My first big baking, "Fail" came in home Economics class when I ruined a batch of Seven Minute Frosting. Over the years, I've tried at least a couple dozen times and either it never reached spreading consistency, or it formed large lumps of solid boiled sugar within the frosting. It bothered me. I'm rather good in the kitchen, and I can make everything from fondant to buttercream without difficulty-so why on earth couldn't I manage a stupid Seven Minute Frosting? Needless to say, today was a special day because what you see there peeking out from the coconut is a perfect seven minute frosting-no shards of hard candy enclosed.
I had to rig-up a double boiler using the basket of my food mill and a metal mixing bowl, but it did the trick, though the "seven minutes" was closer to fifteen. No matter, I made Mr. ETB the coconut cake with a lemon filling as an anniversary present (he adores coconut and lemon) and Danny marked the date in the cookbook with a note beside the recipe reading, "Mother didn't ruin it." No, no she did not.
If I thought my (then) elderly Home Economics teacher were still alive I'd track her down and send a photo. I remember her as rather severe and intimidating. After demonstrating numerous times that I could neither sew nor cook, she suggested I consider taking "Shop", advice which I followed. I was much better with rulers and saws than measuring cups and yardsticks.
Seven Minute Frosting from Better Homes and Gardens Cake and Pie Cookbook 1966
2 unbeaten egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place all ingredients except vanilla in the top of a double boiler. Beat 1 minute with an electric mixer or rotary beater. Place over but not touching boiling water and beat constantly until frosting forms stiff peaks (about 7 minutes or in my case, fifteen). Remove from water, scrape into a clean mixing bowl and beat in vanilla extract. Beat until frosting has a spreading consistency-about 2 minutes. This makes enough to frost a 2 layer cake or about 24 small cupcakes (not the mammoth ones you see today).
I baked a bread as well since the oven was already hot and I was going to be home all day. Danny made an interesting lima bean and tomato stew for supper that went well with a crusty bread. He's still making dinner every Friday and staying within a budget. The stew was incredibly cheap, so he gets to keep the difference (quite an incentive to be thrifty).
Around the time I was flunking Home EC, I started collecting the "Skulls". At one point I had more than a dozen, but these are all that remain. These aren't true Momento Mori" pieces (which I love but cannot afford) but they became a sort of trademark style of mine for many years, often worn on both hands. It was funny as I wasn't terribly tough looking, and they seemed so out of place with Laura Ashley dresses. I'd completely forgotten them until Danny mentioned something, and I went looking through my jewelry chest for them.
As a collector of vintage I sometimes overlook items I purchased new, and have had in my possession long enough to become, "Vintage." I used to object to the 80's being called vintage-now the 90's are. In the 90's I remember being pleased that slip dresses were back in fashion as I'd saved the white one from the late 70's I had to have after Debbie Harry wore one on the cover of Parallel Lines. Now, they're back as a 90's revival (though I've gotta say, wearing them over a poloneck is stooooooopid. In fact, it is so stupid it requires the "oooooooo" spelling).
I'm going to make an effort to dig out some of my older items I take for granted to feature on the blog. Eventually, someone will turn to Google images looking for a picture of the white poloneck with tiny red hearts printed on it that they bought in 1978, and I want to be able to help. I've been selective about what I've kept, and for various reasons they are important to me (though in the case of the poloneck, probably not important to the history of 20th Century fashion). It will be nice to give them some time out of storage, even if I wouldn't ever consider wearing them again.
Did you have any trademark looks you've abandoned over the years?
Have you ever successfully made seven-minute frosting?