Sunday, August 22, 2010

For The Love Of A Clothesline

There's just something about a clothesline.  Every time I see one it brings back memories of simpler times.Ever since I can remember we always had a clothesline growing up. Back then it was pretty much out of necessity.With four children and 2 adults there was always laundry to do. I remember our clotheslines were long and I can still see my mom pounding in those thick hooks to hold the pulleys and expertly stringing the line through the tightener to make a perfect clothesline. At times we had so much laundry I can remember the clothesline being full and my mom would put blankets and sheets on the grass to dry. I can also remember the fun we had as kids diving in and out between the sheets and blankets hanging on the line. I'm sure mom knew we did that but I don't remember her yelling at us for it. I can remember hanging clothes on my grandma's clotheslines on the farm and having to use tree branches to prop up the lines to keep the clothes from dragging on the ground.

I think we've all used the concept of a clothesline at one time or another. Can you remember hanging your bathing suit or towel over a tree branch, rock, fence post or porch railing to dry?
I was talking to my stepmother on the phone the other day and she said where they live in Connecticut they are not allowed to have clotheslines.They say it lowers property values and is a marked sign of poverty. Poverty? I say practical. Personally I think  the benefits of having a clothesline far outway the negatives. Dryers use between 6-10 percent of all household energy.  Clotheslines save both energy and money.Sunlight is a natural bleacher and disinfectant. Clothes last longer and don't shrink as much by line drying them.  For me hanging clothes is a stress reliever and a way to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. The smell of freshly dried laundryfrom a clothesline just can't be beat.
I'm not saying everybody has to love a clothesline but for me I wouldn't be without one. In fact if a clothesline ban ever comes to Franklin I might just need someone to come and bail me out of jail!

1950's Clothesline LATimes

Friday, August 13, 2010

Adventures With Lori

My friend Lori is just about the sweetest person you could meet. She is so nice and I consider her a true friend which in this day and age is hard to find. She has a great family and lives in the cutest house filled with the most adorable things she has found mostly at yard sales and antique stores. Lori and I love going on antiquing/thrifting trips. We have done several of these now and we have such fun doing them. We meet at one or the others house first for tea and a home baked goody and we usually give the host person a small gift and exchange a recipe or two. Then we head off for the antique and /or thrift, consignment or gift shops. In the fall we also go to farm like stores for apples and cider donuts and the like. This past Wednesday was another one of our trips! We met at Lori's this time and had raspberry muffins and tea! We headed off to a neighboring town in Lori's husband's truck. I love when we bring a truck because then we know we can bring home just about anything. We hit all the antique stores that we like there and then went out to lunch(we always do lunch too!) . Lori didn't find much in the way of thrifty antique finds this time around but I did come home with a few neat finds. Here's what I came home with

I bought this so I could do this

I have been looking for an old manure fork for a long time but they all were so expensive. I got the one above for $7.00!

My grandma had a pitcher identical to this only hers had matching juice glasses. It brought back a lot of memories.
I found this solid oak heavy stool for $6.00 so I could do this
A few old vintage books for a dollar a piece to add to my book collection.

This is not vintage pink glass. You can click the picture to see the design up close. The glasses are only 3-4 inches tall and the pitcher only about 7-8 inches tall. I thought it would be nice for a brunch get together with a red drink in it.

Can't wait for our next get together!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Remembering the A & P Grocery Store

In Brewster, N.Y. where I spent a majority of my childhood we had an A& P grocery store. Boy was that a great old store! I remember the store clerks taking our paper bags full of groceries and putting them in bins on this roller type belt and the bags would go outside for easy pickup.  I'm told the A& P is still there but we don't have any around here upstate that I know of anyway. On payday my dad would bring home Spanish Bar Cakes from the A& P and they were delicious.This was one of the highlights of our week back then!  We would carefully unwrap the clear cellophane packaging and lick any  frosting stuck to it . I can still taste that cake to this day. I loved how the white frosting on top had fork marks raked over it.  Somehow I got thinking about that cake and wondered if there was a recipe for it online. There are lots and each one seems just a bit different. I decided to try one for old time sake.
Here is the one I made

Spanish Bar Cake

Recipe compiled from various internet sources

Yields: one 9 x 13 in. cake (Makes 2 bar cakes)
I did add 1/4 cup molasses and 1 tsp. ground cloves to this recipe below as it didn't look quite dark enough to me.
Also, it made  a lot of frosting. you could probably 1/2 the frosting recipe below and have plenty.

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon  unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups applesauce

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups raisins, soaked in warm water until plump and drained

Buttercream Frosting

1 cup white shortening

1 cup butter, softened

8 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (can use clear if you want the frosting to be snow white)

4-6 tablespoons milk for thinning to desired consistency


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13 in. baking pan with cooking spray (or butter and flour). Plump the raisins in warm water (I do this in a measuring cup that I’ll use for wet ingredients later — one less dish to clean).
In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together. Add oil, applesauce, and eggs. Mix well. Add in raisins and stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan, rapping 3-4 times on a counter to release trapped air bubbles. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Let cake cool completely before frosting.
To prepare frosting, mix all ingredients until well combined. Add more milk if needed for consistency. Frost completely cool cake. Use a fork to rake grooves into the frosting to resemble A&P’s cake presentation.
Here is a pic of the one I made. Mine doesn't look near as pretty as A&P's did but boy is it yummy!! It really tastes close to A&P's. I made it in a 9X13 pan cut it into 4 equal pieces and stacked 2 layers together to make 2 cakes. Don't forget to frost the middle too , not just the top! The sides and ends were not frosted on the A&P cakes.  I piled on the frosting a bit thick. I think if you went with less frosting and then refrigerated it for a bit the fork marks would look much better too!! But you get the idea anyway.
I found this website about the history of the A& P store and found it quite interesting