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Archive for September, 2001

My First Stangl Purchase

In the 1940s, Stangl Pottery of Trenton, NJ started producing a distinctive line of
hand-carved, hand-painted dinnerware. The base was a local red clay, and the
designs were based on the pottery designs of the Pennsylvania Dutch. The top
surface was covered with a thin white clay and the patterns were etched by hand. The rest is sealed in a clear glaze – you can see the distictive red clay on the back and rim edges.

After the first firing, paints and glazes were also applied by hand. The artists who decorated the plates were part of the women’s workforce of the war effort, a la Rosie the Riveter. Legions of housewives with kercheives knotted on their heads like Lucy Ricardo. Each painter sat at her station with her own paints, applying colors to the pieces and initialing the backs when they were completed. Dishes of the same pattern vary widely because of the differences in the depth of the carving, the color blending of the paint and the hand of the artist.

In the close-up below, you can see the carved lines that let the red body of the pottery show through. The brushstrokes are visible – note the free form of each individual flower. In person, you can put yourself into a trance by staring at the beauty of these dishes.

thistlecloseup.jpg

There are more than 100 different patterns, and they were all meant to be for every day use. Dinnerware, giftware, lines for sportsmen and children, figurines and jewelry were also produced. They can still be found for a dollar or two at flea markets and junk shops, in antique stores and pottery shows they can be in the $8.00 to $20.00 range for the most part. Rare examples or limited production runs can be quite a bit higher. Learn more about Stangl here.

But don’t go buying up the shops or driving the prices up on eBay. Leave it all for me.

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The Soup Lady had every intention of ordering soup tonight. The soup
d’jour at the restaurant where we dined tonight was Loaded Baked Potato
Soup
, and it was probably great because by 6:30 pm , there was none left.

None of the other soups sounded like they’d be any thing to write home about, so I got a salad instead. To make up for the crushing disappointment you must be feeling now, I will entertain you by repeating a fragment of a conversation that I overheard from the next table:
He: mumble mumble mumble those two animals in front of it. She: Those are lions.
He: The New York Public library?
She: Yes. And do you know – they have names. And their
names are Patience and Fortitude.
He: Which one is Patience?
She: Patience is the one on the left.
He: How did you know that?
She: mumble mumble mumble

Life is so interesting, isn’t it, dears?

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Jellied Madrilene

The Soup Lady has discovered the concept that will soon be sweeping the internet: The Three Minute Blog, created by mg of Bad Samaritan. Here is The Joy’s contribution: Jellied Madrilene, a Three Minute Soup.

The Description :
A cold soup that is salty, sweet and tangy at the same time. Don’t omit the lemon at the end – that is what makes all the difference.

The Recipe :
Take one can of Campbell’s Beef Consome and refrigerate it overnight. Open the can and dump gelled form into a soup bowl. I recommend Stangl’s Golden Blossom as the dinnerware pattern of choice for this presentation. The creamy beige background flecked with brown and the signature brown rim is most complimentary to the cool, translucency of the consome. Here is where the artfulness comes into play. Use a fork to disturb the can-shaped soup until it resembles a mound of rough 1″ cubes. The cubes should have a careless lack of precision about them; do not make them look as if they came out of an ice-cube tray. Squeeze 1 -2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice over the top of the mound and garnish it with a two overlapping lemon slices that are thin
enough to read through. Use one single parsley leaf for an accent.

The Review:
Our panel of judges went to the test kitchens and gave this report:
The Mister: ” What the hell is that?”
The College Man: “No, Ma.I’m not eating beef jello.”
The Teen Queen: declined to participate.
The Cook: I don’t care. I like it. It really does taste good, and even if it didn’t, this is a fine example of the
Number One Rule around here: If it looks good, you will think it tastes good.

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Three Bean Chili Con Carne

It’s about the beans, not the peppers.

The Description:
This recipe has been designed for family consumption. It is not meant to be an endurance contest for some chuck-wagon wannabees. If your aim is to break out in a sweat, take a schvitz.

The Recipe:
Saute one diced onion and one diced green pepper in a small amount of oil until they are soft. Remove from pan and set aside. Use the same pan to brown 1/2 pound of ground beef. Season the meat with 1-2 teaspoons of salt. In a large stock pot, stir together meat, onions and peppers, one large can of tomato puree, one cup each of cooked (not canned) red kidney beans, great northern beans, and pinto beans. Season with one teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, one tablespoon of chili powder, and two tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Simmer over medium heat for about one hour, until the flavors are blended together. Serve in a wide soup bowl. Stand plain tortilla chips upright around the edges of the bowl. Top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and chopped black olives.

The Review:
Our panel of judges went to the test kitchens and gave this report:
The Mister: claims it gave him heartburn. “Don’t make it again.”
The College Man: ate heartily and took second helpings of the chips and cheese.
The Teen Queen: declined to participate.
The Cook: easy to make, not much on-your-feet time, too much leftover.

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What is This?

Welcome to the plog (short for souplog.) I’m planning on documenting
all of the soup that I make at home or consume elsewhere. Here is where I will
post the recipes for the soups that I make, or tell the tale of soup that I had
that was prepared by someone else.

Doesn’t sound too exciting? I didn’t want to break all the news at once – hang onto your hats: I will also be taking camshots of the soup I prepare as it is served in my collection of vintage American dinnerware! As soon as I get a camera. This blog design will compliment my dishes perfectly. As a matter of fact, I may even throw in some facinating details about the pattern of the dishes that are showcased. And maybe a shot of the dishes when they are not in use.

This could be good.
This could be very, very good.

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