My Stewed Prunes Story

I recently found this little beauty of a recipe card, historically a popular low-tech way of communicating how to make something to eat. In this case, it is my prized Stewed Prunes recipe. Even writing this makes me smile.

For a few reasons, it amuses me. Of course, I will share those reasons with you. We all need something light-hearted and of little consequence in today’s heavy times. Clearly, I’m either looking for pleasant distractions or I have too much time on my hands.

Side 1
  • This recipe card originated in my junior high home economics class, a required class at the time. Vintage 1967-68. I have saved it for sentimental reasons and it keeps me connected emotionally to a simpler time.
  • Admire with me, if you will, the level of highbrow culinary skills reflected there.
  • The seventh or eighth grade hand printing is rooted to my current printing, and is evidence of my quiet rebellion against cursive writing, the expected form of handwriting of those days, prior to keyboarding and digital recipes. Handwritten recipes are personally connected to the person who wrote it, and that is something sweet when we see the writing of loved ones.
  • The power of the recipe card is in the endurance, lasting decades. We know technology and digital recipes are easy to store, move, and find. Until they aren’t. A handheld card, however, lasts and maintains its accessiblity no matter what problems you have with WiFi or technology.
  • “Add sugar.” It is interesting to me to note how nutritional preferences have changed. I omit the sugar. My tastes have also changed. Culinary trends have changed.
  • I’ve made these prunes often. My dad loved them and I must carry on the family tradition. Plus, I’m at that age where prunes serve a helpful purpose. Enough said.

I’m curious as to why the stewed prunes recipe was the recipe that day for a co-ed class of junior high students. When we made it, I’m sure it smelled up the classroom and possibly the halls while simmering away. But why stewed prunes? Did we really eat them after making them? And was it a two-day project or did the teacher soak them in advance? So much of this sweetly mystifies me. Perhaps someone creatively selected this recipe for its cost-effectiveness as well as a short supply list. Just curious.

Home Economics class and learning to cook in junior high. Did you have a cooking class in school? We took it for granted, but we were given life skills. Cooking together with a table of four kids, boys and girls, also required some skills to develop. Once our recipes were complete, we’d sit back down at the table, which each group had to set first, and we’d eat together. Conversation, evaluating the food and how we did, gave us social interaction that built friendships. When did we decide these courses would no longer be part of basic education in our public schools? Priorities shift. Prunes stay the same.

On the back of the recipe card, for those of you prune fans in my reading audience, the directions continue:

  1. Add sugar and lemon juice to the fruit before removing it from the heat. 
  2. Stir until dissolved.

Prunes are beneficial to our health, too. For more on that topic:

7 Health Benefits of Plums and Prunes

I see how much value is represented in my simple yellowed Stewed Prunes recipe card, and that is why I’ve kept it all these years.

Stay charming, my friends.

Remembering Mary Church Terrell

Civil rights. Equal rights. Working hard for others earned Mary Church Terrell a place in our history. I enjoyed reading about her. She would have been interesting to talk to, to hear her story, and to thank her for her life and work, especially in helping me to be able to cast my vote.

Mary was born in September of 1863. Mary’s parents were former slaves living in Tennesee at the time of her birth. If you’d like to know more, check out this link: Mary Church Terrell | National Women’s History Museum

Here are some highlights of Mary’s life:

  • Famous for these words “Lifting as we climb.”
  • The National Association of Colored Women (NACW) adopted that phrase as their motto.
  • At age 33, she helped found the NACW and served as president from 1896 to 1901.
  • Graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio.
  • Mom owned a hair salon. Her father was a businessman.
  • Activist for women’s suffrage and civil rights.
  • In 1909, she was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Video: She Was a Civil Rights Activist and Co-Founder of the NAACP

This page is from the February 2022 page in my calendar from the Smithsonian
National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I am pleased to honor her life and contributions.

Keep learning, my friends.

Another Pandemic and I

Back in the early 1900s, a man was busy with his young wife raising their two little boys. In 1918, reportedly at age 22, that woman tragically lost her life. My dad told me she died of complications of the flu. Now I realize it was probably the Spanish Flu, another pandemic. Such a painful loss of life and love gone too soon.

A few years later, Joseph remarried. Little, lovely Emma became his wife. They gave birth to another boy, his third son. That son grew, and years later he became my dad.

My beloved paternal grandparents
My father (second from right, army uniform), his half-brothers (on both ends), and my grandfather, (second from left).

I cannot quite get my head around it. I might not be here if it were not for a tragic family consequence of the Spanish Flu. I don’t feel good about that, but it is interesting. This connects me in an odd way to another historic, serious, disruptive health crisis and the changes it brought, the impact it had.

The heartache was very real for so many back then, including my own grandfather, and it is today with our pandemic. The frustration is a daily burden, then and now. There are no easy answers. No more shortcuts. But good will come.

Generations from now, when this is history, what story will they tell?

[I don’t know who’s photo this is. If you have copyright information for it, please contact me.]

Stay safe, my friends!

Celebrating Easter Then & Now

I want to acknowledge that not all of my readers celebrate Easter, and I respect that. So, perhaps if that is you, simply reflect back on your childhood traditions and celebrations as you read this post.

By way of background on this post and this past weekend, my husband and I were involved all weekend at our church serving and celebrating Easter. We attend a large church with between 2,700-3,000 attending on a Sunday. This year, the church hosted two Good Friday services and three Easter services in two venues. One Easter service was held on Saturday night and two on Sunday morning. At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to redeem us to life as we follow his ways in faith.

The main venue was on the large lawn just outside our worship center. The alternative venue was inside the worship center for a quieter viewing experience of the live service via projection on a large screen. I’m guessing at least 6,000 people attended this Easter in total. We worked hard and were tired at the end of the morning.

WACC Easter 2018

I helped with various things that came up, including taking family photos of people and checking the women’s room for paper towels and toilet paper. My husband helped with baptisms, as part of our Easter service traditionally ends with an opportunity for people to be baptized, if they wish.

I got to thinking back to my childhood memories of Easter from the 1960’s. Pause and gather your earliest memories of Easter celebrations, too. Or whatever spring was like for you growing up. The contrast may be interesting, as mine was today. I do remember Easter as a special time, a simpler time. But then I was a child, and the responsibility to make it special would fall mainly on my mom, it may not have felt simple to her.

Easter Eggs

We colored eggs every year. I loved that tradition and still think back on it fondly. I may pick it up again one day as a little happy nod to my childhood.

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From the 1960’s

Easter Baskets

My mom would prepare Easter baskets for my brother and I, filled with candy we enjoyed. That definitely excluded milk chocolate in my case, which I did not like. Still don’t. I liked the colorful baskets with green plastic grass. Although we did not do egg hunts, I have a vague recollection of searching for our Easter baskets.

I remember marshmallow Peeps and jelly beans. I’d give away the black jelly beans. You, too? Or are you a person who enjoyed the black jelly beans? Easter baskets are no longer a part of my Easter tradition, probably because I don’t indulge in candy any longer, and we do not have children of our own. I do enjoy an occasional Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg from time to time at Easter. Jordan almonds are also a favorite. What is your indulgent candy of choice? Do you remember your favorite as a child?

Related image

If milk chocolate is wrapped around sweet peanut butter, I don’t mind it at all.

Image result for jordan almonds

Such lovely colors in a sweet coating surrounding crunchy almonds.

Easter Outfit

It was also our tradition growing up to get new clothes for Easter. I remember getting new clothes on only two occasions as a child – for the back-to-school season and at Easter, and that is about it.

Shopping for clothes is so much more common now, and getting an Easter outfit is not as essential as it was when I was a child. During my junior high years, I remember being permitted to wear fishnet stockings, quite in style, for Easter Sunday with my new dress. That was a big deal!

Fishnet stockings in the 1960's, oh yes, we were that cool. by karyn

Many families I saw today were all dressed up for the Easter services. I enjoy seeing them, especially the cute outfits on their children. That is one of my favorite parts of going to church on Easter Sunday.

WACC Easter Kids 2018

Easter Church

Each Sunday, my family went to church as I was growing up, and Easter was no different. I attended a congregational church, a community church, and a Methodist church in my younger years. Easter Sunday would always find us sitting in church to celebrate the risen Lord. That is the same in my adult life, but church was much different. Smaller congregation, very few instruments and no electronics beyond a microphone, hymns to sing, and no problem finding parking.

Woodlawn United Methodist Church

My family attended Woodlawn United Methodist Church from about 1966-1969.

Easter Lunch

My mom often prepared a delicious family meal for Sunday after church. We’d often invite some friends or a few relatives to join us at the table, but I don’t recall a big family get-together. My mother would set the table with beautiful table settings and pretty dishes. Those felt like special times of celebration. I do not recall any special recipes. I miss those dinners together.

For many years after I was married, we’d share Easter lunch after church with my husband’s family at my mother-in-law’s home.  His family has a tradition of purple deviled eggs. I am a fan of deviled eggs and enjoyed the purple ones just as much.

Image result for purple deviled eggs

I’m not sure how my mother-in-law makes these, but the photo above is from A Beautiful Mess blog.

Recently, I work hard all weekend at Easter services at my church. I help clean up after church. By the time we can go to lunch, it is late and I am tired. We don’t eat lunch with family on Easter, though we often get together on Palm Sunday or during the week before Easter. My husband and I go out to eat and relax before heading home for afternoon naps.

So much has changed. We still celebrate Easter, but it looks different, and yet the important things remains the same. We celebrate with loved ones in ways that bring meaning and enjoyment. If we had children, some of the traditions would have carried on in similar ways.

Traditions are often changing, yet always hold a special place in our hearts and memories. We can keep the important values in tact, and open our minds to how they may look different through the years.

If you celebrate Easter, I hope it was filled with celebration, the hope of the season, fun, love, and good food, no matter what it may have looked like this year.

Stay charming, my friends!

What’s Cooking? – Part 1

On the road to a simpler life, I recently cleaned out recipes. I don’t know about you, but I have way too many recipes. It seems that I must like the idea of cooking more than actually cooking. If I had someone to prep the ingredients and then to clean up afterwards, I’d cook more often. But on this day, I sorted through recipes, keeping only those I’ve tried and liked, some I’d like to try, and those old ones that connect me to another time and place. It was interesting to me how recipes and cooking changes in various ways over time.

I still have a traditional recipe card file, filled with recipes from friends and family near and far, and other various sources.

Recipes Box

I went through a Pillsbury recipe magazine phase. I loved getting the latest one at the grocery store in the checkout line. It was time to part with these beauties.

Pillsbury Cookbooks

I pulled out those great community cookbooks, so popular decades ago. I got some as gifts at my wedding in the early 90’s. I had some from churches and one from my former employer.  I even had one I treasured from Pella, Iowa, a hometown of a good friend.

Church Cookbooks

I don’t use these recipe books any more, even though some days I do crave a classic Jell-O salad potluck recipe. Did you have a few favorites, too?

As time progressed, I wasn’t using recipe cards and books as much. Enter Food Network TV. Eventually, I had way too many printed recipes, and lots of ambition to try them all, from my favorite Food Network cooking shows: Good Eats, Barefoot Contessa, and others. Now I also watch Pioneer Woman, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, and simply save some recipes on my computer.

Printed Recipes

Have you noticed how ingredients have changed over time as well? A lot less cans of soup in recipes. A lot more interesting ingredients like feta cheese and even Brussel sprouts. I don’t even think I used the word vinaigrette until the last decade or two.

Have you noticed how mainstream it is for guys to be good cooks now, too? That’s a big shift in society from when I was young. I like it!

Using a computer to get access to many recipes is the latest convenience. And we use smart phones to look up a recipe in the kitchen or even in the market, too. Then I can see the ingredients while grocery shopping.

Martha Stewart Web Site

Later that same day, as I purged the recipes I was no longer interested in trying, keeping, or storing, I came across a variety of recipe cards. Does anyone use recipe cards much anymore for sharing recipes? Seems like many of us type up a recipe and send it in an email or some other more contemporary form of sharing something good to eat.

Variety of Recipe Cards

Recipe collections, however we keep up with them, are a gold mine of tasty goodness that we share with those we love in various settings, building traditions. A great part of our good life! What are your favorite recipes or sources for recipes?

Handful of Recipe Cards

Stay tuned for What’s Cooking? Part 2 in the weeks ahead.

Stay charming, my friends!

Wonderful Wedding

Last Sunday, we attended the wedding of two friends. We drove an hour and a half to a beautiful outdoor venue called The Walnut Grove. The event was simple, classy, and so lovely. The bride was stunning. The groom was all smiles. The bridal party looked fantastic. We enjoyed seeing friends and catching up. The dinner was wonderful. The candles lit up the tables as the sun was setting. It was a great celebration of love, commitment, and a future filled with hope in a magnificent setting.

17.10.22 - Bittner Kunstt Wedding - Rustic Table

Beautiful tables settings

17.10.22 - Bittner Kunstt Wedding - Flowers Close-up

Lovely flowers

17.10.22 - Bittner Kunstt Wedding - Crowd

The crowd mingles waiting for the bride & groom to be seated for the dinner.

17.10.22 - Bittner Kunstt Wedding - The Happy Couple

Here come Mr. & Mrs.!

17.10.22 - Bittner Kunstt Wedding - Table Close-up

The outdoor setting was in a walnut grove on a farm.

17.10.22 - Bittner Kunstt Wedding - Cake Close-up

Some of the flowers were placed on the cake.

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A sunset dinner

17.10.22 - Bittner Kunstt Wedding - Toast Time

Time for a toast!

I was thinking about contemporary weddings compared to the weddings of my 20’s and 30’s. For one, Save the Date cards are a recent part of weddings.

Save the Date Close-up

It seems like, for us anyway, the weddings we go to now are often destination weddings held outdoors, even if only an hour or two from where we live. We haven’t been to a local church wedding in years. Added eyelashes for the bride and bridesmaids are the latest in wedding make-up. I like to notice all the DIY and Pinterest touches , customizing the event with special attention to details. Pinterest did not exist when I got married.

The rustic look is so popular now. Fresh flowers are more prevalent and gorgeous blossoms not only fill bouquets, but add to the table decor and adorn the cake.

17.10.22 - Bittner Kunstt Wedding - Cake on a Barrel

Creativity is essential for many weddings. We even attended a special wedding with the cake made out of Rice Krispie Treats. It was cute, clever, and unique. Not to mention delicious. Photo booths were popular for while. The end of the night has changed from throwing rice to throwing bird seed to bubbles or sparklers. It is fun to see what the latest ideas are.

Weddings are definitely expensive, big events, filled with meaning and memories. I’m glad we get invited, for the modern wedding is a grand experience. And supporting a couple as they embark on this new life is always a good idea. Marriage comes with challenges and blessings. Having a caring community around helps share the joys and the struggles, and that starts with witnessing the “I do’s.”

Stay charming, friends!


Watch It!

On Sunday night this week, my husband and I watched the awards show for TV programs, The Emmys. We live near Los Angeles, so TV show production is one of the big industries around here. For us, The Emmys can be entertaining, but it also gives us the summary of what was popular on TV in the past season. We don’t watch many shows, but we like to learn what is going on in our times and culture. According to a study done by FX Research, 455 original scripted shows ran on American television in 2016. Many of the nominees were programs I had not even heard about. Things have really changed since I was young! Yet our favorite TV shows continue to form memories of good times.

In my youth, during the late 1950’s and 1960’s, my family had one black and white TV. On Fridays, my dad would pick up a pizza after work, and bring it home for family dinner. Then we would gather in the family room to watch Get Smart together. On Sunday nights, we would get to watch the magical Wonderful World of Color, with opening scenes from Disneyland. I loved that show. I’d dream of visiting Disneyland one day, and now I live about 40-minutes away.

Saturday mornings were full of classic Warner Brothers cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny and friends.

My younger brother and I would watch other great cartoons, including the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show (Jay Ward Productions), and Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and so many others. Such great memories!

Cartoons sure have changed. I’m not sure what’s popular now, but we’ve gone from these old classics to Pinkie and the Brain (which I did like) to The Simpsons to South Park.

I wonder if our parents felt guiding our TV viewing habits to be less complicated back then, compared to today. I remember that I could not watch a program called Peyton Place, nor could I watch Laugh In until I was older.

And about the time I hit junior high, The Monkees became a favorite show. If you grew up in the late 1960’s, who was your favorite Monkee?

I remember Happy Days and All My Children being very popular when I was in college.

I was a fan of a variety of shows through the years including Cheers, Moonlighting, Dallas, Friends, Mad About You, Frasier, Will and Grace, and many others. Now we watch late night comedy shows, Madame Secretary, Modern Family, and The Crown. And I still miss Downton Abbey. Perhaps you do, too.

Besides programming, technology changed. I still remember when my family got our first color TV and we watched the annual special, The Wizard of Oz in color. The epic story begins in black and white, but for me growing up, it was all black and white until we finally got a color television.

And the changes continued. Screens got bigger. Remotes were soon common. Eventually flat screens replaced tube technology. Changes continue at a greater speed. VHS to DVR. DVDs and downloads. Broadcast and cable. Streaming and subscriptions. HBO, Hulu, Netflix and more. iTunes and Amazon downloads. Non-stop options for viewing. And “binge watching” is a thing.

TVs also became more common. From one TV in the house, TVs soon took their place throughout the house, including bedrooms and kitchens. And eventually in vans for kids to watch movies in the car.

The only change the bothers me is that we have to pay now for most TV viewing options. But that’s going to change, too. With Apple TV and other technology on the market, and using your computer to watch programs, there are ways around that. I don’t have the ability to elaborate, but you probably know someone younger who does.

What TV memories do you have? Do you remember when your family got their first color TV? What are your favorite shows now?

Stay tuned, as they say! And stay charming, friends. Have a good week!