I hope each one of you has been having a happy Easter weekend!
I know I am.
In fact, filled to the brim with the spirit of resurrection, I have decided to bring back a web series to the blog that will marry my love of food and cooking with some of my other passions - including my ongoing affinity for the fashion, customs, advertising, and food of the 1940's.
So while you can expect lots more delicious recipes, how to cooking videos, pithy observations, and my blog series How a Pork Tenderloin Saved My Life, I thought I would bring back "A Taste of Nostalgia - Cherry Hill Blogs" featuring a fictional character named Amanda Fitzpatrick.
Amanda is a married twenty five year old mother of two, who's husband Paul has recently taken a position as the only doctor in the sleepy village of Cherry Hill Saskatchewan in 1947.
As such, this is the first time she has ever been away from her home in Halifax Nova Scotia, her beloved mother, and her two older sisters.
Each week the Cherry Hill blog will feature a letter home from Amanda along with a vintage recipe from one of the many recipe books I've collected over the years.
I hope you enjoy!
December 27, 1947
It's a gloriously bright and crisp day here on the prairies, and though no amount of warning could have prepared this maritime girl for the bitter cold, I have taken your example and am choosing to look on the bright side.
And oh how bright it is!
Mother, the sun seems to shine her most golden on the coldest of days proving to me that you have always been right when you've said that God has a plan for everything.
Although I could let myself feel sad shut up in the house as I am, I realized this morning that I have never seen a sky more blue, or a sight quite so lovely as the sunlight glistening off the icy white crystals of snow just outside our door.
Of course the children love it.
Paul built them their very own ice rink as a surprise from Santa Claus. You should have seen him out there in the back yard after church on Christmas eve half freezing himself to death and telling the children he was working on a burst water pipe in need of repair.
Having such a good and loving husband along with the knowledge that you are there and proud of the choices I'm making has been warm comfort these past few months as I've settled into small town life - but, oh! How I've missed you.
Patti, and Deb too - and of course, Daddy, but it's you who I have missed the most.
Especially this Christmas, where I must admit, the challenge of running the household on my own, along with all the Christmas trimmings, cooking, and baking has been much more difficult than I ever anticipated - mother, you always made everything seem so easy.
Some days I wake up and have to pinch myself. One minute I was a little girl playing house...
Then in the very next breath I have somehow become a full fledged adult.
It makes me better understand now when you would sigh and whisper "Where does the time go?"
I feel the same when I look at the children and realize how much they have grown.
Bobby is a going concern, always on the move, forever curious with a sharp interest in learning how things work, and Sally, well she is just such an angel and so keen for school. She told me the other day she would like to be a doctor like her daddy and was so earnest I didn't have the heart to tell her otherwise.
Maybe by the time she's an adult girls will have more opportunities. Though I don't think I could ever imagine a day when Paul would take kindly to a female doctor. He gets frustrated enough by the nurses.
But who am I to talk out of turn?
After all, he does spoil me so.
And not a moment too soon!
As much as I worried before coming to Cherry Hill that I was joining a town filled with country bumpkins, nothing could be further from the truth. The ladies are all very smartly dressed and I have had to contend with some of the most formidable of homemakers.
Including a certain Mrs. John Wilson, head of the Protestant Ladies Association.
She is not only smart and modern, she is notorious for throwing the most original and creative dinner parties and luncheons in Cherry Hill.
Just last Autumn she threw a harvest dinner and had all the guests seated on bales of hay in the barn. I know this sounds terribly uncomfortable, but aside from the rash Paul came home with afterward, it was really quite avante garde.
As you can well imagine, I have been nervous about entertaining ever since.
Especially since Mrs. Wilson seems to have an interest and an opinion about everything I do as "doctor's wife" - which to her mind seems to imply that I don't have a brain in my head.
Last week it was my lipstick, the current cranberry red by Max Factor that she claimed brought forth a greenish tinge to my skin.
I mean really!
But Mother, you know me - always up for a challenge, I decided two can play the creative game and invited the Protestant Ladies Association in for a snowball tea the week before Christmas.
Though I have never been one to blow my own horn, I have to admit it was glorious.
Using a chenille bedspread as a tablecloth, darling little snowflake ornaments, and candlelight to offset the mood, the ladies of the auxiliary were more than complimentary about my creative hostessing.
And the fancy little ricotta snowball cakes were the hit of the party - though I fear the entire affair may not have had the desired effect on Mrs. Wilson who snubbed me at every turn.
Were it not for your voice in my head reminding me of Christian charity, it is quite possible a snowball would have ended up in her perfectly coiffed hair set.
In the meantime, Paul has advised me to keep a low profile.
And so that it is just what I shall have to do.
My first resolution for 1947 will be to blend into the very woodwork of Cherry Hill society thus redeeming myself in the eyes of the competitive Mrs. Wilson.
In the meantime, I thought I would share a clever little recipe for left over chicken or Christmas turkey. I saw it in last month's Good Housekeeping and knew I had to try it.
The absolute newest way of cooking is to serve food in clever little toast cups.
They're not only elegant, they also taste just wonderful with Chicken or Turkey à la King.
Please give my love to everyone and know that the children very much enjoyed the toys you sent. The Silly Putty and Slinky were particularly popular.
In the meantime, here is the recipe...
Read the next installment in the Cherry Hill Series here: Amanda's Quiche Tartlets
Chicken or Turkey a la King in Toast Cups
For printable recipe click here
8 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey
1 cup frozen peas
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Roll each slice of bread to roughly 1/4" thickness. Nestle and press each flattened piece into 8 6-ounce ramekins lightly coated with nonstick spray. Place into the oven and bake until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium - add onion, carrot, celery, salt, thyme and pepper. Cook until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Whisk in broth, and milk - cook, whisking often, until slightly thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in chicken, or turkey and peas - cook until bubbly and heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve mixture in toast cups.
All my love and Happy New Year to all!
Your loving daughter Amanda