Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mind Your Manners and Vintage Cooking

I remember hearing the expression "good manners never go out of style".  People used to say that from time to time, but I'm not sure they do anymore.  Who can blame them?  I'm beginning to think good manners have been thrown in a pile labeled "obsolete" along with dinosaurs, cassette tapes and property values.  This trend seems to be running rampant, too.  It's everywhere. 

The Local Supermarket

I stopped in to pick up a few items last week.   My daughter was with me and she wasn't feeling well, so my attention was focused on her.  I did notice, though, out of the corner of my eye, that the woman who was ringing up my groceries kept pulling a tissue out of her pocket and blowing her nose.  After a quick blow and wipe, she would go back to scanning without bothering to stop for a squirt of hand sanitizer (each lane has a gigantic bottle of Purel next to the register).   Rude?  Check.  Gross?  For sure, but it gets worse.  By the time she got to my last few items, she was simultaneously holding a nasty tissue and my bag of gourmet coffee in the same hand.   That wadded up, germ infested tissue touched at least five or six packages of food that I was buying.   I complained about it and I was told someone would be in touch with me.  That was over a week ago and I still haven't heard from anyone.  I don't know who has worse manners, the cashier or the store management.

The Other Store I've Been Going To Since The Above Incident

My daughter needed school supplies, so we headed off on another shopping trip.  We also needed charcoal, so after picking up the 127 things for school, we headed over to the "seasonal" area of the store where grilling supplies are displayed (which is really funny because true Michiganians don't stop grilling when summer is over, we just shovel a path and brush the snow off the grill).   The charcoal was stacked waist-high on a pallet.  I grabbed the top bag and dragged it off, only to find it was ripped across the bottom.  Ten pounds of briquettes and black dust fell out of the bag and onto me (go ahead and laugh, I'm sure one day I'll find it funny, too).   While I was attempting to stomp some of the filth off my legs and shoes, a store employee said to me "That's okay, m'am, you don't have to clean up the floor" and left me standing in the pile of charcoal.  Did I mention that he was pushing a janitorial cart stocked with a broom and paper towel?

On Television

A certain yogurt company has television commercials that make me cringe.  One ad has a supermodel slurping and licking yogurt out of the container.  Another has a well known actress offering samples to a couple who can't be bothered to swallow their yogurt before commenting on it.  My children had better table manners when they were toddlers.


We went to an open house at school last week and I couldn't believe how many people were on their cell phones.  Some even took calls while the teacher was addressing the parents.

My Neighborhood

Some neighbors of ours lost their home to foreclosure.  There is no sign in the yard and the house is not yet up for sale, but it has apparently been listed on some foreclosure websites.  On a daily basis, people stop by to check the place out.  Most of them actually attempt to open the doors and windows to get in the house.  I don't think that's called shopping, I think it's called trespassing.


Vintage Cooking   

A few days ago I had the urge to make peanut butter cookies, so I did what I usually do.  I sat down at the computer and went to a cooking website.  I looked at a bunch of different recipes, but I couldn't decide which one to try.  While I was mulling it over, I thought about the collection of vintage cookbooks and hand written recipes that I inherited from my grandma and my great aunt.  I pulled them all out, piled them on the kitchen island and dove in.

What I thought would be a quick search turned into an afternoon of culinary archaeology.  I found recipes for things I've never heard of like Shin Bone Stew and learned the meaning of quaint terms like larding (threading bacon or salt pork into less fatty cuts of meat).  I also found dozens of old recipes I'd like to try.

Most importantly, however, I found a recipe for peanut butter cookies.  They are by far the best I've ever made, using the perfect proportions of simple ingredients.  They have all the features I think are most important in a superior peanut butter cookie: a) they have a strong peanut butter flavor, b) they maintain a nice shape while baking and don't spread too thin, c) they stay soft for days.  The first batch disappeared as fast as I could make them.  (I'm sorry that I don't have pictures to post, but I'm still using a "Frankencomputer" that has no memory card slot.)

If you'd like to try them, here's the recipe.  It was dated 1944.   

Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In large bowl, beat together butter and both sugars until smooth and creamy.  Add egg, peanut butter, and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Stir in flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix well.  Roll into one inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Press down gently in criss-cross pattern with tines of fork.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Cool completely before removing cookies from sheet.  Makes 3 dozen cookies.

**Note- The recipe doesn't specify to chill the dough before baking, but I chilled mine for about an hour.



Raoulysgirl said...

My sister and I stopped at a convenience store a few days ago (where we are considered "regulars"). My sister spilled her 44 oz. fountain drink as we were leaving. The cashier let my sister clean it up. She even got the mop for her!!!

5thsister said...

Su, what you describe is so sad yet so true! But those cookies....I must save the recipe and try!

For Christi: Seriously? They actually handed her a mop? I guess since you were "regulars" they didn't think you'd mind. But still. I'd hesitate to step foot in that store.

My big beef is I like to dress very casual when I shop (for pure comfort and ease when trying on clothes) Unfortunately, although clean and fairly nicely dressed (jeans and solid tee) I don't register $$$ in the salesperson's eyes. I will then go out of my way to purchase my items at another cashier station. Commission lost.

Joanna Jenkins said...

You are far nicer than me. I would have totally busted that cashier with the cold. Sheesh.

Thanks for the peanut butter cookie recipe. They have always been a fave around here.

Happy September, jj

Holly said...

I am amazed at people who work in and shop at stores. Common courtesy and common sense has been replaced by apathy and rudeness. I too change stores (if possible) when I encounter ridiculous things.

Now that peanut butter cookie recipe...yummmy. I have had a PB cookie fixation since I was pregnant!

Attila The Mom said...

Heh. When I first read the title, I thought "Vintage Cooking? Is that cooking with all the mystery crap that's wrapped in foil and been in the freezer for the past 3 years?"

That cashier with the cold makes my skin crawl, especially after Big Kid's illness last year. I'm going to wrap the kid in saran wrap and lock him in his room this season!

Jenny said...

Wow. What an incredible post. You are really good at this 'stream of consciousness' writing. I shuddered with you, felt astonished right by your side, and enjoyed your little rummage through the old cookbooks.

That is still my favorite way of finding recipes and some of my books are seriously worn out!