Saturday, July 21, 2018

Some rainy-day recipes from Austria

We're supposed to get a lot of rain (and some thunderbumpers) here in southcentral Pennsylvania over the course of the upcoming week.

I thought it would be a good time to share some Austrian recipes from Gretel Beer (1921-2010), who was born as Margaret Weidenfeld. These are from the 1975 Dover paperback, Austrian Cooking & Baking, which is an unabridged version of Beer's book, Austrian Cooking, first published in 1954.

Beer writes in the short introduction:
"The culinary bouquet of Austria is made up of many fragrances. Of sugar and butter and rum. Of toasted almonds and chestnuts roasting at street corners. Of new wine and old love for recipes passed from mother to daughter. Of fresh coffee and comfortable gossip. Of sweet whipped cream and a leisurely contemplation of life. Of freshly scrubbed wooden tables and mounds of yeast dough rising in deep bowls. Of strong beer and Gulasch spiced with caraway seeds."
Here are a few recipes from the book, which is still in print and can be had for about $10 new and $2 used on Amazon. Delve into the Papergreat recipe label if you need more rainy-day recipe ideas!

Cheese biscuits

  • 4½ oz. grated cheese
  • 2 oz. butter
  • 4½ oz. flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • A few walnuts or hazel nuts for decoration
Work all the ingredients to a stiff paste, roll out and cut into shapes. Brush with a little egg white or milk and place a nut in centre of each biscuit. Bake until golden brown (Regulo 5). Alternately, only decorate half the biscuits with nuts and when cool, sandwich two and two together with paste made of creamed butter to which one or two finely scraped anchovies have been added.

Styrian Mutton Stew
Steirisches Schopsernes

  • 1 lb. mutton (weighed after all bones have been removed)
  • 1 carrot
  • Parsley and parsley root
  • 1 small celeriac
  • 1 onion
  • 1 dessertspoon fat
  • Salt, peppercorns
  • Bayleaf, thyme
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • ½ lb. potatoes
Cut meat into convenient pieces, pour some boiling water over meat and leave for ten minutes. Chop all the vegetables and fry lightly in fat. Pour away all the surplus fat, add one and a half pints of water and bring to boil. Add meat, salt, peppercorns, bayleaf, thyme, vinegar. Simmer until meat is almost cooked then add quartered potatoes and continue cooking until potatoes and meat are cooked.

Arrange meat and potatoes in a deep bowl and strain soup over them. Often served with a little horseradish grated over the top.

Widow's Kisses

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2½ oz. sugar
  • 2½ oz. chopped nuts
  • 1½ oz. chopped mixed peel
  • Rice paper
Whisk egg whites and sugar over steam until thick, remove from fire, whisk until cold. Fold in chopped nuts (walnuts, hazel nuts or almonds or a mixture of all three), chopped mixed peel. Arrange in small heaps on rounds of rice paper and bake at Regulo 1½ until lightly tinged with color.

Mystery photo: Three women and some boulders

Today's mystery snapshot measures 4½ inches across, including the fancy border. There is no identifying information whatsoever, so we're left to examine the women's outfits (and shoes?) in any attempt to specify when in the mid 20th century this was taken.

And we're out of luck on the location, too, I suspect. Living in southcentral Pennsylvania, my first inclination was that this might be somewhere on the Gettysburg battlefield, but there are boulders strewn all over this Earth of ours, and I'm certainly not enough of a battlefield expert to pinpoint individual rock formations. It's fairly safe to say this in the United States, though.

The women look like they were having an enjoyable day, hanging out with whatever fourth person snapped this photograph.

Other mystery images from the archives

Friday, July 20, 2018

Book cover and alarming endpapers: "All About the Atom"

  • Title: All About the Atom
  • Series: AllAbout Books #10
  • Author: Ira M. Freeman, then a professor of physics at Rutgers University
  • Illustrator: George Wilde
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Year: 1955
  • Original price: Unknown
  • Pages: 146
  • Format: Hardcover
  • First sentence: If Abraham Lincoln could listen in on our conversations today, he would hear much that would puzzle him.
  • Final sentences: Man first learned to use fire, then the power of steam, and later electricity. Today he stands at the door of a new age — the Age of the Atom. The things to come he can only imagine.
  • Random sentence from middle: For the first time in history, scientists had started a nuclear chain reaction that could keep itself going.
  • Modern praise for AllAbout Books: On her website,, homeschooler Valerie Jacobsen writes this of the AllAbout science books:
    "Wouldn't you suspect that the technology books might be dated and useless? I did! But we have found them to be especially interesting and helpful. They present interesting histories of the people who discovered scientific principles, their trials and errors, and the first inventions that brought the wealth of kings and queens into our ordinary homes. I would not withhold them from a student with an interest in engineering and invention! ... Modern science books present a profusion of bright pictures with bare facts pressed in all around. They follow the "access brain --> pour in facts" method of teaching. But the AllAbout books treat children as able and effective thinkers who can follow clear sentences through well-constructed paragraphs to comprehend and appreciate complex ideas. Newer science books primarily name things — noun, noun, noun — whereas older science books like these tended to use all the parts of speech all the time. (Eureka!)"

Meanwhile, here's what you see upon opening All About the Atom...


My childhood spanned the late 1970s through the early 1980s — the latter half of the Cold War — but I personally didn't grow up, perhaps unlike the generation 10-to-15 years earlier, with any dread or terror of nuclear annihilation. It was just a fact of life that I lived in a world in which the USA and USSR each had nuclear stockpiles that could destroy the world twice over. My childhood worries were much more ordinary — storms, fires, bullies, haunted places and horseshoe crabs.

As I kid, my introduction to the horrors of the atom centered around movies such as The Amazing Colossal Man, which was not scientific on any level, but made it abundantly clear that one should not stand in front of an atomic-bomb test.

In the 1980s, The Day After was supposed to give the nation nightmares, but the only thing I remember is being sad about the vaporized horse. And possibly that Steve Guttenberg was involved. (For what it's worth Special Bulletin was better produced and more terrifying than The Day After. And it still holds plenty of relevance today.)

So what's my point? You would think I'd have one, right? I guess it's just this: Maybe an educational children's book featuring a mighty mushroom cloud on the first page isn't so alarming, after all. But won't someone think of the horses??

Related posts

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Building of the Day: The original Upended Sugarloaf

This pre-World War II postcard, published by E.B.H. (but possibly a reprint), shows the original Upended Sugarloaf — Umgestülpter Zuckerhut — in the city of Hildesheim, Germany.

The delightful upside-down dwelling was constructed in the early 1500s by an unknown architect and had a ground floor that covered just 17 square meters. It survived for more than four centuries until March 22, 1945, when it was completely destroyed (along with the surrounding historic market square) by incendiary bombs during an Allied air raid.

In 2009 and 2010, the Upended Sugarloaf was rebuilt with oaken timbers and pegs, on its original lot. According to Wikipedia: "Many inhabitants of Hildesheim provided old photos and drawings for the project, as the original construction plans were not preserved."

Upended Sugarloaf #2 is now a cafe, and here's what it looks like today...

By Torbenbrinker (own work - obra própria) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

1964 comics nostalgia, Part 3

Wrapping up this short series peering inside Marvel's Strange Tales #120 from May 1964, here's a look at some of the smallest advertisements within the issue:

  • Holy Stamp Depicting Christ & Cross!! Plus Triangle Discus Thrower, enormous multi-colored Balkans Diamond issue, wonderful MAP COLLECTION from Timor, Macao & Angola. EXTRA! Brilliant Flag set, etc., only 10c with approvals. Capital Stamp Co., Ferrysburg 19D Mich.
  • WILL ROGERS AIR! HELICOPTER TRIANGLE!! Plus Monte Carlo Dove Triangle! Stamp printed in Solid Gold! New York Empire State Bldg. airmail, lovely Congo Orchids in full colors, etc., 10c with approvals. Sunny Stamps Service, Apopka 19A, Florida.
  • CONFEDERATE HALF DOLLAR. Replica 25¢, Set of Confederate Facsimile Stamps 35¢. Both for 50¢; Indian Head Cents, 2 diff. 35¢. SPRUCELAND C4, 115 State, Springfield 3, Mass.
  • Fabulous Introductory GRABBAG 25¢. Sensational approvals. CROWN STAMP CO., Virgil 616, Ontario
  • POEMS WANTED for musical setting and recording. Send poems. Free examination. AMERICA'S LARGEST SONG STUDIO. FIVE STAR MUSIC MASTERS, 92 BEACON BLDG., BOSTON, MASS.1
  • 50 BIKE DECALS $1. Sensational offer! Over 50 flashy, colorful decals to dress up your bike, car models, luggage, model airplanes, etc. Grab-bag assortment — all different! A $2.50 value! DOLLAR BARGAINS, P.O. BOX 1226-K, Newark 1, N.J.
  • Personal RADIO. POCKET SIZE. Requires no batteries or tubes. — no need for electric "plug-in" either — diode eliminates them all forever. Slide tuning: built-in speaker phone; attractive case. Not a toy, but a practical radio for local broadcast reception of music, sporting events, or your favorite program. Send $3.95 for this COMPLETE READY-TO-LISTEN RADIO add you will receive it postpaid. Order yours NOW! NAFICO, Dept. 17-R, BOx 4241, TOLEDO 9, OHIO.

Regarding that last one, the cost of $3.95 is equivalent to nearly $32 today. While I can't speak to the quality of product, the "diode" reference indicates that it would have been some sort of crystal radio. They harness the power of the received radio signal to produce sound and remain popular with hobbyists.

1. There is a terrific look at the history of advertisements seeking poems to turn into songs at

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

1964 comics nostalgia, Part 2

And now, diving back into Strange Tales #120 from May 1964, it's time for the HYPNO-COIN. A mere one dollar would get you this magical coin, "sent in a plain wrapper," from the Hypnotic Aids Supply Company of New York.

And you got your money back if you weren't delighted!

Here's an excerpt from the advertising copy for this item, which looks like it would have fit perfectly into the plot of Incredibles 2:
"Hold the HYPNO-COIN in front of the person you want to hypnotize. Then, gently vibrate the plastic lens. This sets the hypnotic pattern into a whirling motion. A motion that is so fascinating, it captures and rivets your subject's eyes to the "Hypno-Coin". Now, proceed to give your hypnotic suggestions and commands."

The Hypnotic Aids Supply Company also issued some interesting vinyl records in the 1960s, when group hypnosis with a metronome was apparently a thing.

For more comic-book hypnosis advertisements, check out this terrific post from Hypnotic Harlequin, who wonders if "Stock Zombie Walk Lady For Comic Book Ads" was a regular paying gig for someone.

Another amusing related link

1964 comics nostalgia, Part 1

Earlier this month, I used some images from Marvel's Strange Tales #120, published in May 1964, to illustrate a post honoring the late Steve Ditko.

Before I tucked it back away, I'm going to dive back into that issue from 54 years ago for a quick series that's in the vein of a longer, 11-post series I did two summers ago with the May 1978 issue of Marvel Two-in-One. Because exploring the advertisements within old comic books is always an enjoyable pastime.

So away we go!

First up, and shown below, is a full-page advertisement touting the Christy Trades School, a Chicago-based outfit that wanted to let readers know how they could earn big money — $5 to $6 per hour — by learning how to repair electric appliances in their spare time.

The floating head of Christy Trades president R.S. Frazer wanted to teach the mechanically inclined "how to repair refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, motors, factory equipment, electrical farm equipment" and more, including servicing all the wiring in their own homes. Because what could go wrong?

An amazing electronic kit and ceramic heater kit could be furnished. There were LESSON MANUALS and, best of all, a "SPECIAL PAY LATER FORM."

All of this "Know-how" would give entrepreneurs the ability to make good money and gain financial security.

As an added incentive, Christy Trades students would learn how to "build power tools from spare tools," a Tony Stark-esque superpower that seems to fit right in with a Marvel comic, if not quite the real world.

In May 1970, The New York Times published an article titled "Boom in Mail‐Order Schooling Marked by Dubious Practices," written by Walter Rugaber. It had this to say about Frazer's enterprises:
Only about half of the states are said to have any laws at all to govern home study institutions, and of the rest only six or eight, such as New York and California, possess the ability and will power to impose restraints on the schools within their borders.

Consequently, it is about as easy to sell home study lessons in the United States as it is to repair automobiles or retail shoelaces, and it is, much easier than to market securities, open a saloon, or run a bakery.

Just how easy was made clear not long ago to the members of a small trade group, the Association of Home Study Schools, by Dr. Richard S. Frazer, onetime head of the now defunct Christy Trades School in Chicago, who received his doctoral degree from the obscure "Neotarian College."

Immediately offer courses in 200 subjects, Dr. Frazer suggested, and decide on the basis of public response to an advertising campaign which of the 200 is the most likely best seller. Then provide that one.

"Select the best available textbook in your subject," Dr. Frazer advised. "Order a gross of the texts from the publisher. Have a bookbinder split these books into 20‐page units or lessons...."

New covers should be designed by an advertising agency, taking care to leave space for stamping on the title and number of each "lesson." Then, he went on, "when your sales level off, commence preparation of your second course."

No one knows how many operators have followed — or anticipated — Dr. Frazer's methods. (He is no longer with the association.) No one knows even how many privately owned correspondence schools exist — the estimates run from 500 to more than 1,000.