Category Archives: Food

A Swedish Meal and a Swedish Smorgasbord by Mary Martensen

Until today, I’d never heard of Mary Martensen. Apparently she was a dietitian who wrote cookbooks and cooking columns for newspapers. She also was head of the home economics department at the Chicago American whose duties included conducting lessons for large audiences.

The document below must have been given out at one of the lessons. Lesson 10, Week of June 5, 1934. I wonder if one of my ancestors took this lesson or if it was something that Mom found somewhere. I can’t imagine either of my grandmothers traveling to Chicago to take this lesson, although I know my Grandma Patrick went to the Chicago World’s fair in 1933 or 1934 and Mary Martensen wrote a book called “A Century of Progress” cookbook that was published in 1934. It is possible that my Grandma Patrick picked up the typewritten lesson at an exposition at the fair.

I only wish that I had this document when I hosted my bookgroup for “A Man Called Ove.” I would have used some of the recipes.


Recommendations from the Milk Foundation — circa 1960

Thinking has changed regarding what we should eat each day. Note this was recommendations of the the Milk Foundation in the middle of the last century. Internet searches on ‘”milk foundation” Chicago recommendation’ returns over 2000 results, but most reference the new Milk Foundation (Milk as in Harvey Milk) or Milk Makeup. One Mother Jones‘ article recommends that adults drink much less milk than the poster below suggests.

Declutter 2017: Live Off the Land and Like It by Dayton Primrose

Several years ago my mother’s friend, Wendy, learned I was interested in edible wild foods. I may have told her that I owned Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons or else we were just talking about wildflowers. Her mother had a wonderful yard full of lovely wildflowers and maybe it was when I visited it. Regardless of how Wendy learned about my interest, she gave me a small pamphlet that her father wrote about edible wild foods, Live Off the Land and Like It. It has been lying around my house for years and I finally scanned it so I could share it. I hope Wendy doesn’t mind. I’m planning on giving the original pamphlet to my daughter who actually makes things out of wild plants.

I’ve not tried any of the recipes, but maybe you will find something intriguing. Here’s the PDF so you can actually read the recipes: Live off the Land and Like It

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In which this non-baker makes Christmas cookies

Our basement remodel is nearly finished and we are in the process of putting everything back to where it belongs. I’m being a grown-up and donating or throwing away things I don’t use or don’t need. It’s a tough process because maybe, someday, I might use the three burner food warmer or the old electric frying pan.

One of the items I thought about donating was a bread maker that was covered in all kinds of disgusting dust including scented cat litter dust, dryer vent dust and construction work dust. After dusting it off (and vacuuming it really well) I made the first loaf of bread it has manufactured in probably a decade. It was pretty good and didn’t taste at all like Fresh Step® with Febreze Multi-Cat Litter. I’m keeping the bread maker.

Another item I considered tossing was a cookie press kit that I bought when the kids were young because my mother (despite being a hoarder ) gave away the cookie press kit from my childhood. I have fond memories of making cookies with my mom using her cookie press kit like the one below.

vintage cookie press with discs
Vintage cookie press

I mostly remember the cookies made with the Christmas tree disk. We’d dye the dough green before putting the dough in the press chamber. They always were brown around the edges and a not-very-pinetree-green color on top.

Dean looked at the discs in my kit and marveled that they could become cookie shapes. I decided to make cookies to see if I wanted to keep the kit, so set to work softening butter and preheating the oven after finding a recipe online.

Before I continue — I am not a baker. I can bake, but I don’t make a habit of it. I think I like the idea of being a baker, but it always seems a tad too much trouble. Anyway, with the recipe in front of me and the oven preheated, I proceeded to make the dough and figure out the cookie press.

It took me a while to understand where the chamber went, how to open it, how to fill it and how to get the ratcheting thing to work, but I did eventually. I chose a disc that I thought would make a star shaped cookie.

Cookie press loaded to make star shaped cookies
Cookie press loaded to make star shaped cookies

I was right. Star shaped cookies were created from the disc.

Cookie stars with sprinkles
Cookie stars with sprinkles

After that I tried the Christmas tree, then something with a long oval hole and holes all around it which turned out to be a flower. Maybe a poinsettia?

Here are some cookies baking.

cookies baking
Cookies baking

Finally, the finished product. They were tasty. I’m keeping the cookie press. I may make cookies again in 2026.

delicious cookies
Delicious cookies

Camping Meal Memories

Example deal from
Example deal from

I check every day and a lot of time they have deals for dehydrated meals — the kind you might take camping or have in your pantry to prepare for a disaster. My brain always says “yuck” but something else in me says “yum.” A couple of years ago, visiting the family lake house in Wisconsin, I saw a container of dehydrated beef stroganoff and had a strong desire to make it, but it was there for my nephew to make in case of an emergency, not for me to make because I wondered what it tasted like. Besides, I told myself, it probably was disgusting.

Jack and "Cinder"
The cook, not cooking

Why, then, does part of me that want to eat dehydrated food? Not because I am a wilderness camper. Not because I like disgusting things, but because I have a memory of loving the food that Jack Burgoyne made for us in 1976 when I accompanied his family on a “caravan holiday” in Scotland. Normally his wife, Pat, cooked but when on vacation — at least that one– Jack made dinners and they were, as far as I recall, always from a freeze-dried packet. And, to me, they were delicious.

So that’s why I always stop and ponder buying a bucket of freeze dried lasagne or curry or Jamaican jerk rice with chicken from or consider making freeze dried beef stroganoff on trips to the lake house — memories of a long-ago trip to Loch Sween and a week in a mobile home on the grounds of an ancient castle and meals made by a kind and good and funny and wonderful man who left this world too soon.

Frankly…the best pizza I’ve ever tasted!

We try to go out for dinner once a week or so. Sometimes more often, sometimes less often. Last night was our planned night out and Dean suggested a new restaurant he’d read about in the Washington Post. A restaurant in Kensington. We rarely go to Kensington for dinner — in fact the only restaurant in that area we’ve eaten at is one of Black’s eateries: Black Market Bistro.

Dean warned me that the restaurant he’d read about served only pizza. That was fine, I like pizza. We could not find the restaurant right away, so drove around a bit found parking (free!! — Kensington is NOT Bethesda) and followed Dean’s iPhone directions to the restaurant. We’d driven right past it but didn’t see Frankly…Pizza! on the awning until we were a few yards away. We walked past about 8 tables of patrons enjoying the warm spring evening, eating pizza outside, under the awning, and headed indoors to be seated. We would have preferred to eat outdoors, but got a nice table inside the eclectically decorated, but pizza themed, restaurant. At first it seemed very loud, but either we got used to it or the noise quickly died down.

Our waiter was energetic and friendly and suggested we choose a pizza each. Dean wavered between a clam pizza or a sausage pizza, settling on the sausage pizza. I chose the clam. They also served house made sodas, wine and beer on tap. I chose a NZ sauvignon blanc and Dean chose an IPA. Dean ordered an arugula salad, which was delicious, but I was keeping my appetite for my pizza.

My pizza was delicious. I think it is the best pizza I have ever eaten. The crust was perfect — thinish but puffed up at the edges — and wonderfully chewy. The toppings, mozzarella Romano, garlic and olive oil were amazing. Together the crust and toppings were heavenly. Dean’s pizza tasted more like a regular pizza. Good, but not as good as mine.

I can’t wait to go back to Frankly…Pizza. I will definitely take my daughter who thinks the only restaurant that can make a decent white pizza is Pines of Rome. She is so wrong.