Sunday, November 17, 2013

Recipe: Candy Bar Breakfast Müesli

Ever wanted to eat a candy bar for breakfast? Here's the next best thing: healthy morning müesli inspired by Almond Joy or Bounty candy bars. Kickstart your day with a cereal bursting with whole grains and flavor!

(1) Start with a good müesli basis. I like Bob's Red Mill, but you can make one yourself by combining rolled oats, raisins, flax seed, and sunflower seed.

(2) Add almonds (sliced, halved, whole...), coconut flakes, and chocolate chips to taste.

(3) Add milk. You can make this vegan by using a plant milk (soy, almond, flax, hemp, oat, etc.) and vegan chocolate chips.

(4) Enjoy!

Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

No bees in this bonnet

 When the temperature drops I instinctively gravitate towards household appliances that create warmth, like my oven, slow cooker, and—of course—hair dryer.

I do my hair regularly with wet sets to get a nice head of curls in the early evening. My hair is dry by the morning, but a few minutes of blow drying using a soft bonnet dryer makes the curls last even longer.

Except for us retro gals, most women are shying away from hairstyles requiring curlers, so I frequently see bonnet dryers in thrift stores. In Germany I bought two with the aim of comparing an older model from Krups and a newer model from Braun. Both have long cords and portable drying units so you can walk around while drying your 'do.

Krups Solitair 466

Pros: Looks. Detachable drying unit.

Cons: Loud and stinky.

Even I, the vintage fanatic, could not bear to use this Krups Solitair more than a couple times. The dryer's motor almost made me go deaf, and the plastic hood emitted smelly fumes when heated. Too bad, but this handsome unit is going back to the donation pile.

Still, here are some pictures to enjoy, since its packaging is lovely:

The Germans have a lovely name for soft bonnet dryers: "Schwebehaube," which means "floating hood."

Purchased March 2, 1981 at 3:14 pm!

Instruction Booklet (1)
Instruction Booklet (2)

Braun HLH 18 Classic

Pros: Small, silent, and effective. Lighter than the Krups. Relatively odorless.

Cons: Boring look

If you want something reliable to get the job done, this is the dryer for you.

My favorite travel bonnet dryer

This simple and inexpensive black nylon bonnet dryer hood attaches to your handheld hair dryer. The results I've gotten with it have been consistently good. The nylon fabric won't tear as easily as plastic, and it takes up little space, so it's a great travel accessory. You can buy one here for around $9.

Bonus! Krups Appliance Catalog

This appliance catalog came with my Krups hair dryer. Take a look at the "newest" offerings from the early 80s...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pour me some Podpiwek

For a little something different, I would like to post about my newest hobby: homebrewing. Initially my inspiration came from Sandor Elias Katz's eloquent and exhaustive book The Art of Fermentation. (When you see this book, the word "tome" comes to mind...). So far I've brewed various sweet wines, two types of mead, hard cider, and birch beer (nonalcoholic), and I've even started to make my own vinegar!

Some experiments have been successes, and some spectacular failures. Much has been written on brewing typical beers and wines, but here I want to introduce you to a more unusual beverage, podpiwek.

Do you know something about podpiwek? Do you or did you drink it? Know someone who brews it?

Leave a comment below!

What is Podpiwek?

Podpiwek is a weak sour beer from Polish cuisine. It is related to kvass, a barely alcoholic, rye-based sour beer drunk during the hot summer months in the Ukraine and Russia. This Polish variation is sour like its eastern counterpart, but it includes some extra ingredients as well. The ready-made mix I used, made by the company Kujawski, includes grain, beetroot,

My understanding is that the sourness of kvass comes from the sourness of rye bread, which is leavened using sourdough starter, which imparts an acidic taste that is the byproduct of lactobacillus bacteria that help the bread rise along with yeast. My mixture contains citric acid to achieve this same effect.

Not much has been written on podpiwek in English, but if you're looking for more information, try these sites:

Beersmith Home Brewing Forum: Thread on podpiwek
Flatbush Brewing Project Blog: Post entitled "What do you know about podpiwek?"
A Facebook page on Polish Cuisine

Ingredients and Equipment

If you're working with the packaged product like I was, you should have the following items ready:

• Podpiwek mix; mine contains beetroot, barley, chicory, sugar, hop, sodium biphosphorate, and citric acid.
• water
• a large pot for boiling the mixture in the water
• a funnel and cheesecloth/coffee filter
• a carboy or other suitable container for fermenting (if you don't mind plastic, you can use a clean soda bottle)
• a little plastic wrap
• a different container for storing
• a couple of raisins


The directions delightful box are written in Polish, but someone on a brewing forum came up with the following translation:

To make the full amount of 10 L, follow the information on the package. This English translation is courtesy of the BeerSmith Homebrewing Forum participant brewing-in-chandler:

Dissolve 1 packet [= 100 g] of Podpiwek in 10 liters of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes. Sieve the liquid through a piece of cloth (filter paper should be fine). Mix 5 grams of yeast (best fresh) in 1/2 glass of this liquid. Then add this mixture to the rest of the liquid. Add 500-600 grams of sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Fill up the bottles with the screw cap and put away in winter for 5 days (summer for 3 days). The first day should be in a warm place and the rest in a cooler place.

I scaled this down for a 1.5 L batch, which means I used 15 g of the Podpiwek mixture, 75 g (brown) sugar, and 1/2 g yeast.
Here's how to brew your Podpiwek:

(1) Put the water in a pot

(2) Add the Podpiwek mixture

(3) Boil for 10 minutes

(4) Using a funnel and cheesecloth/coffee filter to filter the mixture so only the liquid remains. Compost the rest.

(5) Let cool to around 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 24 to 27 degrees Celsius). Too hot and the yeast you're about to add will die.

(6) Add yeast. I used Red Star bread yeast, but you can also use a dedicated beer yeast if you prefer.
(7) Cover the bottle loosely with plastic wrap so nothing wanders in but so gasses can escape. Alternately you can try putting the lid on your container very loosely.
(8) Let sit for a day in a slightly warmer spot of your home.

Here's what my liquid looked like at this point:

(9 in summer) Let sit for 2 more days in a slightly cooler spot.
(9 in winter) Let sit for 4 more days in a slightly cooler spot

(10) (Optional) Pour into different bottles. At this point the dead and dormant yeast will have collected at the bottom of your fermenting vessel. I preferred a "cleaner" look for my finished product.

(11) Add a few raisins to the bottles, maybe 2-4 per bottle. (I added too many in the picture above.) This gives the remaining yeast a little something to snack on, which creates carbon dioxide for the carbonation process. Katz writes in his book The Art of Fermentation that you can tell kvass (and therefore Podpiwek) is carbonated  by when the raisins start to float, but in my experience the raisins will bloat and rise even in uncarbonated kvass/podpiwek!

(12) Close and let carbonate. BE VERY CAREFUL if you are using glass bottles as they may explode if the pressure inside becomes too great. I prefer glass over plastic because of the potential for leaked chemicals with some plastics, but if this does not concern for you, it is easier to gauge carbonation in a plastic bottle. You can also put a portion in a small plastic bottle to help gauge how much pressure has built up.

(13) Place in your refrigerator after the desired level of carbonation has been reached.

(14) Enjoy cold.

What does it taste like?

Well, it tastes like a young, sour, weak, bready coffee-flavored beer. Some say kvass and podpiwek are acquired tastes. They're right. (Did you enjoy coffee or regular beer the first time you had them?) I could only drink the stuff chilled, which is how it is supposed to be served anyway. The first and second glasses I had were a struggle to get down. The third and fourth ones were better, and I could eventually grow to enjoy a cool glass on a hot summer day. This drink has only 1% to 2% alcohol by volume, so you cannot easily get drunk from it.

So have any of you readers tried homebrewing yet? Tell me about your successes and failures!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Warming back up with an electric tray by Cornwall

Looks like I let my blog "go cold" for a little while!


To say things have been busy for me would be an understatement. I'm glad to be back and posting to the Hausfrau Journal despite the pressures of everyday life. Keeping connected with all you vintage-loving friends helps me through the tough times. (Do you feel the same?)

I'm so excited to share my most recent thrift shop find with you: a vintage Cornwall electric warming tray!

My favorite part about this gadget—other than the fact that it keeps all my homemade meals warm—is its fun, playing card-like aesthetic.

(But don't expect to see a six of clubs when you turn it over...)

There's even a handy "Hot Spot" (indicated by a single red diamond) to warm my beverages and sauces, a feature that I've seen on many warming trays.

And who doesn't love the old-fashioned plugs with their equal-sized prongs. Ah, the good ol' days...

Thanks for bearing with me while I "unplugged" for a while!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Packaging Pleasure: Podpiwek

There's a Polish grocer not too far from me that sells all sorts of delightful specialty products, including sour cherries in jars, poppyseed filling for pastries, and various hard-to-find grains. They also carry Podpiwek, a mixture of dried beets, barley, chicory root, sugar, and hops.

Yes, I bought it because of the package. I'm a sucker for the retro look, and this has definitely got that 1950s-does-16th-century aesthetic. (And if you love that look, check out this nifty vintage paper bag I found in an old hat!)

This is what the contents look like:

Since it has chicory root, I kind of assumed it was a replacement for coffee, so I brewed myself up a cup.

That was a mistake.

This stuff is actually used to make a weak, 3- to 5-day-old beer. Of course if I had noticed that the man on the front is holding a mug of frothing beer, I could have saved myself an unpleasant experience.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Joy of Juice

Summer is a time of bounty, when the plants that spring from the earth share with us their bright and flavorful riches. Summer is also the time when my local grocer offers discounted fruits and vegetables, packaged at the peak of ripeness and needing to be sold immediately.

Yesterday morning I decided to finally do something with those many packages of strawberries and blueberries sitting in my refrigerator. Typically I make jam with such fruit, but lately I've been experimenting with homemade wines, so I decided to make juice from them using a Saftborn steam juicer I bought at a second-hand store last year for 10 Euros (!).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Who's heard of Harold Lloyd?

You've heard of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, and Buster Keaton, right?

How about Harold Lloyd?

Every summer I go on a silent movie binge, usually comedy, and usually Chaplin and Keaton. After working through all their films I moved on to Laurel and Hardy this summer. When that supply was exhausted, I came across a mention of Harold Lloyd, a comedy genius who in terms of output and financial success, superseded even Charlie Chaplin.

By all accounts Lloyd was a surprisingly normal and kindly fellow who happened to be one of the great masters of humor in his day. Today he's best known for Safety Last (1923), especially the famous scene in which he climbs to the top of a building and dangles precariously from the hands of a massive clock far above a bustling city.

(Can you make it through the final scene without squirming in your chair or pausing the film? I couldn't!)

Look closely and you'll note something odd with his right hand. Lloyd lost two fingers and part of the palm during an accident four years earlier when he was handed a real bomb instead of a fake prop during a photo shoot. In subsequent films he wore a stuffed glove to hide this disfigurement. And despite this handicap he amazingly did almost all his own stunts.

Source: IMBd

When you've worked through Safety Last and some of his other films, take a look at the documentary of his life produced as part of the American Masters series from PBS. Unfortunately this has yet to be released on DVD, but depending on where you live, you can watch it on YouTube:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Vivid color video of New York from 1939

Are you as impressed as I am at the quality and vibrancy of this video shot in the streets of New York 74 years ago?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Never been opened

Don't you just love coming across an unopened package of an everyday household item made over half a century ago? Last week I stumbled upon this crisply folded, "brand new" white muslin sheet in its original sealed plastic bag by Erwin White Star.

Judging by the packaging, I would say it comes from the 50s. Apparently the brand no longer exists, but occasionally you'll see some linens from them on eBay or Etsy.

Someday I hope to open a little museum of everyday life from past decades to showcase ordinary objects like these. A gal can dream!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tangee Lipstick Review

When's the last time you treated yourself to a new tube of lipstick? Many economists and social scientists have noticed a trend dating back to the Great Depression that during tough economic times, cosmetic sales tend to increase. The explanations for this noteworthy phenomenon range from insightful to outright fanciful, but generally it is believed women strapped for cash will splurge on a new shade for their lips rather than more expensive items like a new dress.

At almost $15 a tube, I wouldn't say Tangee is the cheapest lipstick around, but given the brand has been around for almost a century, its formula virtually unchanged during that time, I thought a vintage-loving gal like me should pick up a tube, regardless of the state of the economy.

Tangee's fame lies in its unusual color-changing characteristic, hence the motto "The Lipstick That Changes Color to Become Uniquely Your Own". In short, this vibrant orange gloss-like lipstick turns an elegant shade of red with a hint of purple within seconds of applying it to your lips.

How does this happen?