Essentials for the kitchen

Discussion in 'Your Vintage Home' started by BlueTrain, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    White balloon bread goes back to the 1910s, when it was promoted as a sanitary, standardized alternative to the weevil-ridden, sawdust-filled loaves sold by neighborhood bakers. The Boys didn't just make that image up out of whole cloth -- pure-food crusaders in the 1910s turned up case after case of adulterated flour being used in unregulated bakeries. The neighborhood baker wasn't always a jolly Chef Brockett type -- he often had more than a touch of larceny in his soul, and the conscience of a block of wood, which he shaved bits off of to fill up his flour bin, and newspaper coverage of such cases did much to create the market for mass-produced bread.

    Wonder was the first nationally-marketed brand of bread, starting in the early twenties, and Continental Baking introduced sliced "Wonder-Cut" bread nationally in 1930. The product was heavily advertised on radio as soon as network broadcasting became viable, and everyone within reach of a receiver knew the "Song Of The Happy Wonder Bakers:"

    "Yo ho, yo ho, yo ho! We are the bakers who make the dough!
    And bake the bread in an oven slow!
    And work for the Continental!
    We are the bakers in spotless white!
    Whose pans are polished and shining bright!
    Who bake the bread that is always right!
    Hu-rrah for the Wonder Bakers!
    Yo ho! Yo ho! Yo hooooooooo!"

    (Once you get the tune in your head it's impossible to forget.)

    By the end of the thirties pre-sliced bread was sold by all the major bakeries -- you could get store brand unsliced bread at the A&P as a discount item, but the majority of bread sold in the last years before the war was pre-sliced. Pre-sliced bread briefly was banned during the war, but bread consumption dropped so sharply after the ban that nutritionists lobbied to have the ban reversed after just two months.

    But as clean and sanitary as the bread was, it was already under fire by the consumers' rights movement for its lack of nutritive value, leading to federal legislation in 1941 requiring all flour sold in interstate commerce to be enriched with specified quantities of vitamins and minerals. Effectively, from this time forward all balloon bread was enriched bread, just like that sold today. The main differences since then, other than the increased use of preservatives to lengthen shelf life, are largely cosmetic -- the size and shape of loaves, the use of butter on top, the use of rougher flour to give a more "natural" look.

    As for me, I was raised on Nissen's Old Home bread, baked in Brewer, Maine -- the brand and the loaf that was understood to be the generic form of "bread" in our neighborhood. We went to the factory for a class trip in the second grade, and were each given a complimentary loaf to take home, which I ate on the bus.

    Wonder was around, but it was for the rich kids. We didn't have any ethnic neighborhoods where I lived, but in the Francophone neighborhoods of Augusta and Lewiston authentic Quebecois bread was popular. We never had it, except on special days at school lunch, when we'd get a single heavily buttered slice of "French" bread.
     
  2. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend I'll Lock Up

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    Same as "Pumpernickel/malt-cornbread"?
     
  3. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    It's a very dense rye bread made with molasses instead of sugar -- not as dark as pumpernickel though. It's more of a dark walnut brown than a mahogany brown. It's basically the same color as a plate of Boston-style beans, and the idea is that you use it to soak up the sauce after you've eaten the beans.

    [​IMG]

    You can get it plain or with raisins, which I never liked because the raisins looked and felt in your mouth liked steamed bugs.
     
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  4. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

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    And once you hear that, they will forever thereafter taste like steamed bugs.

    My first job when I started college in 1964 was in a pizza and sandwich shop. They made all their own breadstuffs, just like Subway does today. It's really a simple process but it really requires a few accessories like a big mixer and a steam cabinet (which Subway uses), not to mention a little practice so you get the hang of it. There are only a few ingredients and a recipe that is followed carefully. But it really only becomes worthwhile if you make a big batch all at once. That's why it's mentioned in the nursery rhyme about what you do each day of the week (Monday is washday and so on). So I suspect that homemade bread was one of the first things to be replaced by store-bought food. Margarine had been around longer but no one in town would have made their own butter since they were unlikely to have kept a cow. That still happened where I lived, though, but I don't know that they made butter.

    Homemade biscuits, however, are something else and nothing like store-bought canned biscuits (which might be good or maybe not). They're also nothing like any other kind of bread I can think of but I also imagine there is a certain class and regional aspect to biscuits. Same with cornbread. But I've had biscuits that were as dense and as heavy as most German breads. It is an achievement to bake good biscuits that are light and fluffy. Depending on the shortening that is used, they can also be a little greasy, although that should not necessarily be considered a bad thing.
     
  5. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    "Sawdust filled loves -" man's capacity to cheat knows no bounds (and I learn something new on this site everyday).

    Where I grew up, Wonder was the default bread and the "rich kids" ate Pepperidge Farm bread. While the divide of those brands wasn't always reflective of the economic situation of the house, it usually lined up pretty well.
     
  6. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Cockney rhyming slang for deceased. Brown bread-------Dead.

    What? How sheltered was your childhood? If you had a recreational playground that had swings, slides and other various rides, you would know that waxed paper was indispensable for polishing the slide. One kid sat on waxed paper and slid down, next kid just went down, polishing the waxed surface as he went. Ten to twenty minutes of such alternations produced a polished shine, second to none. I remember once, during the school half term break, we had got the slide so highly polished, that when a young mother allowed her five year old to climb up and slide down, we made ourselves scarce. That poor little kid came off the end of the slide so fast, he went straight into the bordering shrubbery.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
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  7. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

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    There was a playground at the grade school I attended but I don't know that anyone did something like that. The slide was polished with boy's and girl's blue jeans. I'm still a pants polisher.

    In case you were wondering, boys and girls could wear blue jeans to school, at least in first grade. In the photo of my first grade class, one can see three or four boys plus one girl who are wearing jeans.
     
  8. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    No jeans were allowed in my school until 1972, and then only on gym day. Girls weren't allowed to wear pants until that same year.

    We used wax paper sandwich wrappers to polish the slide on the playground, and used polyethylene bread wrappers to line our boots and keep our feet dry in the winter.
     
  9. We always had a bread box, and my mother still uses one today. She does the same thing, and I suspect it's just out of habit. It also gets the loaf of bread out of sight.
     
  10. Bread bags are good for getting your feet into a pair of boots that are a little tight. Put your foot in the bag and it slides easily into the boot. You can then pull bag out and off your leg. Cheaper than boot hooks.
     
  11. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Along the same lines as bread boxes, it was always the practice in my family to throw a heeltack from a loaf of white balloon bread into the cookie jar on top of the cookies to keep the cookies moist and fresh. Until the bread molded, but the cookies weren't expected to last long enough for that to happen.

    The end of the bread loaf, incidentially, was always and unfailingly called the "heeltack" and never the "heel."
     
  12. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    I told my girlfriend about the plastic bagged bread going in the bread box (FL prompts memories that I wouldn't have otherwise) - she chuckled and had the same thought you did, habit. Looking back, it's funny / at the time, it didn't strike me as the least bit odd (but then, I was very young when she passed away).
     

  13. I still don't think it's all that odd. You have to put the bread somewhere...people don't leave it out on the counter, do they? Or maybe you can take the boy out of the country...
     
  14. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    We didn't have a bread box in my house and we kept bread by putting it in a plastic bag and then we'd put it on the counter, in a cupboard or in the refrigerator depending on the bread, its age, etc. And to be fair, I don't really think it is odd that my grandmother did it as I see exactly what happened - she put the bread in there before plastic bags and just continued afterwards as it was "the place the bread went." It is only looking at it without thinking about her history that it seems a bit odd to put bread in plastic in a devise built mainly to keep bread not in plastic protected.

    An odd modern inversion to that is that most business men today don't wear rubbers over their dress shoes when it rains. Many just let them get wet while others wear rain boots and switch at work (which requires either carrying the business shoes separately or keeping a pair at work). A perfectly simple solution to a common problem - how to keep your business shoes dry when it rains - was solved in / before the Golden Era, but for whatever reason, this generation has chosen to not use the solution.

    When I was learning how to dress for business (picked it up as I went along - asking questions / being told things by the "older guys"), they told me about galoshes / rubbers as everyone (I'd say, literally, everyone) wore them back then (the mid '80s) but by the 00s, they had all but disappeared.
     
  15. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend I'll Lock Up

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    Ok, I think, for now, I will stay on classic german greybread... :D Or german raisinbread with Salami. ;)
     
  16. emigran

    emigran Practically Family

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    I remember a Bread "drawer" set into a cabinet under the counter... It had a tin sliding cover with holes and an indentation that you used to open and close it. If would only open when the drawer was opened enough ...
     
  17. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    We have a bread box and a cracker tin (a saltines one I inherited).

    Our bread box (well, technically we have 2, but the small one holds snacks) came from the Netherlands years ago on a trip. I think they may be more common in Europe where the kitchens are smaller with less storage; it's only recently I've seen them become popular again in the US. I've been in kitchens so big in the US they have empty cupboards, so in the counter storage isn't needed. That and the modern kitchen counter is crowded with appliances.
     
  18. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

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    Our kitchen isn't that big, that we have empty cupboards. The kitchen is very convenient but it suddenly becomes small and cramped when a second person shows up. It's also cluttered. In fact, the whole house is cluttered. I tell my wife that whenever (and if ever) we move, we need to get a place that has a barn.
     
  19. Sharpsburg

    Sharpsburg One of the Regulars

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    My mother used to say that eating the heeltap would make you beautiful. I ate a lot of them, but well. Maybe she just wanted someone to eat the leftover ends...
     
  20. Are you referring to a bread loaf? Never heard a "heel" described that way. The last bit of a bottle of booze maybe.

    Anyway ... That's my favorite part! Whenever we finish one loaf and move to the other I consider it a "double heel day". A good day indeed.

    My Dad feels the same way about it. Whenever my Mom sends a loaf of bread (wheat, banana, pumpkin, etc.) over Dad has already removed the ends. :(
     

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