Friday, April 29, 2016

Say it Aint's So!!

I just finished reading about changes to the vintage snack Cracker Jack.
Cracker Jack has been around since 1896.  It is a staple snack at baseball games and was an ocasional snack treat when I was growing up.  Of course the draw was the prize inside--some sort of little plastic or metal widget.  I remember the thrill of once getting a "gold" ring complete with a flashy pink stone.  Eureka!!!

I have seen the older vintage prizes go for some serious money at auctions.

I wonder over time, how many women received their engagement rings placed inside a box by a hopeful fiance??

Cracker Jack has for awhile been putting only paper prizes inside--temporary tattoos and stickers.  Really? Now it has been reported--some sort of paper with a code will be the prize and the purchaser can play a computer baseball game.  Oh wow.

Another piece of baby boomer nostalgia gone bye-bye.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

No Tweeking Necessary

You must not listen to the people who say you shouldn't buy cookbooks anymore because you can get any recipe you want to from the internet.  Why deny yourself the pleasure of browsing a recipe book for ideas and enjoying good photography?

The Malibu Farm Cookbook by Helene Henderson is a recipe and lifestyle book based on her restaurant of the same name at the end of the pier in Malibu California. 

This farm to table cookbook combines simple recipes with the sumptuous photography of Martin Lof.  Henderson writes a light narrative of her journey from Scandinavia to California and her steps and missteps of buying a farm, and catering private parties on her small farm that turned into hard to come by reservations and the start of her restaurant.  A sampling of chapters includes From the Coop, From the Hive,  From the Sea and Beach and From the Vineyard to name a few.  While the book does follow some eating trends of the day (think KALE) it contains plenty of meat and seafood recipes and uses dairy and butter and grains.

How to best review a cookbook?  Make some of the recipes.  I tried several including Roasted Portobellas with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto, Black Olive Aioli, Salmon and Grainy Mustard Dressing and Malibu Honey Marinade.  None of these recipes required odd ball ingredients or tweeking the recipes in anyway.  Henderson does give substitutions if you are following a dairy free or gluten free diet.  The ingredients worked well together and the directions were clear.

So many cookbooks today seem to be fashion books filled with photos of the author in designer clothes, smiling and pretending to eat the prepared food.  This books shows real people in real clothes working on the farm and in local environs.  And most importantly--some really creative recipes that are straightforward to prepare.

My thanks to Blogging for Books for providing me a review copy of this book.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Don't Wolf Down Your Breakfast!

Now what made me think of that phrase?

Maybe waking up this morning to the best day of the spring so far made me think of these kind of Saturdays and growing up and my mother's wise words.

It was days like this that I Absolutely Could Not Wait To Get Out and Play, and breakfast was the necessary "first thing" till I came in for lunch five hours later. ("Don't Wolf Down Your Lunch" was just as frequently heard)  The days were not long enough.

Unstructured play.  Climb that tree.  Make a sandbox ledge full of "bakery items" out of sand and water.  Traipse around the yard with the wagon pretending I was Laura Ingalls Wilder.  (Poor dog Mr.  Twinks.  He had to wear a sunbonnet during those times.)

A recent conversation with a couple of new-ish but becoming dear-ish friends discussed technology and smart phones and how we are tethered to the masters of texting and emails.  Not to worry--this blog is not to rail on the evils of technology.  I simply know what I had to do to give more balance to my life.  My circumstance is not your circumstance and I understand that.

This weekend is semi unstructured play at Little Bohemia.  I have to load the car for a reset inventory trip to Madison this coming week. We sold four pieces of furniture the last week, and the booth needs a freshening.  Dear One is getting the hives in order for the shipments of bees due next week.  There are hostas to relocate and a pond to muck out.

But there is also a new cookbook from Blogging for Books for me to read.  I need to unlock all the windows on the porch and open them WIDE. A teak bench by the pond needs brushing off and to sit  on it awhile.  I want to open Grandpa's bird book and find out if that IS an indigo bunting. A paper Wall Street Journal to read--maybe while sitting on that bench. A healthy crunchy salad to make out of raw brussels sprouts (trust me on this) for supper and a couple of hours of "wander outside and do some unplanned something"--and not worry if it gets done today or tomorrow.

I apologize to friends that I am missing the updates on their lives from facebook.  I further apologize that I do not answer  emails very promptly--sometimes REALLY not very promptly.  You will never get a text from me.  Sundays are totally technology unplugged here--and we are experimenting with Saturdays as well. 

Enjoy your spring days the way you like best--there is not an infinite amount of them for any of us.

Monday, April 4, 2016

It's Italian Apertivo Hour

While cold brisk winds are still gripping the American midwest,  it was a real treat to find a copy of  Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau' s new book "Spritz" in my mailbox.  This attractive book promises to highlight Italy's most iconic cocktail and it delivers.

Beautifully photographed, this book is filled with recipes of spritz drinks and accompanying snacks that is sure to quickly point you toward an open air cafe on some street in some fabulous Italian town.  Who knew that enjoying  the Spritz, in its many incarnations and concoctions, was a national Italian pastime?

My husband and I were introduced to the Aperol Spritz (page 57) on a recent trip to Taormina Sicily.  We plopped into a chair on a late Sunday afternoon (a bit early for the usual 7pm Apertivo Hour in Italy) and eyed other tables to see if we saw a drink we could point to and say "two of those please!!"  We did not see a variety of drinks--we saw ONE drink that almost all the 50 or so patrons were drinking--the Aperol Spritz.  We laughed as we commented to ourselves it sounded like an American motor oil from the 1930s.  But instead--two glass of  orange colored wonderfulness were placed in front of us.  The mixture?  2 ounces of bitter liquer(Aperol), 3-4 ounces of prosecco (sparkling white wine) and 2 ounces of soda water.  Garnish it with an orange slice and an olive--and you have just become Italian.  Accompanying it were little dishes of chips and olives and snackie bits.

Spritz the book takes you through the origins of the drink, the regional tweeks and various recipes and accompanies each with a mouth watering photo and easy to follow recipes.  The spritz contains a bitter of some sort, and an effervescent wine or soda water, and a spirit or wine--and a garnish of citrus or olives.  Page 61 has a drink that looks particularly wonderful and refreshing--the White Spritz--4 ounces of dry white wine, 2 ounces of soda water and 1/2 ounce of lemon syrup (recipe provided).

This is a treat of a book--and certainly would make a wonderful hostess gift.

Thanks to Blogging for Books who provided me with a copy of Spritz to review and enjoy.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Who Was Herbie?

Dear One and I have a new addition to the family.  Meet Herbie.
Herbie is the name of our new  rhinestone and jewel encrusted 1920s vintage accordion made by the Chicago firm P. Del Pricipe and Company.

Herbie is one  incredible piece of bohemian jewelry,  that is for sure.  He is a full sized accordion, absolutely covered in interesting marbled bakelite keys and buttons and faux gems like you would not believe.  We bought this treasure for a song (Lady of Spain perhaps? HA!)  Think of the Czech version of an accordion if played by Liberace.  Actually--I think Liberace DID play the accordion--but I digress...

Anyone who knows Dear One and me knows that this little treasure MIGHT eventually make its way into the shop--but most likely WILL NOT.  He fits right in in our living room--and glitters better than a night light!

No More Concrete or Cast Iron Please

Dear One  and I spend many good hours wandering around looking for quirky things to sell.  There is nothing that makes a dealer smile more t...