Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cooking with Cartoonists: Tuna Fish Wiggle

Dik Browne's Tuna Fish Wiggle.

Dik Browne's Tuna Fish Wiggle

Do you really want this recipe? Really? Well, if you still do after seeing that photo, just google it. Dik Browne (of Hagar the Horrible and Hi & Lois fame) claimed his wife invented this dish in the early 40s while trying to make chicken-a-la-king on a budget, but it seems to be a pretty well-known recipe (often served over toast). Basically, it's an unbaked tuna casserole, with the sauce poured over the noodles instead of mixed in. I used fresh ingredients instead of canned, but even so....I think baking might have improved it. It was edible, at least (although Emily said it was disgusting and picked at the noodles). But I'm not sure I can believe that his family still was eating this regularly after he became successful!

He did offer up a menu that doesn't include Tuna Fish Wiggle:

Cocktails with Miniature Meat Balls in Jelly Sauce

Boeuf Bourguignon

Green Noodles

Tossed Salad

Fruit Bombe


But the recipes included were either nixed in our vote (green noodles) or too complicated for a small family dinner. I wish I'd overruled them and gone for the green noodles! Next cartoonist, please!

The Cartoonist Cookbook is a book put together in 1966 by the Newspaper Comics Council, featuring 45 popular strip cartoonists of the 60s, with bios, art and recipes. It's a fun thing to have if you like cartooning, but I somehow never got around to actually cooking from it. This year, I decided to work my way through it and try and do at least one recipe from each artist!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I got this awesome vintage skirt sewing kit this week...when I saw it I thought, "a vintage skirt under $10? no-brainer!" (actually, any decent skirt under $10, no-brainer, right?)

Sew-A-Skirt kit

And when I got it, I thought it was even cooler, and in such great shape! Here's the back:

Sew-A-Skirt kit

But here's the problem: it's a little too cool. I don't know if I can bring myself to actually use the kit! I could trace the pattern and make it up in a different fabric, but that kind of defeats the point of buying it. I could steel myself, and go ahead and make it like I planned. Or, I could just hang on the kit and, you know, think about it for a while. What would you do?

And don't forget, I'm de-stashing this weekend! Loads of vintage patterns are on ebay, ending in just a bit; and this fabric is available in the stash bustin' swap until tomorrow night!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

would you like this lovely fabric?

stashbustin' swap fabric

I actually won the first draw of the stash busting swap! A lovely piece of aubergine (that's eggplant to us americans) cotton is coming my way all the way from Spain...and above is my offering! If you'd like a chance to win it, head on over to Zo's and submit your own stash entry! Deadline is midnight Spanish time, which is 6pm EST. Good luck!! UPDATE: the deadline is midnight Sunday! Head on over and check it out!

Monday, February 22, 2010

stashbusting begins!

Step one - finally, I have finished sorting through the patterns I've been collecting for years; pulled a great big lot to say goodbye to; scanned them, sorted them, and listed them on ebay. This is a project I started months and months ago, but finally, it's done! So hopefully by this weekend 120 vintage patterns (and a handful of newer ones) will be off to new homes! I'm also letting go of my near-complete run of Atomic Magazine issues and some cool fashion books by Edith Head, Carmel Snow (famous Harper's Bazaar editor), and Dorian Leigh. You can see all the auctions here, or if you just want to look at the vintage patterns, sit back and enjoy this slideshow!

Step two - the Stashbustin' group has a stash busting swap going on starting today -- I'm going to dig out some fabric and join in! Each day a different fabric is up for grabs - deadline for the random draw is 6pm EST. Of course, the net is zero since fabric will come back in....but the idea is to have something fresh and inspiring come in to your house, while getting rid of letting go of something you really don't have any use for. So I say it counts. Now I'm off to rummage through my stash and pick a candidate or two!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cooking with Cartoonists: Blueberry "Muffins"

Time for another recipe from The Cartoonist Cookbook! Artist #2 is Dick Brooks, who based his strip, "The Jackson Twins" on his own twin sisters. I hope they didn't mind!

His dinner menu was pretty impressive -- just reading it made me feel sleepy:

New England Clam Chowder

Steamed Clams

Boiled Lobster

Corn on the Cob

Cape Ann Blueberry "Muffins"

Fresh Strawberry Shortcake


(This menu is followed by instructions to go out back, lay in your rope hammock, and sleep for three hours after dinner!) Now, once again that's a meal I can't argue with. It's also a meal that would overwhelm our small household. I was intrigued by the quote marks around the "muffins" and everyone here likes baked goods, so it seems like the natural choice. And as it turns out, the reason they're "muffins" and not just muffins is because...they're not muffins. It's a coffeecake! But in our house there is no let's just call it cake.

Dick Brook's Blueberry Cake:
2½ c sugar
1 c butter, softened
3 eggs
1 c milk
5 t baking powder (yes, 5!)
1 t salt
5 c flour
1½ pints blueberries (this is 3 cups, or about 145 grams)

Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a small bowl and set aside. Cream sugar and butter, adding eggs one at a time. Add milk, then add flour mixture slowly and beat until blended. Stir in blueberries and then spread into a 10½ x 15½ x 2 inch pan and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. Bake for 1 hour, testing for done-ness before removing. I used that big chunky sugar -- sanding sugar? But regular sugar would work fine.

Now, I don't know what kind of crazy pans Dick had, but I had nothing close. I ended up using a 9 x 14 pan. The batter seemed awfully stiff as I spread it into the pan:

Dick Brook's Blueberry Cake

I was worried that it would be too dense. But, it baked up amazingly!

Dick Brook's Blueberry Cake

Unfortunately, I did not test for doneness, because the edges were so brown I thought it had to be done. An hour later, the center had totally collapsed and I had to dig the partially cooked center out and throw it away. Boo! Next time I will try two small pans and I will check it before taking it out. Fortunately, the parts that were fine were delicious:

Dick Brook's Blueberry Cake

In the words of the five-year-old, "YUM YUM YUM!". I will definitely be making this one again!

The Cartoonist Cookbook is a book put together in 1966 by the Newspaper Comics Council, featuring 45 popular strip cartoonists of the 60s, with bios, art and recipes. It's a fun thing to have if you like cartooning, but I somehow never got around to actually cooking from it. This year, I decided to work my way through it and try and do at least one recipe from each artist!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

stash busting!

Purging and destashing are big in our house right now, and one of the areas I've needed to tackle is my sewing stash. I've been slowly working at it, buttons are organized; notions are organized and cleared out. I'm just about to finish a huge purge of my vintage pattern collection, and next I need to start tackling the fabric. Now, I have nothing compared to serious fabric stashers, believe me. But, I need to get it moving out of here. See this?

fabric organization

I took that almost two years ago. And I still have probably 75% of that fabric (no, that isn't my stash! it's just one shelf I photographed.)

And as it turns out, destashing seems to be in the air....tons of people have gotten the urge to purge. And now, there's even a support group/pledge going -- and I've taken the pledge! Everyone's doing it in their own fashion -- my personal goal is to work through everything I've got and either sew it up, sell it off or donate it. All I want left at the end of this year are fabric lengths that are for a specific project; basics that are good to have on hand; and I'm sure I will give a pass to a few import/vintage fabrics that I just can't let go of. And from now on, only buy fabric I have a definite use for. No more stashing! If you have more fabric than you know what to do with, why don't you join us in...


Thursday, February 18, 2010

I've got a notion...

Several of them, in fact. I love vintage sewing notions (although, I rarely find them around here) but it's hard to use them! There's something about opening up a package that's lasted this long that makes me hesitate. But...using them is also a lot of fun! So, to encourage myself to actually use my vintage notions, I started taking photos of them to "preserve" the packaged versions. Here's what I've photographed so far:

You can also see them all here. Now, which one shall I use first?

Monday, February 15, 2010

cookies of love

candy-filled cookies

We made these cookies for Valentine's Day -- originally we were going to make them last week and send them out, but then that whole blizzard thing happened and quashed that idea. So we waited and just made them for ourselves this weekend. The idea and the cookie dough recipe came from an old clipping I'd saved from Family Fun magazine -- but instead of melting jolly ranchers in the centers, we baked the cookies, then poured our own hard candy (using the lollipop recipe) into the middles.

candy-filled cookies

It worked out beautifully! The cookie dough kept its shape and the candy was easy to handle.

candy-filled cookies

I don't think we'll be able to eat them all though! Definitely a recipe for gift-giving.

We had a good day, although having two holidays your 5-year-old likes on a single day is a bit rough (Chinese/Lunar New Year was yesterday as well -- we did Valentine's for the first half of the day, New Year's for the 2nd) all came out fine though!

And finally I just have to show off the lovely necklace I got for Valentine's Day (which would look much better with something other than an oversized t-shirt, but I wore it all day anyway)!

skull necklace

Hope your Valentine's Day was sweet and happy! (And let's not forget, Gung Hay Fat Choy! Welcome, year of the Tiger!)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cooking with Cartoonists: Light Chocolate Cake

Many years ago, I bought a copy of The Cartoonist Cookbook, a book put together in 1966 by the Newspaper Comics Council, featuring 45 popular strip cartoonists of the 60s, with bios, art and recipes. It's a fun thing to have if you like cartooning, but I somehow never got around to actually cooking from it. This year, I decided to work my way through it and try and do at least one recipe from each artist!

Going alphabetically, my first artist (I'm skipping Neal Adams) is Alfred Andriola, who drew crime comic Kerry Drake for decades. He apparently lived a pretty happy bachelor lifestyle in Greenwich Village and gives us a nice date-night-back-at-the-bachelor-pad menu (he even gives you music suggestions based on your dinner companion's hair -- Sabrica's Flamenco for brunettes; Strauss' Salome for blondes). The whole dinner?

Prosciutto and Melon

(he says you should only buy prosciutto in a good Italian market)

Filet of Chicken Kiev

Spinach (or corn) souffle

Tomato Salad

Light Chocolate Cake


It all sounds good, but our pick was (shocking!) the dessert, which came out wonderfully (and lasted us 2 days, so about 6 servings). Behold:

andriola's cake

The cake layer there is shorter than it should be, my pan was too wide. (You really need to use an 8x8 for this one.) Basically, it's a flourless sponge cake, topped with a chocolate whipped cream. And amazingly good. Surprisingly, I couldn't find any cake recipes online that were like this -- they were all either only technically flourless (they used matzo meal or something like that) or they were very dense. Here's how Alfred makes it (note, I skipped both the almond extract in the cake, and the chopped almonds on the topping as no-one here likes almonds but me):

3 eggs, separated
5 T sugar
3 T cocoa
1 t vanilla
½ t almond extract
½ t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° . Whisk egg yolks, adding sugar gradually and then continue whisking until creamy. Add cocoa, extract and cinnamon and whisk until smooth. Beat egg whites (in a stand mixer!) until they form stiff peaks, and then fold gently into chocolatey mixture. Pour into 8" x 8" pan, lined with parchment or waxed paper and then greased and floured. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan and peeling off paper.

1½ c heavy cream
¼ c sugar
2 T cocoa
½ t vanilla
Mix all ingredients together and chill for at least an hour (I put them all into a covered container, shook hard, and then put in the fridge for probably 4-5 hours. You can do this up to a day ahead, I'd think.) Whip until firm, and spread over cooled cake. Optionally, sprinkle with chopped almonds.

Bonus!! Alfred was neighbors and pals with James Beard, and the two of them collaborated on what must be James Beard's only comics credit:

"What's Cooking" 1966 comic

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

pattern project! (or, Emily gets more aprons)

hedgehog apron

Last year I found out about the Commercial Pattern Archive at the University of Rhode Island (I thought I had blogged about it, but I can't find anything -- I found out about it on when they had a week of free access. If you've never heard of the collection, it's an archive of sewing patterns from the 1860s to the present -- I believe they have something like 50,000 patterns! The original (complete) patterns are in their archives and available to researchers, but you can access a good bit of info online. Membership isn't cheap, but I got in on a group membership and have been wasting time there ever since!

I've often wondered if I would ever be able to recreate a pattern from the information they have online (usually you get an image from the front of the pattern, plus a "pattern schematic"; you get some text info but no instructions). I'm sure if I could draft patterns I could do it just by looking at the picture but, well, I can't draft patterns! But I finally decided to give it a go as a reward for all the boring utilitarian sewing I've been doing.

I thought an apron would be easy, and making it for Emily would keep it smaller in case I had trouble. (Plus, she is low on aprons having grown out of all but 1 baking apron.) To my surprise, it was a pretty simple operation! Within a couple days, Emily had a new vintage-y apron! It's super-cute, functional and very girly, so she loves it.

In fact, a second one is already cut out and ready to sew -- but this time, it's made from some Tenggren Saggy Baggy Elephant fabric! So cute! Now I think I have to make one for myself.

If you want details on the probably boring technical process, keep reading; otherwise, have a good week and stay tuned for a cool chocolate dessert recipe coming soon!

My unwieldy reconstruction process:

The first thing I did was to just google the pattern (Simplicity 7091) and see what I could find -- I was able to find images of the pattern envelope, which I printed out and used as visual reference (not to mention, to help estimate the amount of bias binding I'd need!)

Next, I edited the pattern schematic in photoshop to only contain the pieces for the view I was making (view C), overlapping the pieces so that they would take up less room when printed (here's the image).

I then enlarged my resulting image to fill an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of paper, and printed it. I chose a key line (in this case the center front fold line), measured it, figured out how long it should be on the final pattern, and then used a proportion calculator to find out how much more it needed to be enlarged to print out at the size I wanted it. (At this point, I also scattered little "x" marks all over the image so I'd have an easier time matching everything up when I blew it up further.)

Finally, I enlarged the image again by the percentage the calculator gave me, printed it out in pieces and then taped it all together. Here you can see the 8-1/2"x11" version next to the full-size printout after assembling it.

From that point on, I did what I'd do with any pattern you need to trace -- I traced it onto pattern paper and did a tissue fit, I went ahead and did a muslin, to make sure it really would work, and at last I made up the final version.

Definitely a fun challenge, although a lot of people might not think so!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

prettiest matroyshkas ever


So adorable. So sold out. But so easy to copy! I am totally going to have to make myself Emily a set of these!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...