Weekend doll blogging: boys of Indian summer edition

Historiann correspondant Indyanna brought his dolls over to play the other day, and sent this photo in homage to (one of) his hometown team’s victory in the NLCS and their appearance in the World Series this year for the first time in fifteen years.  (My vintage Barbies didn’t quite know what to make of these relatively tiny men!)  It’s actually a fair approximation of Indyanna’s eclectic interests:  “John Adams” (say it with me:  President Second-Worst!) is on the left, glaring at Mary Wollstonecraft in the background behind his collection of Pirates and Phillies bobbleheads and miscellaneous baseball dolls action figures.  I don’t follow baseball too closely, but I glanced at the sports section of the newspaper this morning and I have only one question:  what’s with the dumb haircuts, Phillies?  Some of them look like they were scalped by an angry, drunken Marine barber.

Longtime readers may remember Indyanna’s other photographic contributions to the doll blogging around here from last spring, the window box Barbies planted cheerfully in front of a Center City rowhouse.  Thanks for remembering us at Historiann HQ, Indyanna!

Friday fun foodfest: Mock Apple Pie!

Erica at Mental Hygiene has made that classic of twentieth-century commercial food pies, the Ritz Mock Apple Pie!  Short review:  it’s good, and actually tastes like an apple pie made with very small bits of apples rather than discernible apple slices.  (But watch out for sugar-syrup spillovers and burns on your stove and inside your oven.  Click the link above for more photos and the recipe.)

She also reports, via a crackerjack research discovery by the Crazy Pie Lady, that the pie has roots that long precede the Great Depression.  While not made with Ritz crackers, there were other versions of this pie made in the nineteenth century out of crumbs and scraps.  Here’s an 1858 letter from Sue Smith of Henderson, Texas that explains how to make an “apple” pie out of stale carbs:

I have learned to make a new kind of Pie I think you all would like them they taste just like an apple pie make some and try them see if you dont love them.  Take a teaspoon heaping full of tartarlic (sic) acid and dissolve it in water a teasp (sic) full of sugar and stir it in the acid then take cold biscuit or light bread and crumble in it. have enough to make to (sic) pies put it in a crust and one over it and bake it they are fully as good as Apple pies the spoonful of acid and cup of sugar is enough to make two pies.
Erica is right when she says that “[i]t must have taken quite a creative cook to figure out the right balance of carbs, acid, sugar, and stuff, but they managed to work out a convincing imitation.”  I checked in Susannah Carter’s The Frugal Housewife, or Complete Woman Cook (1772), and her apple pie also calls for the juice and zest of a lemon, so there was attention to the balance of flavors even in early American real apple pie recipes.  (She says “[y]ou must sweeten to your palate and squeeze a little more lemon,” p. 119.)  I looked but found nothing like the mock apple pie recipe above, so perhaps it is a nineteenth-century innovation borne of desperation on the prairie, while waiting for one’s apple trees to mature and produce sufficient fruit for pies.
It’s also possible that Mrs. Carter didn’t record recipes of such humble origins or common fame as the mock-apple pie made out of old biscuits or bread.  Her book documents some pretty high-style cooking, especially when it comes to sweet things and pastries.  For example, her cake recipies regularly begin with the words, “take six pounds of the best fresh butter, work it to a cream with your hands; then throw in by degrees three pounds of double refined sugar well beat and sifted” or “take twelve fresh eggs,” and regularly feature several pounds of almonds, dried fruit, and pints of french brandy and sack (ch. 12.)  While Mrs. Carter’s cooking was “frugal” in that it was dedicated not to waste food, the unwasted food wasn’t necessarily cheap or easy to come by in such prodigious amounts.  (Six pounds of butter in the eighteenth century?  Your hands and arms, and your cows’ udders, would fall off from all of that milking and churning on a family farm!  Leaving aside the question of expense, where but on a large plantation or at a substantial dairy farm, and with plenty of servant and slave labor, could one find that quantity of butter just waiting to be made into cake?)


Enough for today about food.  This blog is getting quite a reputation, with all of my recent links to Cakewrecks and pie-blogging here and here.  Historiann.com was the ultimate destination for two people googling “how did they bake cookies in the old days?”  Short answer:  they didn’t, at least not in Anglo-American kitchens before the nineteenth century.  Mrs. Carter has all manner of recipies for pies, cakes, puddings, and custards, but there are no cookies in Mrs. Carter’s cookbook.  (Maybe a search for them in a Dutch-language cookbook will yield success, but my guess is that cookies are a nineteenth century confection.)

I'm really interested in your work…

Prince...Diana Prince

Just go read GayProf’s musings on academic conference sex:  the pros and (mostly) cons.  I must be the most clueless person in the world, but I have never been aware of anything like this happening at a conference.  I mean no offense, but honestly, the only thing less appetizing than contemplating the boot-knocking that might be happening at an academic conference is knocking boots at an academic conference.  (Click here–you can always say you visited for the Wonder Woman photos.)

Question of the day

Who, other than John McCain, still pronounces the word “Washington” as “Warshington?”  Where does this pronunciation come from?  My 97-year old grandfather who died in February pronounced it that way, but otherwise I hadn’t heard it for years until this general election campaign.

Has anyone else noticed this?  (Please note:  this is not an invitation to dump on McCain as old in the comments.  He can’t help that–he tried to become President in 2000 when he was eight years younger, and I defy any of you anti-McCain people this year to argue that he would have done as poorly or worse than George W. Bush.  I don’t have any brief with his age, just with his policies.)  I’m simply wondering if the “Warshington” pronunciation is due to a regional dialect, or generation, or perhaps something else.  Apparently, I’m not the first person to wonder about this–inquiring minds want to know, but the answers proposed at those sites devolve into political attacks.  The Linguist says it’s a midwestern thing–were McCain’s parents midwesterners?  (For the record, my grandfather was, but so am I originally and I’ve never said “Warshington.”)  From what I understand, McCain had the typical Navy brat upbringing all over the place, and only moved to Arizona as an adult.  A native Washingtonian says that it’s the local pronunciation by the hometown crowd.  He notes that McCain attended Episcopal High across the river from D.C. as a teenager, and says that “‘Warshington’ is merely the hometown version of ‘Noo Yawk’ or ‘Missourah.'”

Who's your daddy?

The bitter, shrill, and probably very ugly feminist Neil H. Buchanan at Feminist Law Profs has some interesting data on sex discrimination among lawyers’ salaries, and his analysis also accounts for the parenthood status of the lawyers.  Long story short:  men with children make more money than everyone else, and women with children make less money than everyone else.  Child-free men still make more than child-free women:

My tentative results confirm the “daddy bonus” that others’ have found in other studies, with the range of estimates suggesting a 15-20% salary advantage for fathers. Unlike previous studies, however, I also find a strong suggestion that women with children endure a “mommy penalty,” earning perhaps 10-15% less than the childless (and thus 25-35% less than fathers). I also find some weaker statistical support for the hypothesis that childless women earn less than childless men, with my estimates suggesting an 8-9% difference disfavoring women.

Those of you who are social scientists may want to gaze in admiration at all of the wonky goodness in his study.  Me, I’m a bottom-line kind of gal, and that bottom line speaks volumes.  Buchanan proposes three possibilities for why men with children are rewarded so lavishly:

[T]hree possibilities: fathers feel the need to work harder to bring home more bread for the family, men wait to become fathers until their salaries are high enough to support a growing family, and (my cynical favorite) fathers shirk childcare responsibilities by hiding in the office and incidentally raising their salaries.

Maybe–but let’s focus on the disadvantages to women, who lose no matter what they choose to do with their uteri.  Clearly, women who don’t have children are punished at work, because what the hell are they doing in contract law when they should be home reproducing, and women with children are punished because what the hell are they doing in the D.A.’s office when they should be home with their children?  Conversely, men who reproduce are doing exactly what the cultural script of “compulsory heterosexuality” demands:  they’ve spawned, and they’re busy providing for their children with their hard work.  Men without children are a little more suspect, perhaps because of fear and ressentiment of the gays, but not nearly as suspect as women who expect to be paid for their work.  What’s wrong with these broads–don’t they know that their families and society at large are entitled to their uncompensated labor? 

That’s what makes the work go ’round, kiddies:  women’s volunteer or grossly undercompensated labor.  Seriously, Neil–thanks for the crunchy, data-filled goodness.  Next time, can you serve that up with a mason-jar sized Pisco Sour?

Exclusive report: Joe rocked the rally at Moo Moo U.

Historiann commenter ej attended the Democratic rally today at Moo Moo U., and sent in a special report:

So today I drove in to Potterville with my husband and 1-year-old daughter to hear Joe Biden speak at Moo Moo U.  Although doors opened at 10:30 (for an estimated 1 p.m. speech) we did not arrive on campus until about 12:15. In part because there was no way my squirmy little daughter could wait any longer than that, but mostly because I was unable to fathom more than a few hundred folks attending this event. In spite of the recent New York Times’ claim that Potterville is up for grabs, Republicans dominate Weld county! And I’ve always thought that even the student body leans firmly to the right. And honestly, it was just Joe Biden, not Barack Obama.  Much to my surprise, the line snaked all the way from Butler-Hancock Arena to the very end of the practice field! And people had been streaming into the building for over 90 minutes by that point.  The wait was long, but it did provide us with the opportunity to see the man himself arrive in his bus caravan shortly before 1:00. 

Once we passed through security, we found a packed arena, standing room only! After a brief intro by some local congressional rep whose name I did not hear, the Dem challenger for the 4thCD, Betsy Markey introduced Joe Biden. The crowd was extremely enthusiastic, in part because some of them had been waiting since 8am-including several of my students. Who knew? Biden seemed pretty energized, perhaps in part to make up for the controversy he’s caused over the last few days with his “attack” remarks, but he didn’t bring that up.  There weren’t any surprises in this speech, which seemed fairly familiar to me because of my obsessive CNN watching over the last few weeks, but was energizing nonetheless. He hit the standard themes of economy and failed Republican policies, and condemned McCain for his robocalls and gutter tactics (my words, not his), and really hit home the need to get out the vote (which probably means even more calls chez Historiann until everyone in the household votes!).  Ed. note:  how the hell will they know when I vote?  All of this nagging is making me less inclined to vote early, quite frankly.

The crowd was a mix of students and regular folk, who were all extremely excited. I think I and my companions were more moved by the sight of so many enthusiastic Democrats in Potterville than we were by Biden, and that’s not intended to be a critique of Biden! According to early estimates, nearly 4,000 people were there-boy was I off! But it really seems as if the Democrats have a shot here in Weld county.  As a friend remarked, “when you see so many boys in baggy jeans showing up for a Democratic rally, you know the tide is turning our way!” So all in all, a worthwhile trip that made me want to proceed immediately to a local polling center and cast my vote-which I couldn’t do because the baby fell asleep as soon as she got into the car! But it was nice to finally see some love from the Dems after having to put up with those incessant commercials. There’s got to be some benefit from living in a swing state!

Ed. note:  re:  those boys in baggy jeans.  Yes, indeed:  I remember not-so-fondly, ej, that when we marched in the Homecoming Parade with the Weld Dems in 2004, we were heckled by the fratboys on 10th Ave.  Thanks for the in-person reportage–maybe the tide is turning after all.

Hard times on the distaff side in kiddie lit?

Bridget Crawford at Feminist Law Profs asks an interesting question:  “is there a gender angle to the ‘financial hard times’ narratives and books marketed specifically to girls?”  It was inspired by this article at Slate by Rebecca Perl, who waxed nostalgic about her 70s recession/stagflation childhood and the large number of children’s literature titles that seemed to be about hard times:

One of the ways I coped was by burying my nose in books and discovering kids who had it worse than I did. Like Ramona Quimby, whose dad got fired and took up residence on the couch. And Laura Ingalls, whose dad kept hitching up the wagon to drag his bonneted brood to the middle of nowhere. Many of the books I discovered during the late ’70s featured themes of economic hardship that made my circumstances seem manageable by comparison—a happy coincidence, I thought at the time. Looking back, I’m not so sure this was an accident.

Crawford notes that the big-screen adaptation of the American Girl franchise’s Depression-era kid, Kit Kittredge, was released this summer, and notes that the other books Perl mentions all feature girls as main characters.  Thus her question:  is this a coincidence, or is there a gendered angle to hard times in kid lit?

I’m about the same age as Perl, and I have no memory of Ramona’s dad being out of work.  But that’s not to say that I was clueless about class and economic deprivation–I tended to read lots of historical children’s books natch, not just the Little House books, but also those beautiful books by Lois Lenski, which (more often than not) featured girls who wore flour sack dresses and took their lunches to school in tin pails (like Strawberry Girl, if I recall correctly.)  I also really loved a biography of Jupiter, who was a boy enslaved on Thomas Jefferson’s father’s plantation and grew up with Jefferson.  (At least, that’s what I remember–I can’t seem to find this title anywhere.  It was probably published in the 1960s.  Maybe I dreamed it up?)  On the other hand, the modern stories written in the 1970s (Are You There, Judy Blume?  It’s Me, Historiann) were more about “social issues” of the day like divorce, menstruation (Are You There, God…?), voyeurism (Then Again, Maybe I Won’t), and scoliosis, of course.  Scoliosis was a big fear of ours in the late 70s, thanks to Deenie!

(Hey, fellow early American/borderlands warfare freaks–how did I miss this Lois Lenski title when I was a child, Indian Captive:  the Story of Mary Jemison?  I guess I’ll put that on my Christmas list this year!)

All of this is to say, yours is a great question, Bridget, but I’m clearly lost in a fog of nostalgia and can’t venture an answer.  Maybe some of our lurking lit profs, folklorists, historians, and other ex-girls and former boys can chime in with their reflections and best guesses.  What do you think?