18 May 2010

So Many Firsts

Yesterday was my first official day of the 50s Housewife Experiment and last night I slept like a log. It was a busy, busy day that kept me on my feet pretty much the entire time. Quite different from a day parked at the computer.

To get a bit of a head start, I made bread and buns on the weekend. I had never made wholewheat bread before, so I was curious to see how it would turn out. Not really pretty, but, well, there it is:

I was a bit surprised when I pulled it out of the oven though, as it barely rose. You can see what I mean when I place an object in the picture to give it some perspective:

It seems I made mini bread. With its penchant for little people and baked goods, maybe TLC will be inspired by it and make a series called Little Loaves or something (after My Monkey Baby, I'll believe anything).

I went back and looked at the yeast packet I had grabbed to see if there was any instructions I might have missed. It's been a while since I needed to use yeast for anything and it turns out, like any living organism, it has an expiry date. I'll put it this way: When this yeast was at its prime, the New York skyline was looking a little different than it does now.

So, yah.

But it all still tastes good. A little ... dense, but good.

Patrick had a few slices (toasted with butter) with his breakfast yesterday morning which also included a fried egg, three strips of bacon, fresh squeezed orange juice ("You know there's pulp in here," he whined - and then pretended to be joking, but totally wasn't), coffee and a glass of milk. I opted to just have a piece of toast with Saskatoon berry jam, an orange and some decaf coffee with milk.

When he went off to work, it was time for me to hit the list.

The thing about opening up all your blinds in the morning is that it casts a spotlight on all the dust in the home. Bunnies galore. So that "light dusting" I was supposed to do room-to-room basically turned into a full-out clean, which of course put me behind schedule. I skipped lunch in an attempt to catch up; that was a bit of a mistake as I felt like I was running pretty low on fuel by the time dinner was to be served.

When I was setting the table, I realized I couldn't remember the last time we had used it for dining. It's normally our catch-all for mail, keys and random stuff. When Patrick got home I asked him if we had ever eaten together at the table and he couldn't remember either. Last night may, in fact, have been the first time we formally consummated our relationship with it. How sad is it that after nearly four years, our table could have still gotten an annulment from us?

For dinner, I made rolls, a garden salad, shepherd's pie - all from scratch. The shepherd's pie recipe I used from my vintage "Bride's Reference Book" was not at all like the pâté chinois I grew up on. This one involved cubed lamb, onions, carrots and peas. Those ingredients are all cooked together with a daring dash of rosemary (a WHOLE 1/4 teaspoon!), salt and pepper. The cooked fat from the lamb (a yummy meat that I don't think I've ever had outside my parents' home or a Greek restaurant) was separated and then combined with flour and milk to make a thickener (ew). It was then all tossed back together with meat and veg and placed in a baking dish. This was topped with mashed sweet potato that had been dotted with butter before going into the oven.

Like me, Patrick grew up disliking peas. Unlike me, he still thinks they're gross (I didn't know this when I decided on the dish). Needless to say, when I cut into the shepherd's pie and revealed the little evil orbs, I got a glimpse of what my 33-year old husband was like as an 8-year old.

"UGH! Ewwwww! PEAS? Why does it have PEAS?" he screamed.

Besides that outburst - and another about how the dish looked like the Hobgoblin had smashed into his plate at 100 miles an hour - the meal went over very well. It was the first time Patrick thinks he's ever had lamb (really?!) and he quite liked it. The peas "weren't so bad" in the end, which may have been the Manhattan I served to him talking.

Homemade angel food cake with cherries jubilee and ice cream was for dessert. This was my first attempt at a flambe. Something apparently didn't go quite right as my flambe wasn't really flaming - just a short crackle and a bit of smoke. Hmm. Lamebe. In any case, it tasted good!

Turns out Patrick also "hates" cherries. Sigh. Whatever. The slice of angel food I packed for him for lunch is more in tune with his refined palate - it's covered in Nesquik syrup.

Alrighty - enough blessed Internet for me, I have a day of housekeeping to get on.


Pinky oh Pinky 11:47 am, May 18, 2010  

Love this, Jen! Sounds like slightly crazy fun... my fave kind!

Foxy Renard 12:18 pm, May 18, 2010  

First off, I am scandalized that you've not made lamb before, but even more so that PByckie has not tasted it!

Re: eating together at the table, we had never done this (in nearly eight years of marriage, ten together) either 'til the Kenobi got a high chair and we felt compelled to start doing "family dinner" style eating. So foreign!

Also, I love this experiment.

Jen 2:15 pm, May 18, 2010  

LOL... Well at least your house is dust-free!

I'm impressed with your meal-serving skills, and don't worry about the peas; my boyfriend would have had a similar reaction to something he didn't like. And he has. Multiple times. Because I can't keep track of everything he likes and doesn't like! How did a 50's housewife do that???

Dinner looked beautiful, BTW.

Unknown 2:33 pm, May 18, 2010  

I still have to back up and read the original 'challenge', but what a great project.
Re: eating at the table - We eat at the table only when there is company. I thought it was because the kitchen gives me claustrophobia, but maybe I am just 'hip and with the times'.
I envy your ambition. And be glad that you aren't dusting a '50s house - larger and more nick nacks
One of Jen's elderly aunts.

dinah34 8:35 pm, May 18, 2010  

i don't like peas either, but i would have totes sucked it up for you. good luck tomorrow. there is a tomorrow, right?

Jen 3:24 pm, May 19, 2010  

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Foxy: I too am scandalized by the lack of lamb in Pbyckie's life.

Jen: Thank you! I have a feeling she must have served the same old thing over and over again to avoid hitting a food nerve. Boo.

Janice: So true about the table - it's a sign of being modern, I think! :)

Susan J Barker 8:38 am, June 01, 2010  

Your take on this experiment is strange. First off, even in the '50's people had choices when it came to food, just cause the recipe said peas, doesn't mean you HAD to put them in. Also depending on if you were a city or a country wife, the peas would perhaps have been canned for the city wife and fresh or frozen for the country wife. In my family, the man was catered to somewhat, but he did have chores too while at home, but if he didn't like peas, peas would never enter the home, everyone would not eat peas -- my dad did not like celery - I didn't know what celery was until I was about 15 years old! A manly chore was the car and garage, the car was cleaned and washed every week -- on the lawn so that the water fed the lawn and the phosphates in the soap acted as fertilzer.

Jen 2:37 pm, June 01, 2010  

Hi Susan!

I agree - this experiment and blog are rather full of contradictions. It was tough to balance what was authentically 50s with what makes for a good blog read.

Most definitely, a woman living at the time would have catered recipes to her family's tastes and food availabilities (good point about city wife vs. country wife!) ... but I thought if I started tweaking the recipes, I might stray too far from the originals and miss part of the point / fun. It was awfully tempting to cook with healthier fats (like olive oil), add spices for better flavour, use nicer veg, avoid gelatin entirely ... ha. Plus, if I had catered entirely to Patrick's likes and dislikes, it would have been hot dogs and french fries every day. ;)

Thanks for the comment!

domesticbliss,  3:26 pm, March 07, 2012  

Ok, just stumbled by your website today and let me say that I LAUGHED SO HARD reading this post!!! I can hardly wait to read the rest of this experiment. So cool!

Anonymous,  4:12 pm, January 03, 2016  

Loved this! Your descriptions are priceless. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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