Sunday, November 24, 2013

Where has Happened to Civility?

I have had this on my mind for awhile and today at the risk of not being politically correct I am going to exercise one of my 1st amendment rights, a little free speech. Last week-end Mr. Dude and I spent a wonderful afternoon with loving, polite, gracious people.  Today I was reminded, that isn't how it always works in today's world.

In most dictionaries  the synonyms for civility are: courtesy, politeness , consideration, good manners and respect.  Respect, such a small word that means so much. Esteem, honor, regard, admiration, reverence, just to name a few. 

When I did not move my car fast enough, after the light changed, the man in the car behind me ( who was old enough to know better) Honked his horn and gave me a salute that had nothing to do with the flag! I was suddenly reminded of the erosion of civility in America. Is rude and disrespectful  behavior to others becoming our new norm?

Dr. P.M. Forni, a professor at John Hopkins University co- founded the John's Hopkins Civility project in 1997 and has written several excellent books on the subject. One which we should all read is, " The Civility Solution, What to Do when People are Rude". The instant response, for some, to rudeness is not Civility which only increases the Heat level!  The old adage of Honey instead Lemon--hmmm.

The subject has now become so involved and complex that Anger Management is prescribed routinely along with medications in the hope that these things will alter behavior. Is it so difficult to comprehend and understand that to choose civility in life as a response, means we are participating in a social network exchange that will enhance our lives and the lives of others? The response we receive from others for this simple behavior will bring peace and harmony to our lives and the lives of those around us.

I am reminded of our duty and responsibilities of parenting and how complacent some of us have become.  How many times have I heard a parent of teenagers say, ", Well things have changed since your time as a teen". Some things have changed but simple respect and good manners toward others should not be some of them. We have a new scourge of destruction in our system now, called "Bullying". This technical internet world has not made us nicer people, it seems to have given some, the license to treat each other in terrible almost socially psychotic behavior. How does this happen?

Lack of manners is not confined just to the young. In our First Amendment rights included in our US Constitution, is our right of peaceable assembly without interference and the right of free speech. The display of disruption at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, when the invited Police Commissioner of New York, Raymond Kelly was not allowed to deliver his address, was a violation of his rights. It was not a peaceable demonstration, it was disrespectful and a host of other things. It is everyone's right to disagree with laws or policies, but there is a way to address this and this was not the way. It was a sad display and not just disrespectful of Mr. Kelly, but disrespectful of an honored institution of learning. Mr.. Dude, who is a 3rd generation graduate of Brown was appalled and saddened by this behavior.

Regardless of your opinion of Mr. Kelly's policies, he has a resume that none of the students have yet to achieve and for this he deserves respect!. He is a Vietnam vet, He has spent 43 years of his life in public service, has several college degrees, including NYU, St. John's Law and Harvard, plus many honorary degrees. Say what you will, but NYC is now a safer place since his tour as commissioner.  If the protestors and bothered to listen they might have learned that after 9-11 he created the 1st counter Terrorism bureau in any municipal Police dept in the country by stationing NYPD Detectives in foreign countries. I know that the objection to the law of search in NY is supposed to be about racial profiling, strange that the statistics have shown that the very people who have been saved from the horror of shootings have been the people in the most disadvantaged communities.The parents who were proud of their adult children's behavior have forgotten the rules of civility, respect and good manners.

This incident prompted Brown University President, Christina Paxton to issue this statement" "The conduct of disruptive members of the audience is indefensible and an affront to civil democratic society and to the Universities core values of dialog and the free exchange of views"   Mr. Dude and I are grateful for this statement.

When George Washington was a school boy he wrote in a paper 111 points of Civility. # 1 was Respect!
# 111 was, " labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called, Conscience !

I am not asking you to agree with me about this issue, but please give me the respect to voice my opinion, just as I would respect your right to disagree.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Neighborhood Kindness and Sharing

In these times of uncertainty  and often strife and worry, it is a wonderful feeling to know that there is an oasis of kindness and love in our small neighborhood. I believe it was 7 years ago that my neighbor and her husband decided to host a meal of celebration. It was a fairly small gathering then. Neighborhood friends, church friends, family and home school friends. One meal became 2 and now I think there are 4. All ages are invited, which I can attest to--we are Grandparents and we have a lot of company.

I met these wonderful people through my son and daughter-in law and count that as an added blessing to our life. Our first introduction was a Morning Brunch, in the "Grand Dining room"! I was asked to bring a breakfast dish that was a favorite. I made a casserole of Bacon, Eggs, and home fries that went over pretty well and when asked, I supplied the recipe.  The "Grand Dining room" was their 2 car driveway!

This past Monday we attended the annual Thanksgiving Dinner celebration! Greeting us, as we arrived, was
 these charming fellows!  You can see , in the background, that a crowd is gathering.  Some of us had not seen each other since the last gathering. A lot of conversation and catching up to do.

Once gathered, at this point there were at least 40 adults and countless children of every age, Our host lead us in a prayer of blessing.
The fellowship that is shared by so many people, and finding new friendships helps to give us a better understanding of people from all walks of life when we are joined together in this spiritual circle.  What a great start to the day! 

Every pot luck dish that appearing was fodder for conversation, "Hmm, that looks interesting, wonder who made that?", "Oh, my, try this, it is delicious", I heard that often.  The hostess and Host supplied the Turkey and ham--all side dishes came from the guests. Just a few to list were, salads, mashed potatoes, corn puddings, stuffing, cranberry sauce, muffins, gravy, green bean casserole, and do not forget Yams and glazed carrots.  We couldn't get a good picture of the buffet table because, it was crowded from the first Moment. "ladies first"
The term " Groaning Board" was certainly appropriate.  There were tables set for those of us who wanted table seating and then there were those who preferred picnic style under the shade of the tree. I am afraid that some of us might have wanted to join them, but knew that once down, probably would never be able to get up!!! It is those old knees that tell us that, but these young ladies did not have any problems at all.

A group of boys played ball, conversations flowed, and friendships renewed. The group continues to grow.
The mail lady came ti deliver the mail and she was given a plate of lunch, Other neighbors shared their driveways for cars, and didn't mind kids running and chasing the balls. People walking by were asked, " would you like to join us, there's plenty"?  Mr. Dude and I feel so special to have been invited to be part of this, and I am convinced that if more neighborhoods participated in this type of thing, there would be more understanding and more caring and love to share. This is an amazing couple with children of their own who have made it their mission to bring people together in fellowship. Yes it is work, but I am gratified in the results. We all go home, with wonderful memories and look forward to the next time.  Cindy our Hostess always sends us home with a little bag of pleasure. Mine had chocolate, yummy!

.Yesterday I received our invitation for the Christmas eve Morning brunch. I am already thinking of what I will be bringing. The only thing that will be missing will be my own children and Grandchildren, but I know that there will be hugs and love from those around us, and another celebration will begin.  Yes, this is a busy time of year, and most of us can't afford to have 40 people for breakfast, but when you share the way this is accomplished think of the gift you can bring to so many in this season.!  At the end of the day, it isn't the materials possessions that will matter, it will be the gift of love, friendship, kindness  and helpfulness that we share with others. Truly what life is all about--try it, you will like it!

Monday, November 18, 2013

ALDI and I

Quite a few years ago now I met Aldi in Europe! What a fun time that was, but the memories faded when I returned to the U.S. Then one day I read in my local paper that Aldi was coming to my area and we would meet again.
I know, you thought I had a secret admirer, but the truth of the matter is that I have become an admirer of Aldi. We have quite a few very good Grocery stores in our area, some better than others. All known for quality. Albrect Discount or Aldi as we know it, actually has two divisions. Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud. In the United States Aldi Nord operates as Trader Joe's and Aldi Sud operates as Aldi.

The two Albrect brothers, Karl and Theo were no strangers to the grocery business when they began this billion dollar business. They both had worked in their Mothers' small grocery store in Essen Germany which she started in 1913 and it is still a working store.. They were and are a force in the grocery business throughout Europe and Scandinavia.

In 1979 they brought Aldi to the US . The first stores were in Idaho and now there are over 1200 stores in 32 states, with more coming every day. Their highly efficient and cost savings way of doing business enables them to bring groceries to the public that compete  with  the price points of other stores, and in these times of economic stress, everyone is looking for their ability to lower their grocery bills.

When this store first came to town, many of the customers were unfamiliar with the 25 Cents system, but this was not unknown to us and made a lot of sense.  You insert a quarter in the slot of the first cart in line, this unlocks it and you begin your trek of shopping with your list in hand. The carts are kept clean, they are not found wandering all over the highway and parking lot and it keeps the cost down.  I have been told that a lost cart costs several hundred dollars, which when taken home by someone, replacement costs are reflected  in the product lines. Like it or not, someone has to pay for them. With this system, you are essentially renting the cart and you will receive your 25 cents when you return the cart.  This unknown customer above is getting her cart .

You enter the outer and then the inner doors. This is designed to keep the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer. Each store is identical in its design, making it easy to find things. I have never been bold enough to ask this of any of the cashiers, but I have been told that in the US they have lower staff levels and usually start them at a higher rate of pay.  I am not sure whether the staff would agree with that, but that's the gossip. Many of the products have their own brand names and at certain times of the year they have many German delicacies.  We do have many Winter European visitors in this area and it is not unusual to hear other languages being spoken. Their dark rye bread and mustard's are a big favorite, but you cannot get them all year. They are the largest supplier of  wine in Germany and now I am seeing a very nice selection of wines in the local store. I have yet to try them, but I had a conversation with a delightful customer just the other day, who said they are lovely table wines. This same customer was standing in front of the display below, enthusiastically remarking on the price and quality of this product.

I have compared their private brands to some others, and find that many times they are more health oriented. Some of the Cereals have less sugar, and the cost is usually half of what you would pay in another store. You will not find some of the fancier items, such as Fresh Herbs, and other exotics, but the produce you do find is good quality and they support many local suppliers.  When blueberries were in season the price was so competitive,  women were buying entire flats and returning the next day to do it again. They do follow the seasons and you cannot always get the same item.  Every week there are items on sale.  This week I bought 1lb of butter for 1.29 and since I only use butter I bought a few for the freezer. As you can see, from the picture above, "No Frills", but that coincides with their motto:  "Competitive Advantage Through Efficiency"!

Both of the brothers have gone on to the Grocery store in the sky, but family still control the business including one of the daughters. Aldi is not going away anytime soon and will continue to be a force in the grocery field bringing the right prices to their customer base.

We are at the check out now, and here the cashiers actually make change out of their cash drawer. Remember, Cash or Debit card is  the only form of payment. This was another new way of doing business for some, but evidently it has not hurt business. Some days are very crowded and the parking lot is always full. I chose a later time of day to visit. I did my shopping and Mr. Dude took the pictures. We always try to ask permission of anyone who will be shown or only take the back of  of people, not everyone wants to participate in my ramblings. If you are lucky enough to have either a Trader Joe or an Aldi on your vicinity, stop in you will be glad that you did.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

CookBook Memories and Musings

Recently I found a cook book of interest to me and while I was Listing it in my Etsy Store, SwedishGalsAttic, I opened it to find a notation, "To Ablre from Beatie, Xmas 1935,
with Yuletide Greetings!

This book was the 1934 edition of the Rumford Complete Cookbook by Lily Haxworth Wallace.
The Rumford Chemical Co of Rumford R.I., NO , not a typo, yes a  Chemical company. Remember the Can of Rumford in everyone's closet, I do. They entered the culinary market in 1908 and had a dept of Home economics where the recipes in the original cook book were tested. In 1900 Lily Haxworth Wallace, who was a graduate of the National Training School of Cookery, London, England, emigrated to the U.S. and went to work for Rumford. She became a guru and famous cookbook writer, and author during  the first half of the 20th century in the US.

All of this because I acquired this green cook book with a remembered name!  I am not a collector of cook books, but have a lot of them, only because I love to cook. This sent me scurrying to find some of my own older books to see what I would find inside. I never realized and always took for granted notations I found in my books, which almost always belonged to someone else.

I chose to single out a few things that interested me and why they had invaded my own personal memory bank.  Once I began the journey I found it difficult to stop, one thing would always lead to another.
This tattered copy of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking Mr. Dude and I found in a box of things lovingly left for me to look at by His Aunt Ethel who we all referred to as Tanta.  She had kept and used this book since 1934, when she married a man with a German heritage.  Her sweet note to me says" Read this Book, Cute Illustrations and Explanations" . It is put together with scotch tape and shows its wear, but that doesn't matter to me. What matters, is that every time I read this message in her handwriting, her face appears before me and I remember!

For a number of years I was very active in Vasa,  a Swedish Organization. There were many other representatives of other Scandinavian Countries  who also belonged to our  Lodge. One day while making Ärtsoppa or Pea Soup as we say in America, in the kitchen for our Club's Thursday ärtsoppa lunch, a lovely and elegant woman, I only knew as Mrs. Olsen came up to me and said I want to give you something. She presented me with her, well worn copy of , "Julejentenes Kokebok" from the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Chicago, Ill. In the front of this book is the Norwegian Prayer for the dinner table.
The book has been much used and I chuckle a little when I see the notations after some of the recipes, the emphatic GOOD with exclamation point for the waffle recipe by Lillian Erickstein must really be special.  I have not tried that but I have actually used many recipes in this book. The recipes are all very similar to my own background, but the best part is the memory of  the elegant kind woman, with the lovely accent, who was taking the younger member under her wing, and I remember!
 One day while shopping at an estate sale, I saw this poor little book in the trash bin. I did not know what it was because the outside of the book was really a mess, but  out of  respect for the written word, rescued this from the trash bin and asked the person in charge if I could have it. This poor misused little hard cover book, turned out to be " A calendar of Dinners" with 615 recipes by Marion Harris Neil. This was a 1925 copy and was produced By Crisco, a Proctor and Gamble Product.  The first 5 pages were the story of Crisco and its manufacture. Wonderful little tidbits of information on many subjects, Their presentation is sometimes amusing, even though that was not their intention. Their intention was to educate and  reassure the home cook in 1925. This was the 25th edition so I am assuming that this was popular. In any event I had to keep it, and I will always remember how I acquired it.
I have had this little book so many years now, I cannot remember how I acquired it, it has always been a favorite. It is the "Standard Diary Reminder" and the date is 1927. I do know that I have left everything as I found it. Every page is a hand written recipe, all in 1927. I don't know who the owner was, but have imagined many times, who she was--where was she from, did she have children? I am certain she had many friends and she loved to cook. She lists a macaroon recipe by M. Hall, Cora Besson"s Molasses cake, Gussie H's Potato Cake.  Have you ever wondered who these people were and where are their families now? What turns did their lives take? Do the people that came after them still use their recipes? Toward the end of the book the writing changed and it left a question mark in my musing--did someone take over her job of recording, did she ask the contributors to write out their own recipe? Did something happen in her life that made it impossible for her to continue.  The life of this woman was so recorded in every page. This book was started in January 1927.  July 4 1927 Beatrice wrote the last recipe for Cream Filling. This wonderful little documentary of someone's culinary life is kept in a safe spot in my desk. I hope that someday someone will enjoy it as much as I have.

My maternal Grandmother had a great influence in my life. I was the oldest of three children and her first Grandchild , we  spent a lot of time together. She was a great influence in many aspects of my life. A deeply religious woman, she was instrumental in my own religious life. She had been a single mother long before we even heard that term. My Grandfather had been dead before I was born. She owned a very successful restaurant before woman "did things" like that. By the time I came along, she no longer had the restaurant , was semi retired and served lunch to some of her regular customers in her very large dining room. Many times she was just taking care of them with a hot meal.  My job, when I was there, was to know how to set the table properly, and help her serve, then help with the dishes, which I learned had a system to it. No mechanical dish washers in those days!  My Grandmother lived into her 80s, when the years of hard work caught up with her and she went to sit at the feet of her Master and Savior.  In going through her things, I found an interesting book that she used, on a daily basis to document her caning schedule.
This page starts in May of 1942 , but two pages before that was the canning schedule of 1939. Left over Parowax labels by Tavern were still in the book. I knew that she worked very hard and the stove was always on, but as a young child we never really put it all together. She was a wonderful cook, and taught my Mother and my Mother's brother how to cook.They both worked in the restaurant when they were young. They in turn were instrumental in teaching me to love the art of good food. I will be forever grateful for that. Mrs. Roberts was well known in her town, and even at the end of her life, while in the hospital,  was reminding me to deliver an apple pie to a man I had known all my life, who was now a "shut In". Isn't it a wonder how some people are always the :Givers" in life and others do not seem to know how to be?

Evidently Her market, "Foley's Market" who promised prompt Deliveries, would send out a postcard of their weekly or monthly, not sure which, price structure and specials.  Thought you might get a chuckle out of this one--my oh my--how things have changed! Imagine that-- leg of lamb, domestic too, 25 cts a lb. I can't remember when I have been able to afford a leg of lamb these days. 
Thank you for following me through my blog of some of my memories.  I hope that this encourages all of you to take a second look at all of your treasures, and fantasize about the people who once owned that special little book that you now own.