As the title says, I ventured outdoors yesterday. Yes, I went three full days without sunlight and fresh air as the
prison daily schedule of 50s housewife chores kept me so busy that I couldn't leave. Oh, Vitamin D, how I missed you.
My planned stops included:
- The Bank
- The Drug Store
- The Department Store (looking for ramekins for an upcoming dessert)
- The Library (to pick up Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, a book about veganism that I've been in line to get for some months. So not the sort of thing I want to read while "living" in an era that espoused the virtues of milk, gelatin and organ meat)
- The Video Store (returning something from the pre-50s experiment days)
- The Liquor Store (you can never have too much booze!)
- The Market (for fresh produce, meat)
- The Grocery Store (for canned and packaged "food")
In the 70s, women were told not to leave home without their American Express Card. Up until the 60s, women were not to leave home without their foundation pieces. So, on went a rather structured longline bra, a girdle (just me, or is that word gross?) and nylons, held up with garters. Yes, I am ridiculous.
In the ads of the time, these pieces are described as "hugging" the body and curves. It feels about as much like a hug as I imagine a straightjacket would. No, binding is really a better word. Or suffocating, if you prefer. While I won't deny suddenly having a super-defined waist was pretty cool, it came at the cost of breathing and graceful movement.
So all that, along with a dress, heels, full make-up and hair trotted out into 30 degree weather.
First stop was the bank to pull out some cash. No, not at the ATM: In line, with all the elderly people who were doing the same thing. For some reason, I expected some kind of double-take or a "Ma'am, that's what the machines are for" but I received nothing of the sort. I guess they're used to that and are possibly even appreciative to serve someone who is there with her bank card and ID in hand who knows exactly what she'd like to get. My behaviour was a touch different than the 80-year old man in front of me in line, who fumbled with his cheque book, didn't understand what kind of identification he needed to provide and after a lengthy conversation about how much he disliked service fees, eventually withdrew $24.85 from his account - not without mentioning that he'd probably be back tomorrow to take care of something else. Newly added on the people-I-feel-sorry-for list: bank tellers.
The rest of my errands were relatively uneventful, except for the fact that I was really feeling the curse beneath my dress. Breaking in a girdle while walking around in the hot sun and carrying many objects is not the best of ideas - something I'm sure you all already knew. To put it mildly, I was sweating like a pig and losing circulation throughout my body. My beet red face and Frankenstein-like shuffling was the furthest thing from looking proper or prideful and I have a feeling I made it onto other peoples' people-I-feel-sorry-for-list.
The saddest thing was that I actually had to stop home partway through to drop stuff off as I couldn't carry everything. Oh how I was tempted to not go back out. But, no, I just had a glass of water, refreshed my make-up (which involved cleaning the mascara off my CHIN), took a deep breath and carried on.
That resolve made my return that much more heavenly as I felt I had really earned the right to immediately rip everything off the instant the door shut behind me. Off went the heels, the nylons, the dress - and finally the girdle and bra. As I unfastened each hook, parts of my body exploded out, in a way baking bread would, provided it contained live yeast.
If you're keeping score at home, that makes two times now since the 50s Housewife Experiment began that I've wandered around my home sweaty, defeated and nude in the middle of the afternoon. I wonder how that compares to the real wives of the time?
I then had a shower - and yes I washed my hair and it was GLORIOUS - and changed into what is generously referred to as "Jen's MuuMuu" - a dress of mine that makes the Snuggie look formal.
Patrick had a soccer game after work and hoped to have a beer with his teammates immediately after that, so I was off the hook to get dinner ready right away. That gave me time to do some much needed research. You see, last night's planned protein was liver. I knew that if Patrick was going to freak over anything, it would be that. It was the one time that 50s cover-and-smother cooking techniques would come in handy; to my total dismay, liver was apparently the one meat housewives treated with reverence and respect. Every recipe I found allowed the flavour of the liver to shine through, untainted by Campbell's Cream of Crap. This was not good.
Finally, I found a section in one of my household guides that discussed cooking for children, and in it, it referred to ways to make liver more acceptable to young eaters. There were three suggestions and I used them all: Soak the liver in milk for at least one hour; Flour the liver; and cook some bacon, reserve the bacon, and cook the liver in the bacon fat - tossing the cooked bacon in with onions when nearly done.
Along with the liver I made "Sweet-Potato Volcanoes" (why they put the hyphen in there, I'll never know). The illustration of this dish from Good Housekeeping's 1958 "Book of Vegetables" caught my eye because it looked totally bizarre and because the children seemed so wowed by it. Whatever floats your boat, kids. I also took a picture of it before it went into the oven as I figured correctly that the cooked marshmallows would likely not stay in place and would in fact make the dish look revolting. Each of those mounds in the that "after" picture makes me think of every over-simplified film on evolution where some wretched sea creature claws its way onto the beach so that it could sprout legs.
When Patrick got home, dinner was ready. When he asked what was being served, I said "beef" - WHICH IS NOT A LIE. Then I waited and watched.
"Mmm! This is good!" he said between bites. I nearly fell on my ass.
Maybe it's because I knew it was liver, but to me, it was not good. It was livery liver liverstein, a meat I've probably only suffered through three times in my life (besides pate) for good reason.
"Well, that's great. I was worried," I said.
"Why? I love beef. Mmm ... beef," he said.
"It's a different, um, cut than we usually get," I continued.
"Like what?" he asked.
"It's liver," I fessed up.
"Oh. It's still beef though, right?"
"Yes. Well, it does come from a cow," I said.
I was also pleasantly surprised when he didn't complain about the sweet potato things - as they contained pineapple (another thing he hates). I never mentioned that fact though, and he'll only find out that when / if he reads this.
Dessert was jello (you knew that would be making an appearance sooner than later, right?) - a "quickie" recipe called Grape Cooler that involved grape and lime jello and some fresh grapes which promised to be a "pretty-picture dessert." The jello really did not like those grapes being in there because the mold didn't entirely set, as you can see (that's what I'm presuming. Jello can't go bad, can it?):
How appetizing. It looks like I gutted a jellyfish that had been eating olives.
The rest of the evening was spent watching the remainder of the Habs game with a very happy husband - happy for their win and to have cold beer in the fridge (because I'm wonderful that way).
It's now Friday before the long weekend so I have a bit of planning (and cleaning, of course) to do. Off I go!
Image Source: Food of the Fifties