Wednesday, June 30, 2010

‘Tis the Season for Ice Cream

This is the season of the year to truly enjoy ice cream – especially flavors made from the summer’s fresh fruits: strawberry, black raspberry and peach! To me, there is nothing more refreshing than a crunchy “cake” cone topped with my personal favorite, black raspberry. I enjoy making homemade ice cream in my Cuisenart ice cream maker and serving it with my special antique ice cream forks. I also enjoy both black raspberry and maple walnut purchased at the Stewart’s Dairy Stores in upstate New York.

What is your favorite flavor? Do you prefer it in a dish; as an ice cream sandwich; with cake; a la mode on a piece of pie; or in a waffle, cake or sugar cone? And where is your favorite place to purchase ice cream?

Here is my favorite ice cream recipe:

3 egg yolks (beaten)
1/2 pint (250ml) milk
1/2 pint (250ml) double/heavy cream
4 oz (100g) sugar
2 cups of strawberries, black raspberries or fresh peach slices
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Take the strawberries, raspberries or peaches and mash them in with half the sugar (ie. 2oz or 50g) in a bowl. Place in the refrigerator while making the rest of the recipe.

In a separate saucepan, mix the egg yolks with the milk, salt and the remaining sugar. Place over a medium heat just to boiling point (stirring all the time). DO NOT LET IT BOIL.

Transfer the mixture into a chilled bowl to cool. When cool place in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours, remembering to stir the mixture from time to time. When cool, stir into the mixture the cream and vanilla essence and then blend in the fruit/sugar mixture.

Transfer the complete mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

And, do read Linda Stadley’s very interesting “History of Ice Cream Cones” at

Cassandra, 58 years ago, enjoying an ice cream cone with Daddy

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Those Quaint, Old-Fashioned Hollyhocks

All the names I know from nurse:
Gardener's garters, Shepherd's purse,
Bachelor's buttons, Lady's smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

As a child I loved making hollyhock dolls from those quintessentially quaint summer flowers growing in my Indiana backyard. All that was needed was a wooden toothpick, one hollyhock blossom, one bud with some color just peeking out, and some tiny fern-like leaves if you wanted your Lady Hollyhock to have arms.

After creating our hollyhock ladies, my sister and I would fashion villages in our sandbox in which they could live - at least for the rest of the afternoon…until they wilted in the summer sun…

Below is my collection of decorative publishers’ editions featuring hollyhocks…each of which bring back memories of those hollyhock summer days of childhood.

Monday, June 28, 2010

More "Bright Ideas for Entertaining"

As promised, another in a series of ideas for entertaining from my 1905 antique book: Bright Ideas for Entertaining by Mrs. Herbert B. Linscott, a.k.a, Hilda Bates Linscott...

Red, White and Blue Luncheon

"The entire color scheme of this Fourth of July luncheon must be worked out in the national colors; as far as possible the doilies used should be designed in star-shaped patterns, with a border in wash silks of interwoven red carnations and blue corn-flowers. Suspended directly over the centre of the table, a huge liberty bell should be hung, composed of red, white and blue carnations and blue corn-flowers. Descending therefrom should be ropes of red, white and blue ribbon, terminiating at the four corners of the table. The luncheon to be served should be as far as possible in the prevailing colors, the ices might be in firecracker form, and the starry banner should appear wherever it can be introduced. Draperies and pictures indicative of the occasion should be placed in conspicuous places, and do not forget a goodly supply of pyrotechnics to conclude the day. Such a luncheon will certainly commend itself to all, and most particularly to the younger element."

The author goes on to suggest a number of verses to be written on cards and passed around among the guests after they have left the table. Below are some examples which certainly must have contributed to a laughter-filled, fun occasion!

"We'd like to hear you tell today,
Some funny things that children say."

"Your talent gives us much delight,
We wish that you would please recite."

"Your part in this program to help us along
Will give us much pleasure; please sing us a song."

"Tell some joke on yourself, your wife, or your friend.
But we hope that you'll have it pleasantly end."

"Without a bit of gossip sweet,
This program would not be complete.
Be sure that whole the seasons roll,
This crown will never tell a soul."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Where, Oh Where is Cassandra?

A place near and dear to my heart: our 180 year old farmhouse in upstate New York...

Established in 1830, our farm is situated on 80 mountain-view acres in a historic (Iroquois Indian, Revolutionary War, and near the old Erie Canal) and geologically-interesting (near Howe and Secret Caverns) area between Albany and Cooperstown.

The farmhouse, located under an old “spreading chestnut tree,” is reputed to have been a stop on the “Underground Railroad”. It was purchased 53 years ago from the family of the original owner/builder by my husband’s aunt and uncle. Until recently, the house had undergone very little modernization - the aunt and uncle installed the first running water, indoor toilet and bath in the 1980s and we recently installed the home's first furnace, hot water heater, and dishwasher.

Features of the farmhouse which are especially notable are the wide board chestnut floors, the exposed hand-hewn beams (hewn with a broadaxe and exposed in the living room), the original steep wooden staircase, the original wrought iron nails and Blake’s patent cast iron thumb latches on several of the upstairs doors, and the original crane in the fireplace graced by a simple Greek Revival style mantle. I enjoy digging up old china, glass shards, and clam shells in the earth surrounding the house and identifying the 19th century china patterns of the farm’s founding family (on which I have researched a genealogy).

An early 20th century photo of hay harvesting on our farm

Blake’s patent cast iron thumb latch

View of stone fence from dining room...

The second story of the house retains its original plank constructed doors. Two bedchambers are located on the northern side of the staircase and central hallway and two on the southern side. The former small closet on the south side of the central hallway was recently converted to a half bath with sink and toilet. (Note the original hand-wrought nails and the pencil-written initials on the back of the half bath door – possibly those of the carpenter who constructed it.)

From the hill on which the farm is located, one can see mountain views of the high peaks of the Adirondacks to the far north, the Green Mountains of Vermont to the far northeast, the Helderberg Mountains to the east and the Berkshires of Massachusetts to the far east, and the Catskills (seen below) to the south.

Our property boasts several “Northern Spy” apple trees;

wild strawberries;

 daisies and black-eyed susans;

buttercups, clover and Queen Anne’s lace;

wild aster and goldenrod.

Our acreage includes three corn /hay fields farmed by a dairy farmer down the road, who sells his milk to Vermont’s Cabot Cheese Company.

We also have many birds - crows, red-winged blackbirds, robins, red-tailed hawks, mourning doves, wood thrushes, uireos, and owls; mammals - white-tail deer, cottontail rabbits, chipmunks, red and eastern grey squirrel, woodchucks, red fox (and we have been told of an occasional coyote); and amphibians - newts, toads, and yellow-spotted (see the beauty recently spotted below) and red eft salamanders.

We love the old stone fence full of fossils...

...and the amazing sunset views, which change with the seasons.

Two old pumps still stand in the front and side yards.

The old barns blew down several years ago - thankfully, we have old photos (this one taken by a local newspaper after a mid-May snowfall!)

We still have much of the old barn wood – and a much-in-need -of -restoration one horse open sleigh still resides in the storage barn.

A historic cave (under which is reputed to be an underground lake) is located in a forest in our “back 40” acres; and we have been told that the residents in the county seat village down the hill receive all their water from under our hill.

Our back deck at dusk...

A Mosaic of Interior Furnishings
To magnify the mosaic above, click on it ~ then click on it once again!

1. Crocks, 2. Flax Wheel, 3. Dome and Candle, 4. Dining Room Lamp, 5. The Shepherd, 6. Kitchen, 7. Kitchen Table, 8. Stenciled Chair, 9. Living Room Corner, 10. Living Room Desk, 11. Washstand, 12. Fireplace, 13. Lilac Table, 14. Clock, 15. Bedroom Corner, 16. Tole Tray and Dough Bowl, 17. Crane, 18. Toleware Candle Sconce, 19. Fall Dome, 20. Bookcase, 21. Bedroom 4 dressertop, 22. ., 23. Upstairs Landing, 24. Powder Room 1, 25. Bedroom 3 three

Photos taken in Fall of 2010 at the farm and in the "neighborhood".  
 (With thanks and appreciation to John and Linda!)

Beatrix & Friends...

Frolicking Lambs

Cassandra Follows...