8.31.2012

The Thrifted Kitchen :: Banana Oatmeal Cookies


As promised, today's post is a continuation of my "cleaning out the fridge" baking spree. I had three bananas left after making that coconana bread from a couple days ago, so last night, in between packing for our trip to Austin and a million other things, I baked a batch of banana oatmeal cookies, courtesy of one of my favorite vintage recipe pamphlets: New Tempting Ways to Serve Bananas, published by the Fruit Dispatch Company in 1939 (yes, that's right, that banana is serving other bananas and winking at you).

As I skimmed through the ingredients list, I saw my old friend shortening in there and, having learned from previous vintage recipes where a lack of butter makes things a little too light and fluffy (and a bit dry), I decided to use 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening instead, and I think that little substitution really paid off. The cookies were buttery and soft, but without being too heavy.


I also only had 1/4 cup of nut meats, so I added a 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to make up the difference. Afterward, that bag of barely used chocolate chips just sat on the counter looking sad, so I dumped it into my double boiler and, once melted, gave a majority of the cookies a good dunk because, well, why the heck not? Plus, it's Friday; it's time to treat ourselves. Then, come Sunday, we can all just run some extra strides on the treadmill. :)

Lastly, the original recipes yields 3 1/2 dozen teaspoon-size cookies. I, however, turned that 42 into 14 by grabbing my cupcake scooper and plopping six big boys on a cookie sheet at a time. I've always loved bigger cookies, partly because you get your fill from one, but mostly because I just don't have the patience to put six batches of cookies in and out of the oven. Luckily, with this banana recipe, size really doesn't matter. ;-)

And on that note, dear ones, have a wonderful weekend!

Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Courtesy of New Tempting Ways to Serve Bananas (1939)
Yields 3 1/2 dozen small cookies, or 14 giant ones

1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped nut meats

Sift together flour, soda, salt and spices. Beat shortening until creamy. Add sugar gradually and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add bananas, rolled oats and nut meats and mix thoroughly. Add flour mixture and blend. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cooky (yes, they spelled it that way) pans about 1 1/2 inches apart (or six to a sheet if you're making big ones). Bake in a moderately hot oven (400 degrees) about 15 minutes or until cookies are done. Remove baked cookies from pan at once.


8.30.2012

Bites :: Coconana Bread




Today's and tomorrow's posts (and even one for next week) are the products of me cleaning out the contents of my fridge before we head to Austin this weekend. Inevitably, when we near the end of our co-op produce bag, I'm left with fruit that's right on the edge, the result of my not exactly loving fruit. The last two weeks, I've watched the slow decline of two bunches of bananas and some plums, so I started scouring my baking books for a way to make their short-lived lives worthwhile.

Some months ago Amazon was having a crazy sale, and I picked up a copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours for a really great price, but I hadn't yet tried anything from it. So I flipped to the index to see what recipes she had for bananas, and landed on one called Coconana Bread that, to a chocolate-lover like me, looked like heaven. And, let me tell you...it is. But more on that later. :)


When I first read through the ingredients, I was dubious that the banana flavor would even come through given the amount of cocoa powder and then chips of bittersweet chocolate that went into it. But I shall never doubt Dorie again (and had quite the nerve to do it in the first place); when I took my first bite after it came out of the oven, the banana flavor was perfectly balanced with everything else, and the bread (although it's definitely rich enough to be a cake) was just divine. One night we had it with whipped cream, and the next with more ice cream from Serendipity (butter pecan...yum-o).

The only hiccup I had was my loaf pan apparently wasn't quite big enough, and one side of the bread baked over the side a bit (but held on like a champ), so mine baked much longer so that it set in the middle. So do make sure you check your pan size!


Also, a warning to those of you who, like me, don't drink coffee or much caffeine: You might feel a bit jittery as you come down from that cocoa high. Or, that may just be a special reaction for me and the hole I most likely burned in my stomach lining from far too many all-nighters and really strong coffee in college. :)

Since this recipe comes from a current book, I don't feel quite right reprinting the recipe here. But don't worry, I'm not a tease. I did find it on another site, where the writer got permission from Dorie to reprint it, so I'm going to send you over there for the recipe.

*P.S. I've had a couple people ask where the red bread tin comes from, and I got it (and two others in smaller sizes) from West Elm, one of my fav home decor stores! The day they make it to St. Louis, I will be one happy girl!

8.29.2012

Vintage 101 :: Vera Neumann


Ask me my all-time favorite designer when it comes to vintage and, hands down, Vera Neumann and her iconic ladybug will be my answer. The breadth of this woman's creativity, and the overall whimsy and light-heartedness of her designs, just draw me in like a bug to a porch light (but without such a violent end). And while she's most certainly known for being the pioneer in signature scarves, I have to say my favorite finds of her designs are in the fabric napkin form.

Anyway...I've been wanting to do a little research about Vera for a while now, and through various websites, here is what I was able to find out:

Born as Vera Salaff on July 24, 1907, the future textile designer came from what seemed to be a supportive, creative family. According to an article from 1970 in the Oakland Tribune, "Fanny and Meyer Salaff ... encouraged each of their children to find a passion and follow it – in her case drawing and painting. Her father gave her 50 cents for each sketchbook she could fill with her drawings as well as taking her to The Metropolitan Museum of Art every Sunday."

After design school, she became a fashion illustrator, then a textile designers, and, before marrying her husband, George Neumann, also in textiles, she designed fabric and murals for children's rooms. After they were married, Vera and George moved into a small studio in New York and combined their talents, founding a company called Printex. They built a silkscreen printing press to fit their dining room table and began designing and printing place mats, then curing them in the oven. As the business grew, they kept upsizing into bigger and bigger apartments, until the couple finally bought an abandoned mansion near the Hudson River, where Vera set up her studio.


Then came WWII, and with it the supply of linen dwindled. While searching for replacement textiles, Vera found parachute silk at an Army surplus store, and thus her iconic scarf line was born.

After her husband's death in 1962, Vera sold the company, but remained creative director. Eventually, her designs expanded into sportswear and luggage. The company was sold again, and she stayed with it as head designer until it was closed in 1988. After her death in 1993, the licensing was sold to The Tog Shop and was bought by its VP of merchandising when that company was sold, which leaves us with The Vera Company today.

According to its website, you can find Vera designs at several stores in today's market, including Crate and Barrel, MOMA, Anthropologie, Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, Macy's and Bed Bath & Beyond. So do be careful when you're thrifting these days, as you might come across what is a vintage Vera print, but in new form!

Some additional resources you might find interesting...

This Flickr group, as well as this one.

How to date Vera scarves according to the "Vera" mark, at the bottom of this blog post.

The Vera Company website, which owns all the copyrights of Vera's work.

A book, Vera: The Art and Life of an Icon, which I will get in the mail on Thursday!

And her nephew, Fred Salaff, created two documentaries about his iconic aunt.

{Image sources: 1, 2, 3}

8.28.2012

Fav Freebie :: NYPL Digital Library

So I'd heard before that you can get lost in the digital stacks of the New York Public Library online gallery, but, brothers and sisters, I not only got lost, I feared I may never return to the land of non-computerized living. It is absolutely amazing what lies in its archives, and everyone from the history buff (like the hubs, who got lost looking at maps...oh the irony), to the design-lover can find something over which to drool.

The first thing I did was type in "St. Louis," since, like all Gateway-to-the-West dwellers, I'm obsessed with the city. And there were loads of amazing photos from the late 1800s into the early 1900s, most encompassing the St. Louis Exposition (a.k.a. 1904 World's Fair). It was so fun to see actual images of what all the hubbub looked like back then, and I was particularly fond of these shots...








After visions of Judy Garland and Meet Me in St. Louis swam out of my head, I came across a collection that had a ton of zoology images. And me being the animal-lover I am, I mean, how could I not click around there for a while? Here were some of my favorite finds. I think they'd make really neat wall decor if you printed them out and framed them...





And, finally, I spent most of my time swooning over the Ornament and Pattern: Pre-Victorian to Art Deco collection. There is a TON of design and pattern inspiration in here, and I'm definitely going back on my lunch break. :)









Aren't they lovely? *Sigh*

Okay...now you have your homework for lunchtime or when you get home. Trust me, you'll have a ball! :)

8.27.2012

Style Spots

Today was one of those mornings where dragging yourself out of bed just, well, sucks. I got home last night around 10 p.m. from an amazing trip up to Omaha to meet my new niece, Nora. I'm sure you'll be seeing lots of pics of her from here on out, because I am absolutely smitten. :) Both she and her mama are doing great, and her daddy, you can tell, is head over heels for her, and already becoming quite protective of his little girl, which is really cute to see.

We spent a good portion of time at the hospital on Thursday and Friday, and then Saturday turned into a "project day" as we prepared some food to freeze, finished some nursery projects and tidied up the house a bit so that when Nora gets home, mom and dad don't have to worry about too much.

As we ran around doing errands that day, we did sneak in a couple Goodwills. I know I've probably mentioned this before, but Omaha's GWs are all pretty posh, and really big, so I'm always excited to do a little thrifting when when visit Husker Nation. This time around, I picked up three things...

This gorgeous cream winter coat that, even though it's a smidge small, I'm tempted to keep.
But I won't...so if you're interested! :)

I'm starting to collect some cute dessert plates for vintage tea parties with Holly.

And I just couldn't pass up this fun polka dot dress, complete with a big black bow on the back. :)
Will be for sale, if you're interested!

And that's it! A small haul, but I love each piece to bits, so I'm a happy girl. How about you? Thrift any goodies this past weekend?

Linking up with:
Thrifty Treasures
Magpie Monday

8.24.2012

Friday Flair

Jean jacket :: thrifted
Black Target tie-waist tank :: thrifted at Goodwill
Fuchsia skinny pants :: Target
Black Target sandals :: thrifted
Necklaces :: thrifted
Bracelets :: borrowed from my sis-in-law :)

Happy, happy Friday, my dears! I'm posting to you from the cornfields of Omaha today, thus the lush greenery all around me and my skinny pants. :) My parents and I drove up yesterday to meet my brother and his wife's first baby, little Nora, and we're just soaking in all 4 pounds of her sweetness through Sunday.

Yesterday, we ran some errands at Target, and I saw they finally got some of their colorful skinny jeans back in stock. I've been avoiding them for a while, mostly because I'm still not convinced that ladies with curves can pull them off, but then I saw my curvy cousin wearing a pair from The Limited and she looked so cute, so I thought I'd take the plunge and give 'em a go. I mean...who can resist a bright fuchsia, right?


But the real purpose of this week's outfit is the fabulous jean jacket I found in Union, Mo., last weekend. I got this baby for $6, and it's in brand new condition. Now we just need fall to get here and I can proceed to wear it like a toddler carries around its baby blanket. :)

Okay...well we're off to ogle Nora some more. Have a fantabulous flair-y weekend!

8.23.2012

Bites :: Peach Pound Cake


Okay, y'all. Today I want to share with you a slice of heaven...in the form of peach pound cake. We've been getting a ton of peaches in our past three produce co-op bags, and, as I've mentioned before, I'm not really a raw fruit kind of gal. As such, these sweet little orbs have been finding their way into bowls filled with batter, and this particular recipe has been a frequent favorite of mine.

The first time I made it was for our second swap meet earlier this summer, and it seemed to be a hit. The cake itself is dense and moist, with the peaches added extra bursts of sweetness here and there. And the outside gets a slightly crunchy texture, and you really get a taste of the salt that's been put into the batter.


In our house, cake rarely gets eaten without ice cream, so I popped over to Local Harvest, an amazing little grocery store here in Tower Grove, and picked up the last carton of Serendipity ice cream (made in Webster Groves, and pretty much my favorite in town). Luckily, it was strawberry, which paired really well with this cake.

So if you're looking for a delish end-of-summer, use-up-your-peaches dessert, I strongly suggest you give this one a whirl. You won't regret it. :)


Peach Pound Cake
By Dent Norton
Yields one 10-inch tube cake

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups white sugar 
4 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 cups fresh peaches, pitted and chopped 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tube pan and coat with white sugar. 

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. 

Reserve 1/4 cup of flour for later, and sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir into the creamed mixture. 

Use the reserved flour to coat the chopped peaches, then fold the floured peaches into the batter. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. 

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

8.22.2012

Fav Freebie :: Paper Flower Backdrop

Okay...so I have to admit that I've drooled over a certain paper flower backdrop on a certain wedding website ever since it launched. Unfortunately, it's been a luxury way out of my price range...until now.


Recently, I stumbled across a strikingly similar one on ellinee, complete with downloadable PDFs of the flower shapes, and it felt like winning the lottery! A little cutting, a little curling, and some devoted DIY time, and we can all hang this at our next party as a photo backdrop, or even as some striking wall decor.

What would you do with this gift from the crafty gods? :)

I'm an Aunt ... x 2!

So these past 10 days have been very exciting for both my and the hubs's families. On Aug. 12, our first little niece, Phoebe, was born to his sister and her husband, their first child...


And then this Monday, my big brother and his wife became first-time parents to little Nora, who is a tiny little thing that decided she wanted to come a month early. Her due date was my birthday, so my fingers were crossed she'd come then (although I knew the odds were not in my favor...), but, hey, you gotta love a girl who does things on her own time. :)


Both mommas and babies are doing great, and the little ones are both carrying the middle name Elizabeth, which, I have to say, is a pretty great name. Not that I'm biased or anything. :)

This weekend I'm headed to Omaha with my parents to meet Nora, and then next weekend we're flying to Austin to meet Phoebe, so there is lots of love to give over the next couple weeks!

Anyway...just wanted to share the exciting news with you all!

8.21.2012

Style Spots: Small-Town Treasures

Happy Tuesday, all! How was your weekend? I'm still recovering from mine, which was packed with a show in Soulard on Saturday; running out of gas while towing the trailer back (a real treat); a drive to KC to see my girls and celebrate the upcoming arrival of our friend's baby; one very late night catching up on life; delicious brunch on Sunday morning; and a drive back to the Lou with a stop at Mizzou in between.

The real adventure, though, was getting from I-70 into Kearney. My Google Maps betrayed me in a major way, and instead of taking me through the major highways, it had veer off 70 onto all these back roads and small towns...in the rain...and the windshield wipers wouldn't cooperate...and all the locals were annoyed at how slow I was driving. I started to get a wee bit worried once the girls started calling and asking if I'd gotten on such and such highway yet, and I hadn't even seen that highway. But, by the grace of God, I made it there, and the whole experience has now been dubbed "getting in a Beth situation." :)

With all this madness on Saturday and Sunday, Friday became the only day for me to thrift, and that morning I made a trip to Gerald, Mo., to buy a whole set of Sheffield Golden Meadow dishes. Some months ago, I received an email from the secretary of a church there, telling me they had come across my blog post about Golden Meadow, and that they had a whole set of it that was donated for their rummage sale. They said they'd love for it to go to someone who would give it a good home, and if I was interested, I could come out before the sale to check it and out buy whatever pieces I wanted.


I was absolutely elated when I got there: all this Golden Meadow sprawled across the table, including the butter dish, gravy boat, the coffee pot and the cream and sugar dishes. I ended up buying every single piece, and now have a close-to-complete set for our everyday usage, nestled safely in the cupboards. I have loved this pattern since the day I thrifted a platter of it almost 5 years ago, and I know it will be one we keep for good.

Before leaving, I asked the ladies about any other thrift or resale stores I might find on the way home. They directed me toward one just a couple blocks away where I found some vintage baby clothes, a dress, two vintage shirts, a craft book, some glass beads and some vintage wrapping paper. It just so happened that all the clothing you could fit into a bag was $1 that day, so I got everything for a couple bucks. The shirts and dress are already in the trailer, though, so I don't have a photo of them. Sorry. :(





Then, on the way out of town, I passed an outdoor thrift store of sorts that had tables piled with things. I ended up buying a clear set of Anchor Hocking bowls that I'd never seen before. To me they look like prep bowls, but I wonder if they were made for a different purpose? Anyone know?


Once I got to Union, I stopped at a resale shop that was really impressive. It was all clothing and accessories, and there wasn't really any vintage, but they had really good current brands, and it was exceptionally organized (by size, even). They too were having a sale (all clothing was 30% off), and I found a brand new jean jacket that I got for $6 (which I'll model for you this Friday).

So not a huge haul this weekend, but it was fun to find new places to shop. I've been wanting to explore the smaller towns outside St. Louis more often, and this was the perfect opportunity for it!

While I was at the church, I had the opportunity to get a sneak preview of the items for the rummage sale, and there were three large rooms packed with stuff! I think it's going to be a gem, so if you're in the area or feel like making the trip, it starts this Thursday at St. Paul's UCC Church at 5th and Main in Gerald. I'm not sure about the times, but you can call 573-764-2636 for more information!

8.18.2012

Wish I Was...


Growing one of these...

Toting this around...

Cooking with this...

Drinking this...

Eating this...

Wearing this...


And what a wonderful weekend it would be! :)

{Image source}

8.17.2012

Friday Flair

Dress :: H&M
Cardigan :: vintage (thrifted)
Purse :: vintage (thrifted)
Shoes :: Target
Necklace :: thrifted
Earrings :; Fable & Lore
Legs :: Yes, I am that pasty white. :)

Last night the hubs and I went to Mad Tomato in Clayton for a date-night dinner. We've both been so busy lately and couldn't really remember the last time we went out somewhere to spend some time mono y mono. Anyway...thought my date-night outfit would make a good post for today. I did the whole tripod/self-timer thing with my camera, and felt really weird taking photos of myself outside...where others can see...and wonder...but perhaps it will get easier, right?

As you can see...I went for the sad brooding face. But don't let it fool you...I'm definitely having fun on this Friday Flair day! :)


Anyway...I wanted to make sure you saw a closeup of my earrings (in the first photo). They're made by the beautiful and talented Chelsie of Fable & Lore. I've gotten to know her through the indie craft show scene, and she's just a delight to be around. These earrings we made from vintage fabric, but she also has necklaces made of painted wooden beads that I drool over every time I see her booth. She and I will both be at the Soulard Market Park Arts and Crafts Show this coming Saturday, so be sure and stop by to say hi!

Have a happy weekend!


8.16.2012

The Thrifted Kitchen :: Chocolate Birthday Cake a la Creme

Last week, as I was out running errands, I stopped by the local St. Vincent here in South City, something I hadn't done in probably a couple months. You never know what you're going to find there; sometimes nothing, sometimes beautiful furniture and other times a Pepto-pink luggage set (one of the best finds of my "career"). During this trip, it looked like it was going to turn into the first option; I didn't see much in the way of housewares or clothing, so I stopped by the bookshelves on my way out and came across a fairly large section of vintage cookbooks and booklets, which we all know I'm a bit obsessed with.


And today's Thrifted Kitchen comes to you courtesy of one of those finds, which I actually already had, but bought this second copy to gift to a friend. It's probably my favorite cake book I've thrifted to date: Good Housekeeping's Cake-Lovers' Cookbook, printed originally in 1967, but this edition was from 1971. And here's where my magazine background creeps in: Yes, I do love the recipes in here, but the size, the weight of the paper and the cleanness of the fonts and layouts just really draw me in. The pictures, of course, have that over-contrasted feel that most do from this era of food photography, but we can overlook that for now. :)

The recipe I chose to make from the book is called Chocolate Birthday Cake a la Creme. I haven't made a chocolate cake in some time, mostly because the hubs prefers white-on-white cakes, so I decided to selfishly ignore his pleads for an almond cake (which happens every time I say I'm going to bake) and make something that made me salivate for a change.


The recipe is really straightforward, and I didn't really run into an glitches (for once). The batter turns out very light and fluffy, and the cake layers are glued together with a very, very buttery cocoa-butter filling that, once the cake is refrigerated, hardens, and kind of reminds me of an icebox cake you might find in today's freezer section. I've always loved cold cake better than warm...

Anyway, the only change I made was putting chocolate nibs on top instead of shaved chocolate, mostly because that's what I had. I like the almost childlike feels it gives the cake, but let's be honest, I really like it because I'm terrible at shaving chocolate. :)

In keeping with trying out this whole printable thing, I've made a couple recipes cards you can download and print, if you're one who prefers having something tangible filed away. The first one is the recipe for the cake, and the second for the cocoa-butter filling. Both are 4x6 in size, so just print on heavy-weight paper and break out your scissors! And do let me know if you have any trouble with the link (located at the bottom of the post).


Chocolate Birthday Cake a la Creme
Courtesy of Good Housekeeping's Cake-Lovers' Cookbook, 1971
Yields one 2-layer cake

3 squares (3 oz.) unsweetened chocolate
2 1/2 c. sifted cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. soft vegetable shortening
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 eggs, unbeaten
1 T. grated lemon peel
1 c. milk
2 squares (2 oz.) semisweet chocolate
2 c. heavy cream, whipped
Cocoa-butter filling (see recipe below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9-inch layer-cake pans. In double boiler, over warm water, melt unsweetened chocolate; cool slightly. Sift flour with baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, with mixer at hight speed, cream shortening with sugar; then beat in eggs, one at a time, beating until light and fluffy. With mixer at medium speed, beat in lemon peel, then flour mixture alternately with milk in small amounts, beating well after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate until well blended. Turn into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until cake tester, inserted in center, comes out clean. Cool in pans, on wire racks, 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to finish cooling. Meanwhile, make cocoa-butter filling. Also, with vegetable parer, shred warm semisweet chocolate squares into curls and refrigerate. On cake plate, place one chocolate layer; spread with cocoa-butter filling; top with second layer. Then, on top of cake, by heaping tablespoonfuls, mound whipped cream around edge in large circle. Sprinkle with chocolate curls. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cocoa-Butter Filling
1 c. butter
3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, cream butter; gradually beat in sifted confectioners’ sugar, cocoa and vanilla extract until fluffy.







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