Thursday, October 31, 2013

First Halloween in America

Fall is the season of harvest and wine: EuroAmericanHome

Fall in Pennsylvania has been warmer than expected. From our back porch, we can see the neighbor's tree turning all shades of autumn. In the morning, when I'm having my coffee, I look out the back door and let my mind wander. Sometimes it's squirrel-watching. Sometimes it's robin-(the bird)-watching. The tree is always there to remind me of all the change. It was barren and sad-looking when I came here in February. It exploded into a cotton candy bloom in May. It looked crisp and leafy and luxuriant in mid-July. Now it is turning tawny and amber. It made me realize that I've experienced all seasons here, and yet it still seems to me that I just arrived yesterday. But then I think about the family and friends that I miss terribly, and it seems like I said goodbye a hundred years ago. There is an ongoing battle in my head between perceiving this constant adjustment as exhausting or just liberating. So far, it feels like exhausting is winning.

We bought a pumpkin to carve for Halloween and ended up cooking it down into pie filling. We're not very good planners, obviously. But I see a lot of pumpkin meals in our future.

With Trevor working, I got to experience Halloween all by myself, staying out on the porch and giving away candy. "Giving away candy" is one of those phrases that makes me shudder, and it shall be banished from my vocabulary for at least one year.

My favorite costume was our neighbors' pug dressed as candy corn. Candy corn is this ridiculously addictive Pennsylvania-original piece of wax shaped like a corn kernel. Ok, it's candy, but it looks and tastes like wax. My favorite children's costume was a tie between a rotund ladybug and a two-year-old Al Capone complete with a moustache and a pinstripe suit.

I gave away five big bags of candy in about one hour. I spent the past two weeks sampling Charleston Chews, 3 Musketeers, Raisinets and 100 Grand. The Twix bag didn't make it through to the trick-or-treaters. Twix has a way of sneaking up on you and next thing you know it disappears unexpectedly when your husband is not looking. (For a quick reminder of my modus operandi, see last year's post - How to prevent overeating.)

We're planning to celebrate November by buying discounted candy, having peep jousting tournaments and doing some light Thanksgiving crafting.

Life is good!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Autumn is for having crushes


Mickey: I have a crush on you.

Trevor (seriously doubting that he understood what was said): What is that?

Mickey: I have a crush on you, and I think it's serious.

Trevor (intrigued, but flirty; flirtigued, if you will): Reaaally? How serious?

Mickey: I think I married you.

Trevor: Wow, that's pretty serious.

Crush was professed.

Things resume to their normal state.

It must be fall.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Vintage cookbook teaches valuable lessons

One of the things that I like about living here, apart from being able to share a continent with my husband, is going to yard sales.

Yard sales, or garage sales, or porch sales, are a marvelous invention which deems going through other people's stuff not only socially acceptable, but also encouraged. Sure, there is a lot of trash and objects that should have never seen the light of day to begin with, but every once in a while we are able to find a diamond in the rough.

Today, I will show you one fine gem that I found at a yard sale for 50 cents.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook:EuroAmericanHome

Introducing a cookbook from 1956, published by the First Methodist Church of Germantown, PA. Church cookbooks are quite a thing here. The ladies of the church put together their recipes, which are then collected into a book that is sold for fundraising. If you ask me, it's a great use of the collective (food) wisdom for the benefit of both the church and the gourmands in the community. 

It came with a patch and without any binding, but we learned valuable lessons from it:

1.  In 1956, married ladies used their husband's names. Mrs. Fred, Mrs. George and Mrs. Homer were probably very honored to contribute recipes to this collection.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook:EuroAmericanHome

2. Nippy Cheese Rolls can be kept indefinitely. If that's not your cup of tea, you might as well try Mrs. Bruce's nutty nibbles.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook:nutty nibbles and cheese spread EuroAmericanHome

3.  When you're expecting guests, make something that waits well for company. This tuna fish with pepper sauce will put on a nice suit and tie and make polite conversation on the settee.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook tuna fish with pepper sauce:EuroAmericanHome

 4. "The Girls" like chicken breasts.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook chicken divan:EuroAmericanHome

5. For a light refreshment, a quickie will do.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook orange cream punch:EuroAmericanHome

6. Gooey buns are a great treat after a skating party. However, it is considered faux pas to have gooey buns after a swimming party.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook after swimming party:EuroAmericanHome

7.  This is what a healthy Sunday menu is supposed to look like. Would you like some sherbet with your red cabbage?

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook holiday menu:EuroAmericanHome

8.  It's not called losing weight. It's called reducing diet.

diet for gaining weight Pennsylvania cookbook:EuroAmericanHome

9.  Even back in 1956, the latest fashion and loans went hand in hand.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook:EuroAmericanHome

10. There are serious reasons to save.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook:EuroAmericanHome

11. Keep your ads simple. And nice.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook:EuroAmericanHome

12. Unless you want to write them in all caps. Then you can be as assertive as you like.

Germanntown Pennsylvania cookbook:EuroAmericanHome

I'm really hoping that the ladies of Germantown of yore won't sue me for reproducing their material.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


One of the things that will take some adjusting to in the U.S. is probably switching from metric to imperial. I've used meters, liters and Celsius to measure things all my life. I have no idea how much an ounce is, and I have no concept of yards or Fahrenheit. My calendars start on a Monday, not a Sunday. My Autumn starts on September 1st, not September 21st (although that may be just Trevor insisting to be astronomically correct). Also, I call it Autumn more than I call it Fall. The English taught in schools in Europe is British English and I don't think half the people who speak it as a foreign language know it by the name 'Fall' (yes, I make up my own Mickey-statistics system).

Fall (aka Autumn) is Trevor's favorite season. He's just decided that last year, so let's give him credit.

Mine is spring, but Autumn comes a close second. Autumn for me is an acquired taste.

Autumn always meant going back to school. There's no school to get back to this year, but there's definitely some learning to do. 

Autumn means wearing colorful cardigans, scarves and boots, probably the most comfortable clothes to wear. It means not suffering from the heat and the sweat but still not dressing in layers and turning into an immobile robotic figure; this is the perfect season to be comfy.

Autumn means going to the park and running in the leaves (watch out for dog poop though). While I'm there…

Autumn means picking rusty leaves and tawny acorns and shiny chestnuts.  And…

Sitting on a bench and reading a book.

Autumn is eating white grapes. Maybe supplement that by drinking white wine.

Autumn is going back to drinking hot tea. And ...

Learning something new.

Autumn is all about fighting my way through a quince. I really like the bitter flavor and the aftertaste. 

This year Autumn means going to the Apple Festival in this small Pennsylvania town, buying apple pie and eating it all in one day. 

This year Autumn means going to the farms and picking out a pumpkin and cooking it into a delicious soup and a pie. This year Autumn means eating tomatoes and peppers from our own garden.

This year Autumn means picking marigolds from our flower boxes and putting them on our table.

This year Autumn really means being together, and looking forward to my first American Thanksgiving. Halloween, not so much. 

This year Autumn means having fresh apple cider (with a little spiced rum).

I asked Trevor what Autumn means to him. Like a true man, he answered: football and marching bands. (He said more than that, but those were the first two things he mentioned.)

Autumn means listening to Manic Street Preachers' Autumn Song on repeat. It doesn't even make sense to me anymore; I just do it.

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