This simple, wholesome recipe for New England Brown Betty is made with a handful of ingredients and is adapted from my 1936 copy of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book. It’s a good way to make use of stale bread, too, which I happened to have handy. Speaking of handy things, I also made my first-ever batch of 100% hand whipped cream with my new rotary beater! It wasn’t difficult at all!
During this past summer our tub with old fixtures and 1950s plumbing behind the wall was leaking hot water. I placed a cup underneath the faucet and based upon the number of cups filled per hour I found an online water usage calculator which revealed we would be paying about $80 annually for that drip! Wayne was unable to fix it himself because of the outdated valve and location of the washers behind the wall. We were able to find an excellent licensed plumber who specializes in older homes who did some major surgery/upgrades behind the wall and then put in brand new fixtures. That $450 repair still saves us $350 since we plan to be in our home for at least another ten years. Also, if a washer goes Wayne can now change it himself instead of having to call a plumber. That’s the good news.
Our gentleman plumber, along in his years, shared a story with us about his rotary phone that at the time seemed crazy: It was literally stealing money from him! It turns out your smart phone might be doing it, too and it happened to Wayne!
What a weekend! This is a long post loaded with pics and videos.
Early Saturday morning our first stop on the way to Sunday River for the fall foliage chairlift ride was breakfast at Shipyard Brewhaus in Newry. Wayne ordered the S.O.S. and I ordered the corned beef hash omelette which was delicious.
I purchased the vintage 1950s percolator above new in the box at a rummage sale three summers ago for $1 and I’ve made wonderful coffee in it every morning since. It’s a relic from an era when things were made to last. Now planned obsolescence is part of our consumer economy over which we have little control forcing us to spend and trash, spend and trash.
Most recently I had to buy a new computer (and may have to upgrade my Office for an annual subscription fee of $70 [you can’t just buy Office 365], subject to price increases, of course). When I bought my house ten years ago the wall oven died shortly thereafter because a computer component malfunctioned and they stopped manufacturing the replacement. The entire oven was therefore trash. My washing machine stopped functioning properly a few years ago, and that, too, was due to a computer part that was no longer available. The replacement cost for both combined was about $2,000, all due to planned obsolescence.
When it’s possible to not pay into “the cost of living in today’s world” I’m on it! Here are some recent examples:
Up until two years ago I had hired “lawn care” companies to “treat” my yard with fertilizers, herbicides, aeration and reseeding. For about $400 a season the grass had many dead spots and would turn brown in the summer despite watering it. When I’d contact the companies to ask why I was told that the grass had gone dormant for the summer. I went through three different companies over eight years. Besides being expensive, harmful to the environment, beneficial insects and wildlife it was making our yard look worse! I told Wayne last spring we would cease paying and spraying and came up with a plan to save money and the living things:
My desktop computer is an older model that I’m perfectly happy with but it’s running Windows 7 for which Microsoft, in January, will no longer support with security updates. Having antivirus software won’t be enough to protect my machine/hard drive. Because my perfectly good machine isn’t built for updating to a later version, I need a new computer which I ordered online today for $500 (the lower end of the spectrum).
A quick and tender conscience is among the best gifts of grace; let those who have it guard its delicacy with jealous care.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
In the late 1980s I was an undergrad at the University of Maine in Orono and naively believed that because I grew up in Manhattan that I had seen and heard everything. So when I took a break from listening to my Joy Division, Agnostic Front and old school rap cassettes on my boom box in the dorm I turned on the radio–Maine Public Radio. Some farmer with a wicked heavy Maine accent had a show where he talked about Maine things with a very deadpan delivery. I wasn’t sure if he was a kook or a quirky genius. All I knew then is that his voice and program in which his commentary was interspersed with jazz was very relaxing. For me that was valuable because it has taken me many years to unwind and I’m not sure I every will completely. I also appreciated that he was the polar opposite of all I had heard growing up which made him kind of subversive.
Over the years when I tuned in and started really paying attention I discovered that although Robert Karl Skoglund aka The Humble Farmer simply talks about simple living, he is exceptionally funny and delightfully dry which is my favorite kind of humor.
One year shy of being on Maine Public Radio for thirty years he was let go because he made a political comment on one of his shows! So lame! Around that time I had become disenchanted with MPR and my feelings haven’t changed.
Since then I would catch him by luck on public access on TV but relatively recently he started writing columns for the Portland Press Herald like this one about being thrifty. Although I’m in a very different place than I was in the 1980s he still can make me giggle and relaxed when I read his commentary. I promptly let Wayne know that I have a crush on him and that I wanted to find out if we could visit him and the “Almost Perfect Woman” (as he fondly calls his lovely wife Marsha) at their home and B&B in St. George. When Humble quickly replied and said that we were welcome we planned our trip which was this morning. He did not disappoint!
At the express check-out line at Whole Foods this morning I was greeted by the cashier who often checks me out weekly, so to speak. He’s always very jovial, not just to me but everyone, but he said something that startled me!
“You are a great lover.”
What did he just say?! I immediately blushed and said nervously laughing, “What do you mean I’m a great lover!”
After months of denying rumors that she would seek the top of the Republican ticket or the vice presidential nomination, inspirational Mainer Senator Margaret Chase Smith announced her run for President in January, 1964.
“I have few illusions and no money, but I’m staying for the finish,” she noted, “When people keep telling you, you can’t do a thing, you kind of like to try.”
Although she wasn’t elected, Mrs. Smith was the first woman to have her name put in for nomination for the presidency by a major political party. She also created a winning Maine classic: Margaret Chase Smith’s Blueberry Cake. This delightful recipe is from an undated vintage very well-loved pamphlet in my collection, “Maine Blueberry Recipes…” Seventh Edition, Published by The Maine Department of Agriculture.