Harriet Beecher Stowe, Social Class and Chipmunks

I adore Harriet Beecher Stowe’s use of squirrels and chipmunks to convey the ills of elitist classism and what it means to be a commoner vs an entitled lofty “genius” with airs. Stowe’s lampooning is cutting and brilliant; she distills complex issues of entitlement and value into a charming children’s tale. I’m sharing it with you here since it’s ageless, timeless and celebrates a special fictional chipmunk named Tip. The following is an excerpt from “The Nutcrackers of Nutcracker Lodge” contained within “Queer Little Folks” published in 1897. I’m totally a Tip and not a Featherhead! You’ll know what I mean after you read this enjoyable excerpt:

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Vintage Maine Recipe: Banana Fritters

I have too many bananas that ripened at once so I decided we’re going to have banana fritters for dinner. This simple, thrifty, gluten-free recipe was inspired by Ms. Ann Knight’s 1930s version in The Fellowship Cook Book by Members and Friends of The Second Congregational Church in Norway, Maine. These fritters are mini pancakes with a creamy texture and taste best when hot from the skillet. They have no refined sugars other than the optional dusting of powdered sugar for presentation simply because they don’t need any!

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The Frugal Housewife By Mrs. Child: “Time Is Money”

Lydia Marie Child was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, Native American rights activist, novelist, journalist, and opponent of American expansionism. She was also a New England housewife famous for her book published in 1829, The Frugal Housewife. The introduction offers a very interesting glimpse into how much has changed in our mindset since that time:

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Vintage Recipe: Frugal Portland, Maine Duchess Potatoes

While the world is abuzz about the Duchess of Sussex “stepping back” from her royal duties (seriously, though, I didn’t see that coming and apparently neither did the Queen!) I’ve stepped back in time and from the fancification of Duchess potatoes with this simple, frugal 1915 recipe found inside a Portland, Maine elementary school book. All that is required to make these tasty little puffs are three ingredients plus salt and pepper for seasoning.

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Good News For Wounded Souls

“God will not look you over for Medals, Degrees or Diplomas, but for Scars!” -Elbert Hubbard, The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard

I’ve learned that time does NOT heal all wounds but God loves them and us! There can be beauty in a graceful brokenness when we use God as a crutch. But wait, isn’t needing a “crutch” a sign of weakness?! YES! Aren’t we weak when we’re left to only our own devices? I choose spiritual prowess over destructive earthly vices I’ve given up. I no longer feel ashamed about my scars, a shame which fueled a lot of my destructive crutches (smoking, drinking, overeating). I’m not ashamed to say I’m in recovery, my last drink being almost twenty-five years ago. I’m cool with not being cool. My deepest scars are invisible, although I do have, shall I say, an “oven kiss” on my hand I acquired while removing a lasagna from the oven last fall.

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Vintage Recipe: New England Fish (Cod) Chowder

Thanks to the Maine Rebekahs, whom I consider to be some of the greatest New England home cooks who have also provided almost 100 years of recipes, you can make a winning, traditional New England fish chowder. I’ve adapted this simple, frugal 1920s recipe to make it meat-free since New England fish chowders almost always contain pork in addition to seafood. Wayne said that he wouldn’t have noticed its absence based upon how flavorful this is. Truly it’s so easy to make yet it will produce a chowder that will make you feel like a seasoned New England cook.

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Bloom, Not Gloss

“A fear of disagreeable facts, and conscious shrinking from clearness of light, which keep us from examining ourselves, increases gradually into a species of instinctive terror at all truth, and love of glosses, veils and decorative lies of every sort.”

John Ruskin, 1887

Vintage Inspired Recipe: Old-Fashioned Maine Needhams Potato Candy

If you’re not from Maine, you might think the above photo is of a homemade Mounds candy bar, and you’d probably be shocked to learn that they contain mashed potatoes in the coconut centers! You’re looking at a delicious traditional Maine candy called “Needhams” which have also historically been called “potato candy” or “potato fudge”. However, if you are from Maine and familiar with Needhams you may be surprised to discover that the modern version has gone far astray from yesterday’s healthier and more wholesome homemade versions dating as far back as 1924.

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Thanksgiving Recipe: Traditional New England Indian Pudding

Within my collection of vintage Maine and New England community cook books dating back to the early 1900s are dozens and dozens of recipes for “Indian Pudding.” It’s a humble, mildly sweet and spicy baked cornmeal dessert served warm and paired with whipped or iced cream. Each recipe is as unique as the contributor. Even within one cook book there are sometimes multiple variations offered: Lottie adds tapioca, no eggs while Cora uses eggs and no tapioca. Mary bakes hers in a “slow oven” (lower temp) for four hours while Alice only bakes her for 1 1/2. After carefully reviewing my vintage sources I am offering you my own kitchen and taste tested (plus Wayne approved!) adaptation that’s made in a cast iron dutch oven. (This is an updated recipe from last year with new photos taken this morning!)

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