Minty Fish recipe!

Minty Fish

Saute in olive oil in big skillet
         1 medium red onion cut in half then sliced
When it's almost cooked, add and cook briefly
         2 big garlic cloves minced
         about 1 red pepper chopped (I used frozen)
On top place
         1 lb thin fish fillets (I used flounder)
Cover and let steam about 4 minutes.
Sprinkle over to taste, about:
         1 Tbl anchovy paste
         1 Tbl capers
         at least 2 Tbl black olives
         pinch of sugar
         2 Tbl cilantro
         2 Tbl parsley
         ½ tsp chili flakes
Turn over and stir a bit and cook until done, turning again if necessary.
Taste and stir in to your taste, maybe about:
         2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
         1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Put on top and let steam covered over a low flame until just done, maybe 3 or 4 minutes:
         a big handful of fresh greens, such as spinach or arugula (frozen would work too)
         a big bunch of mint's leaves (no need to tear them)

Serve with crusty whole grain bread, and if you need more vegetables something like steamed green beans, carrots, potatoes with parsley and olive oil.

Very adapted from Top Santé's Müller Light's Sea Bass with Herb Dressing, a recipe by award-winning Christine Bailey; I also tried her Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemon from the same article and it was amazing! but I didn't change it hugely so of course I'm not presenting that -- but she has a website, .

Kitchen furnishing advice, 1905

From The Book of the Home: An Encyclopaedia of All Matters Relating to the House and Household Management by H.C. Davidson along with "a hundred specialists," 1905, published in London (hence the American remark is especially interesting):

A capable housewife is always careful to have the kitchen as well the drawing room, for the comfort of herself and of the household...depends largely upon it, and she cannot expect to obtain and keep respectable servants unless she provides them with proper accommodation.

The book goes on to say that of course it is crucial to have comfy chairs in your kitchen! enough "for each servant and one or two over." One also must have in addition to the stove a table (round and folding if your kitchen is small) of course furnished with a tablecloth -- it seemed important to be able to make the kitchen attractive after any messy or dirty work was done -- so one had attractive comfy chairs and a bright rug that was rolled up when one might be messy, then put back down afterward, and also "pretty" curtains, and also "a picture almanac and two or three Christmas annual pictures [to] enliven the walls."

Other recommended furnishings were "a strong American clock...of the portable kind fitted with an alarm so that the cook can take it to her room at night and set it for the hour of rising," plus:

 A pretty butter print was also recommended -- "these really come under the head of luxuries, but they are so inexpensive that no one need be without them":

Hmm, it was recommended that one purchase "inexpensive crockery and cutlery" for the use of the servants! The next chapter is on "The Pantry," and features The Butler if one has one. But even without the butler, it was recommended that one have his pantry. There one has the expensive dishes and foods! It's recommended one count the silver every evening!! and have a safe. There are also interesting instructions on "hardening" one's fine china upon first buying it....

Marshall Field & Company's dining rooms

I'm reading a fascinating history of Marshall Field's, my by-far favorite department store when I lived in Chicago. It's Give the Lady What She Wants, by Lloyd Wright and Herman Kogan, who also draw from the work of Lloyd Lewis and Robert Wycliffe Twyman of the history department of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and others. The book is from 1952 so of course things have changed pretty much completely -- though a few of my very favorite dishes are from there from the last millennium! and many of my favorite memories are from relaxing there and admiring the beautiful products and surroundings.

Here's some of the history of their dining rooms! They were started at the behest of Harry Gordon Selfridge, who of course went on to start Selfridge's in England! It all started with a tearoom in 1890 with 15 tables with a red rose on each and a menu featuring what I still think of as typical of classic department store restaurants: chicken pie, chicken salad, orange concoctions, ice cream, corned beef hash (well, actually I've not encountered the latter). Eventually there were several restaurants, including one with an open grill and one serving "sandwiches in tiny baskets with bows on their handles."

I'm seeing nice websites about this store, including and and .

My favorite bit of non-eating history! about Marshall Field's is that when none other than William Morris was popular, they dedicated a whole room to his and his people's offerings.

Kitchen cabinets c1925

One of our homes was custom-built and its kitchen has no built-in cabinets except for the sink area and open shelving and an oven niche in a large stone wall, and I love it so much and miss it in our other place especially since its hung-up/high cabinets are literally starting to fall off the wall, yikes!!! So I'm trying to figure out an economical and attractive alternative. Here are retro thoughts from 1925 on that, from Modern Priscilla Home Furnishing Book:

In the kitchen the question of built-in furniture is more important than in any other room. First comes the decision of what to build in and what to buy ready-built. The kitchen cabinet is the outstanding example of such equipment. It is more convenient than a pantry and combines, in its cleverly designed spaces, a place in which to store food supplies, a shelf for food preparation, tills for money with which to buy food, reminders of what to buy, directions for preparing and serving food, and even (perhaps we might say often) a place where one may eat a cozy informal meal, in order to save work. A kitchen cabinet is much better bought than built in. It has been planned to achieve the greatest possible economy of space and it comes into the house entirely equipped for service.
Surely this "kitchen cabinet" is like the Hoosier cabinet my grandmother had; I've collected some pictures of such treasures:

The same chapter says it's preferred to have built-in things rather like I posted about just before this, such as "a closet to receive the food supplies [delivered] to the house," in an outside wall, so "no muddy feet insult the kitchen floor and you are free to leave the house." They suggest "above this compartment an iceless refrigerator" useful except in hot months and recommend space for inserting glass milk bottles. 

Also, they say "the best built-in feature of all is the cabinet partition between kitchen and dining room. The wall is entirely omitted and in its place are installed shelves and drawers which open from either room," saving many steps because you put washed dishes away next to the place where they'll be needed next.

A kitchen feature I've never seen

From the 1919 catalog of the Sash, Door, Blind, and Moulding Manufacturers, Standard Design Millwork, a "cooler closet":

A fantastic toasted cheese sandwich!

I saw the idea for this combination in a retro cookbook I haven't been able to relocate, but I wanted to share my version with you:

a delicious toasted cheese sandwich

Make your favorite way with, in order,
         your favorite bread for this
         country mustard
         some frozen grilled red pepper (jarred would work great too)
         your favorite cheese for this
         smoked paprika

Refreshing served with coleslaw (I found a nice one in Jamie's America).

The Little Book of Excellent Recipes and Cooking Tips, 1932

By "The Mystery Chef," sponsored by the R.B. Davis baking powder company in Hoboken, New Jersey. The cover is from abebooks' seller The Book Store by Jim Thorpe in Pennsylvania; my copy is missing a cover. A few years later the book cover had color....

It's quite a generous book -- and there's a generous archive offering pictures of some other items from the same company, accessible through :

My book sometimes calls for Cocomalt, which seems to be a chocolate milk mix rather like Ovaltine, if I understand correctly. Here's an old brochure from the same company: