Parties and Visits · Recipe Collections · The Vintage Kitchen

Recipes for Your Porch Party

Table filled with tea sandwiches, dessert, coffee, and cake for a porch party.
Put together a porch party your friends will remember.

In the Twenties and Thirties porch parties gathered people together. In a day before air conditioning, home owners and guests embraced any opportunity to spend time outside. Picnics on the grass weren’t for everyone, although they were popular. The porch party gathered everyone onto the cool front porch. They sat in comfortable chairs and enjoyed special nibbles or even a full luncheon. And if the gang didn’t gather for a special occasion, such as a shower, guests usually brought along their workbags. Knitting, embroidery, tatting, and crochet kept hands busy while conversation flew. Porch parties were so popular that entire menus often appeared in magazines and cookbooks.

Revive this tradition and host a porch party of your own. All you need is a clean, nicely decorated porch, a few guests, and some food. Invite a few favorites over and give these recipes a gander. These recipes for your porch party will fit your vintage (or not so vintage) gathering perfectly. They were designed for outdoor entertaining in warmer weather.

You could add hot tea to this menu and call it an afternoon tea. Or use the Peruvian chocolate recipe from the list and call it a luncheon party. (You may want to have a pitcher of water available, however. The Peruvian chocolate recipe is very rich, iced or hot.)

Add a small bowl of mixed olives and a bowl of mixed nuts to the foods listed here and you have a beautiful Twenties porch luncheon. The cream mints provide the perfect ending to a vintage luncheon. They cleanse the palate after a meal, and appeared on tables regularly.

1. Sweet and Savory Sandwiches

These Sweet and Savory Tea Sandwiches offer four options for quickly made, tasty sandwiches. Serve them at your next vintage-style small gathering or formal tea. And if you’ve never hosted a formal tea but always wanted to, these sandwiches will start you off.

2. Peruvian Iced or Hot Chocolate

This Peruvian chocolate tastes like something between a normal hot cocoa recipe, and the thick drinking chocolate that you find in cafés. This is a drink to savor. It’s not too sweet. Enjoy this one with a friend or friends and some good conversation.

3. Fruited Whipped Cream

If you’re looking for a light and cool dessert for warm weather, look no further. This Fruited Cream recipe from the 1920s fills the requirement. It’s smooth, fruity, sweet, and cold. And Fruited Cream gives us an example of some of the best from the Twenties kitchen.

4. Many Layered Jam Cake

The Many Layered Jam Cake is one rich cake. A bit more involved than an everyday cake, Many Layered Jam Cake definitely tastes like more than a sum of its parts. This is a delicious, decadent cake for your next vintage gathering.

5. Colored Cream Mints

Looking for something to add sparkle to your next small get-together? These easy fondant Cream Mints are simple to make and they taste great! And even better, this 1920s recipe was almost lost to time.

Use these recipes for your porch party. Or your patio party. Or your pool party. These dishes will make your party, whatever it is, a memorable event.

The Creative Corner · Vintage Ways

Make Yourself a Rainy-Day Box

Sometimes I come across vintage advice that is so good that it stops me cold. It doesn’t have to be huge, or timeless. It just has to be useful. Like the suggestion to iron a circular tablecloth from the center out to keep it straight and even, and then to roll it on a curtain rod to keep it that way instead of folding it. Who figured that out? And more importantly, how did information like this ever fall into the black hole of forgetfulness? Today’s advice: Make yourself a Rainy-Day Box.

A lined basked filled with a ball of yarn and sock knitting needles. Next to it sit four spools of silk thread in green, pink, red, and blue.
My Rainy-Day Box filled with socks to knit and silk thread for lacemaking.

A vintage idea that still stands strong

Rainy days can be dreary. A truth no less accurate today than it was 100 years ago. The air carries a chill, rain pelts on the windows, and the skies look gray and foreboding. This is not exactly the type of weather that makes us want to grab a filled picnic basket and head for the nearest park. So what do you do if rain falls and cancels your plans? Open your Rainy-Day Box!

I used to dislike rainy days. The patter of the big drops on the roof was a signal for the entrance of the gloom family, in droves.

Clara M. Neville, contributor to Needlecraft Magazine, 1921.

This idea appeared in a small article in an 1920s magazine. The suggester wrote “I used to dislike rainy days. The patter of the big drops on the roof was a signal for the entrance of the gloom family, in droves. … I doubtless succeeded in making other folks as miserable as I was myself by my low spirits.” This struck me, for sometimes I feel gloomy on rainy days as well.

So I followed her advice. I found a small box to serve as my Rainy-Day Box, and then I sat for a while, thinking. The little empty sewing box sat in front of me as inspiration. What did I really want to do but never seemed to find the time? What did I want to finish but always found myself pulled in seventy different directions as soon as I sat down to work on it?

A box of opportunities

As I looked around my work room, the answer became clear quickly. I love working with silk thread and yarn. It doesn’t have to be shiny and slick; it can be nubby and matte. Over time I’d amassed a small collection of Gütermann silk threads. Because I wanted use it for lacemaking instead of sewing, I specifically bought the flower and leaf colors. These would find their way into my Rainy-Day Box for making Oya/Armenian needle lace.

So I gathered a few things that you can see in the photo. These launched my own Rainy-Day Box, and now I too look forward to inclement weather. It’s filled with colors I love, threads I long to use, and projects that once upon a time filled my someday list. When I finish one project I will slip another one into the box for the next rainy day.

Put your box together

What kinds of things can you put into your own Rainy-Day Box? Here are some ideas:

  • Drop into your box that book you’ve been dying to read but never seem to find the hours to make it happen.
  • Do you relax by cooking? Slip that recipe you long to make into your box. If it requires non-perishable ingredients such as raisins or currants, purchase those and put them in your pantry with a big inked X on the front so you don’t use it for anything else.
  • If you want to learn a new skill such as tatting, place a shuttle and small ball of thread into your box and spend the day learning. (Try size 10 thread for learning. It’s bigger and easier to see the stitches.)
  • Interested in spending time watching a movie you can’t fit in any other way? Put a DVD in your Rainy-Day Box. If you use streaming services, write yourself a note with the title and the service and drop it into your box so you can find the information when you need it.
  • Would you like to immerse yourself in a project like knitting socks or crocheting a vintage yoke for a camisole? Place your goodies into your box and await the next day filled with wet skies.

As you can see, it doesn’t matter what you are into. If it fits in your Rainy-Day Box and it brings you joy, it works. And if it doesn’t fit, find yourself a bigger box. It doesn’t matter what you put into it as long as it makes you happy.

If you need ideas for projects to fit into your Rainy-Day Box, check out these posts I wrote on learning to make tatted lace with a shuttle, five great vintage crocheted edgings, or this turn-of-the-century travelogue about England.

The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Making Lace with Shuttle and Thread

An assor
tment of tatting shuttles and balls of thread arranged on small tatted lace projects.
Tatting shuttles, thread, and tools from my private collection. These are both vintage and modern. On one side of the blue Clover shuttle is the elusive tortoise-shell plastic Clover. On the other side is a reproduction of the shuttle that Modern Priscilla gave out as a subscription premium in the 1920s. The pink and green thread is my current project, and underneath it is a metal Boye shuttle. The threads range from size 20 to 50.

Today I’m going to talk about tatting, which is simply making lace with a shuttle and thread. Lacemaking is a great vintage craft. For one thing, it is extremely portable. Most days I carry a shuttle and thread in my pocket, attached to some unfinshed tatting. That way if I have a moment, I can progress with my latest project.

Second, to learn tatting you only need to learn one knot. Of course, you make that knot ten thousand times in different positions, but it is only one knot. With shuttle and thread, all those knots make lace.

Third, lacemaking can be a very inexpensive hobby. All you absolutely need is thread. And the thread can be any size, but it’s nice if it’s thick enough that you can actually see it. Especially when you’re learning. Sewing thread does not make good tatting thread (although it can be great for other kinds of handmade lace.) For tatting, sewing thread is really small, and really tight. It’s hard to undo stray knots in sewing thread.

Use thick thread when you start

So to begin with, at least, start with something bigger: size 10 thread is easy to find and it makes a good starter thread. If you want to stick with size 10 for awhile, do so. Some advanced projects and edgings are tatted with size 80 thread, which is thicker than sewing thread by enough that you can at least see it. I make almost everything I do in a size 20 thread. It’s about half the size of 10, yet it’s big enough to see and big enough to loosen if a stray knot appears where it’s not supposed to.

I said that the only thing you absolutely need for tatting is thread. Do you need a shuttle? Not at first. Not if you don’t want to. Here’s a tutorial on how to make a tatting shuttle from a plastic lid you may have lying around the house. And here’s a link from the incomparable Georgia Seitz that gives you a pattern for making your own shuttles from cardboard or plastic. Georgia taught and designed tatting for many years.

What is a shuttle and where do I find one?

If you want a tatting shuttle to learn with, by all means get one. Most vintage shuttles were made from metal or bone, but today’s shuttles are formed in plastic. Two very popular styles lead the rest: the “Aerlit” style and the “Clover style.

blue tatting shuttle
This is an Aerlit shuttle. It has a hook and a separate bobbin. (Image: Handy Hands, Inc.)
yellow tatting shuttle and green tatting shuttle
These are Clover shuttles. They have picks on one end and a post in the middle You wind the thread around the post.
(Image: Clover Inc.)

The Aerlit shuttle actually began its life in England as the Aero tatting shuttle, and then moved to Germany. It came in one color. Gray. With one or two colors of bobbins. Black and perhaps gray. Then these shuttles went out of production, and Handy Hands, a tatting thread and shuttle manufacturer in the U.S., began making them. (If I recall correctly, Handy Hands bought the original molds from the manufacturer and retooled them.) Now they come in a rainbow of colors, and they are very popular with tatters. The hook helps to catch the thread and pull it through loops.

The Clover shuttle first came in a hard plastic, two-toned tortoise-shell. Then Clover began making these shuttles in many different solid colors. Now they are available in two colors per package, which is really nice when you either have two projects going at once or you are using two shuttles at the same time. The various colors help you to keep things straight. The pick functions similar to the hook. It grabs thread so you can bring it through a loop as you tat.

The Clover shuttle is also very popular. If you want a metal shuttle like tatters used in the 1920s through the 1960s, Lacis (another lace supplier) has reproduced the old metal Boye shuttle. It looks like this, and this style is what I used when I learned to tat.

silver metal tatting shuttle
This is a reporduction of the 1920s through 60s Boye metal shuttle. It also has a removable bobbin and a hook. Lacis makes it. (Image: Lacis.)

So… where can you get these things? You can purchase both tatting shuttles and threads from Lisa at The Tatting Corner. It’s a great shop, I buy from her regularly, and I believe she ships anywhere. All of these shuttles cost about $4 to $6 apiece. The Clover shuttles are more expensive because you get two.

Wind that shuttle and go!

Once you have whatever you plan to use as a shuttle, wind it with thread. Shuttles need a smooth, even, not-too-tight wind so that the thread comes off easily when you need it. A little practice will even out those threads. As a youngster I was not a very good bobbin winder, and my thread continually slipped under other strands and got stuck. If that happens to you the first few times then know that you are not alone. Your shuttle and thread will still make lace, but you may find the thread a bit difficult if your thread is too tight.

Learn with a video or two

The easiest way to learn how to tat is to watch someone do it. This is the value of YouTube videos. You can stop and review the same step over, and over, and over as many times as you need. The video will not lose patience. It shows you the same segments as many times as you need to see them.

I’ll link beginning tatting instruction from two different teachers. Look at each one to see which one matches your way of learning best. You do not want to learn tatting from a video I produce. I learned to tat from Victorian manuals, so I literally tat like someone’s great-great aunt. In fact, more than one person has said that to me over the years. “You tat like my Great Aunt Bessie! I’ve never seen anyone else do that!” Well, I wager that Great Aunt Bessie learned to tat from the same 1853 and 1878 manuals that I did. And when you begin tatting like Great Aunt Bessie, it’s tough to change!

The best video to use is the one you understand well. Frivole’s Shutting Tatting for Beginners – Transferring the Knot starts off a short series of videos. The presenter uses a thick cord to show the process, which may make it easy to understand.

The second presenter, Kaye Judt, uses a larger normal-sized thread but her instructions are very clear. She talks you through making rings and chains in two videos. The first one is Introduction to Tatting by Kaye Judt. Kaye is a needlework and tatting designer who teaches at the various tatting conventions held around the U.S. each year.

Regardless which online video instructor you choose, I hope you find yourself making lace with a shuttle and thread in very short order. Next I’ll introduce some easy and popular vintage patterns for you to do. One of them has been used so often over the past 100 years that most tatters know it by name.

Decorations and Decor · Parties and Visits · The Creative Corner

Make Your Porch a Summer Room

Illustration of a summer room front porch with a porch swing, rug, two chairs, and a small side table with a table lamp, reading books, and a plant.
Inviting furniture, outdoor lamps, and a few good books make a popular warm weather spot.

Doesn’t this scene make you want to curl up with a good book or that project you’ve been hoping to start? This is a perfect illustration of a porch used as a summer room. Before air conditioned houses and apartments people moved outdoors in warm weather. Houses were hot, and people needed alternatives.

Not only were houses hot, but they could also seem claustrophobic in warm weather. The very house that seemed so cozy during the wintertime might feel oppressive during the hot summer months. Changing curtains and pillows from winter to summer fabrics helped. The best result, however, came from moving meals and entertainment to a whole new area.

Living and dining outdoors

The porch became the summer living room, and sometimes the warm weather dining room as well. Breakfasting on the porch could be delightful in the right weather, not to mention weekend luncheons and weekday dinners.

Black and white photo of a wooden table and chairs on a tile outdoor patio floor. A light hangs from the ceiling and an open arch leads outdoors.
A small but effective outdoor eating area.

A visitor who stopped on a nice day rarely made it into the house during the summer months. The hostess didn’t lack in hospitality or manners. She entertained in the most inviting area possible. Drinks and snacks made their way from the household kitchen to the front porch for relaxed, breezy socializing.

A porch with screens fitted to porch openings was ideal, but not everyone had those. Usually the porch had some kind of roof or covering. You see that in all the examples shown here. To be cool, an outdoor oasis needed to be out of the sun. Even a good awning could provide that at the right time of day.

Inside of an enclosed front porch of a 1920s home. Two large windows to the left sit above two chairs and a small table. In the middle of the room a table for four sits. The table is decorated with a flower arrangement.
An enclosed porch offers space to get away and relax.

Furnishing the outdoor space

All rooms need furnishings and the outdoor summer room was no exception. Furniture included comfortable chairs, couches, and a small but sturdy occasional table. Sometimes the table was made of wicker, while other times one of painted wood took its place as book and lamp-holder. Even if the porch included a ceiling light in the center, a table lamp or two gave a nice touch of comfort to the outdoor room. (Be sure to keep it unplugged when not in use if it’s outdoors. Summer storms can be quick and violent, as we all know.)

An indoor/outdoor mat or rug often found its way to the porch for the summertime as well. It helped to contain dirt tracked from the street and made the area look a bit more homey.

Fabrics used for porch cushions and pillows needed to withstand the season’s changing weather then as they do now. Today you can purchase beautiful pads for outdoor furniture, or make your own from a fabric like Sunbrella. Fabrics of the Twenties included stripes in greens and browns, heavy denim weave fabrics in colors other than denim blue, and bright plastic-like oilcloth.

Porch decorated with wicker couch, two chairs, and two small tables. Trees and foliage appear in the background.
Festive stripes and wicker furniture decorate this porch room.

Most of all, the colors of a porch decorating scheme were bright and inviting. Small spots of red, yellow, and black might offer a welcome contrast to more cooling colors like greens, blues, lavenders, or grays. A red and gray pillow on a gray chair, for instance, is very vintage. And quite welcoming.

Take a look at your own outdoor space and see how it can become a vintage-style living room. If you want something to serve your first porch guests, you’ll find these Sweet and Savory Sandwiches quick to fix and easy to serve.

The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Make Vintage Crochet Any Size You Want

Table with the same crochet edging in three sizes: large, medium, and small. Each one shows the hook used and the text reads: Make Your Crochet Project Any Size You Want.
Don’t let suggested threads or yarns hold you back.

Lots of crafters these days find themselves caught up in creating things the perfect way. With the perfect yarn. In the perfect color. In other words, so that it looks exactly like the original item. Today I bring you words of wisdom from the past: you can make vintage crochet any size you want!

It’s true that many vintage instruction books called for a particular thread, or a particular yarn. But others didn’t. It all depended upon the sponsor –– who paid for the publication of the book or magazine. If you page through an old copy of The Delineator, for instance, you will see that only Butterick patterns are advertised. That’s because the Butterick Publishing Company created The Delineator for the express purpose of showing off the lastest fashion and for selling patterns.

The same is true for many of the crochet and knitting instruction books that were published. J&P Coats, Clark’s, and Corticelli all published instruction books. These companies also made and sold cotton or silk thread. They realized, like companies today, that if no patterns are available to use the threads or yarn, very few will buy them.

Vintage independent designers give you freedom

However, you can find independent vintage patterns. They usually live in the needlework magazines that paid designers for their work and depended upon subscriber and advertising income. In those articles you will find phrases like “make this design according to your needs” and “match your hook to your thread size.” If the reader needed a design that would fit on a table, then making it in a fine thread made sense. If, on the other hand, the worker wanted a bed spread, coarser thread and a larger crochet hook or knitting needles would get them there.

Closeup of three crochet edgings done in three different size threads. A crochet hook rests on each edging, showing the size differences.
The edgings up close and personal.

Here, I took a favorite design from a 1925 periodical and created it in three different sizes. I crocheted the top edging in Sugar ‘n Cream cotton worsted weight yarn and a 5 mm (H/8) hook. It’s usually used to make toys and dishcloths. I made the middle edging in Aunt Lydia’s size 10 (1.3mm) crochet cotton and a size 7 (1.65 mm) steel hook. The bottom edging I crocheted from a Greek size 50 thread and a size 10 steel hook. You’ll find the pattern for this edging in my blog post Five Great Vintage Crochet Edgings. It’s Edging 4. If you want to know general thread-to-hook sizes, check this crochet hook size chart from DMC. Scroll about halfway down to find it.

If you need an edging for a heavy curtain, a bedspread, an afghan, or a shelf, the top design would be perfect. On the other hand, if you recreate a Twenties dress and need a long trim to go down one side from neck to hem, the second size would work well. And finally, if you wanted a deep edging for a handkerchief, something to trim underclothes, or even to dresss up a child’s dress or shirt hem, you could use the finest version shown. See? You can make vintage crochet any size you want.

The Vintage Kitchen

Easy Fondant Cream Mints

Leaf-shaped mint candies in a white bowl. The mints are colored yellow, green, and pink.
Easy Fondant Cream Mints can brighten your next get-together.

Looking for something to add sparkle to your next small get-together? These easy fondant Cream Mints are simple to make and they taste great! And even better, the recipe was almost lost to time.

Before I started these I did a pretty extensive online search on cream mints. I got… nothing. Then I started hunting through my collection of vintage and antique cookbooks. Finally I found one mention, then another. Along the way I stumbled upon this easy fondant cream mint recipe.

Usually, cream mints are made from fondant. Not cream cheese, not marshmallows. Fondant. Like the creamy white or pastel centers you find in chocolate covered candies. It’s the same stuff. 

Fondant Wars: Cooked vs. Uncooked

Fondant comes in two varieties: cooked and uncooked. Making cooked fondant requires sugar, water, cream of tartar, patience, a candy thermometer, a stand mixer or really strong arms, time, and patience. Did I mention patience? 

One of the issues with cooked fondant is that it takes so much time. It creates a wonderful product that you can then use in all kinds of candies, but it takes two days to make. Literally. First you cook it and then it has to sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours to “ripen” so it’s ready to use. Once it’s ready you assemble a set of cooking utensils again and complete the candies.

While cooked fondant is fun to make (especially if you have the patience), today I’m going to talk about uncooked fondant. This recipe for easy fondant Cream Mints takes about half an hour to 45 minutes, plus drying time. (Cooked fondant requires drying time, too.)

Perhaps this uncooked fondant recipe fell out of favor in the United States because it calls for an uncooked egg white. I have a great substitute for that, and it’s meringue powder. Meringue powder is pre-cooked and safe to use. It’s what cake decorators use to make Royal Icing, that rock-hard icing used for cake decorations that will break your teeth if you chomp too hard.

Several different companies sell meringue powder, and you can get it online or locally. If you don’t have a local cake supply store, you should be able to find Wilton meringue powder at your local grocery or craft store. One container of it goes a long way. 

Flavors Old and New

To flavor your mints you will need a food-grade oil such as LorAnn. I’ve used LorAnn oils for many years in candies and they work very well. You’ll only need 1/4 teaspoon of the oil, unless you want them really strong. 

Today when we think of mints, we automatically picture the mint flavors: spearmint, peppermint, wintergreen (wintermint). That was not true for the vintage cook. Mint flavors in the 1920s and 1930s included lime, clove, and cinnamon in addition to mint. If you truly want to put a modern spin on this vintage recipe, you can make your mints taste like black cherry, fruit punch, or root beer. All these flavors are available from the LorAnn website, plus many more –– but they also make the traditional flavors of lime, clove, and cinnamon. Whatever you choose, get a flavor you like. These tiny bottles go a long way.

Using Your Mints

In the vintage household, nuts and mints often finished the meal along with a cup of coffee. A small dessert usually accompanied the meal. The sweet course already completed, the thoughtful hostess served coffee with mints rather than chocolates or anything heavy after a well-designed dinner or party. Mints cleansed the palate. They tasted refreshing. And they believed (perhaps rightly) that mints helped with digestion.

You can use these mints to spice up a small party. Color them to match your theme, or leave them pristine white. Include them in little nut baskets at each person’s place at the table. Or you can fill a small candy dish with them and watch them disappear as the evening continues.

Begin to include them after meals for your own dinners. They are easy to make, you can create whatever flavors you like, and you are no longer dependent upon the mint manufacturers of the world who produce peppermint and spearmint. Want clove-flavored mints? Make them!

The Basic How-To’s

To make these easy fondant Cream Mints, you will mix together meringue powder and water to equal two egg whites and then whip it with your mixer (or a whisk) until it bubbles. Then stir in your flavoring. If you want less than the 1/4 teaspoon called for in the recipe, use less. For a very light flavor you may want to only use a few drops. 

Mix and knead

Add a little salt, and then stir in, a little at a time, up to four cups confectioner’s sugar. It may take awhile, and this is where your electric mixer comes in handy. You won’t stop until the mixture has a clay-like consistency. It won’t be as stiff as Play-doh, the wheat-based clay many of us grew up playing with. It will, however, be close. Your fondant needs to hold its shape. 

Ball of fondant that looks like a lump of white clay in a silver bowl.
The clay-like fondant ball is flavored and ready to tint.

When it reaches its clay fondant stage, remove it from the bowl and place on a flat surface to knead it until it’s smooth. If you have a marble pastry board, great! I don’t, so I used a silicone pastry mat. After all, a hallmark of the vintage life was use what you had at hand.

Three balls of white fondant sit on a pink mat. Each one has a different colored food dye bottle sitting next to it: red, yellow, and green.
Now the ball is divided into three, and waiting for two drops of color to be kneaded in.

Color it beautiful

If you want your mints to be two or three different colors, this is the time to divide it. I divided mine into three balls about the same size. I poked a hole in each ball and added two drops of McCormick liquid food color. That was enough to get vibrant pink, yellow, and green. If you want even lighter pastel colors, only use one drop. If you want to color the entire batch one color, you’ll use 5 to 6 drops of color or less.

Small balls of fondant sit on a dark pink mat. The balls are pink, green, and yellow in color.
Pink, green, and yellow balls ready to roll and cut.

Cut and dried

Then you’ll roll the fondant out. Use your cutter to cut small shapes, no larger than an inch. I had an ivy fondant cutter on hand. Bento cutters would work, as would any set of mini cookie cutters. 

Note: You can’t use metal cookie cutters on a silicone mat. They will cut right through it. Lift your rolled fondant to a cutting board or a sturdy platter if you want to use metal cutters and you use a silicone mat to protect your countertop.

Once your mints are cut out, you let them dry. Move them to a wax- or parchment-paper covered cooling rack. Let them dry for several hours, and then turn them over to finish drying overnight. Place your finished mints in a storage container. These do not have to be refrigerated, but you will probably want to separate colors with paper if you keep them all in one container. These should keep for several weeks in an airtight container.

Easy Fondant Cream Mints

Make these cream mints to add pizzaz to your vintage meals.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Drying Time23 hours
Total Time23 hours 30 minutes
Course: Candies
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dinner mints, fondant
Servings: 12 people


  • Electric stand mixer, OR whisk, large bowl, wooden spoon, and lots of energy
  • Pastry board or mat for kneading and rolling
  • Rolling Pin
  • Small cutter for shapes
  • Cooling racks
  • Wax paper or parchment paper for drying


  • 2 tsp Meringue Powder I used Wilton brand. It’s what I had on the shelf.
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp LorAnn Super Strength Oil Flavor, any flavor I had spearmint, so that's what I used.
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, divided You will use 4 cups in the recipe. The rest is to keep the surface from sticking while you roll it out if necessary.
  • 5-6 drops McCormick's liquid food coloring or an equivalen I used 2 drops in each of three different colors.


  • Combine the meringue powder and the water in the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat until frothy. If you have a whisk attachment, it works well for this.
  • Scrape the sides to make sure that all the meringue powder is dissolved. Add the salt and the flavoring.
  • Remove the whisk attachment, if you used it, and replace it with the general mixing attachment.
  • Add up to 4 cups of the confectioner's sugar, a little at a time. Mix on a medium speed to combine everything. At first the mixture will look like frosting. Keep adding the sugar. After awhile it will begin to clump together.
  • Turn the mixer off and inspect the mixture. Does it stick together in your hands like clay? If so, you're finished. If not, continue to add a bit at a time until it does.
  • When it reaches its clay fondant stage, remove it from the bowl and place on a flat surface and knead it for a minute or two until it’s smooth.
  • If you want your mints to be two or three different colors, this is the time to divide it. To make three different colors, divide the dough into three balls. Poke a hole in each ball and add two drops of food color. This is enough to get vibrant pink, yellow, and green. If you want even lighter pastel colors, only use one drop. If you want to color the entire batch one color, use 5 to 6 drops of color, or even less.
  • Roll the fondant to about 1/8” (3mm) thickness. You can make them a bit thicker if you like but they may take longer to dry. Use your cutter to cut small shapes, no larger than an inch.
  • Note: You can’t use metal cookie cutters on a silicone mat. They will cut right through it. Lift your rolled fondant to a cutting board or a sturdy platter if you want to use metal cutters.
  • Cut as many shapes from each color as you can, and move them to a wax- or parchment-paper covered cooling rack. Let them dry for several hours, and then turn them over. Let them dry several more hours, preferably 24. Move the finished mints to a storage container. These do not have to be refrigerated, but you will probably want to separate colors with paper if you keep them all in one container. These should keep for several weeks in an airtight container.

The Vintage Kitchen

Iced or Hot Peruvian Chocolate

Three cups on saucers. Each cup is filled with dark hot cocoa and is topped with whipped cream.
Hot Peruvian chocolate from a 1920s recipe.

This chocolate drink recipe says it comes from the land where chocolate is taken seriously. Much more seriously than it is in the United States. Is this really a Peruvian 1920s recipe? I have no idea, but it tastes different from any other chocolate I’ve ever had. The 1920s article said this Peruvian chocolate is good iced or hot. And it is.

Two glasses of chocolate milk on an embroidered cloth. From recipe for Peruvian chocolate.
Not as sweet when cold, but definitely just as rich: Iced Peruvian Chocolate.

This Peruvian chocolate tastes like something between a normal hot cocoa recipe like you’ll find here, and the thick drinking chocolate that you find in cafés. This is a drink to savor. It’s not too sweet. Enjoy this one with a friend or friends and some good conversation.

A half-full canning jar sits on a counter, holding coffee. Leaning against it is a box of Baker's baking chocolate. For Peruvian chocolate recipe.
Chocolate and coffee combine to make a rich drink.

Thick drinking chocolate can be difficult to make. This recipe is relatively easy, and it makes four 1-cup servings. You can easily cut the serving size to 3/4 cup and serve five. The servings look small until you taste it.

You might want to serve a glass of water along with this cocoa, especially if you are serving anything with it, such as dessert. Too rich to drink quickly, guests might appreciate another drink option on the table besides this chocolate.

Pan of melted chocolate with sugar sprinkled over the top, part of a recipe for Peruvian chocolate.
Step 1. Melt the chocolate over hot water and stir in sugar and vanilla.

This drink requires a lot of chocolate, four ounces to be exact. It needs an entire box of Baker’s choclate from the grocery store baking aisle. You can substitute four ounces of any chcolate that you wish. The better quality of chocolate you use, the better the drink will be.

Smooth liquid chocolate mixed with coffee. Making Peruvian chocolate.
Step 2: Chocolate and sugar mixed with the coffee. Ready for the milk.

You will need:

  • 4 ounces chocolate, unsweetened or semi-sweet
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sweetened whipped cream, optional

If you have all this in stock, the recipe is straighforward and easy. Using a double boiler makes the recipe almost fool-proof, since you can’t easily burn the chocolate when it heats over water.

Using coffee makes this an “adult drink.” If you make this for children, substitute 1/2 cup water for the coffee and increase the milk to four cups. (Don’t worry; this variation is included in the printable recipe below.) Iced or hot, this Peruvian Hot Chocolate is a keeper.

Iced or Hot Peruvian Chocolate

This rich, not-too-sweet 1920s chocolate recipe falls somewhere between hot cocoa and French drinking chocolate.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American


  • Double boiler
  • Whisk or egg beater
  • Additional large saucepan


  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate I used Baker's unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened whipped cream

For Iced Peruvian Chocolate

  • 1 ice cube per serving


  • Scald the milk in a large saucepan and set aside.
  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or in a heatproof pan over hot water). If unsweetened chocolate is used, add the sugar and vanilla.
  • Add the coffee and continue to cook over hot water until thick and smooth. Cook until steam rises from the mixture. If you use hot coffee, and the mixture comes to a boil, boil for one minute. Stir constantly.
  • Add the scalded milk to the chocolate mixture and whip to a froth with an egg beater.
  • Cook in double boiler over hot water for ten minutes. Whip again with the beater.
  • Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

For Iced Peruvian Chocolate

  • Chill. Then shake each serving with a piece of ice before serving.

For Children's Peruvian Chocolate

  • Substitute 1/2 cup water for the coffee, and increase milk to 4 cups. Serve warm or iced.


This recipe makes four cups, to serve four. It is so rich, however, that serving 3/4 cup to five people works well too.
Poems from the Pages · The Magazine Rack

Poem: A Song of June

Image is a close shot of marigolds and coleus with a background of fir tree.
A profusion of summer marigolds and coleus brighten the day.

Every month’s magazine delivery brought a new poem to read, ponder, and savor. Some, like A Song in June, were pretty enough to memorize. Others made the reader think. A few caused the reader to cringe. At least, I hope they did. Every now and then one of these poems makes me cringe.

While the month’s poem or poems may sit on any random page, waiting to be discovered much like today’s weekly poetry in the New Yorker, they ususally appeared on the first printed page. Somewhere below the masthead, among the editorials and shameless plugs to buy from the advertisers, you find the poem. Often it spoke of the seasons or an upcoming holiday. Once in a while it extolled the wonders of needlework or baking. Regardless where you found it, it was always there, waiting for you.

Today’s poem, A Song of June, was penned by poet Helen Coale Crew. Helen wrote poetry, short stories, essays, and children’s books. School readers, poetry anthologies, Harper’s Magazine, and Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine published her work. However, today she is an almost unknown author. Wikipedia contains no entry on her. You can find only one or two of her poems online. A dedicated search turns up a short story or two.

If you opened your much-anticipated June 1920 magazine issue, you found this poem. Not very long, it brought the joy of June right to your front porch as you sat reading with a fresh cup of coffee or tea. Here it is.

A Song of June

by Helen Coale Crew (1920)

Oh hear!   Oh hear!
June draweth near;
    I know it by the trilling clear
From bluebird's breast
When from his nest
    He rises in the golden air.

Oh, see!   Oh, see!
How yonder tree
    Is clothed in white, all maidenly;
While every bloom
Sweet with perfume,
    Is plundered by a dusty bee.

Oh, smell and taste!
For now in haste
    The sun is opening every flower.
See yonder rose
Its heart disclose,
    June ripens in one perfect hour!

One of the reasons for blogging about vintage poetry is to introduce poets both remembered and forgotten. So many good writers faded into obscurity when their particular style fell from fashion. I want to bring some of them back. They need to be known, read, and remembered. Sometimes I may even reproduce one of those cringey poems for your enjoyment.

In case you wonder about this poet, Helen was born Helen Cecelia Coale in Baltimore City, Maryland in December of 1866. She died in Evanston Illinois in 1941 and is buried in Ohio. Her husband Dr. Henry Crew taught physics at Northwestern University in Illinois, and was known for authoring General Physics, a college textbook of the Teens and Twenties. They had three children.

If you loved this poem, A Song in June, you might also like Aegean Echoes, a book of poetry that Helen wrote in 1911. You can find it here to read or download at the Internet Archive. A quick search of the Archive, while you’re there, will show you several books you can check out to read, but that are still under copyright.

If you enjoyed this selection, you may also want to read my post about Hurdy-Gurdy Days, a poem about spring.

The Vintage Bookshelf · Uncategorized · Vintage Entertainment

Daddy-Long-Legs: novel and commentary

Cover of Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
Cover of the original release.

Jerusha Abbott has a problem. She is about to age out of the orphanage where she’s spent her entire life. As far as she knows she’s never been anywhere else. The orphan home’s director even gave her name to her: Jerusha was out of the Bible, and Abbott from the telephone directory.

Thus begins the story of Jerusha “Judy” Abbott. She learns that her college board and tuition will be covered by one of the orphan home Trustees. Her main requirements are to work hard and to send her benefactor a letter every month. There’s only one problem. She doesn’t know his name.

The orphanage director tells Jerusha to address her letters to Mr. John Smith. Jerusha saw the man’s shadow in passing on Trustee Visiting Day, so she knows he is tall. She names her new friend Daddy-Long-Legs.

A commentary in the novel

This month I’m reading Daddy-Long-Legs, by Jean Webster. She was Mark Twain’s grand-niece. This book is an epistolary novel, meaning that its action unfolds one letter after another. An enduring favorite, this is my fourth time reading it. One of the things I love about Daddy-Long-Legs is that it is a sweet novel, but also a commentary on the world it portrays.

Daddy-Long-Legs tells the story of Jerusha growing up and experiencing the world. We see her world only through her letters to her benefactor. But the book also tells much more. Beyond the mysterious millionaire and his protégé, the book speaks of the frustrations and culture of its time. Jerusha reaches adulthood, but she cannot vote. The book’s publication date is 1912, and women didn’t vote until the presidential election of 1920. That’s eight years away from the world of Jean Webster.

Jerusha marvels at her roommates who grew up in luxury. Then she contrasts it to her own upbringing, and the differences become apparent. She muses on the social class differences in her world, and gives us a look at the very poor. She has a dream of social progress and of making her own way, but to see if she succeeds at either you will have to read the book.

Webster uses Daddy-Long-Legs to discuss the current (1912) place of women in society and life. In this, Daddy-Long-Legs is both novel and social commentary. Because the subjects come from Jerusha as she discovers life, the topics seem natural and not preachy. For that reason alone the book is worth the time to read it. Webster wrote other books, including a sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs, but this is her best known.

Because the book dates from 1912, it contains conventions and ideas of its time. However, I was surprised at how forward-thinking it was in several areas. You can enjoy Daddy-Long-Legs as a novel, as social commentary, or as both.

Experience it yourself

Daddy-Long-Legs saw several movie adaptations, beginning with the 1919 Mary Pickford version you can watch on YouTube here. In 1955 Fred Astaire starred in Daddy-Long-Legs, but the Astaire version differs considerably from the book. If you are an Astaire fan, read the book first. It will only a take a few hours.

You can read Daddy-Long-Legs online at Wikisource, or download a copy from the Internet Archive.