Category Archives: homemaking

In the Glad kitchen.

gl half tsp 4Because of the strange and wonderful arrangement of me having two housemates to share my big house, my kitchen is a warmer and livelier place than it would be otherwise. Kit has her favorite mugs and her red teapot that she frequently fills, and a collection of tea that has swelled my original holdings to bursting.gl kitchen scene 4-16

The tins are mine, special because they used to sit on my grandma’s kitchen shelf. I don’t remember what she kept in them, but I keep tea.

Mrs. Bread gave me a cape violet, which has blooming offspring now, bgl violet P1030899(1)ut this flower is on the original plant, which is not a frequent bloomer for me, but because of that each flower is even more exquisite and precious. Every kitchen should contain something growing, and at least occasionally blooming, don’t you think?

We women all like to cook (though I must admit to cooking much less than I find myself eating what Kit cooks), and Susan seems to like to clean up — at least, she does it a lot. One thing I made recently didn’t require cooking: a vegan chia seed pudding which I found on Minimalist Baker. I’ve made it twice, and the second time I also created a pumpkin-spice version that has yet to be perfected. We really like the chocolate one, but variety is nice.

While concocting these nice jars of breakfast or anytime-food, I used measuring spoons from different sets, and noticed a discrepancy in the size of the half-teaspoons. gl half tsp 3The one on the right above is Oneida brand, and it is almost a whole teaspoon, as I found out with the agl half-tsp measure cupsid of a medicine cup. The one on the left is new and relatively inexpensive, and it seems to be just right, while the one in back is probably a hundred years old, and it seems to be a little less than a half-teaspoon. I often have wondered if the really old measuring spoons have had their edges worn down over the decades…. But what am I to think of this overall lack of standardization?

Kit says she has been semi-consciously avoiding that bigger spoon when she needs a half-teaspoon, and now we know why it — it isn’t what it purports to be! Are even our measurements getting supersized?gl pudding 4-16 chia

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We seem to be focusing on brown and orange foods lately. The chocolate pudding is brown, of course. And the light and crispy sesame flax crackers that we’ve made three batches of. That recipe comes from a library book, Food 52: Vegan by Gena Hamshaw. Moving on toward orange, Kit made carrot-ginger soup with cashew cream for a topping.

But for sheer elegance, I present one of my favorite foods, whose presence in the kitchen is to me always either promising or comforting. It takes so little effort to cook, and is versatile and healthy. It is what I call a yam. If you do a little research on what is a yam and what is a sweet potato, you might go a little crazy with the impossibility of being both botanically correct and a non-weird member of your local culinary culture.

gl Sweet_potatoes,_Padangpanjang wiki

So, my recommendation is to just call it what you always call it. I love all the sweet potatoes I’ve ever cooked and eaten, but for some reason I buy this Garnet Yam more often. Here is the last piece of yam from the recent batch I baked. It’s time to put a few more into the oven, to make this rainy day warm and nourishing.

gl yam apr

A few more helpful gleanings.

With my youngest daughter Kate getting married in just a few days, you’d think I’d have precious little time for writing here. And that is so true, which is why I’m mostly passing on some more gleanings from my recent readings. If you ever pray for bloggers you don’t know, add me to the list this week!

1) Leila writes about some of my favorite things in her post Housewifely. I specialize in ironing and wearing an apron, but the other tG & S 6-85hings are also high on my list. She writes, “When you put on an apron, you do not merely protect the garments. You also announce your commitment to the task at hand, your willingness to suffer the slings and sputterings of the pots and pans, your resolve to see the work out to the end.”

I wish I had written this post. Sometimes I think I could write a whole book about aprons alone, and how practically and symbolically they are so significant to my own homemaking. I don’t only wear a apron in the kitchen, but to clean house and dig in the garden.

Aprons were one love that I shared with my now-departed friend Bird which is why I made her a new apron at a time when she had no obvious need for one. Bird and I knew that she did in reality use one, as a way to keep herself on the continuum of the woman she had always been.

2) Daphne writes common sense and wisdom about dating and marriage.

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My cousins 70 years ago

“Start dating after you are ready to get married, and date people you can actually see yourself marrying, as doing otherwise is typically a colossal waste of time. ”

“A good marriage is intentional and dating should be too.”

“And none of them live in magical fairy tales; no matter how it’s arranged a relationship always involves confusion, mistakes, and heartache. Crossed wires are built into every human interaction. ”

3) This article on acedia I found to be revealing of all the many ways self-love manifests itself. Fr. Aidan Kimel quotes a 4th-century desert monastic on the eight fundamental passions or thoughts; acedia is central.

“Frustration and aggressiveness combine in a new way and produce this ‘complex’ (that is, interwoven) phenomenon of acedia.”

“’A despondent person hates precisely what is available,’ Evagrius writes, ‘and desires what is not available.'”

4) The last thing I offer you, which was most helpful to me at this time, is Father Stephen writing about Comforting One Another, which is also about comforting ourselves — or rather, not comforting ourselves. You see, we try to comfort ourselves by running away from the heartbreak or pain and suffering, running to pleasures that we think will ease our hurt. They often bring us further pain. We have to make ourselves not run away, but turn to Christ and let Him truly comfort us by His being and presence.

“For it is when our hearts are broken and do not run away or hide that we can call on God to comfort us. And He does….That comfort is the gift of His own life within us, a sharing of His own joy and love.”

Things that might – and did – happen in March.

1 – My sister might send us a box of mandarins from California’s Central Valley. She and her husband grow these very fancy Dekopons, as they are known in Japan, under the label Sumo. You aren’t likely to see many of them in our U.S. stores for a while, but I just read that in Japan they already have Dekopon chewing gum.

They are awfully good, large and seedless and easy to peel, with a taste that reminds me of the fruits that we children gorged on from our father’s trees many decades ago, and which I still will savor if I get down there at the right time of year.

2 – I might decide to make a giant pot of vegetable and bean soup to last us through Lent and beyond. This is the Bean Soup Mix after soaking all night. The small brown beans are Tepary beans I bought at a farmers’ market years ago; I found them in the pantry and threw them into the lot.


3 – My CSA box might contain a pale green and spikey cauliflower, which they call Romanesco. I chopped it up put it into the soup, so I don’t know if it tastes any different from the usual cauliflower. But it looks interesting.

4 – The osmanthus might bloom, so that when I come up the sidewalk to the front door I swoon over its sweetness, and decide to cut some branches to bring inside.

It’s warm enough now that I felt safe sticking two of my old orchids out on the patio; the only one that bloomed I put in the garage. I’ve gotten so used to them, I might buy a blooming plant to have in the house if Costco is still selling them.

All these things DID happen. I’m loving Lent and Spring.

I tweak the pudding.

Mine is like the 4th from the top, only dirtier.

In the first decade of my married life my primary cooking teachers were Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, in the 1964 edition of Joy of Cooking. That was long before this age when one can find overwhelming amounts of information about any food or recipe at the click of a mouse, and before we watched “Julie and Julia” and found out that the cookbook my mother had given me for a wedding present was suspect.

The women who published the book in various forms beginning in the 30’s were not the same sort of cooks as those we know today, we who have the likes of Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher to inspire us. Irma was grieving the loss of her husband in 1930 when she followed the advice of others and got busy making a book out of her collection of recipes that had been gathered to teach a class in the 20’s.

Irma S. Rombauer

Marion wrote a biographical sketch of her mother, in which she admits that her mother was not known for her great cooking. To which I add, it really was not the era for that. Many of the households that had the resources to spend on a variety of ingredients had hired help to cook for them, which I noticed early on was the case with the Rombauers, because in my copy they mention conversationally, and give a recipe for, the matchless poultry dressing their cook made. The kitchen help, expert as they might be, would not be in a position to publish cookbooks, so as Marion reasoned, “cookbook writing is too important to be left to the cooks.”

But for women who were increasingly responsible for preparing meals for their own families, and who had time and means to study and learn from books, the Rombauer women did a good service. I like what Christopher Kimball wrote for the Amazon.com listing of the book, about Irma’s “amateur but highly evolved enthusiasm.” After all this revisiting I plan to get a copy of the latest revision and see how it has changed, now that Irma’s descendants are bringing to it their own flair and abilities. On the Joy website I found a likeable personal tone and appetizing recipes, but the cooks don’t give away all of the book’s recipes online.

The Rombauer/Becker Family marked their own favorite recipes in the edition I own with the name “Cockaigne” after the name of their summer home, and that label served me as online reader reviews do nowadays, helping me know that at least a few people really liked that particular casserole or cake or whatever.

While my little children played nearby or took their naps, in the days before I could be distracted by reading or writing blog posts, I sat at the kitchen table and pored over Joy, making a list of all the “Cockaigne” recipes that appealed to me. The only one I remember now without looking it up, perhaps the only thing I tried more than once, was Tomato Pudding Cockaigne.

Kate shows fruit from yesteryear’s garden.

On a recent blog post somewhere I read mention of Scalloped Tomatoes, and I found online many recipes for that dish, which seemed to resemble the tomato pudding I hadn’t made in 20 years. It was labeled as Southern Cooking on many websites. Do all of you southern ladies make scalloped tomatoes?

At first it sounded like the perfect way to use up some of my fresh tomatoes, and perhaps also in the winter, to use some of the bags full that I have been freezing. Except that there seemed to be more bread and sugar than I care to consume in the various versions….eventually I gave up looking at them and went back to my old recipe, which I discovered also calls for quite a bit of sugar — six tablespoons to go with 14 tomatoes — but why? These are garden-ripe, sweet tomatoes I’m bringing in by the bowlful.

Joy’s recipe also didn’t have enough basil for me, and included no garlic. It called for only a small quantity of bread crumbs, and I hoped that if I added a larger quantity of bread the juice would be soaked up faster and the dish might take only two hours instead of three to cook down.

So…here you have it,

Gretchen’s California Tomato Pudding

14 fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, sliced

1/3 cup fresh chopped basil leaves

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1 extra-large clove garlic. minced

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 cups fresh sourdough bread crumbs

6 tablespoons melted (salted) butter

Put the tomatoes in a pan on the stovetop, and heat to the boiling point. Stir in the herbs, garlic, and sugar. Cover the bottom of a 9×12 baking dish with the bread, and pour the melted butter over it. Ladle the tomato mixture on top of the crumbs, and bake uncovered at 350° for about an hour and 15 minutes, or until it is no longer watery. Serve warm.

While my pudding was in the oven I typed out the above, and waited to see if  the finished product would be worthy of sharing. Oh my, yes, it is delectable and so hard to stop eating. I guess my husband and I ate about five tomatoes worth each.

I could further tweak a few things, make it a couple more times to assure consistency and give you a more thorough report, but this is only a blog after all, so I will just say that I’m pretty sure it would be just as good with a little less butter and sugar. I imagine it tasting great made with olive oil, if you prefer vegan fare. But Mr. Glad said, “Whatever you did to make it like this, it was perfect.”