28 Oct 2010

Blessed Are The Conveniences

This is an account of Day 3 of the 50s Housewife Experiment: Husband Obsessed Edition

The last time I 'played' 50s housewife, we decided that the dishwasher wasn't something I'd have likely had in my 1950s home. Yesterday, we figured with Patrick's increased income and with me being such a good wife (feel free to shudder), we deserved an upgrade. I'm now in dishwasher heaven.


Let me say that again: Woo! WOOOOOOO!

Dishwashers were not entirely uncommon in the 1950s. Even in the early 50s, Kenmores were already available in the Sears catalogue (like those pictured above).

An aside: I happen to have a copy of a Sears's 1952 Spring / Summer catalogue, and let me tell you, it is *amazing*. If there is something missing in you life, get thee to eBay and find a vintage catalogue - it will blow your mind (I should note, however, that my mind is easily blown. You should have seen me the day I found out that Oscar the Grouch was originally orange). When flipping through the catalogue, it's interesting to see familiar brands and retro fashions, but mostly it's interesting to see totally bizarro stuff - like a whole section of products dedicated to something called sacroiliac, a toy that probably impaled or skull-crushed a few children and baby chicks - all there for the ordering at Sears.
Anyway, the most modern dishwashers were also available through the catalogue. These miracles of convenience were small, top-loading, and featured a spin cycle, all of which are completely alien to what's in our kitchens now. Therefore, I'm being a big cheat and pretending that my modern dishwasher is just like the one a true 1950s housewife might have had. I know, I know. Total cheatery. Whatever.

But the conveniences of the day didn't end there. Yesterday, I decided to give into all the not-so-subliminal product placement-style advertising within my Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book and buy some Bisquick.

I used it in the morning and made Patrick and I pancakes and sausages for breakfast. I'm not sure I can relay just how pleased he was with this breakfast. He was Pleased McGee. Pleased Mahoney. Pleased O'Irish-Name. Bottom line: He was happy.

The morning was whatev - cleaning, "volunteering at the Junior League", etc. Lunch crept up on me quickly and before I knew it, Patrick was home.

Emotional! Antennae! Activated! Husband Status: Content

We again had leftovers, so I didn't bother with pictures. Lunch was pleasant and there was plenty of lizing going on as he updated me on the meetings he had scheduled in the afternoon. Before he left to go back to the office, I asked Patrick what he wanted for dinner. He expressed an interest in beef - something I actually don't buy all that often.

In a lot of vintage cookbooks, there's an attempt to get the chef to understand more about the meat they eat by presenting a picture of the animal with all the different cuts labelled. My favourite is from the super swanky Esquire Cook Book, which was illustrated by the late, great Bill Charmatz - a clever graphic artist who some in the advertising world may be familiar with. Anyway, this is his take on beef:

Adorable, yes?

Thanks to this quick education by Esquire, I will never ask the butcher for the "ass end" again. Rump it is!

So, off I went to get some rump roast. In all my 50s magazines and books, it's basically a given that you get your meat from a butcher. This may seem like a weird observation, but I've never met a butcher I didn't like. They always seem so knowledgeable and friendly and keen to ensure you get the very best out of your purchase. They have a real sense of pride in what they do, to the point that every time I go to a butcher, I feel like I'm actually in the 1950s, even when I'm not goofing with an experiment.

Yesterday, I went to a butcher in the St. Lawrence Market who gets organic, happy beef (er, formerly happy, I guess) from one of the nearby Mennonite communities. Not to be one of "those" people, but I want to point out that all of the meat, dairy and eggs I'm using this week are ethically-raised (once you learn about factory-farmed animal products, you never really go back). As the universe would have it, when I arrived home from my meat mission, I discovered that Little Brown had sent me a pro-veggie t-shirt in response to my love for Eating Animals, a book that spells out why adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet is beneficial on a million levels.

So this is what guilt feels like! Neat.

Your favourite big, fat hypocrite 50s housewife put the shirt away for another day and went on to prep the meat with garlic and salt. I placed the roast in the fridge for later and got started on another culinary challenge: baking a cake.

To get you in the mood for the diatribe below, I suggest listening to this hit 1950 song, "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake" performed by Eileen Brown:

The cake, like everything I make this week, needed to suit Patrick. Therefore, the following from the 1958 Good Housekeeping's Cake Book were out:

A unicorn being born (in Japan):

Made entirely from the pubic hair of a rainbow:

Why does that lamb near the bottom have antlers? And why is that the least disturbing thing about this picture?:

Anyone want to take a stab at what the children on this cake are carrying? My immediate thought of "big-balled dicks" is probably incorrect:

In the end, I settled on the convenience of Bisquick again and made miniature strawberry shortcakes. I chose to do that as they're relatively easy, not super sweet and I wouldn't be left with a big honkin' cake for two people to eat.

I got dinner on and before I knew it, Patrick was home.

Emotional! Antennae! Activated! Husband Status: Chipper

(Have you noticed he's been happier and happier as this experiment has gone on? Scary.)

I fixed him a 'welcome home' gin and tonic and then pulled the roast out of the oven. For dinner, we had a beef roast with potatoes and onions paired with Brussels sprouts that had been cooked in a nutritional medley of butter, bacon and salt.

You'd think someone who had such food finickiness as Patrick would hate Brussels sprouts - after all, most of the world regards them as dreaded orbs of doom. Wrong! For some reason, he loves them, so I was happy to oblige. In more surprising news, he decided to eat his beef with mustard! And he liked it. Mustard is officially being crossed off the list of foods he's unimpressed with. Oh, glorious day!

After dinner and dessert, Patrick invited two friends over, Barry and Pat (if you read the last experiment, you'll know that we know quite a few Patricks). I was, of course, still dorked out in a dress, curled hair and make-up when they came over. It's fair to say this is a departure from how they're used to seeing me.

I quickly got over feeling silly and fixed the boys some drinks, namely scotch on the rocks. Dedicated to being a keen hostess and making my husband proud to have such a hospitable wife, I was sure to offer a top-up whenever their glasses were getting low. Suffice to say, I excelled and it might be a rough day today for all three gents.

Onto Day 4!


Kylie,  2:22 pm, October 28, 2010  

I am DYING at the pictures and your descriptions of those cakes! Hahahahaha. They should be submitted to Cakewrecks!

Unknown 3:01 pm, October 28, 2010  

Can I come over for breakfast next time you make those pancakes? I see why Patrick was so pleased!

Anonymous,  3:07 pm, October 28, 2010  

That Bake A Cake song is going to be in my head all day. Worth it, though - very funny blog.

Anonymous,  4:14 pm, October 28, 2010  

this is a hoot. i cant wait for the next installment,tuni

Anonymous,  5:07 pm, October 28, 2010  

from the very first sentence ... " ... wasn't something I'd of likely had in my 1950s home."

I'd have likely ...

not that you need to worry your pretty little head about such a thing ;-)

love the reports on the experiment - keep up the great job

dinah34 5:45 pm, October 28, 2010  

that beef with veggies & the strawberry shortcake look awesome!

those other cakes are durn creepy.

Jen 7:05 pm, October 28, 2010  

Thanks Anon #5! Corrected :)

Anonymous,  11:37 pm, November 18, 2010  

formally happy

formerly happy

Jen 1:17 am, November 19, 2010  

Anonymous Editor, where have you been all my life? Thanks!

Anonymous,  7:56 pm, January 11, 2015  

Oh my gosh hahaha the cakes!!x

Anonymous,  9:09 am, September 19, 2016  

The orbs the children are carrying might be Christingles - that would account for the ball shape and candle!

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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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