a German soap opera.  I have to laugh as I remember my mom watching Search for Tomorrow!  I feel, this is a better use of my time as I really need to improve my language skills.

I still am online on my laptop though, or else I wouldn’t be posting this.  I just allow myself a certain block of time to answer emails and blog.  What I did learn is I need to have  another slot of time for reading my favorite blogs or watch my favorite youtubers and look at Facebook.  So what I do now is take only  half an hour 5 days a week to do this.  Which is usually between 10 and 10 30 am, again, if I am home.   I set my timer when I hop online.  Its a great way to keep track of the time.  The only social median I have now is FB.   Living so far away from friends and family, it is the only way, unfortunately,  that I can keep in touch.  Although, Facebook is a touchy subject for me as it usually makes me homesick and a bit depressed.  I am finding I prefer to email with loved ones, honestly, and may start doing that more often instead.  Darn, I am wordy!

So, to conclude, I don’t feel like I failed my experiment at all.  In fact, I feel more in tune to whats important in my life. I may not look or act like a fifties housewife but I guess that wasn’t what it was about after all.  I just am the best person that I can be.  I am proud to take care of our home.  Living in the moment, just being myself and keeping my husband happy.  If he is happy, than I always seem to be too.

Sorry, I will work on the length of my posts,  maybe stick to just one subject in the future.  I really need to get a bit more organized and I will!  Do I hear another experiment coming?  😉

Happy Summer my friends!

 

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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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My first recipe in the Chaotic Cooking-Through Challenge! (Fancy Chicken Salad)

I am thrilled to share my first recipe in Mary’s Chaotic Cooking-Through Challenge!  If you aren’t quite sure what I am talking about, you can read all about it here.  Basically, she choose’s a category each month and we have to cook or bake recipes from that category for the entire month.  The amount we choose to make is up to the participant.  I plan on sharing a recipe weekly.  Oh, I almost forgot!   The category for this month is Salads &  Salad Dressings. I knew you would want to know!

To refresh your memory, I chose to cook from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook (1950).

As soon as I found out what the category was, I started reading the section on salads.  Did you know there is even “Salad Etiquette” according to Mrs. Crocker?  Who would have known!  I will share many of the extras I have been learning throughout May as well.

Okay, enough chatter!   On to the recipe I chose to cook today.  From page 316 of the cookbook, Chicken Salad.  Also considered “An All-American favorite.”

I absolutely love chicken salad in the summer but never made it from a recipe before.  So let’s get started… it seems easy enough.

My ingredients, ready to mix.

Next, I decided to be as authentic as I could to serving the chicken salad as the recipe suggests.

Yes, I actually served this for my husbands lunch!  He loved it by the way.  I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about making the tomato flower but it worked and I even had fun “playing with food” creating a nice presentation.

Here is a closer look at the chicken salad.

Keep or Toss?  Definitely a keeper.  I’ll be adding this recipe for chicken salad to my regulars, although, I can’t say I will display as such every time.

My Thoughts?  I think this would be a great recipe to serve at a ladies luncheon in the summertime.  You can make it up a few hours ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to serve.

See you next week with a new recipe from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.


Anyone can join the cooking-through challenge!  You don’t have to have a blog, you can follow along at home.  Please feel free to link your recipe or share your cooking experience in the comments and don’t forget to head over to see what Mary is up to, the original source for this fun challenge!

If you would like, you can also follow along on Twitter @Happily_Mrs #chaoticcookthrough.

 

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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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Joining the Chaotic Cooking Challenge – Cookbook Pick

I am guessing many have seen the movie Julie & Julia?  Yes, it is one of my favorite movies of all time.  Possibly because I adore Julia Childs.  If you have not seen it, basically it as about a woman named Julie who blogs her way through Julia’s cookbook, Mastering the art of french cooking, recipe by recipe.  This movie is what I thought of when I read the words cook-through challenge.

Just recently, I was reading a blog, Mary’s Chaotic White Space , and she thought about doing a “cook-through” one of her cookbooks and opening it up to all.  What a great idea and I can’t believe I never thought about doing this on my own before!

 

What it entails, is the first day of every month, she will provide a category in a blog post, “then challenge each of the participants who are following along to look through their book for recipes which could be included in that particular category and choose the ones to make in their own kitchen.” I should mention before hand, we are to pick the book we are choosing to cook through.

I have very difficultly picked my book.  It was not easy as I treasure all my cookbooks, in fact I have gone back or forth between using my mother-in-laws vintage german cookbook.  That would be a great challenge as it is vintage and written in german but I have a hard enough time reading modern-day german still.  It is something I want to do at my own leisurely pace so I decided to go with a newer book of mine although not a new book by any means.

I had been obsessed with the Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook for years.  It was only the end of last year when my husband tracked it down for me in England of all places.

As my favorite decades are the 1940’s & 1950’s, I  am excited to choose this book for my cook-through.  Along with the challenge of the cook-through, will be the challenge of finding like ingredients, if needed, here in Germany.  Although, I have been doing that for the past 6 years so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in doing or just following along with, please join us.  Go to Mary’s awesome blog and join in the challenge!  I am looking forward to seeing what cookbooks others choose and the recipes they pick and their experiences.

On the first day of every month I will tweet the category chosen by Mary, using #chaoticcookthrough  and then share my pick and my experiences in making the recipe, the following weeks Friday,  here on my blog.

If this sounds like something you would like to participate in or just want to enjoy reading about others’ cook-through experiences, head over to Mary’s blog so you don’t miss any updates.

Also be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss my chosen recipes for this cook-through challenge.

I hope you will join us.  I wonder what the first category will be?

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Keeping with tradition – Our Good Friday meal.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, a day our family does honor.  We happen to live in a very catholic town, with the church bells ringing every 15 minutes between 6:00 a.m. and 10 p.m. (which I love!).  Everything is closed as it is a Christian holiday observed  here in Bavaria.

Growing up, we always had the family over in the evening for pierogi’s and potato pancakes, being a meatless day.  If this polish dish sounds familiar, I did write about these pierogi’s  around Christmas.  If you would like to read about this unique dish, you can find that post and the recipe by clicking here.

I know there are many different fillings for them nowadays, but I stick to making them with the dry cottage cheese, just as my Grandpa did.

So tomorrow, keeping with a tradition from my childhood, I will be making delicious polish pierogi.  Making traditional foods from scratch and of course eating them is one of the things I truly enjoy.  It has been fun integrating my husbands Bavarian traditions and mine to create our family tradition.

I will see you next week with details on an upcoming cooking challenge I am excited to be participating in and…

and the results about my closet & clothing goals.  Did I succeed in creating a successful wardrobe that fits in one suitcase?

Lastly, I wish you and your families a  joyous and blessed Easter to all who celebrate.  Enjoy a wonderful weekend!

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“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal and new life.” – Janine de Giovannicatholi

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