Wednesday, January 30, 2013

{Vintage Kitchen} Macaroni Curry with Green Peas (1947)

Yes, really. Many of the recipes in my 40s and 50s magazines are variations on fairly traditional fare - pies, stews, meat 'n' veg, that type of thing - even though Indian style curries were popular as far back as the Victorian era. But, particularly from the later 40s, people were starting to get a bit more experimental with foreign foods - only it seems that these foreign foods were largely viewed all in the same bracket, which occasionally results in some rather unexpected combinations. Enter Macaroni Curry. With tinned peas. Yes.

Also all curry must involve sultanas. Why? Still, I thought this somewhat wacky Indian-meets-Italian-meets-the-British-palate recipe would make a fun experiment for my vintage kitchen series, so I figured I'd give it a go.

I used wholemeal penne instead of macaroni, and made it pretty much as directed (only without the sultanas, and I forgot to add the peas, can you believe?!) Anyway, it turned out tasty enough, although I don't think I'll be rushing to make it again. Perhaps without the pasta though - the basic curry recipe is sound enough, but I think it'll go better with rice.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Fan Museum

When I posted of my resolution to get out more in London, I was delighted to receive an email from reader Suzie suggesting a meet-up and visit to the Fan Museum in Greenwich. This bijou little museum has a collection of fans numbering in the thousands, which are displayed in themed exhibitions lasting a few months each. Previous exhibitions have included "Fans in the Age of Plastics" last year, which I'm very sorry to have missed, and "War and Peace", which would also have been fascinating (I was able to snatch a glimpse of the programme from that one, in the gift shop). The current exhibition "The Fan in Europe 1800-1850" certainly didn't disappoint however, and we sighed and swooned over intricately carved fans of translucent horn set with shimmering cut steels, fans of delicately carved ivory and bone, and exquisitely painted paper fans with gilt details.

The Fan Museum also has a delightful Orangery where they serve afternoon tea, which I thought would be a lovely for a vintage social. If you would be interested in such a thing (it would be £10 per person, which includes entry to the museum) please let me know by email or in the comments.

They also do fan-making classes for £20 - how cool is that?!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

{Style Inspiration} 1940s Sweater Girls

Sears & Roebuck, 1942 - my current ambition in life is to make a sweater just like that green one, with the Scottie dog embellishment

Puff-sleeve knitwear in Sears & Roebuck, 1942

Sears & Roebuck, 1943 - love that gathered, stripey yoke on the red sweater

Jumper with diamond pattern yoke

Bucking bronco, plaid and squirrel sweaters in Sears & Roebuck, 1943

Gorgeous Scandinavian style knits in Sears, 1946

Advert for Femina knitting wools, 1948

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cherries in the Snow

Did I mention I love snow? It was coming down steadily all day Sunday, and I couldn't resist going out for a little promenade in the swirling flurries of snowflakes. There's just something so, so fun about crunching through freshly fallen, powdery snow. It was cold though - colder than the previous day - and I can tell you I was glad of my layers of cashmere and wool.

We wandered to one of the two nearby Victorian cemeteries, which was so wonderfully serene covered in a soft, sparkling layer of white. We strolled around a while, enjoying the peaceful stillness of the place and the quiet beauty of carved Victorian memorials under the still-falling snow.

Rabbit fur hat, ebay; Wool cape, charity shop; 1950s wool skirt, etsy; Cashmere cardigan, Hobbs; Leather gloves, Christmas present; Crochet tights, New Look; Shoes, New Look via charity shop; Handbag, purchased in Thailand; Umbrella, New Look.

Sadly the snow has all since melted, but fingers crossed it might snow again before the winter is over - snowy outfit posts are fun!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Shop my hat collection!

Hat storage was starting to become a real problem, so I've selected some of my collection for sale: I've listed several on ebay - the first lot ends tomorrow, so hurry and get your bid in!

1980s wine velvet veiled pillbox

A note on shipping: As hats are easily damaged, I'll have to ship them in boxes. This inevitably raises the postage costs as cardboard boxes can be quite heavy, though of course it also means that more than one hat can ship in the same box for very little extra. All the postage costs listed are rough estimates (I'll refund any excess if it turns out I've overcharged) and include tracking (£1 within UK, £5 international).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

{Vintage Kitchen} Hungarian Goulash

What embodies winter comfort food better than a good old-fashioned stew? This week's Vintage Kitchen recipe comes from a 1950 magazine feature all about stews of the world - Belgian Beef Stew, Italian Veal Stew, Rabbit Stew and an Arabian Stew that, ironically, uses pork as the main ingredient. I decided to try the Goulash mostly in honour of Michael McIntyre's utterly hilarious herbs and spices sketch, which still makes me giggle even after seeing it at least a dozen times.

Hungarian Goulash
from Everywoman magazine, November 1950

To serve 4 people

1-1½ lb stewing beef; 2 large Spanish onions; 2-4 oz lard; 2 heaped teaspoons paprika; 1 clove garlic; ½ pint water or stock; ½ cup sour top-of-the-milk cream or yoghurt; cornflour.

Melt the lard in a saucepan. Chop the onions finely and cook them very gently in the fat until they're soft and transparent. (Keep the lid on the pan). Meanwhile wash the meat, cut it free from fat and gristle and chop it into squares. When the onions are half-cooked remove the pan from the fire and stir in the paprika. (I sometimes use even more paprika than this – some kinds seem milder than others.) Blend in well but do not fry. Add the meat and the stock. If you like you can add some carrots at this stage, and some tomato puree. Cover and cook slowly until quite tender; how long will depend on the meat – probably about 2 ½ hours. When it is ready the meat will be soft and the gravy should be quite thick, but you can thicken it with a little cornflour if necessary. Stir in the sour milk or yoghurt and boil for a few minutes longer, stirring all the time. Accompany, if possible, with beans or peas and serve in a ring of rice or mashed potato. Dust the goulash with paprika and chopped parsley before serving.

Since there's just two of us I used half quantities (except I did use about half a pint of water, and I also used a couple of cloves of garlic to give it a bit of a boost). As usual I switched out the lard for a couple of generous knobs of butter because that's what I had. I threw in a few roughly chopped carrots as suggested, and a good squeeze of tomato puree.

And the result?

So good! The paprika gives it a nice kick (I used quite a lot), and the long, slow cook leaves the beef super tender. It went very well with leftover rice from the night before - and maybe next time we'll have it on mashed potato.

This is so much fun, this vintage cookery lark. In fact I'm enjoying it so much that I'm going to start trying some of the more 'out there' recipes. Next week: Macaroni Curry and Green Peas - a real recipe from 1947.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Yes, snow requires capitals and three exclamation marks: It's that exciting. It also requires an appropriately snow-bunny outfit.

I've previously extolled the virtues of skirts and dresses for cold weather, and I stand by it all 100% - for weeks now I've been rotating various wool pencil skirts, my two vintage quilted skirts and my me-made London Calling circle skirt. A full skirt with insulating layers of petticoat underneath is excellent protection against the chill - add a pair of knee-high socks and I'm cosy-warm for a stroll in the snow.

I love the pink, grey and navy tones in this circle skirt, and I picked them up through the rest of the outfit. For a different way with a beret, I styled the front of my hair and wore the beret over the rest like a snood.

(secret tip: the lucite brooch and a few strategically placed safety pins kept the scarf draped 'casually' in place)

Outfit details: Nylon & angora sweater, ebay (99p!); 50s circle skirt, etsy; Gloves and angora-mix beret, Tesco; Bracelets, Primark; Scarf, Christmas present a few years ago; Belt, purchased in Thailand; Argyle socks, Topshop (circa 2004!); Shoes, New Look via a charity shop; Handbag, can't remember; Earrings, made by me from vintage buttons; Lucite brooch, ebay.

Although we live in London (we've got a proper London postcode and everything!), there's a surprisingly country village feel to this area. We're literally yards from the Grand Union canal, and just on the other side of this lies a large meadow which is a lovely place for a stroll. This is how we cross the canal - I'm sure you can just picture me in my heels, edging across that narrow, snow-covered lock gate, inches from the icy water, clutching my handbag in one hand and camera in the other!

But, on the other side...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

{Style Inspiration} The News in Tartan & Tweed

In honour of the upcoming Burns Night celebration on the 25th, this week's Sunday Style Inspiration is all about tartans, plaids and tweed from the late 50s. In case you're wondering the difference, the term plaid covers all woven checked fabrics, while tartan tends to be applied only to those associated with a particular Scottish clan, group or organisation (though in fact anyone can register a tartan).

Love the colours! 1958

A tweed suit with the right accessories exudes understated elegance, 1957

Tartan and tweed skirts, 1958

I'm in love with the little shoulder capelet on the left-hand jacket! 1957

Variety in plaid and tweed skirts: Slim, circular, gathered or unpressed pleats. 1957


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