Friday, January 27, 2012

the magic of caffeine

Those of us who love our coffee already know its benefits.  But humans are not the only ones whose lives can be enhanced by caffeine!

I have always complained about my black thumb with houseplants. Last year, my friend Jennifer looked at the rather pathetic specimens around here and advised me that her mother, who has the most fabulous plants, waters them with coffee. i thought that was interesting and then forgot about it til a couple of weeks ago.  My basil plant, which I had brought indoors when summer was over, is near my sink, under the fluorescent under-cabinet light. It was doing ok for a while but the leaves were getting smaller and smaller, as they do with insufficient light (or so I thought).  In a moment of desperation, I poured a cup of diluted leftover coffee into the plant and now I wish I had taken a "before" picture.  Within a few days, it started to grow new leaves and they were normal size!  Yesterday I snipped off the top leaves and used them in my pasta sauce.  You can't believe how amazing this is!

 I've been watering my asparagus fern with coffee, as well - and it is sprouting new growth and looking quite handsome. Have you ever tried this?
After I finished admiring my happy plants I decided to move some magazines from the cookbook shelves. And what was in with the magazines?  Two relics from the 1950's.   In junior high school we had to take sewing and cooking. I flunked sewing but fared much better in cooking class, where we learned to make such items as cinnamon toast and tomato aspic (not to be eaten together).  Public Service (the electric and gas company) had a test kitchen and we made field trips over there periodically.  I still have what apparently was our textbook.  Why there is a picture of a boy on the cover is beyond me, since boys were not permitted to take cooking and sewing: only shop.
The book is full of recipes for such delicacies as frankfurter stew, dinner-in-a-dish (don't ask) and salmon macaroni loaf.  Two particularly tempting recipes caught my eye tonight as I leafed through the booklet.
Snowball Salad
Thoroughly blend a 3 oz. pkg cream cheese, 3 tbsp mayonnaise and 1/2 cup of chopped nuts.
Fill cavities of (canned) peach halves with the mixture; put two halves together with toothpicks.  Roll each peach in cocoanut and arrange on salad greens.  If desired, serve with whipped cream.
Standard Cream of Vegetable Soup
2 cups vegetable pulp
2 cups thin white sauce
Cook vegetables till tender, drain and press through coarse sieve.  Combine pulp with white sauce.  Serve hot.

The second piece of ephemera was a menu from 1955. My parents had taken us to Washington D.C. and we had apparently eaten at this place. I wonder if it still exists.

And here are the specials of the day.  Read it and weep.

P.S. - If you're interested, I'm doing a UFO tutorial over at the blog And Then We Set it On Fire


Gerrie said...

Those recipes are hysterical!!

Hilda said...

I think the boy/man is on the cover because he's being served a slice of the cake--why else would the gal bake?! Too funny! I've used coffee grounds mixed with potting soil, but never watered with coffee...will have to give it a try. My plants periodically suffer from benign, and sometimes not so benign, neglect!

Janelle said...

I have never tried the coffee technique so I will have to give it a try. My kitchen faces the south, so my window gets a lot of sun. I bought a basil plant a few months ago and put it in that window, and it has been growing like crazy. I have had to put it in a bigger pot once and it needs to be transplanted again. I know that if it weren't for that window and all the lovely light my plant would be dead. I hope that yours continues to perk up and do well. I love using basil to cook with too.

Connie Rose said...

Save one of those filets for me, please. I had to take Sewing and Foods, as well. The latter is where I picked up my lifelong hatred of tuna casserole. The caramel toast was good, though.

Cathy Bargar said...

Honestly ladies - have you or anyone you know ever voluntarily eaten tomato aspic? I remember first learning to make this as a child in Brownies in Canada - thought it was maybe some strange Canadian thing, and you sure weren't gonna get me to eat it - but then when I was back in the States in Jr. High home ec, here we go again with the aspic., where I decided perhaps it was some socioeconomic class thing that didn't apply to me.

But how 'bout that jug of wine for two for 50 cents on that menu? Now we're talking!

Anonymous said...

Reading the recipes, I had the odd sensation of laughing and wanting to throw up at the same time.

Any thoughts on using espresso with the plants?

Beverly said...

I will have to give the coffee a try, maybe my bird of paradise plant will decide to bloom- something it hasn't done in several years.

I would have to agree about the recipes, none of them sounded particularly tempting to me. But I sure could go for that 50 cent wine!!

Anonymous said...

Those recipes are so funny. I'm reminded of my nursing school patient care procedures book, which includes things like "turpentine stupes," a supposed cure for chest congestion.

tiedyejudy said...

I haven't used straight or diluted coffee. However, I pour my coffee into a pre-heated carafe after it has brewed, and used to save the hot water from the carafe I used to warm it up, and watered my plants with it once it had cooled. The coffee adds some acid to the soil, and a lot of plants are acid-loving. That might be why they are perking up... better than straight tap water!

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