Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday's Japanese postcards:
Two Otsu-e and two moonlit nights

Back in February, I wrote about a Japanese postcard featuring an Otsu-e painting of an oni with a shamisen. If most of those words just went right over your head, and you can go read that older post to catch up on all the background and see the comic folklore demon.

Here are two more postcards from that series featuring Otsu-e paintings:

Aren't those illustrations great? I wonder if I should consider changing my Beaming Boy avatar (currently used on Twitter and Facebook) to one of those more dramatic faces?

Meanwhile, I am also presenting two gorgeous Japanese postcards of moonlit scenes. First up is a night view of Yasaka Pagoda (also known as Hokan-ji Temple) in Kyoto.

And here is an illustrated postcard of the waterfront Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), also in Kyoto. This colorful postcard actually doesn't do justice to the real site. You should check out the Wikipedia photo gallery of this famed Zen Buddhist temple.

These previous Papergreat posts also feature postcards of Japan:

Friday, August 17, 2012

For #fridayreads here are some shorter lunchtime selections

It's Friday again, which means #fridayreads on Twitter and elsewhere.

If you're looking for something shorter than "1Q84" or "11/22/63," here are links to some of the articles and websites that caught my eye this week:
And, from the Hall of Fame, if you've never read Richard Preston's long 1992 piece for The New Yorker called "The Mountains of Pi," I urge you to do so. You won't be able to finish it over lunch, but it's a terrific weekend read if you have an hour or so.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cooking up some calf's head soup, pawnhaas, tzitterli and streivlin

It's not hard to come across a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook in southcentral Pennsylvania. You can get them at bookstores, gift shops, farmers' markets and smorgasbords.1

And yard sales. This battered copy of the July 1969 10th printing of "Edna Eby Heller's Dutch Cookbook" cost me a dime at one earlier this summer. (Some might say I overpaid.)

But while it's easy to track down a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook, how many people actually read them from front to back?

If you read this one, you'll come across words and phrases like schteepers, schnitz un gnepp, pawnhaas, tzitterli, streivlin, lebkuchen, and milich flitche.

These words are not common. Not even on the overflowing highways of the all-knowing Internet. (Though, I will grant, many of them have numerous spelling variants that make them harder to track down.)

As an example of how uncommon some of these terms are, here's how many Google hits some of them had prior to the publication of this blog post:
  • schteepers = 2 hits2
  • tzitterli = 10 hits
  • streivlin = 6 hits
  • milich flitche = 9 hits

Edna states in her preface: "Whenever you hear the call Koom essa, start running, for that is the call to a Pennsylvania Dutch meal where food is good and plentiful."

Now, you might not agree that the sampling of recipes from Edna's book that I'm listing here are exactly what your palate is seeking, but I hope you find the reading of the recipes interesting, because that's half the fun!

Calf's head soup
1 calf's head or veal shin
3 potatoes
1 medium sized onion
½ lb. fresh sausage meat
½ tsp. marjoram
¼ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. allspice
2 hard cooked eggs
½ cup flour
2 tbsp. butter

Cook the calf's head or shin in 2 qts. of salted water for several hours until quite tender. ... Meanwhile ... Dice the peeled potatoes and onion. ... Cook for 20 minutes. ... Shape sausage into ½ inch balls and fry until brown. ... Make the dough balls as in recipe listed below.3 ... When the meat is tender, remove from broth. ... Cool slightly. ... Take meat off the bones and cut fine. ... To the broth, add the meat, potatoes, sausage balls, spices, chopped eggs and dough balls. ... Lastly, stir in the flour which has been browned in a dry pan over medium heat (stirring constantly) and then mixed to a smooth paste with 1 cup of broth. ... Simmer for five minutes. ... Serves 8.

(The more common spelling is pon haus, but this delicious meat treat is even better known as scrapple.)
3 qts. of broth
2 cups of cooked pork meat (cut fine)
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. sage (if desired)

To make the broth: Boil together one cleaned hog's head, with heart and liver and pieces of pork for several hours. ... Remove the meat from the bones and grind. ... (Some of this can be used to make puddin'.) ... Bring the broth to a boil. ... Into it dribble cornmeal, stirring constantly, until the consistency of mush has been achieved. ... Add meat and seasonings. ... Cook slowly in a heavy kettle or double-boiler, stirring constantly for the first 15 minutes and then frequently for a half hour. ... Pour into loaf pans and three inches deep and keep in a cool place. ... To serve, slice ¼ inch thick and fry in hot fat until brown on both sides.

(Tzitterli, sultz, gallerich and souse are all alternative names for jellied pig's feet. And if I haven't lost you after the first two meat dishes, I fear I might lose you now.)
salt brine
2 pig's feet
1 pork tongue
½ cup vinegar

Make a salt brine strong enough to float an egg. ... In it soak the pig's feet and tongue for ten days or two weeks. ... This gives the meat a nice pink color. ... Drain and boil in clear water several hours until the meat falls off the bones. ... Discard bones, gristle, and skin. ... Cut meat very fine and divide into custard cups. ... Bring broth to a full boil. ... Add vinegar and then pour over the meat. ... Stir and let cool. ... To serve, unmold and slice.

(These are also called Snavely Sticks or Plowlines. Since you have come this far, this final recipe is a change of pace and doesn't contain any questionable pieces of meat.)
1 cup sweet cream
2 eggs
2 tsp. salt
4 cups sifted flour

Beat eggs and add to cream. ... Work in the salt and flour as for noodle dough. ... Roll out ¼ of the dough at a time to a very thin sheet. ... Cut this round of dough into sections 4 or 5 inches wide. ... Cut sections (using a pastry wheel if you have one) into half inch strips, cutting only to one inch of outer edge to leave section intact. ... Fry one or two at a time, depending upon the size of pan, in deep fat. ... Fat should be hot enough to brown a cube of bread in one minute. ... Turning once, fry until the sticks have turned a light brown. Serve warm.

1. Smörgåsbord is a Swedish word with a fascinating etymology. The words for the term in other languages are:
  • koldtbord (Norway)
  • det kolde bord (Denmark)
  • seisova pöytä (Finland)
  • hlaðborð (Iceland)
  • Aukstais galds (Latvia)
  • rootsi laud (Estonia)
Here in southcentral Pennsylvania, the two biggest and most famous smorgasbords are Miller's Smorgasbord Restaurant and Shady Maple Smorgasbord, both in Lancaster County. I can personally recommend both. Highly.
2. The two hits for schteepers, prior to this post, were:
3. Here's the dough ball recipe, so that you can properly finish off the calf's head soup recipe, which I know you are dying to make, if you could only find yourself a calf's head. (Edna, by the way, calls the calf's head soup "extra special" and "a spicy soup, full of meat.")

Dough balls
1 cup flour
½ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. lard
3 tbsp. water

Sift together the flour and salt. ... Cut up the lard in the flour until it is the size of peas. ... Toss lightly in the bowl while adding the water gradually. ... With floured hands, shape into tiny balls, ½ inch in diameter. ... Brown in 2 tbsp. melted butter over heat, turning frequently. ... When nicely browned, add to calf's head soup.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Paul Hoecker's painting of a girl with a large black cat

This painting — titled "Girl with Cat" and featured in the 1943 songbook "Rhythms and Rimes" — caught my eye because the huge black cat reminds me of one of the beefy felines in our household.

Specifically, it reminds me of Mr. Bill, our brain-damaged, fledgling heifer of a cat that howls at bugs, chases laser-pointer lights up walls, eats Cheeze-Its and spends endless hours intently watching our dwarf hamster's cage, which is forever out of his reach.1

The painting was done in 1887 by German artist Paul Hoecker (1854-1910).2 It appears as if Hoecker might have "signed" his work on one of the tiles in the upper-left portion of the painting. Agree?

Within "Rhythms and Rimes," Hoecker's "Girl with Cat" is featured on a page opposite the children's song "The Girl with the Cat,"3 which goes like this:
I have a little kitty,
I'm very fond of her;
I give her milk and crackers,4
And stroke her silky fur.
We sit before the fire,
She sleeps upon my knee.5
I'm very fond of kitty
And kitty is fond of me.

1. Mr. Bill was previously featured in "Witches and zombies and scarecrows! Oh my!" and "A whole mess of lazy on a Sunday afternoon."
2. The only decent biography of Hoecker (at right) that I could find is on the German-language Wikipedia.
3. "The Girl with the Cat" features lyrics by Mabel Livingstone and music by Mana-Zucca.
4. Cheeze-Its, perhaps?
5. Most of our cats won't fit on my knee.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Try a whiskey sour at Montpelier Tavern

Pictured above is the front of a blue folding card that would have been placed on a table or on the bar at the Montpelier (Vermont) Tavern. It suggests that patrons try a whiskey sour. I'm assuming that the winking face is supposed to be a lemon. A lemon with huge, disturbing eyelashes.

The card and the pamphlet shown at right probably date to the mid 1940s.1 Interestingly, it does not appear that the Montpelier Tavern is still around — at least not under that name — even though it was a fairly swanky establishment. (Yes, I just used the word "swanky.")

If anyone in Vermont can provide some more details about the fate of the tavern, that would be greatly appreciated.

Here are some excerpts about the tavern and surrounding tourism opportunities from the pamphlet:
  • "Although the Tavern has been here since 1826, it has recently been entirely rebuilt and enlarged with the addition of new rooms."
  • "European Plan — moderate rates."2
  • "Comfortable beds with modern mattresses and springs — colorful woolen blankets and fine rugs — give a homelike atmosphere. Writing desks, restful chairs, and plenty of lamps contribute to perfect relaxation.3 Every room has a private bath or running hot and cold water, and also a telephone."
  • "Montpelier is centrally located and within easy driving distance of the many summer camps for boys and girls at Roxbury, Vermont, Lake Dunmore, Vermont, and Fairlee, Vermont."4
  • "The famous Barre Granite Quarry district is only a few miles from Montpelier. Visitors will enjoy seeing these impressive Quarries. Guides are provided for visitors by the following Barre Granite Quarries:
    • J.K. PIRIE
    • E.L. SMITH

1. These two pieces are part of the Linda Durkos Collection, which is described in this February post.
2. "European plan" means the price quoted is for lodging only. All meals are billed separated. Read more about various plans on Expedia's website.
3. Lamps = relaxation?
4. Fairlee, Vermont, and its lake were previously mentioned in these two posts:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gratuitous and overly artistic photos from the ephemera warehouse

Regular readers (and thank heavens for all of you) are probably aware that (1) I often joke about the cavernous Otto books and ephemera warehouse in our basement and (2) I've been doing a LOT of sorting and cleaning lately, as evidenced, for example, by this post and this one and this one.

This round of cleaning is nearly complete, and the books room doesn't look anything like it did a few weeks ago. Knowing this would be the case, and knowing that a messy, disorganized collection of books has a certain beauty to it, I took some photos before I got started, to document how things looked at that fleeting moment in time.

Of course, this being me, I went with gratuitously artistic angles and clichéd sepia tones. I thought that fit in well with the aged and vintage nature of all these books and papers...

One mystery solved: It was "Girl in Ten Thousand"

I few weeks ago, I wrote about going through a box of used books and coming across this poor thing at the bottom. It happens. Hundred-year-old books fall apart. The pages get separated from the covers.

I posted the image of the torn-off back cover and figured it was a mystery that would never be solved.

Oh, I but I was wrong.

In a whirlwind of cleaning and sorting late last week, I came across a book without a back cover. I flipped it open and — lo and behold! — there was the same illustration I had seen before. The two parts of the book could be reunited.

And so I can report now that the book is "Girl in Ten Thousand," which was written by prolific Irish author Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith (1854–1914) and first published in 1896.

Meade, who used the pen name of L.T. Meade, published more than 300 books, focusing largely on juvenile fiction for girls and mystery novels, in her lifetime.

Her titles, some certainly curious, included:
  • Water Gipsies: A Story of Canal Life in England
  • Mother Herring's Chicken
  • Dickory Dock
  • Wild Kitty: A School Story
  • Bad Little Hannah: A Story for Girls
  • The Desire of Men: An Impossibility
  • The Cleverest Woman in England
  • The Dead Hand: Being the First of the Experiences of the Oracle of Maddox Street
  • Old Readymoney's Daughter
  • A Bunch of Cousins and the Barn Boys

"Girl in Ten Thousand" begins and ends with these two paragaphs, which were about all I was willing to dive into:
  • "You are the comfort of my life, Effie. If you make up your mind to go away, what is to become of me?"
  • It is true that there are whispers afloat with regard to her and Lawson — whispers which always give a feeling of consternation in the ward which she manages so skillfully — but only Effie herself can tell if there is truth in them of not.

The book also includes a "bonus" — a 40-page tale called "Father Hedgehog and His Neighbors" that comes after the conclusion of Meade's novel.

No author is listed, but some Google searching seems to indicate that the author is Julia Horatio Ewing.

One of the neatest things about "Girl in Ten Thousand" is the inscription on the illustration that appears on the first page (the same illustration is used four times in the book).

The inscription states:
Presented to,
Crystal Wiseman
greatest no of
in 5th grade.
April 10, 1918.