Summer Dinner with Sunset: Cold Roast Beef with Whipped Horseradish circa 1962

In 2018, a sunset celebrates its 120th birthday. No, it’s not the anniversary of the blushing pastel sky that shadows overhead just before night (that’s as old as time).  And it is not the commemoration of Billy Wilder’s movie Sunset Blvd (that was 1950) nor the anniversary of the actual naming of the boulevard known as Sunset (that was the early 1900’s).  Instead, we are talking about the kind of sunset that stacks up on your coffee table – Sunset Magazine – one of the oldest, longest running magazines in American publishing history.

For over a century, this West Coast-centric lifestyle publication has been entertaining readers with outdoor recreation, travel, home design, gardening and food-focused articles steeped in the natural beauty of the United States’ Pacific side. Originally produced in 1898 to dispel myths about wild, wooly California, Sunset magazine was created as a marketing and promotional piece for Southern Pacific Railways. Its goal was to encourage tourists to buy land in California so the railway could profit in transportation, tourism, and land ownership sales.  By highlighting the natural beauty of the scenic coastline, the agreeable climate and the sophisticated resort towns of Southern California, in particular, early readers were introduced to the artistic side of the state through nature photography, regional literature, and poetic musings.

Sunset Magazine then, in 1898 (first issue!) and now (the current issue July, 2017)

The up and down decades of the 20th century brought many changes to the magazine’s content, format, and layout but throughout its long life,  Sunset has always inspired readers to get outside and enjoy the natural landscape. The recipe we are featuring today involves just that – a nod towards a relaxed dinner geared for outdoor ease and feast enough for a dozen family members and friends.   It is a perfect packer for the picnic basket or a set-it-and-leave-it sort of arrangement that yields plenty of time for firefly watching or sprinkler swimming or whatever your favorite summer pastimes include.  It is a cold roast beef, cooked early in the amiable hours of the day,  and then put away to chill in the fridge until hungry appetites demand to be fed.

The recipe comes from the 1962 Dinner Party Cook Book compiled by the editorial staff of Sunset Magazine. This very cool collection features a wide assortment of party menu recipes that coincide with big and small occasions throughout the year. Birthday parties, graduations, theme night dinners, and holidays are all tackled with a wealth of ingenuity and imagination in the menu planning department. Our cold roast beef fell under the theme of an Easy Summer Dinner, combining a selection of dishes that were cool to the palate and required little heating (other than baking the roast).

Temperatures have been heat-wavish here in the South reaching 100 degrees for the past week with even higher heat index numbers.  This Easy Summer Dinner was just what we needed. The ease comes in a 24-hour red wine, onion and herb marinade and then a quick pop into the oven for 2-3 hours of cooking. Once it comes out of the oven it cools on the counter before heading to the fridge where it chills until dinner time.  The benefits of this dish are many because the roast is large – big enough to feed up to 18 people – which means you could have a lot of leftovers depending on your party size. Here in the Vintage Kitchen, that meant practically a week of additional dinners plus extra for the freezer. From just one roast we made fajitas, beef pot pie, steak salad, stuffed peppers plus two extra nights of the actual recipe. Easy summer dinner indeed!

The recipe calls for a 5-6 lb rump roast which we substituted for a 4 lb. grass-fed beef rump roast.  We like grass-fed beef the best because it’s healthier for humans and because it is a better lifestyle for the cows who forage on open pastures eating only natural grasses instead of being lumped together on feedlots eating only grain. If you try this recipe and incorporate grass-fed beef too, there are a couple of factors that need to be altered. Grass-fed beef cooks faster since it is much leaner than grain-fed beef so it’s important to pay attention to the roasting time.  Instructions for both types of beef are included with the recipe here, depending on your own preferences. Other than that, this very easy dinner is as promised – very easy.  And the whipped horseradish is the perfect accompaniment so definitely don’t forget it.

Sunset’s Beef A La Mode

(serves 12-18)

5 – 6 lb. rump roast (or 5-6 lb. grass-fed beef rump roast)

2 cups dry red table wine

1 onion, sliced

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon crushed whole black pepper

1 bay leaf

Flour seasoned with salt and pepper

1/4 cup beef fat, shortening or oil

1 cup tomato puree

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup grated horseradish

Place the roast in a large bowl and cover with the wine, onion, thyme, black pepper and bay leaf. Marinate for 24 hours in the fridge,  turning a few times throughout the marinade process.

After 24 hours, remove the meat from the marinade, setting the marinade aside for future use.  Let the beef warm up to room temperature before patting it dry and dusting it all over with the flour/salt/pepper mixture.

In a Dutch Oven brown meat on all sides in the beef fat, shortening or oil. If you are using grass-fed beef do this step in a hot skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sear meat about a minute per side on all sides.

Seared on all sides and ready for the oven.

Pour the marinade and the tomato puree in the Dutch oven, cover and bake at 350 degrees for 3-4 hours or until fork-tender. If you are using grass-fed beef, after searing, place in Dutch oven or a large casserole dish, add the marinade and tomato puree and top the roast with three pats of butter. Cover and bake at 425 for 20 minutes then turn the oven off and keep the roast in there for two hours, being careful to not open the oven door for the entire time.

You want the internal temperature of your roast to be about 135 degrees when finished. Once your roast is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest at room temperature until it is cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

While your roast is cooling, in a small bowl, whip together the sour cream, mayonnaise, and horseradish in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Once dinner time arrives, thinly slice the roast beef, arrange on plates and drizzle with the horseradish mixture.

The original 1962 recipe included side dishes of hominy, watercress salad and sesame seed crusted toast points. While those sound lovely we skipped those dishes and served our grass fed roast beef with a simple side salad of mixed greens tossed in a homemade lime vinaigrette. It was simple and complimentary and easy. The words of the day!

If you time your dinner and your day right, you’ll be able to experience two sunsets at once. One a feast for your eyes, the other a feast for your belly. Hope you find this vintage recipe as effortless as we did.

Explore 61 other 1960’s themed menus in The Dinner Party Cook Book available in the Vintage Kitchen Shop here.

New to grass-fed beef cooking? Visit the website of our favorite grass-fed beef vendor at the Nashville Farmers Market and learn more.

Cheers to easy summer nights and to the good friends that fill them.

In the Vintage Kitchen: Sage Smothered Chicken with Polenta

An Herb and Spice Cookbook

This week in the vintage kitchen we are celebrating the wonders of the summer herb garden with a vintage recipe that has absolutely antique roots.

If you are a regular reader of the blog, you’ll recognize the name and face of the recipe writer…

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…celebrated New York Times food critic and cook Craig Claiborne. Back in February Ms. Jeannie shared his recipe for Eggplant Pizza from his 1963 Herb and Spice Cook Book – a complete gem of a compendium organized by herb and spice for quick reference.  In that post, oregano was the featured herb and Ms. Jeannie gave all the credit to Craig for his imaginative and most delicious creation.

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Eggplant Pizza! Find the recipe here.

But while Craig was the chef in the kitchen, the writer of the words and the name attached to the dust jacket, there was another face behind the flavor of the book – a muse of intellectual imagination that inspired Craig and enhanced his cook book.

Hilda Layel (1880-1957)

Hilda Leyel (1880-1957)

Her name was Hilda Leyel and she was the woman behind the crusade to bring back the herb.

For centuries herb gardening has been considered a feminine endeavor and a maternal skill –  a salve for the sick, a staple for the diet and a component in clean living. But with the introduction of doctors and hospitals and modern medicine, and the dawn of the industrial revolution, herbs and herb gardening fell out of fashion by the early part of the 20th century. Then Hilda came along.

A life long lover of gardens, a student of medicine, and an appreciator of fine food, good wine and natural living Hilda published several books on the importance of herbs, opened Culpepers, the first herbal-only shop in England (which offered herbal remedies, food, makeup and holistic products) and founded the still-going strong  Herb Society all within a decade between the 1920’s and 1930’s.  The efforts of this one woman single-handedly revitalized the popularity of herbs in gardening, cooking and personal product choices for not only the citizens of England but also of the world at large.

Three of Hilda's cookbooks.

Three of Hilda’s cookbooks.

It was Hilda’s passion, promotion and sheer love that inspired Craig with his Herb and Spice cookbook. Her detailed research and botanical understanding of each of the 54 herbs and spices featured in his cookbook tell of the history, symbolism and importance of each plant. Which makes the two of them a great team. She tells why herbs are important and he shows how they taste great.

It is wonderful to see that Hilda’s efforts had numerous and lasting effects decades after her death in 1957.  To honor Hilda’s magnificent determination, it is only fitting to feature a recipe from the sage section of the Herb and Spice Cook Book which comes from the botanical name salvio, meaning to “save” since Hilda in her own way saved the herbs from obscurity. Cheers to Hilda!

This week we are making Sage Smothered Chicken with Polenta, which is on the heavier side of summer cooking but features so many garden ingredients that its hard to resist. If you want to make a lighter (aka cooler) dinner during this hot season, just omit the polenta and serve the chicken alongside a fresh garden salad. It’s delicious either way!

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Sage Chicken with Polenta

(serves 4-6)

1 4lb. chicken cut into serving pieces

Salt and freshly ground Pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (canned if your garden tomatoes aren’t ready yet!)

1 six-ounce can tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

A small bunch of fresh sage leaves (for garnish)

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup yellow or white corn meal

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with one teaspoon salt and one quarter teaspoon black pepper. Heat the oil and brown the chicken, onion and garlic lightly. Add the tomatoes, paste, sage and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon pepper or more to taste).

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Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 50 minutes or so. While chicken is cooking prepare the polenta by bringing two and a half cups water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl mix the cornmeal with one and a half cups water until combined. Add cornmeal mixture to the boiling water and stir until pot comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.

Place the polenta on a large platter. Arrange the chicken on top and spoon the sauce over it. Garnish the platter with fresh sage leaves for presentation. Serve hot.

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You will most likely have extra sauce left over with this recipe, which you can freeze for later use as a homemade tomato sauce for pasta or pizza. Delicious and helpful! A big cheers to Hilda for inspiring Craig who then inspired Ms. Jeannie.

Find the Herb and Spice cookbook for sale in Ms. Jeannie’s book shop here. 

Happy cooking dear readers!

 

How to Wear A Vintage Sweater

The fun thing about adding vintage pieces to your wardrobe is the variety in how you can wear them. But sometimes this seemingly fun game of match and go can also be challenging.  Don’t fret my dears, Ms. Jeannie is here to help advise.

Let’s take a look at this mid-century sweater that Ms. Jeannie has listed in her shop.

Vintage 1960’s Red Belted Cardigan

It’s bright color, cableknit accents and short sleeves make it a versatile piece to wear in multiple seasons and situations. The belt and buttons lend to its classcly tailored lines, which means that it would look great with the following…

Modern denimn trousers from AnnTaylor 

Modern Denim Trousers from Ann Taylor

Brighten it up even more with an elegant silk blouse…

Orange Silk Blouse from EllaLai

If you have great legs, pair it with a twill skirt from H & M

Twill Skirt from H&M in khaki green

For an office look, wear it with Jones Wide Leg trousers from Anthropologie

Jones Wide Leg Pants from Anthropologie

Or on cool summer nights…

Season Staple Shorts from Anthropologie

For office-in-to-evening outfits, this Jersey Tea Dress from Boden in taupe would be effortless…

Jersey Tea Dress from Boden

Sometimes all it takes is a great accessory like this Italian leather handmade tote to make a vintage sweater look even greater!

Handmade Italian Tote from babiesandbabes

A fun romp through one woman’s experiences with (now vintage!) clothing is the book called Love, Loss and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman.

Love, Loss and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman

This funny, poignant story details the critical clothing choices Ilene made during pivotal moments in her life. Each story is accompanied by delightful illustrations such as this one…

Illustration from Love, Loss and What I Wore

Ilene had no intention of publishing her experiences. She wrote down and illustrated her memories as a momento for her grandchildren and assembled them in a binder.

In 1995, her book was published, much to Ilene’s surprise. In 2010, the book was adapted by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron as an Off-Broadway play.

Playbill Cover

It’s on it’s second year run at the Westside Theater, but will be closing at the end of March 2012 after over 1,000 perfomances. Here’s a picture of the final cast…

Final Cast Members of Love, Loss and What I Wore, The Play

Over 30 different casts have participated in the play. Each cast performed for 4 weeks. Members included: Jane Lynch, Alexis Bleidel, Rita Wilson, Janeane Garofalo, Rosie O’Donnell, Kristen Chenowith and Samantha Manthis just to name a few.

Imagine the 1960’s vintage red belted sweater making it all the way to Broadway! Or at least it imagine it sparking some great memories in your life that could be passed down to other generations.

You never know… life is surprising!

Countdown to Mad Men and the Persona of the 1960’s Woman

The countdown has begun! Season 5 of Mad Men is almost here and for a vintage lover like Ms. Jeannie it couldn’t get here faster.

Thrilled to see the new poster in her email box, Ms. Jeannie was a little taken aghast at the naked mannequin – but after all it is fitting for both the time period and Don Draper’s state of affairs (no pun intended!).

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Ms. Jeannie’s friend, Thom, was visiting from L.A. where he said the city is braced for Mad Men fever. Buildings are dressed in giant size billboards throughout the city in this image:

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Which we both agreed was fantastic advertising because, no where does it say Mad Men anywhere on the sign but fans would recognize the iconic silhouette and the simple font anywhere.  Simplicity and subsequent notoriety like this is a marketing team’s dream!

Read an interesting interview here with Chris Brown, the creative director behind Mad Men for a majority of the episodes. http://enews.tufts.edu/stories/1628/2010/03/01/MadMen

A favorite ad campaign clip from the show is when Don Draper pitches the Kodak Carousel.

If you get nostolgic yourself for a vintage Kodak Carousel you can purchase one on Etsy. This one below even comes with an instruction manual!

Vintage Kodak Slide Carousel from Lyneas Vintage

Ms. Jeannie will be posting several 1950’s-1960’s era Life magazines in her shop soon. They are full of great retro ads that I’m sure Don Draper would have loved to concept.

If Ms. Jeannie could step back in time during this period she would choose Peggy’s role, played by Elizabeth Moss, since Peggy is determined to be on the same playing field as the ad guys and won’t let things like female discrimination, office politics and pre-conceived notions get in her way. She’s a woman with ambition, that Peggy Olson is, yet she’s not willing to sacrifice her humanity in order to reach that golden ring. She’s flawed like all the others but she’s also the character who is most aware of her own short sightedness.  She strives to be good,  and in that simple act of trying,  she sort of is good.

Peggy Olson played by Elizabeth Moss

That said, Ms. Jeannie wouldn’t mind having the wardrobe and (hair color!) of Joan:

Michelle Williams recently did an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross about her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in the movie My Week with Marilyn. She had some really interesting things to say about studying for the role of Marilyn, what it was like to be a woman in the 1950’s & 60’s and what it must have been like to be Marilyn specifically in that time period.

If you missed it. Here is the podcast

Michelle Williams Interview – Fresh Air

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe

Etsy has an extensive listing for retro etiquette books, but this one stood out among all the others.  It’s fascinating to see how women’s roles have changed over the course of just a few decades. Reading books like this sort of hits you like a ton of bricks:

Etiquette for Young Moderns from Lexis Finds

Life for a dreamer like Ms. Jeannie would have been tough. But thanks to the mindset of gals like Peggy, Ms. Jeannie would have made it through and probably done something remarkable in the process.