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The Scoop on the Ice Cream Cone

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The ice cream cone made its debut on July 23rd, 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair and quickly became a national sensation. Then called a “cornucopia,” the first ice cream cone was made from a thin, rolled waffle baked to a crisp and filled with two scoops of ice cream. While the public origin of the ice cream cone is certainly the St. Louis World’s Fair, the details of its invention remain a mystery. Several confectioners sold ice cream cones that day in 1904, and each claimed credit for the tasty innovation. Now a favorite mainstay of sultry  summer afternoons, the ice cream cone turns 111 years old today. Shall we celebrate with a scoop?

Dilly Bean Season

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The mere sight of a canning jar musters notions of picnic season. We recall days of dodging honeybees to pluck strawberries for preserves, and canning tomatoes for beefy winter stews when the oscillating fans are traded in for robust hearth fires. Ball, Kerr, and Mason jars rivaled for popularity in hot kitchens when the pressure cookers were spitting and hissing. Mother would put her daughters to work with pinking shears to cut calico quilting cottons for tucking under the rimmed lids with country store charm.

Over the course of many summers, canning “Dilly Beans” has become an annual tradition in our family. A glorious day is devoted to this endeavor beginning with a trip to market in which the beans are hand selected. Then back to the homestead where my four sisters and our respective daughters don vintage aprons, and the pot is set to boil. It is a wholly sensory experience: the pungent aroma of vinegar and pickling spices wafting through the house, the rhythmic snap of bean ends being removed, the stolen taste of a crisp green bean, the wholesome feel of a hot, tightly-packed jar of beans in your hand. Finally, the labels are scribed by the children and floral cotton circles are fitted to the finished jars. And then the wait…best when enjoyed after several weeks (even months) of steeping but sure to make for a tasty snack even sooner.

And now I’ll share with you our family recipe, compliments of my sister, Ann:

ANNIE’S DILLY BEANS

Items Needed:
Sealable canning jars: 1 ½ pint

INGREDIENTS:
String beans
Garlic
Whole dried chili peppers
Celery seed
Fresh dill (flowering tops preferably)
White distilled vinegar
Salt
Water

Directions:

1. Into each jar, place 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 whole red chili pepper, ¼ teaspoon of celery seed, and a flowering dill top. Then fill the jar with beans standing on end, stuffing them as tightly as you can into the jar.
2. For each jar you have filled, measure 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water. Boil the vinegar-water mixture, then pour it into the jars over the beans and spices, to ½ inch from the top of the jar.
3. Seal the jars and place them in a large pot of boiling water for a 10-minute heat processing. Allow 6 weeks for the flavors to meld, then open jars and savor! Store for years without refrigeration.

Theatre of the Mind

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I was so cut-out for this. I remember calling dibs on my mother’s McCalls magazine, anxiously thumbing my way to Betsy McCall. Every month beginning in April, 1951, the adventures of the two dimensional pre-teen were shared with readers. Every little girl envied her wardrobe almost as much as her whirlwind adventures. Manual dexterity was required to extract her pretty clothes from the page with scissors. Almost every women’s periodical offered a paper doll, one of the earliest being Ladies’ Home Journal in which children would crayon the color. Celebrities were celebrated on paper, from Queen Victoria to movie stars. From Lettie Lane and Polly Pratt to Dolly Dingle, the cut-out friends would be stashed in shoeboxes for rainy day play. Printed paper doll sets were reserved for the affluent during the Victorian era when the colorful lithographic sets by Raphael Tuck and the McLoughlin Bros. were selling for a hefty fifteen cents.

Charming Chintz

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The term “chintz” has come to imply a broad range of products bearing a vintage floral pattern—most commonly associated with porcelain china and polished upholstery fabric. Favorite patterns were comprised of delicate rose motif with meandering sprig stems connected by tiny hand-painted “spots”. The earliest records indicate that French cotton printers arrived in London in the mid-1600’s. They were known as “Calico Printers,” having mastered the craft of rendering colored patterns in layers upon silk and cotton. The process consisted of stretching a length of cloth upon which an engraved wooden block is stamped at even intervals in a variety of colored inks. With one hand the stamp block is precisely positioned while the other hand strikes the block to entrench the colour deeply within the fibers.

Sweet Summertime

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It is official. The fireflies and frogs have announced the barefoot season. Even the Autumn lovers have succumbed to hammocks and wind chimes in wait of the eminent turn. The rhythmic hum of oscillating fans, lawn mowers, children’s clamor and gurgling fountains are the soundtrack of summer. Family potlucks and cookouts invite picnic hampers, nostalgic tablecloths and pieced quilts to sprawl upon the ground.

This is the nonchalant season when the living is easy. Relaxed conversation over icy lemonade on the porch swing and patriotic cupcakes with butter cream frosting, and trips to the organic market (wicker cart and grocery shopping bag and bicycle basket).

May your sunshiny days surprise your thirsty gardens with an occasional thunderstorm. Revel in the aromas and visions of the leisure season until that first cold snap induces sweater weather once again!