The Briefly Extensive History of a Creative Couch

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Sometime between the 1960’s and the early 1970’s, a couch was born in Forsyth, Georgia. In a pretty shade of green – a hue laying somewhere between celery and olive – this tufted beauty began her early life as a sales piece in Cawthorn Store for Homes, one of Forsyth’s local midcentury furniture stores.

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She sat on the showroom floor with a bevy of other age- appropriate furniture that was meant to awe and inspire the home decorator just like the goal of this vintage 1970s Levitz ad…

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But her destiny was not to be bought, enjoyed and then eventually discarded. There was no rubble heap in store for our green girl. This couch had vagabond stories to tell deep within her bones which is why at some point in her maturing life, our fair couch left the confines of her small city and headed out on the open road, eventually migrating five counties north to Athens, GA where she took up residence in a vintage clothing shop giving rest to weary tryer-on-ers. The clothing shop was above a grocery, The Daily Co-Op…

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in a historic building owned and renovated by R.E.M.’s lead singer Michael Stipe. There she stayed for quite some time until this past June, when the vintage clothing shop was packing up to move locations. In a wonderful moment of serendipity, Ms. Jeannie happened upon this couch for free just days before moving to Nashville.

While loading all 7′ feet of her into the moving truck, a piece of paper fell out from underneath the tufted section…

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It was a 1930’s paper postcard from Nurnberg, Germany.  While the card was never mailed there was a detailed message hand-written in fountain pen ink on the back. It read…

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“As you look at this card the house to the left on the corner was bilt in the 18th century. And on the rite is the first wall that was bilt around the city. At the time, it had not many houses. Later they bilt more on the outside of the wall and then they bilt another wall around it. All of this is broken down now.”

The house that our postcard writer is referring to…

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is that of 15th century German artist Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)

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Albrecht’s self portrait completed in 1500 at the age of 28.

who was an influential German renaissance painter and a prolific artist of landscapes, portraits and religious iconography throughout his career. These are some of Ms. Jeannie’s favorite Durer paintings…

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The postcard was not signed so there is no telling who it belonged to or how it wound up in the couch but it does add a fun little piece of story that strings together a collection of creative spirits across quite an extensive number of years. From the initial mid-19th century furniture maker to the 1990’s famous musician to the contemporary vintage shop keeper to the 16th century German renaissance painter to the 1930’s postcard writer to the present day antique lover that is Ms. Jeannie, this one couch has managed to connect six artistic people across four centuries.  Not often are such associations all wrapped up in one piece of furniture!

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As with all vintage items, the beauty of this couch lies deep in the fact that she’s lived a mysterious life, well-worn and adventurous. Her interior stuffing is made from hog hair, and her wood frame shows a few knicks and scratches. Spots of threadbare fabric on one seat cushion match some shabby fray on both of the arm rests, but these imperfections add more dignity than distraction.  Eventually when the fabric can hold up to time no more, she’ll be reupholstered in smooth black leather, but until that day occurs she’ll reside as-is in the land of Ms. Jeannie.  Adorned with some handmade boho pillows (a new sewing project!) and a pup who thinks she is heaven, this vintage couch seems happy to build up a new layer of history here in Music City. Time has only yet to tell what other kindred-creatives will leave their impressions upon her!

Cheers to making new friends for your furniture!

 

Hello From The Other Side!

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Honk! Honk! Ms. Jeannie has arrived! The move from rural country to big city has been made at last! From her new vantage point in her new city she sends you the very biggest of the cheeriest hellos. Can you guess from the following photos what city and state she now calls home?

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To give you some hints… there are guitars everywhere, a river that runs the length of downtown, and a marvelous marquis heralding the history of the early newspaper industry.

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The architecture is a mix between very old and very brand new.

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The overall aesthetic could best be described as reclaimed rustic meets greek revival meets industrial modern. And centuries of creative arts can be seen, felt and heard around every street corner…

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It’s a city of riverboats and romance…

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statues and songs…

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flowers and fountains…

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It’s world-famous, most famous and always will be notoriously famous for its music scene. On the food front it is most known for a curious array of culinary creations including… hot chicken, peddle bars, whiskey slushies, and the first combination candy bar in the country.  If you drove from Chicago it would take you about 7 hours, from New York 13, and from Los Angeles a whole entire day plus five more hours. If you biked your way in the peddle bar it would take forever.

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It’s a bike and a bar! Peddle you and your pals around town on the hop on/hop off peddle bar!

There’s a beautiful waterfront lined with brick warehouses and lots of shops, restaurants, galleries and museums to explore.

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On the national history front, it’s officially been a city since 1779 and is home to one of the oldest working capitol buildings in the country. It was also home to three U.S. Presidents and one Vice President.

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The Capitol Building!

Last put not least, even though this is an urban environment there is still plenty of the wild and wooly to enjoy. Groundhogs run around the riverbank, rabbits live at the baseball stadium, and the open year-round farmers market provides all the farm freshness a city girl could ever crave!

 

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So there we have your clues: hot chicken, music, groundhogs, riverway, history, green space, peddlers and whiskey. Could you guess it dear readers? Could you guess where exactly this beauty of a metropolis is?

If you said Nashville, Tennessee you are correct!

In the month that Ms. Jeannie has been here she knows this city for its friendly faces, creative energy and gorgeously diverse architecture. She looks forward to exploring and sharing all the little nooks and crannies that make up this marvel of a place. There are many adventures to be had, so please stay tuned!

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In the meantime, Ms. Jeannie is hoisting her glass to stars newly aligned in what feels like a most important and influential chapter about to unfold. Cheers, cheers and cheers to new beginnings! And thanks to Adele for loan of the blog title:)

 

 

 

The In-Between Places of Life and Book

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In the land of Ms. Jeannie the creatures are stirring. All week the boxes have been building higher and higher – propping up all the anticipation and all the possibilities of new horizons. A brand-new adventure is about to take place!

At the end of the week Ms. Jeannie will say goodbye to life in the 1930’s schoolhouse and hello to a new space in a new state.  Where is she headed exactly? Stay tuned to see where the gang winds up…

In the meantime, Ms. Jeannie owes a big BIG thank you to blog reader Elizabeth E. who reminded Ms. Jeannie two whole years ago that there was an absolutely fantastic gem of a book waiting to be read in the MJO bookshelves.

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Coming across Outlander while packing bookshelves was just about the most perfect escapist read to dive into while tackling all the every day realities of relocation. Like Ms. Jeannie juggling the in-between time of life in Georgia and life in her new town,  Claire, the heroine of Outlander, (a vintage 1990’s fiction novel) finds herself caught up in two worlds  – that of 1940’s England and then mysteriously of 1700’s Scotland.

It is a fantastic fish-out-of-water story, full of history, romance and adventure as Claire struggles to survive two centuries of time travel. It’s also just about the most fantastic book to fall into after endless hours of packing boxes:) Outlander is the first book out of four in the series, so if you want to spend the the next few months wrapped up in the mystical and turbulent Scottish highlands then you are in for a most eventful summer of reading.

To make things even more exciting,  Outlander was recently made into an award-winning television show as well. Now into its second season with two more seasons in pre-production, Outlander, the show, is beautifully filmed and equally entertaining. If you haven’t seen it, here’s the original trailer from season 1:

 

In the next coming weeks, once Ms. Jeannie is settled, she’ll be sharing more summer reading suggestions from her best of the first half of 2016 list, featuring books, movies and documentaries. So stay tuned on that front as well!

More to come….move to commence…memories to cultivate…

It’s summer 2016 in the land of Ms. Jeannie!

 

In the Vintage Kitchen: Sage Smothered Chicken with Polenta

An Herb and Spice Cookbook

This week in the vintage kitchen we are celebrating the wonders of the summer herb garden with a vintage recipe that has absolutely antique roots.

If you are a regular reader of the blog, you’ll recognize the name and face of the recipe writer…

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…celebrated New York Times food critic and cook Craig Claiborne. Back in February Ms. Jeannie shared his recipe for Eggplant Pizza from his 1963 Herb and Spice Cook Book – a complete gem of a compendium organized by herb and spice for quick reference.  In that post, oregano was the featured herb and Ms. Jeannie gave all the credit to Craig for his imaginative and most delicious creation.

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Eggplant Pizza! Find the recipe here.

But while Craig was the chef in the kitchen, the writer of the words and the name attached to the dust jacket, there was another face behind the flavor of the book – a muse of intellectual imagination that inspired Craig and enhanced his cook book.

Hilda Layel (1880-1957)

Hilda Leyel (1880-1957)

Her name was Hilda Leyel and she was the woman behind the crusade to bring back the herb.

For centuries herb gardening has been considered a feminine endeavor and a maternal skill –  a salve for the sick, a staple for the diet and a component in clean living. But with the introduction of doctors and hospitals and modern medicine, and the dawn of the industrial revolution, herbs and herb gardening fell out of fashion by the early part of the 20th century. Then Hilda came along.

A life long lover of gardens, a student of medicine, and an appreciator of fine food, good wine and natural living Hilda published several books on the importance of herbs, opened Culpepers, the first herbal-only shop in England (which offered herbal remedies, food, makeup and holistic products) and founded the still-going strong  Herb Society all within a decade between the 1920’s and 1930’s.  The efforts of this one woman single-handedly revitalized the popularity of herbs in gardening, cooking and personal product choices for not only the citizens of England but also of the world at large.

Three of Hilda's cookbooks.

Three of Hilda’s cookbooks.

It was Hilda’s passion, promotion and sheer love that inspired Craig with his Herb and Spice cookbook. Her detailed research and botanical understanding of each of the 54 herbs and spices featured in his cookbook tell of the history, symbolism and importance of each plant. Which makes the two of them a great team. She tells why herbs are important and he shows how they taste great.

It is wonderful to see that Hilda’s efforts had numerous and lasting effects decades after her death in 1957.  To honor Hilda’s magnificent determination, it is only fitting to feature a recipe from the sage section of the Herb and Spice Cook Book which comes from the botanical name salvio, meaning to “save” since Hilda in her own way saved the herbs from obscurity. Cheers to Hilda!

This week we are making Sage Smothered Chicken with Polenta, which is on the heavier side of summer cooking but features so many garden ingredients that its hard to resist. If you want to make a lighter (aka cooler) dinner during this hot season, just omit the polenta and serve the chicken alongside a fresh garden salad. It’s delicious either way!

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Sage Chicken with Polenta

(serves 4-6)

1 4lb. chicken cut into serving pieces

Salt and freshly ground Pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (canned if your garden tomatoes aren’t ready yet!)

1 six-ounce can tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

A small bunch of fresh sage leaves (for garnish)

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup yellow or white corn meal

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with one teaspoon salt and one quarter teaspoon black pepper. Heat the oil and brown the chicken, onion and garlic lightly. Add the tomatoes, paste, sage and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon pepper or more to taste).

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Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 50 minutes or so. While chicken is cooking prepare the polenta by bringing two and a half cups water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl mix the cornmeal with one and a half cups water until combined. Add cornmeal mixture to the boiling water and stir until pot comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.

Place the polenta on a large platter. Arrange the chicken on top and spoon the sauce over it. Garnish the platter with fresh sage leaves for presentation. Serve hot.

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You will most likely have extra sauce left over with this recipe, which you can freeze for later use as a homemade tomato sauce for pasta or pizza. Delicious and helpful! A big cheers to Hilda for inspiring Craig who then inspired Ms. Jeannie.

Find the Herb and Spice cookbook for sale in Ms. Jeannie’s book shop here. 

Happy cooking dear readers!

 

9 Ways to While Away Your Holiday Weekend!

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It’s here! It’s here! The summer holiday season has officially started. Happy Memorial Day dear readers! If you are looking for some fun activity suggestions look no further, Ms. Jeannie has just the thing. Whether you want to get out or stay-in, celebrate or sleep, here is a list of nine different ways to while away your weekend…

  1. Go Stargazing!

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The How and Why Wonder Book of Stars. 1960 edition. Find it here in the bookshop.

Give that neck of yours a break from always looking down, down, down at computer and phone screens! Nothing is more relaxing or more magical than taking some time to simply look up at the stars. Right now, in Ms. Jeannie’s section of the globe, the constellation Hercules is taking center stage in the night sky, which is appropriate for the holiday weekend because Hercules led an exhausting life performing all sorts of daunting tasks in service to King Eurystheus before succumbing to a fiery death. He needed a restful break, just like you and he finally got it in his after-life as star of the spring/summer sky. His kneeling pose proves that he is truly relaxed (finally!) in the night sky.

Hercules is the upside man in gold. Photo courtesy of RetroPrintMaker.

Hercules is the upside man in gold at the top of the picture. This antique constellation print can be found at RetroPrintMaker via Etsy!

You are never to old to enjoy astronomy from a child’s point of view, and that is exactly what the How & Why Wonder Book of the Stars brings to you directly from 1960. Whether you read it to yourself or to a little one, you’ll come away with a new found sense of the solar system that is both whimsical and wise. Find the book here. And visit EarthSky to find out what stars will be appearing in your specific section of sky tonight.

2. Feed Your Friends and Family!

Cooking for a Crowd - vintage style!

Cooking for a Crowd – vintage style!

Whether you are grilling out, picnic-ing, pot-lucking or just plain partying this weekend bring something new to the festivities with a vintage recipe! Find all the inspiration you need in Ms. Jeannie’s instagram feed and in the vintage kitchen section of the blog, where she features recipes from all the vintage cookbooks available in her bookshop.

3. Plant Some Flowers!

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Liven up your indoor spaces with some outdoor plants and flowers! These versatile vintage planters transition so well between all the seasons. Great for herb gardens, micro plants and artistic succulent-scapes these ceramic vessels bring pretty personality to any shelf, table top or sill. Find the the above assortment here.

4. Go Birdwatching!

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Fall in love with your favorite birds day after day after day with these vintage 1950s bird botanical prints. Find a large assortment here.

This past week Ms. Jeannie’s neighborhood was taken over by an unexpected kite festival. Not the colorful cloth kite flyers that you find at the beach but the bird species, the Mississippi Kite.

The falcon-like Mississippi Kite in all it's silvery beauty. Photo via pinterest.

The falcon-like Mississippi Kite in all it’s silvery beauty. Photo via pinterest.

Dozens of these intriguing characters swooped and dipped and dived for days around the house giving Ms. Jeannie the opportunity to take a break and look at the wonderful world happening around her. Closely resembling falcons, kites have silver under-bellies that shimmer in the sky like diamonds. And just like star-gazing there is something both calming and curious about looking and listening to the bird world around us.

5. Get Back to You!

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Bright and cheery vintage tea treasures can be found in the bookshop here.

Sometimes we all just need to calm the heck down. Tea helps in this department immensely! A pretty personalized tea service and some embroidered vintage linens make the presentation of your soothing experience all the more zen-like. Dive into a novel set in China, written by Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck, and you have set the mood for a mini-vacation in the making.

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A vintage 1969 edition of The Three Daughters of Madame Liang can be found in the bookshop!

6. Go to the Zoo!

Speaking of unusual nature sightings, if you want a little bit of whimsy take yourself to the zoo! In the land of Ms. Jeannie curiosity comes in all forms, and travel happens both literally and metaphorically, so if you find that you don’t have access or ability to a real-life zoo – no problem! Take your imagination on a pictorial adventure with Robert Lopshire and his polka-dotted pal. Find them here.

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This 1960 edition of Put Me In the Zoo is so cute and colorful! Find it here.

7. Go on a Date!

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Sometimes all the dinner date inspiration you need is wrapped up in one vintage clothing piece. Make new memories with old classics like this 1960s beaded cashmere sweater or this snappy vintage silk bowtie.

One of the few seriously great and often overlooked activities in the warmer months is eating outdoors. In the South practically no one eats outside because of the humidity except for Ms. Jeannie! Whether its a bustling city cafe, a rural garden restaurant or even just the back patio of your favorite local hangout, nothing says easy summer like a breezy Memorial Day dinner that you have no hand in preparing (or cleaning up!). So pull out your best dress and your date’s summer suit and make this Memorial Day the most romantic one on record!

8. Have a Cocktail!

Vintage 1950's flash card spells out the sentiment of the holiday weekend! Find it here

Vintage 1940’s flash card spells out the sentiment of the holiday weekend! Find it here.

Or maybe two or three! It’s the sign of a spirited environment when your fellow weekenders say “I’ll have another please!” One of Craig Claiborne’s favorite May-inspired cocktails was Luchow’s May Wine Bowl, which featured two stars of the late spring/early summer growing season: woodruff and strawberries. If woodruff (the herb) is unavailable in your area you can substitute it for vanilla.

Luchow’s May Wine Bowl

1/2 cup dried woodruff (or two teaspoons of vanilla)

1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar

1/2 cup cognac

2 bottles Rhine or Moselle  wine

1 bottle champagne or club soda

1/2 cup whole fresh strawberries

  1. Tie the woodruff up in a small piece of cheesecloth. Place in a bowl and add sugar, cognac and one-half bottle of wine. Cover closely and let stand overnight.
  2. Strain the woodruff-wine mixture into a punch bowl containing ice cubes or a large chunk of ice. And the remaining still wine, champagne and strawberries. Serve in stemmed glasses. Yields eight to 10 cups.

This recipe was featured in Craig’s Herb and Spice Cook Book which you can find here.

9. Take a Trip!

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Find a bevy of assorted travel books and other vintage reads in the bookshop here.

This may be the ultimate luxury on a three day weekend! But if you can’t afford a trip away this holiday, do not fret! Traveling is a mindset as much as it is an experience. Relish in the adventure of reading with this selection of travel inspired books that will transport you to other places and other times.

Hitchhike your way around 1970’s Europe in the Hitchhiker’s Road Book; kiss the shore goodbye as you head out on ocean waters in Let’s Explore the Seas; fly through 1930s Africa in Following the Sun Shadow; explore 1960s New York City with composer Ned Rorem; learn how to parlez vous in French like a local with Collins French Phrase Book; and take in the sights around London with adorable Zachary Zween.

As you can see, holiday adventures await in an assorted number of ways. However you chose to spend this festive weekend, Ms. Jeannie hopes that it is magical!  Happy Memorial Day dear readers. Now… let the summer begin!

*** From Friday through Tuesday, take 20% off your purchase in Ms. Jeannie’s shop using the coupon code: MEMORIAL2016 ***

 

 

 

 

 

Indonesian Inspiration: It’s Summer in the Vintage Kitchen!

Roedjack Manis

This week in the vintage kitchen we are traveling culinary style to the exotic locale of Indonesia with a flavorful summer salad recipe that capitalizes on the best of fresh garden vegetables. The recipe, Roedjak Manis, hails from the vintage 1967 cookbook A World of Nuts by Morton Gill Clark...

A World of Nuts Cookbook by Morton Gill Clark

and features one of the South’s most prolific crops – the peanut. Poor peanuts have gotten a bad rap in recent years due to all the nut allergy problems, but if you don’t suffer from any such malady than this recipe might just become your most favorite salad of the season.

As colorful as Indonesia’s  floating marketplace in Lok Baintan Kalimantan…

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this coleslaw like salad is bursting with a bright bouquet of garden goodness that not only makes it delicious in the flavor department but also pretty on the plate.

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And unlike some international recipes, if your garden isn’t yielding this type of produce just yet, no worries, you can find all these ingredients easily at the farmers market or the grocery.

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s look at the place where our salad hails from…

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Home to over 6,000 islands, Indonesia is an epicenter of culture and cuisine combining Chinese, Indian, European and Middle Eastern nationalities. This unique blend of heritage paired with it’s lush tropical environment provide the platform for some of the most flavorful cuisine in the world. 

Morton Gill Clark, traveled around the world gathering inspiration for his nut cookbook, picking up recipes that not only were not only indigenous of the places he visited but also easily adaptable for American cooks and kitchens. As a mid-century food journalist for Gourmet Magazine and Vogue, he had a refined palette for good, clean food that was easy to prepare and interesting to play around with. His recipe for Roedjak Manis is a shining example of both. Loaded with vitamins, nutrients and healthy fats, it offers a variety of serving options – a side salad, an appetizer, a snack, a unique hors d’ouevre – it is literally a feast for your imagination and for your belly.

If your summer scrapbook doesn’t include a trip to the idyllic islands of Indonesia, don’t fret, your senses will transport you on a trip of a lifetime with this culinary kitchen adventure. Are you ready dear readers? Let’s go!

Roedjak Manis (serves 4-6)

2 sweet red peppers or 8 mini bell peppers in assorted colors, seeded

1 cup peanuts

1 tblsp. brown sugar

1 tsp anchovy paste

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 1/4 cups finely shredded green cabbage

1 cup finely shredded lettuce (spring salad mix, romaine, etc)

1 cup thinly sliced bamboo shoots

1/4 cup slivered scallions

1/3 cup whole toasted peanuts

1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

A quick note on ingredients: Ms. Jeannie purchased a bag of dry roasted, salted peanuts in the shell, which she then de-shelled for this recipe. If you don’t have this extra few minutes you can use a jar of already shelled peanuts. Bamboo shoots come in cans packed with water and can be found in the Asian section of the grocery.   

Roughly chop the peppers. Combine peppers and peanuts in a blender and pulse until they form a creamy paste similar to hummus. Depending on the water content of your peppers you might need to add a few squeezes of lemon juice to get the appropriate consistency. After a few minutes in the blender, peanuts and peppers should look like this…

Roedjack Manis

Next, add the sugar, anchovy paste and lemon juice to the pepper mixture and blend until combined. Set aside.

Thinly slice the cabbage, lettuce and bamboo shoots and toss together in a large mixing bowl.

Roedjack Manis

Then add the pepper mixture, whole peanuts and scallions with the lettuce and toss. It’s easiest to use your hands for this process since the pepper mixture is thick.

Roedjack Manis

Once all the ingredients are combined, set salad aside while you chop the egg and slice the cucumber. You can serve these last two ingredients either on top of the salad or on the side depending on your preference. Ms. Jeannie served her egg/cucumber on the side and put the salad in a big bowl, family-style so her dinner mates could serve themselves.

Roedjack Manis

Because this salad is packed with peanut protein, you could make this a meat-free meal or it would also be delicious with simple sautéed or poached chicken breasts, carrot chips or steamed rice. Like the summer season itself, it is easy breezy in the adaptability department and transports well as a picnic component.

Find more nut-based recipes in Morton’s cookbook here.  And find more around-the-world inspiration in the vintage kitchen with these previous cooking related posts.

Cheers and happy cooking!

 

A Trip to the Cabbage Patch: Returning to 1980’s Nostalgia

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Beware. Blood. Hairpin. Signal Loss. Trail. Inclement. Cabin. Fog.

Laid out like plot points in a murder mystery novel, these are just a handful of words that greet you on signs every few hundred feet as you climb the mountain roads of rural Georgia.

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Depending on the time of day and the season, the atmosphere is fitting for a spooky story. If it is raining or if there is any threat of rain, the mountain is covered in grey light and misty fog. The trees are dense, the hills are very steep and the trajectory is very, very curvy.

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Wild, serene and untouched by commercialism, indicators of human existence are completely void except for a hiker’s rest stop area near the top. Leading through the Chatthoochee National Forest and along the Appalachian Trail this particular hilly incline is called Blood Mountain. Murder mystery material indeed!

Just up and slightly over the top crest of the mountain a large white weather-beaten sign declares Babyland General Hospital is a quick right down a rugged road. On her way to somewhere else, Ms. Jeannie  passed the sign by, but in doing so, something familiar from a long time ago tickled her memory. Curiosity got the better of her and she turned the car around heading in the arrow’s direction. Paved but narrow, unkempt and heavily wooded on each side, Ms. Jeannie passed a couple of commercial office parks and a manufacturing plant before the landscape opened up into a panoramic vista that looked this…

Babyland General Hospital

And that’s when Ms. Jeannie realized why Babyland was so familiar. Her six year old self knew exactly what this place was… the famous garden of the Cabbage Patch.

A marketing phenomenon in the 1980s Cabbage Patch Kids were created by Georgia native Xavier Roberts. Beginning as a local handicraft, his cloth folk art dolls quickly evolved into an assembly line of characters that were sold by the millions all over the world. Xavier became a toy manufacturing genius, a multi-millionaire and a household name all within a ten year timespan.

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Xavier Roberts

As a dynamic storyteller and a natural promoter, Xavier created a whole entire world revolving around the Kids – their origin story beginning with birth in the cabbage patch, the assorted pals that friended them along the way including Bunny Bees, Farm Cuties, dogs and mountain bears and all the adoption paperwork that made Cabbage Patch Kids such a novelty in the early 1980’s toy world.

Ms. Jeannie got one herself for Christmas when she was six. Her kid came all the way from France because it was so difficult to find any available ones in the US. To celebrate her heritage, Ms. Jeannie gave her a French name  – Marie Rose – the epitome of six year old sophistication! With her green eyes, light brown hair and small chip (a shipping adventure!) on her cheek, Ms. Jeannie loved her. But as fun and engaging as Marie Rose’s story was to Ms. Jeannie as a little girl there is something unsettling about the whole Cabbage Patch world now.

Headquarters for Babyland General started out in a small historic medical facility in downtown Cleveland, Georgia, in the late 1970’s but ten years ago they moved to a brand new $2 million facility outside of town that sits on 500 plus acres. Like a bright light beacon, the hospital is beautiful on the outside with wide porches, rocking chairs…

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and flower pots that are spilling over with bright and bold arrangements…

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Because Xavier took his theme and totally ran with it from the very beginning, his Cabbage Patch detailng creeps into every aspect of the story experience beginning on the front lawn with the giant four foott wide plaster cabbage patch kid sculptures found randomly placed around the property.

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From far away in the driveway and parking areas they look like flowers. But up close they are faces!

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Inside, past a wall of framed celebrity photographs all autographed to Xavier and/or the Cabbage kids, the hospital opens up into essentially a very large gift shop. Ms. Jeannie, thinking it would somehow be like a Disney experience, was ready to suspend disbelief and soak up the scene as a nurse greeted visitors.  As soon as she announced that she was an L.P.N. (a licensed patch nurse) and that everything was for sale all in the same sentence, Ms. Jeannie began to lose a little hope in this presentation.

babyland general hospital

Cabbage Patch Kids were everywhere and arranged in settings and scenes that ran the gamut from newborn nurseries to schoolrooms to playhouses. Literally thousands of faces greeted her throughout the walk around the room.

babyland general hospital

babyland general hospital

Crying baby noises and gurgles played on a speaker system, a Christmas corner announced all the holiday fun one could have with their Kid and racks of clothing for both dolls and their human parents were available at every turn. It was a megaplex of merchandising.

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While there is something inherently cute about these faces, to Ms. Jeannie they also looked a little bit sad.  Part of what made Cabbage Patch Kids appealing as a little girl – was their unique factor. You could pick a doll that matched your gender and your hair, eye and skin color. You could name it whatever you wanted and you had to sign an oath that you promised to take care of it under any and all situations. It was a highly personable shopping experience back then in the age before the internet. But now seeing so many of them lumped together in a mass produced, forced style of merchandising “fun” made these Kids seem anything but unique and personal. There were just so many.

Ms. Jeannie was getting ready to leave when a message came over the loud speaker announcing a delivery that would soon occur. Visitors were directed to the big tree in the middle area of the room where Mother Cabbage was going to give birth any minute.

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Bright colorful crystals hung from the branches of the big tree and lit up as cabbage baby heads at the base rolled around in excitement.

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Anticipation culminated with the appearance of the head nurse who walked visitors through the birth of a new cabbage in exquisite detail. Ms. Jeannie will spare you the uncomfortable dialogue but the words dilation, stretching, sonogram, massaging oils and deep breathing were discussed in good measure before the nurse leaned in to have a look at Mother Cabbage’s progress. Thank goodness the baby was coming out head first, otherwise, if it was feet first it would be known as a branch birth, so she said. Oh my.

Up to her elbows in cabbage leaves the nurse finally pulled a naked baby out of Mother Cabbage, spanked its bottom, wrapped it in a blanket and then called on visitors to name it before the new baby was whisked off to the nursery where its vitals were checked and an outfit was selected. At that point Ms. Jeannie headed for the exit door.

On the drive out, a final sign from the cabbage gang bid Ms. Jeannie goodbye.

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It took a few days to figure out what that whole experience was exactly. Some further research on Xavier explained that he was not actually the original designer of his dolls. Back in the 70’s he noticed the handmade dolls of Martha Nelson Thomas at a craft fair. She built a family centric persona around each of her handmade dolls, referring to them all as babies, and offered kids the ability to “adopt” them. Xavier picked up on the charm of that notion, bought one of her dolls and began creating his own versions in duplicitous style.

Martha Nelson Thomas

Eventually after ten years of legal battles over rightful ownership of the original cabbage patch kid designs, Martha and Xavier settled out of court in the mid-1980’s. Martha was paid an undisclosed amount to forgive and forget and Xavier went on to grow his empire.

Since their inception over 95 million Cabbage Patch Kids have been sold around the world. They morphed into books and movies, cartoons, television shows and video games and a million different merchandising pieces from key chains to coffee mugs. They’ve been launched into space, opened the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. But perhaps most importantly they have captivated kids and collectors hearts for thirty plus years, securing their place as one of the most iconic toys of the 20th century.

So why did visiting Babyland General leave such a strange taste in Ms. Jeannie’s mouth?  Like the drive up there, with its murder mystery stylings and foreboding signage, this trip to the Cabbage Patch presented an unsettling look at a situation that wasn’t quite what it appeared to be. Blood Mountain is a beautiful spot in Georgia, one of the highest vistas in the state but it is also a dangerous natural landscape. Babyland General is a beautiful light-filled building on a gorgeous piece of property, but it behind all that polish, shine, and kid-friendly disguise there lurks a darker world of commercial motivations.

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If you’ve been to the Cabbage Patch please share your experience in the comments section below. Ms. Jeannie would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Nyquist, New Items and a Derby Duel

Nyquist's photo courtesy of Coady Photography

Nyquist’s photo courtesy of Coady Photography

Ladies and gentlemen, the race has been won. And the contest almost was too! If you missed the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, here’s a two-minute replay of the race…

It was an exciting experience right up unto the finish line this year with Nyquist and Exaggerator storming down the track with just mere inches between them and the win.  Which is exactly what happened in Ms. Jeannie’s Derby contest also. While no one picked Nyquist as a winner, there were two readers who both placed favorites on Exaggerator as the horse to beat. How exciting, because he almost was!

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Official 2016 Derby placers: Nyquist (1st) Exaggerator -pictured above (2nd) and Gun Runner (3rd).

Since there was no official winner, in the land of Ms. Jeannie, prizes selected for this year’s blog contest will carry over to next year, where we can all try again guessing for glory.  In the meantime, a big congrats goes out to blog readers Amanda and Renee for both selecting Exaggerator.  Will they be able to duel it out next year for permanent status in the winner’s circle? Anticipation is already building and we are still 360 days away from the next Derby date! Oh my.

Outside of the racetrack,  a horse of a different sort leads the pack of new items that just galloped their way into the bookshop. Browse a bit here…

This collection of items is all about easy, effortless living and decorating. As we gear up for farmer’s market season, the vintage cookbooks provide new inspiration in the kitchen while the wall and bookshelf art provide instant (ready to hang!) style.

If something catches your eye click on the corresponding link below the picture for more info or reply to this post and Ms. Jeanne will be happy to place it on reserve for you.

A big, big thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Derby contest and for taking the time to pop-in and cast your vote. Cheers to you for keeping life fun and interesting!

 

 

 

Derby Day Fun: Pick A Winner, Win A Prize

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It’s Kentucky Derby time dear readers! As you know from past years, this is always a fun and festive time in the land of Ms. Jeannie. The roses are blooming, the mint is growing and the party planning is underway. Post time for the big race is Saturday (May 7th) at 6:34pm, where 20 horses will compete in the 142nd run for the roses. As of this (blog) post publication time, the field is large this year with 26 entrants in possible contention, which means six names will drop off before Saturday.

It’s a big guess as to who will make the final list and who will win the Derby. Anything is possible in horse racing and nothing can be left up to certainty until hooves pass the finish line, which is one of the elements that make this Saturday so exciting. In honor of such spirited sportsmanship, Ms. Jeannie is hosting a little competition of her own right here on the blog. Post the name of the winner in the comments section between now and 5:45pm on Saturday and you’ll win a very cool vintage prize that will be mailed out to you on Monday.

Here are all 26 entrants compiled in three sets in random order. Pick your favorite, type their name in the comments section below this post and Ms. Jeannie will be in touch if you (lucky you!) have chosen the winner!

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2016 Kentucky Derby Entrants: 1.Lani 2. Outwork 3. Suddenbreakingnews 4. Brody’s Cause 5. Gun Runner 6. Discreetness 7. Nyquist

You can only enter once, so make your selection count!

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8. Dazzling Gem 9. Mo Tom 10. My Man Sam 11. Creator 12. Adventist 13. Shagaf 14. Fellowship 15. Trojan Nation 16. Exaggerator

You can be easy breezy about this whole contest by picking a horse by name or face value or you can read up on each of the entrants on kentuckyderby.com 

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17. Cherry Wine 18. Tom’s Ready 19. Laoban 20. Mor Spirit 21. Destin 22. Oscar Nominated 23.  Mohaymen 24. Majesto 25. Whitmore 26. Danzing Candy

Good luck dear readers and happy guessing! Contest winner will be announced early next week!!!

Catch up on past Derby Day festivities here.  Photo credits of all racers in this post courtesy of: ladyandthetrack.com, coady photography, thisishorseracing.com, dylan buell, el porto roberto, horse racing nation, kentuckyderb.com, clb photography

Oh My Cod: It’s Friday in the Vintage Kitchen!

Cod Cakes!

This week Ms. Jeannie was in the kitchen with two famous figures: Richard Nixon and James Beard. Richard assisted in the artwork (that’s his face on that vintage 1974 newspaper!) and James provided the recipe, which is a spin on an iconic food hailing from coastal Maryland.

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The beautiful view from Baltimore, Maryland!

In 1959 celebrated American chef James Beard published his second cookbook simply titled The James Beard Cookbook.

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The James Beard Cookbook 1959 edition

In 1970 he revised it and in 1980 he had intentions of revising it again. By this point in his career he was five decades into cooking, writing and teaching people about good food and how to prepare it. He had written 18 cookbooks and he had traveled the world in search of good taste. He also had twenty five years under his belt as a teacher in his brownstone cooking school in New York City.

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The Beard House … still enticing cooks world-wide!

But  for all the things he did have by this point in his illustrious career, there was one thing he was sorely missing. Enthusiasm. The energy to refine recipes that felt satisfying in 1959 felt forced by 1980.  As he was embarking on the third revision of his 21 year old cookbook, James was 77 years old and his palette had changed. The way he wanted to prepare food had changed. He was less interested in salt, kitchen gadgets, and formulaic steps. He was more interested in whimsicality, natural selection and on-the-spot innovation. From the 1930’s-1970’s James Beard taught America how to cook. By 1981, with the publication of The New James Beard, he gave America courage to cook for themselves.

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First edition of The New James Beard, 1981.

To play around with a semblance of recipes that could be altered to suit your taste, budget, time constraints and party plans was the essence of his new cookbook and his new approach to confident culinary creativity.

Which brings us to today’s recipe and that famous food hailing from Maryland – crab cakes. Only we are not making crab cakes exactly because James Beard gave us confidence to think outside the box (or the cake if you like a fun pun!). This week Ms. Jeannie is in the kitchen with Richard Nixon and James Beard making Cod Cakes – a simple easy to prepare dinner capitalizing on fresh flavors, inexpensive ingredients and easy preparation.

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This is a three step recipe broken down in order of the three P’s – potatoes, poaching, patty-ing for efficient preparation.  Intended to serve eight, you can easily cut the recipe in half at all steps if you are feeding less people or make the full recipe and freeze the leftover cakes for a future dinner. Let’s begin with the potatoes…

Step One: POTATOES

2 large potatoes (enough to make 2 cups of mashed potatoes)

3 tablespoons butter

water

Peel and cube potatoes. Place in medium size pot with enough water to cover and boil until potatoes are tender when poked with a fork. Remove from heat and drain. Mix potatoes with butter in a medium size bowl with a hand mixer until fully mashed. Set aside.

Step Two: POACH

White Wine Court Bouillon

2 quarts water

2 cups dry white wine

1 onion stuck with two cloves

1 rib celery

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon salt

1 strip lemon peel

2 sprigs parsley

4 pounds cod filets, whole or chunked

Preheat oven to 170 degrees and place an empty covered dish in the oven to warm. Make sure the dish is large enough to hold all the fish you are preparing. Combine all ingredients (minus the fish) in a large saute pan, and bring to a boil before reducing the heat and simmering for 20 minutes. Add the fish and poach gently for 10 minutes for each measured inch of thickness. (So if your filet measures 2 inches at its thickest part, poach for 20 minutes, if it is 1 inch poach for 10, 3 inches for 30 etc.). Once the fish is cooked through, remove your covered casserole dish from the oven, place the fish inside, cover it and leave on top of the stove to keep warm while you prepare the next set of ingredients.

Step Three: Patty

Codfish Cakes

2 cups flaked poached codfish

2 cups mashed potato mixture

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons butter

Chopped parsley for garnish

Combine the codfish, potatoes, egg, egg yolk and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well and form into cakes about 3 inches across and 1 inch thick. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and saute the cakes until crispy brown on both sides. Add more butter if needed. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately on top of a bed of mixed lettuce or wilted spinach.

James Beard's Cod Cakes recipe from The New James Beard, 1981

James Beard’s Cod Cakes recipe from The New James Beard, 1981

In the spirit of creativity that this cookbook encourages, James also recommends mixing other ingredients into your cod cakes. If you like try mixing in fresh ginger, onions, bacon or salt pork. Swap the butter for olive oil if you are so inclined. Bake your cakes in the oven instead of on the stovetop. Go a more traditional route and serve your cod cakes with fresh lemon slices and homemade tarter sauce or on top of a bed of smashed peas or alongside a lemon, dill and onion salad. The sky is the limit with this recipe because that’s half the fun of cooking – inventing new twists as you go along:)

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According to former White House cooking staff, Richard Nixon’s favorite foods were fruit, cottage cheese with ketchup and a weekly splurge of meatloaf (half ground pork/half ground beef). There’s no mention that he was necessarily a huge fish fan, but Ms. Jeannie guesses that these cod cakes would A-Okay in his book, because he rarely refused any type of food. James would have given Richard a thumbs up on the ketchup and cottage cheese combo not because this necessarily sounds appetizing but because Richard himself thought it was, and really that’s all that matters when it comes to cooking. If James Beard taught us anything with The New James Beard cookbook, it was to please your palette first and then please your dinner companions next.

So mix things up, change your tactics, refine your techniques. Explore and experiment and have fun dear readers! The vintage kitchen awaits! If you need a little more inspiration to get you going, perk up your palette with this vintage kitchen items and see what possibilities await…

With love from Richard and James and Ms. Jeannie.