Sure-Bet/Sherbet Macaroons

IMG_0001 Bake Off 1969 macaroons

There certainly are a LOT of macaroon recipes out there – you know, out there (waves virtual hand in direction of cookbook shelves and beyond). So I thought I’d find something odd and strange and retro – new uncharted macaroon territory. Since it is National Macaroon Day, and all.

Where better to plunge into a retro-cuisine Brave New World than through the portal of the Pillsbury Bake-Off cookbooks?  And I was not disappointed. I hope you won’t be either. Depends upon your feelings about orange sherbet and whether it belongs in a cookie or not, though.

I rather like the name of these loopy cookies. As in, “I sure bet they taste – different!” Oh, and I just realized: I think the lady who made these up was making a PUN. Sure bet. Sherbet. Oh, I get it. Cue the laugh track!


1 pint orange sherbet
1 package (18 1/2 oz.) Pillsbury White Cake Mix
2 Tb almond extract
1 packages (7 oz. each) or 6 cups flaked coconut

OVEN 350 degrees  ABOUT 72 COOKIES

In large mixer bowl, blend sherbet at low speed to soften slightly. Add dry cake mix and almond extract; blend until just thoroughly combined. Stir in coconut. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet.

TIP: Any flavored sherbet can be used with Pillsbury Fudge, German Chocolate, Double Dutch or White Cake Mixes; lemon and pineapple sherbet may be used with Pillsbury Pineapple, Lemon and Yellow Cake mixes.

[From 100 Bake Off Recipes, 1969]

These are described as “quickies that freeze well,” which I could almost make a good joke about if I wasn’t getting a little – well, in need of some fresh air. Will go outside as soon as I post this and see if there is any.

Magic Silver Mushrooms

IMG silver mushrooms Crocker Dinner Parties 1974

I’m posting this because it just stuck in my head – I saw the photo and I just kept thinking, I ought to post this, it is so weird and yet kind of retro and clever – and silver! I like silver jewelry and silver shoes (although the only silver shoes I ever wore were really painful fancy sandals that I will never wear again, but I just can’t get rid of them they are too lovely). So why not silver mushrooms?

These are from my dear pal Betty Crocker in her Betty Crocker’s Dinner Parties (1974), in the chapter entitled “Today’s Sit-Down Dinners.” Well, I don’t know how many sit-down dinners you are planning to have today, but you can make this centerpiece for one of them.

You have to start this yesterday though, if you want it today (if you know what I mean). Or today for tomorrow, of course.

Anyway – the day before you need this thing, insert 3″ pieces of wire in about 10-15 mushrooms (fresh, white button mushrooms that is). It looks nice if they are different sizes. Spray with silver spray paint and then let them dry over night (Betty says that they will shrink a little but will keep their shape – I guess she should know).

Take a wicker basket (you could spray paint this silver or a contrasting color like blue or pink - or use white like they do here) and put  in a “needle frog” with a bit of florist’s clay under it to make it stick. Here is a picture of needle frogs. They are support things that go under the  styrofoam that you will put in next. It should come up to the top of the basket, but not quite. Stick on some moss and little flowers, and stick the mushrooms in too, via the wires you stuck in them yesterday.

And that’s that!

I will definitely be posting again today, if for no other reason than that it is National Macaroon Day!

Never Miss A Trick!

IMG_0002 Chatelaine 1947 Uncle Harry

I’ll just bet you do, dearie. Just try not to be quite so – obvious – when the “rich old dear” rolls up for a visit, OK?

It’s so heartwarming to see such wholesome family values in this 1947 ad from Chatelaine magazine. There’s cartoon Ted in the background, strategically hanging up Uncle Harry’s portrait. That ought to flatter the old full-of-himself dear.

And she thinks he never misses a trick. Look at these two! It’s enough to make a person leave his fortune to his cat!

She thinks that dragging out the Colonial Sheets will really convince him to change his will. What a crafty wench! And “if you can’t buy all the Colonial ned linen you want right away  don’t be discouraged” – maybe old Uncle Harry will leave you a bundle. “Just keep on asking for it.”

She’s asking for it all right! This ought to be some visit.

Show Biz Hair

Great Day hair dye ad, Reader's Digest 1967

Ii seems that in 1967, guys were worried that if they colored their hair, they would seem too “flashy” or “show biz” according to this delightful ad from Reader’s Digest. On the other hand, they wanted to be young which meant unnaturally dark hair – even for former blonds, apparently. But help was at hand! For even “bankers, farmers, longshoremen, teachers and police officers” all used this stuff, Great Day, “without blushing.”

How about Cruella De Vil’s husband here? He doesn’t look so worried. I didn’t even know about him until now. She’s been keeping him on the down low! Wonder if he’s a banker or a longshoreman. I don’t think he’s a policeman. If he is, he really needs to start noticing what’s up at home with the puppies and his wife and everything.

I like the name of this stuff, too. Great Day. Use it and you will have one, I suppose. Too bad they didn’t call it Grey Day, that would be funny.

The whole ad keeps reassuring these poor, nervous guys that no one will notice if all of a sudden your hair changes color:

Amazingly, even though you’re very conscious of what you’ve done, experience has shown that most people don’t even notice the difference in color. Only the effect. “Say Charley, you look great. Did you lose weight or something?”

Or something. Yeah, they won’t notice that half your hair is shoepolish black, the other half is grey. No worries! They say that this is “a product that won’t embarrass you in any way.” I think we’re way past worrying about that now, really.

POP CULTURE ASIDE: Does anyone else think that this is Ted Knight, who played pompous news anchorman Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s? I’ll bet that this is just the sort of thing Ted Baxter would use on his hair, and he wouldn’t be in the least bit embarrassed about it either. “Hey Mare, you should use Great Day too! Look, you have some grey hairs!” And then they could all joke about Murray not needing to use it, because he was bald.

Women Who Know A Good Thing

VTT logo

The best vintage finds of my week were the ads in Ladies’ Monthly, a late-Victorian women’s magazine published in Toronto.  I found it on microfilm just by chance, while poking around in the library filing cabinets.  The public ones I mean, I wasn’t snooping in the back. There is all sorts of stuff in libraries that mostly just sits there, and no one much pays it any attention. It is such fun when one of those things turns out to be crammed with gloriously loopy ads. Chatelaine magazine is wonderful too, only the microfilm is SO dark…I will either have to hunt down the originals or else just edit and Picnik them as best I can. The latter probably, there are a couple that are just so good I have to share them with you soon!

All right, deep cleansing breaths. Centering self in non-retro way. Carrying on with Vintage Thingies Thursday, thanks to the Apron Queen who rules the VT Thursday most benificently. Today she has a fabulous 1950s ad for a washer/wringer/dryer that even a man can use!

Well, here’s a mop for him after he finishes up the laundry.

IMG_0001 Ladies Monthly 1880s Tarbox Mop

I like the design of this mop. And having “a well-regulated household” would also be a big plus. All for fifty cents too! I’m going to march right down to Canadian Tire and demand a TARBOX. “I will TAKE NO OTHER,” I’ll say, as I hand over fifty cents.

Yeah, that’ll work.

Avoiding Gingerbread

IMG soap sculpture

“Soap sculpture is fun…[and in] emphasizing the big forms and ‘avoiding gingerbread’ it is good training in basic scuptural principles.”

Oh, not real gingerbread – that stuff is delicious. The Homemaker’s Encyclopedia (1952) just means that you shouldn’t make lacy gingerbread-trimming designs when you are doing your soap sculpture. Don’t attempt to carve a filigree Christmas ornament or a lace mantilla or anything.

Maybe you could carve a banana. Or a fishie… Just calm down, children, I promise we can start very soon!

There’s a whole chapter in the Hobbies For Everyone volume of the Homemaker’s Encyclopedia on how to have hours and hours of fun sculpting with soap.  

Here’s what you need: a bar of soap (duh) and a penknife and some orangewood sticks “or even sharpened lollipop sticks.” That sounds fun already, sharpening a lollipop stick. I can’t wait to try that.

And then you have to “prepare the soap.” Don’t forget that it “should be thoroughly dry before being used.” Oh…okay. You know, if you think you can carve an eagle out of the wet stuff that sits in the shower soap dish, you probably shouldn’t be sharpening a lollipop stick. Or going anywhere near a penknife. But never mind, let’s press on, shall we?

Don’t forget to pick a simple design! Eagle, yes; lobster, no. Rough out the design, keep turning the soap around “keeping the general shape of the piece in mind.” Then carve the high points (the shallow carving) and the low points (where you carve in deeply and the whole damn thing breaks). I would be having a few low points by now, all right.

And when you are done you let it sit for a day or so. “Study it often.” (Why? Why should I study it often? How bored do they think I am? Wait, never mind…)

Then you can polish it with first a paper napkin or Kleenex, and then with your fingers and palm “to produce a soft finish and bring out the highlights.” Just the way Michaelangelo did.

My favorite part of this chapter is the last bit which is entitled “Some practical uses for soap sculpture.” And you thought there weren’t any!

Why, of course there are. The soap pundits at the Homemaker’s Encycopedia suggest that you carve a little boat, varnish it, stick “a small mast with a sail” on it, and plop it in “any nearby pond or stream.” (I guess this rules out us city kids – I’d have been forced to drop mine in the East River). And then you can race your soap boats. I don’t know about how well the varnish would work.

Those kids in the photo look enthralled. The one standing up is inciting a rebellion. Come ON you guys, let’s get out of here! As soon as they take that damn picture! I’ll bet that boy’s going to chuck his soap sculpture in a nearby pond or stream all right.

Two Awfully Jolly Girls

IMG_0002 2 Awfully Jolly Girls, 1880s Cdn ad

It wouldn’t hurt to crack a smile, though, would it? As long as we’re being so awfully jolly.

I understand the comfort. I don’t really see the luxury factor though.

Still, it’s nice to see the precursor of the modern T shirt here in this mid-1880s Canadian ad. It is from a marvellous publication called Ladies’ Monthly, which is crammed with fabulous Victorian ads, so more to come.

Blue’s Wax Paper Clues

IMG ben Blue Waxtex ad early 1950s

A long time ago I used to have a book about sexual subtexts in advertising; I think it was published in the 1970s. And unfortunately, during one of our bouts of moving house, it got given away. We used to have these ‘let’s really streamline our library’ moods (wonder what sort of music goes with that mood) and I have to tell you, I regret it. Because I really need that book now.

Take a look at Ben Blue and his hot dog….Hmmm.  Well, when he doesn’t wrap it in Waxtex it is – not droopy precisely, but sort of wrinkled and…sad. Ben is mildly disgusted by it. I think he should be more worried about the fact that one of his hands – not to mention his hot dog – is a line drawing. And that he himself is a disembodied head.

When he does use Waxtex, he is happy and so is the hot dog. Well, moderately happy. He looks – OK with it. Shouldn’t he look a bit more enthusiastic if he’s doing an ad?

Mind you, maybe he shouldn’t get too excited (ahem). It’s only Waxtex after all.

I almost thought he was Stan Laurel, but Stan would be emoting more. That sad hot dog would make Stan cry! And then Oliver Hardy would get mad and tell him to use Waxtex.

The primary virtue of Waxtex seems to be tightness – air-tight, moisture-tight, flavor-tight; OK, thank you, we get it. You could wrap a time capsule up in that stuff. The ancient Egypians could have had fresh sandwiches right now, if they’d only thought to use it!

Ben Blue (born Benjamin Bernstein in Montreal, 1921-1975) was a movie actor, radio comedian and TV personality whose career began with Warner Brothers short films in the 1920s. He was in The Big Broadcast of 1938 with Bob Hope in, um, 1938. And he had a few forays into TV - The Ben Blue Show in 1950, and a bunch of appearances on Frank Sinatra’s show too. Which was called The Frank Sinatra Show, in the great 1950s tradition of imaginative TV show names.

Speaking of which, they should have called Ben’s show Blue’s Clues!  As you may or may not know, there are three things that are drawn on the real Blue’s Clues (I’m including a link for the readers who did not get the great aesthetic pleasure of enduring this show with their kids). Then that striped-shirt weirdo has to guess what his dog Blue wants. (Notice the weird cartoon/real mix on the show, just like in this ad!)

Ben Blue could draw a hot dog and a box of Waxtex. The third thing would be – what? All I can think of is a picnic basket but that isn’t very funny. I’ll bet you can come up with some fun things in the comments!

Purple Popsicle Eaters

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Frank Epperson, the clever San Francisco lad who invented the popsicle (in 1905, at age 11), went out and patented it (when he was grown up). He didn’t even mean to invent anything. He just left some soda powder and water and a stirring stick out on the porch overnight and there was a cold snap and the inevitable happened. After the inevitable happened though, he waited 18 years to do something about it. Eighteen years! That’s a lot of hot summers without popsicles, Frank.

And it is thanks to him that today is National Grape Popiscle Day.

Today we celebrate not merely the popsicle, but the grape popsicle. Some people think that these are the best kind (usually children) and others (They Who Do The Laundry) think that these are the worst kind for getting the stains off of clothing after said children consume them.

Frank Epperson patented the popsicle in 1924, 2 years after they were first sold at Alameda, California. Epperson called his little frozen treats Epsicles, but his children came up with a better name. Hence the Popsicle. I like it! I think we’ve got something here.

What we’ve got is lots and lots of popsicles. We also have some links:

A Grape Popsicle Cocktail for the grownups, at GroupRecipes.

This guy made up the Popsicle Diet, which includes 15 grape popsicles a day (out of 50 total). He is kidding, of course (and also he forgot to include lemon popsicles, which cleanse the palate as everyone knows.)

The lovely picture of real grapes is from here. Frozen grapes are good in the summer, too.  

Ten Records, Twenty Moods

IMG mood music ad 1967 Reader's Digest

IMG mood music ad 1967 Reader's Digest detail

Above you see “your most pleasing discovery of 1966.” (For the record, I was 3 going on 4 for most of 1966, amd my most pleasing discovery was that I could put chewing gum on the upholstered chair, though this was temporary, since I got caught). The woman on the album cover looks thrilled. I wonder which one of the 20 moods she is in? I would say Cheesed Off, but that isn’t one of them.

And that’s a pretty sweeping statement to make, Reader’s Digest. So you think you’ve captured all my moods? Actually, not only have you left plenty of moods out, you’ve put in some that I never even heard of. Like what precisely is a Starlight mood? Or a Latin mood. Or a Movie mood. If I’m in a Movie mood, I’ll go see a movie, you know.

Now what I really do want is some music for my real, everyday moods! Like Frazzled (that would be music to get everyone off in the morning). Or, What the Hell Am I Making For Dinner Again? That’s a good one. Or, Don’t Ask Me Now, It’s 11 pm.

I already know what music I like if I’m in a good mood, or going out to run, or need to get charged up to go out. I think we all have our favorites. The mood music though. That’s where Reader’s Digest clearly needs help.

-What sort of mood do you think they should have included? And what music would you suggest?

-Has anyone reading ever had a Starlight mood? Or Spectacular. What’s that? Is it a little ego trip (“boy, am I spectacular!”) or that you’re just having a really good day?

If WordPress allows polls (and I will look, but I fear not) I’ll put this in the sidebar (which is acting funny, I might play with the template again).

Later today we will be celebrating National Grape Popsicle Day, so do come back for a refreshing treat later on. And maybe we can find some music for a Popsicle mood (Good Humor joke goes here).