Borrowed Red Bikini » blog

Masthead header

Confession: Nothing will make me buy a vintage cookbook faster than seeing handwritten notes inside. It’s my ultimate jackpot (other when I married a devastatingly handsome man with wit and handyman skills). I love the little details of most things in general (like patterned lining on the inside of a blazer or colored stitching just for the sake of colored stitching), but handwritten notes or recipe cards hidden inside of books are, in my opinion, heaven-sent. So when I picked up the Betty Crocker Cook Book of All-Purpose Baking (1942) and a handwritten recipe card fell out, I had to have it.

First of all, this book was completely beaten-up, with yellowed masking tape holding the cover on. To me, this said a few things: 1. This book has been used a lot (a great sign to someone interested in time-tested favorite recipes), 2. Whoever used this book cared enough to save the cover (another good sign that the owner valued keeping it all together), and 3. This book was important to someone that came before me. Call me sentimental but I think there is great value in honoring and respecting the woman that unknowingly passed these recipes onto me.

I remember I was once at an estate sale in Sisters, Oregon, and the woman who had passed away was a cookbook collector. I instantly felt a connection with her and wanted to know more about her. I asked the sellers at the estate sale and they were a company brought in to sell off her property. They knew nothing about her and, frankly, didn’t seem to care.

I went back to the room of cook books she had and poured over them, searching for her most used recipes (usually the ones with the most stains) and prayed for her, thanking her for passing these items on to me so that I could honor her in that small way. After all, if she loved to cook like I knew she did, this would have likely been her way of showing love and I could now pass along that gift to someone else. I’m reminded of her every time I open her cook books.

In my new old Betty Crocker Cook Book, the handwritten recipe that fell out was different than any I had found before. There were two recipes on front and a short note on the back. It was not addressed to anyone; however, the author’s name and location was on each recipe card. It read: Glenys Gilbert, Wilton, ME 04294. I had the name of the woman who had passed down a recipe! Giddy with excitement, I did what any cookbook-obsessed, Internet-savvy gal would do and googled her. I knew her name and location so it wasn’t hard. Sadly, her obituary came up.

Glenys died peacefully on her 82nd birthday (February 15th, just a couple of days from today). She loved cooking, knitting, traveling, and she was active in her church. I was able to ascertain the name of her children and searched for a contact number for her daughter, Joann. As I was baking Glenys’ blueberry cake recipe, I found a phone number and called Joann. I explained who I was and why I was contacting her. I wanted to learn about Glenys and also I wanted to return her mom’s handwritten note and recipes, if she was interested in them. She was surprised, happy, and grateful.

Over the next twenty minutes, Joann shared stories about her mom. How she worked for a shoe company and later as a cook for executives visiting Maine for business. How she loved to cook and shared her gift with others, as she was constantly being asked for her recipes. Joann described Glenys saying, “Cooking was part of her ministry.” She also said that just this morning she had been thinking about her mom. The funny thing is, I was too.

Recipes are so much more than words on paper. Especially today. Below is Glenys Gilbert’s “Melt in Your Mouth Blueberry Cake” recipe. I made it today and could not feel more blessed to pass it along to you. I know Glenys would have done the same.

“Melt in Your Mouth” Blueberry Cake

2 Eggs Separated
1 Cup Sugar
½ Cup Shortening
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 ½ Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/3 Cup Milk
1 ½ Cups Floured Blueberries

Separate Eggs. Beat Whites with ½ Cup Sugar. Cream Shortening with other ½ Cup of Sugar. Add yolks. Add dry ingredients and milk. Mix well. Fold in Whites. Then fold in Blueberries. Sprinkle top with Sugar and Cinnamon.
Bake at 350 Degrees for 40 minutes in 9×9 Greased and Floured pan.

I can vouch, this cake is completely amazing. It is most in the style of a coffee cake, I would say. I used my Kitchenaid mixer to beat the Whites and Sugar while I mixed up the other ingredients and then folded the Whites in from there. It’s not blueberry season but I was able to find good berries at my local market. Also, the 40 minute bake time worked perfectly.

This will definitely be a ‘go to’ recipe. The cake is not overly sweet but just sweet enough and it really does melt in your mouth, as it is light and fluffy. Joann advised that it’s even better the day after as it seems to get more moist (I know, I hate that word too but it’s the perfect word to describe good cake, am I right?). So, do your best and try to leave some for the next day.

I would ask that as you make this cake, you remember Glenys and Joann, cook with a grateful heart, and always wear a colorful apron. I can’t be sure but I swear it makes food taste better. Enjoy!

 

Source for Vintage Photo: Anne Taintor via Pinterest

 

*** UPDATE FOR THOSE WITH ALLERGIES*** My girlfriend and her son suffer from food allergies so she made the following substitutions:  For a gluten free, soy free and dairy free version, replace baking flour with gluten free baking flour at the required amount, replace the shortening with organic palm shortening (regular shortening uses soybean oil), and replace milk with organic coconut cream (full fat). She also replaced refined sugar with coconut palm sugar. It’s lower on the glycemic index and doesn’t alter your sugar levels. She advises that the cake will have to bake it a little longer so be sure to check it often. Thanks, Leigh-Ann, for your expertise!

  • Teri - Very cute blog and the cake sounds wonderful! I hope to try it come blueberry season.ReplyCancel

    • Stacy Pittman - Thanks! I know what you mean- My mom grows the best blueberries so I’ll be hitting her up for some to make it again this summer!ReplyCancel

  • Teri - If she is anything like you I am sure she would share it all with you, you lucky girl!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Marshall - I just adore you! Can’t wait to make this!ReplyCancel

How to Have Less Drudgery and More Joy

In 2012, I opened a speech to a state-wide conference with my most embarrassing moment (or what probably should have been if I was the type to get embarrassed). I inadvertently asked the audience to picture me naked. So you can imagine how low the bar has been set for the opening post of this blog. I’ll try not to deter too many people this early. So let’s all keep our clothes on.

I’ve been collecting vintage cookbooks and ‘Housewife’ books since my early 20’s, although I have always been a fan of all things vintage. Perhaps it was the sheer volume of antiques my mom had hanging in our dining room (yes, hanging, as in hanging on the wall) or growing up dependent on episodes of ‘I Love Lucy’ for advice about love, life, and how to react when you’re around a celebrity (cut to 2006 when I was in an elevator with Bob Saget and was so awkward, all I could do was yell his name as he exited and the door was closing… Thanks, Lucy).

In one of my favorite books, “101 Things for the Housewife To Do” by Lille B. and Arthur C. Horth (1939, 1949, and Reprinted in 2007), it states, “If you can learn to lift your ribs right out of your waist, and to let them expand outwards and inwards when breathing, you will soon develop that “upward buoyant poise” which is the secret of grace and which would bring less drudgery and more joy to the daily dusting, bedmaking, picture straightening, and all the dozens of things which go towards making your home beautiful.”

First, I know what you’re thinking, “Picture straightening is the third item on your to do list? I always do that first.” Obviously the world was different in 1949. Kidding aside, what seems like an outdated recommendation actually has a lot of merit in our world today. As women, we should stand up straight, pull our shoulders back, and conquer the world ahead of us. The world can consist of your job or your school, but it can (and should) also be as simple as the immediate world around you right now.

As I sit in my kitchen writing this entry, I have laundry to do, a floor to dust, and dinner to make for this evening. I have a court hearing to prepare for and a t-shirt design that I’m working on for a local charity. I can tackle these chores with my head hanging down and a bitter attitude for having a ‘To Do’ list (even though I am, admittedly, obsessed with list-making). Or I can change my attitude by simply setting my intention to have grace in all that I do.

I picture Jackie O doing housework. Would she have been ragged-looking and grumbling? No. She didn’t approach the world that way and I have a hard time believing that she approached anything that way, especially household tasks. Channel your inner Jackie O. Straighten pictures like she would have done.

A good friend once told me that sometimes you have to physically make your body do something so that your mind will follow (and it works the other way as well). So be “upwardly buoyant” like you should have been in 1949. Buoyant is currently defined as “able or apt to stay afloat” and “cheerful and optimistic” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/buoyant). This should be a motto of yours, as a woman.

You can and should stay afloat and rise to the top in any situation, remaining mindfully joyous and graceful. Be proud that you’re a woman and allow that fact to be a strength that seeps out of your pores in all that you do. Physically, take a deep breath and feel your ribs expand as you fill your lungs with cheerful optimism. Pull your shoulders back (yes, right now as you read this) and smile. Now go conquer your world (big or small) because you are what makes your home, and the world, beautiful.

And if all else fails, just picture me naked. Should be a good laugh, at least…

 

Source: In The Kennedy Style by Letitia Baldrige. During JFK’s Senate years, Jackie was photographed by Orlando Suero as she prepared for a formal dinner party.

  • Camille - Exactly what I needed today! Can’t wait to read more. I wish more women saw womanhood as a privilege not a punishment. Thanks for the encouraging words.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly Zweiger - I love this Stacy! You inspire me and amaze me. Looking forward to seeing more of your blogs.ReplyCancel

  • Sherry Perks - You are incredible, hilarious, and elegant. You just came to life in my domestic jungle, a much appreciated gift your words are. Thank you!!!ReplyCancel

Welcome to Borrowed Red Bikini! This blog is designed for women who love all things vintage and who value their Grandmother’s favorite recipes (and maybe her advice about how to obtain the perfect eyelash curl). I have been collecting vintage cookbooks and ‘Housewife’ books for years and find some of the best tips I’ve ever been given in those little gems. I also appreciate that there was once a time when it wasn’t a bad thing to enjoy womanhood by harnessing our natural gifts and abilities. My goal is to empower women by embracing their femininity and realizing that great power often struts in lipstick and high-heeled shoes.

 

  • Sondra Lavoie - Well done. I look forward to seeing more of your blog.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - Thank you for doing this. I’m thrilled with the idea and think it’s fantastic. I can’t wait to dive into all you have learned!ReplyCancel