Bettina and Bob are a rather charming vintage couple navigating their way through new married life and the setting up of a well thought out first home and this is the second of many appearances they will be making here on Brocantehome, teaching us how re-think our way of life and add a little more vintage style housekeeping to our day…
“Steak is expensive, dear, and you’ll not get it often, but as this is our first real dinner in our own home, I had to celebrate. I bought enough for two meals, because buying steak for one meal for two people is beyond any modest purse! So you’ll meet that steak again tomorrow, but I don’t believe that you’ll bow in recognition!”
“So you marketed today, did you?”
“Indeed I did! I bought a big basket, and went at it like a seasoned housekeeper. I had all the staples to get, you know, and lots of other things. After dinner I’ll show you the labelled glass jars on my shelves; it was such fun putting things away! June is a wonderful month for housekeepers. I’ve planned the meals for days ahead, because I know that’s best. Then I’ll go to the market several times a week, and if I plan properly I won’t have to order by telephone. It seems so extravagant to buy in that way unless you know exactly what you are getting. I like to plan for left-overs, too. For instance, the peas in this salad were left from yesterday’s dinner, and the pimento is from that can I opened. Then, too, I cooked tomorrow’s potatoes with these to save gas and bother. You’ll have them served in a different way, of course. And—— Oh, yes, Bob,” Bettina chattered on, “I saw Ruth down town, and have asked all five of my bridesmaids to luncheon day after tomorrow. Won’t that be fun? But I promise you that the neglected groom shall have every one of the good things when he comes home at night!”
“It makes me feel happy, I can tell you, to have a home like this. It’s pleasant to be by ourselves, but at the same time I can’t help wishing that some of the bachelors I know could see it all and taste your cooking!”
“Well, Bob, I want you to feel free to have a guest at any time. If my dinners are good enough for you, I’m sure they’re good enough for any guest whom you may bring. And it isn’t very hard to make a meal for three out of a meal for two. Now, Bobby, if you’re ready, will you please get the dessert?”
“What? Strawberry shortcake? Well, this is living! I tell you what, Bettina, I call this a regular man-size meal!”
It consisted of:
Baking-Powder Biscuits and Butter
Rhubarb Sauce and Pea and Celery Salad
Strawberry Shortcake and Cream
Pan-Broiled Steak (Two portions)
2 T-hot water
1 t-parsley chopped
Wipe the meat carefully with a wet cloth. Remove superfluous fat and any gristle. Cut the edges to prevent them from curling up. When the broiling oven is very hot, place the meat, without any fat, upon a hot flat pan, directly under the blaze. Brown both sides very quickly. Turn often. Reduce heat and continue cooking about seven minutes, or longer if desired. Place on a warm platter; season with salt, pepper and bits of butter. Set in the oven a moment to melt the butter. If salt is added while cooking, the juices will be drawn out. A gravy may be made by adding hot water, butter, salt, pepper and parsley to the pan. Pour the gravy over the steak.
New Potatoes in Cream (Two portions)
4 new potatoes
1 qt. water
Scrape four medium sized new potatoes. Cook in boiling water (salted) until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain off the water, and shake the kettle over the fire gently, to allow the steam to escape and make the potatoes mealy. Make the following white sauce and pour over the potatoes.
White Sauce for New Potatoes (Two portions)
Melt the butter, add the flour, salt and paprika. Thoroughly mix, slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Allow sauce to cook two minutes.
Strawberry Shortcake (Two portions)
2 C-sifted flour
4 t-baking powder
1 qt. strawberriesCut the fat into the flour, salt and baking powder until the consistency of cornmeal. Gradually add the milk, using a knife to mix. Do not handle any more than absolutely necessary. Toss the dough upon a floured board or a piece of clean brown paper. Pat into the desired shape, and place in a pan. Bake in a hot oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Split, spread with butter, and place strawberries, crushed and sweetened, between and on top. Serve with cream.
Till next time Darlings…
I don’t know about you, but my ability to do, and enthusiasm for housework, ebbs and flows almost as often as the wind changes. Some days I am Liverpool’s answer to Martha Stewart and on other others you may as well pour a pan of chip-fat on my head and call me Waynetta Slob for all the lazy, good for nothing, good, I am at doing anything more than than pulling on something gruesome in dusky pink velour and screeching the equivalent of “I’m having a faggggggggggg….!!” whenever my biscuit nibbling, blog prowling endeavors are interfered with.
Once upon a time I worried about my Jekyll and Hyde attitude to keeping house, but now with the infinite wisdom that comes with a grey hair sprouting out of one’s chin, I have come to the conclusion that we are what we are, and we serve heart and home best when we don’t beat ourselves up about it, but rather accept, that like almost everything else in our lives, there are good times and bad times and it is truly best to just go with the flow…
This means that sometimes entire weeks are lost to sitting in the garden pretending the house doesn’t exist. Sometimes I am fascinated by my own self and spend hours when I should be doing laundry, bending myself in wacky positions on an olive green yoga mat, seeing just how dark I can charcoal my eyes, and splattering the kitchen with juices whizzed up in a blender without a lid. Often I find myself both besieged and besotted by BrocanteHome, existing inside my polka dotted bubble and totally oblivious to the dirt and dishes accumulating in my wake. Other days I sacrifice housework for the joy that is sitting in a coffee shop with a friend I haven’t seen for six whole months where nothing else matters beyond sorting out the world and our respective blogs like I did yesterday with the lovely Rachael from Tales From the Village…
Then there are the days when I wake up outraged by the state of my very own little nation and steam roll my way through the chaos with quiet determination to put things straight again. The days when I invite people other than Mum and Dad, Kath or Mark into the house and find myself overcome with the kind of pride that will not allow the general public to see the pile of shoes usually gathered next to the blanket box in which they actually live, the madness that is Finley’s bedroom, or chocolate hand-prints on the cream walls and go into housekeeping overdrive, screeching and panicking and worrying that someone will out me on the internet as a secret slob! And then there are the days when I am my best self: the housekeeper I am here, she who knows what matters to her authentic self, and how satisfying it is when her efforts pay dividends to all who care to dwell in this here little terraced cottage…
This is also a matter that ebbs and flows according to the seasons: I am MUCH tidier and more inspired in Autumn and Spring than I ever am in Summer and Winter. Immaculate when there is a seasonal celebration in the offing and not so much so during school holidays when my head tells me that following Finley around picking up after him for seven long weeks, is only likely to send us both mental, and my energy would be better reserved for baking cakes, cheering him on when he throws himself off scooter ramps and pretending I’m absolutely fascinated by the mystery that remains Pokemon…
And there there is the monthly cyclical changes in attitude to housekeeping I surely can’t be the only one too experience? The week after my period I am the Domestic Goddess personified: dreaming up new housekeeping schemes, creating vignettes that charm the pants off all who enter through the front door, remembering to give my son vitamins, and practically kissing the walls of my house because I love it so…
And then I get a bit tired and a bit frustrated and I get to thinking that there must be more to life than housework and by the beginning of the fourth week I am positively around the bend and living in a relative ,pig-sty and hating myself for my innate slovenliness, so thank heavens then, that a darling set of hormones comes charging in to ravage my body and trick me into thinking that there might just be another baby on the way and if I don’t nest now I never will, so I putter around serenely for a day or two, only stopping to hiss at those who will not support my effort with similar dedication to keeping hearth and home, nor quite sense the urgency of the impending delivery – before going back to getting the house straight for a monthly event highly unlikely to deliver a little bundle of pink or blue!
Darn me and my erratic soul! But it is what it is, and as I sit here stroking my lady beard, I have decided that the best thing we can do is to both anticipate the good times and give up fearing the bad ones. To tell ourselves that we will be a better housekeeper tomorrow, that people very rarely choke on dust, and that in the end our homes exist to facilitate all the other aspects of our being beyond the neat freak we are all harbouring inside, to one degree or the next.
Tomorrow is, after all, another day and frankly, Dear Rhett, today I just don’t give a damn…
Bettina and Bob are a rather charming vintage couple navigating their way through new married life and the setting up of a well thought out first home and this is the first of many appearances they will be making here on Brocantehome, teaching us how re-think our way of life and add a little more vintage style housekeeping to our day…
Home At Last
“HOME at last!” sighed Bettina happily as the hot and dusty travelers left the train.
“Why that contented sigh?” asked Bob. “Because our wedding trip is over? Well, anyhow, Bettina, it’s after five. Shall we have dinner at the hotel?”
“Hotel? Why, Bob! with our house and our dishes and our silver just waiting for us? I’m ashamed of you! We’ll take the first car for home—a street-car, not a taxi! Our extravagant days are over, and the time has come to show you that Bettina knows how to keep house. You think that you love me now, Bobby, but just wait till you sit down to a real strawberry shortcake made by a real cook in a real home!”
Half an hour later Bob was unlocking the door of the new brown bungalow. “Isn’t it a dear?” cried Bettina proudly. “When we’ve had time to give it grass and shrubs and flowers and a vegetable garden, no place in town will equal it! And as for porch furniture, how I’d like to get at Mother’s attic and transform some of her discarded things!”
“Just now I’d rather get at some of Mother’s cooking!” grinned Bob.
“Oh, dear, I forgot! I’ll have supper ready in ten minutes. Do you remember my emergency shelf? Why, Bob—Bob, they must have known we were coming! Here’s ice—and milk—and cream—and butter—and bread—and rolls, and even a grape fruit! They knew, and didn’t meet the train because they thought we would prefer to have our first meal alone! Wasn’t that dear of them? And this will save you a trip to the corner grocery!”
Bettina fastened a trim percale bungalow apron over her traveling suit, and swiftly and surely assembled the little meal.
“I like that apron,” said Bob. “It reminds me of the rainy day when we fixed the emergency shelf. That was fun.”
“Yes, and work too,” said Bettina, “but I’m glad we did it. Do you remember how much I saved by getting things in dozen and half dozen lots? And Mother showed me how much better it was to buy the larger sizes in bottled things, because in buying the smaller bottles you spend most of your money for the glass. Now that you have to pay my bills, Bob, you’ll be glad that I know those things!”
“I think you know a great deal,” said Bob admiringly. “Lots of girls can cook, but mighty few know how to be economical at the same time! It’s great to be your——”
“Dinner is served,” Bettina interrupted. “It’s a ‘pick-up meal,’ but I’m hungry, aren’t you? And after this, sir, no more canned things!”
And Bob sat down to:
Creamed Tuna on Toast Strips
Canned Peas with Butter Sauce
Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows
(All measurements are level)
Creamed Tuna on Toast Strips (Two portions)
½ slice pimento
3 slices of bread
Melt the butter, add the flour, salt and pimento. Mix well. Gradually pour in the milk. Allow the mixture to boil one minute. Stir constantly. Add the fish, cook one minute and pour over toasted strips of bread.
Hot Chocolate (Three cups)
1 square of chocolate
Cook chocolate, sugar and water until a thin custard is formed. Add milk gradually and bring to a boil. Whip with an egg beater, as this breaks up the albumin found in chocolate, and prevents the coating from forming over the top. Add vanilla and marshmallows. Allow to stand a moment and pour into the cups.
Strawberry Preserves (Six one-half pt. glasses)
4 lbs. berries
3 lbs. sugar
Pick over, wash and hull the berries. Make a syrup by boiling the sugar and water fifteen minutes. Fill sterilized jars with the berries. Cover with syrup and let stand fifteen minutes to settle. Add more berries. Adjust rubbers and covers. Place on a folded cloth in a kettle of cold water. Heat water to boiling point and cook slowly one hour. Screw on covers securely.
On Bettina’s Emergency Shelf
6 cans pimentos (small size)
6 cans tuna (small size)
6 cans salmon (small size)
6 jars dried beef
12 cans corn
12 cans peas
6 cans string beans
6 cans lima beans
6 cans devilled ham (small size)
6 cans tomatoes
6 pt. jars pickles
6 pt. jars olives
6 small cans condensed milk
6 boxes sweet wafers
1 pound box salted codfish
3 pkg. marshmallows
3 cans mushrooms
2 pkg. macaroni
Till next time Darlings…
Yet another little bit of Brocante Housekeeping Sweethearts: do bear with me won’t you – normal service will resume tomorrow after a rather patchy half-term week resplendent with glorious sunshine and a whole day spent hanging around the children’s hospital attending various clinics for Finley’s ailments…
Anyways: back to life as we know it, attending to email, putting out fires, and (oh joy!) hopefully starting a few in the hearts of those of you who need a little lifestyle inspiration!
The matter in hand right now is the Pep-Talk. All spaces are now filled up until December and the next set of available spaces for registration commence at the end of January 2014. As a new service, the Pep-Talk has not been without complications and I have only just managed to completely resolve an issue that meant those clients who signed up in the first few weeks, were not receiving my responses, or at least able to view my responses to their well thought out answers to the myriad of questions the Pep-Talk asks. But all is well now, and those affected by my apparent silence will have their pep-talks extended by three weeks so we can all get up to speed!
One of the issues that has come up repeatedly in those pep-talks already in progress is shame. Shame about the fact that some of you cannot keep up with the routines and rituals you want to establish. Shame that your house isn’t as nice as your neighbours/mothers/best friends and shame that exhaustion/ennui simply gets in the way of being the wife/housekeeper/mother that you want to be.
It is a recurring theme with the potential to hamper our well-being: and I simply had not foreseen so many of you being constantly challenged by the demands of domesticity and wrapped up in that, a million and one emotions inspired by what we perceive as our failure to meet those challenges.
While I had expected to get to know a few of you much better through the course of the Pep-Talks, what I had not expected was to learn so much from you about what it is to struggle with housekeeping, how it feels to have our image of ourselves as poor housekeepers reflected in our image of ourselves as women. And if I can teach nothing else throughout the course of BrocanteHome, I want it to be this:
How we keep house is NOT who we are.
Write it in stone my Darlings: how we keep house is not who we are.… It is just one aspect of much fuller lives, and while tackling the challenges housekeeping presents and creating a home that reflects our authentic selves is both admirable and aspirational, home and self are necessarily miles apart…
Trust me on this one. Please?x
Ok me Darlings, today is the day!
Later this afternoon, the first of your twenty-six Trash It or Treasure emails will be landing in your in-box, ready to set you on the path to a sense of heavenly calm… and finally enough room to breathe in the house you call home.
If you have already signed up then you are good to go. If you are a Housekeeping Superstar the sign up box will be available in the Salon later today, and if you don’t know what I am talking about then hop over here and get up to speed with the most scrumptious, deeply personal way to de-clutter on the internet…
Happy trashing Housekeepers!