What Happened to the Shilling?

The Black-Out Book is one of my favorites. My copy is reprinted from an original and is filled with things to do on a long night at home during World War II, like learning about constellations and playing family games.

In my living room I have a vintage chair where I like to sit and look through this wonderful little book, which contains this puzzle, which I love. Do YOU have an answer?

This is one of the neatest little problems I have heard for a long time.

It concerns three girls of the W.AT.S. – or they can be V.A.D.s or W.R.N.S. if you prefer it – who decided to stay at an hotel one night during the black-out, because they have missed the last train back to their headquarters.

At the hotel they find that there is only one room vacant, but as this has two double beds in it, they decide to take it. The landlord charges them five shillings each for the night, and they go upstairs to bed.

After they have gone, the landlord reflects that he usually charges only ten shillings a night for that particular room and that it is probably unfair of him to charge the girls so much. So he calls the lift-boy, gives him five shillings, and tells him to take it up to the ladies, and explain that the room will only cost them a total of ten shillings.

On the way up to the room, the lift boy reflects that the girls will be quite satisfied with the return of a shilling each, and decides to pocket two shillings for himself, silencing his conscience with the thought that three into five won’t go, in any case.

Arrived at the girls’ room, he knocks on the door and hands them back one shilling each. They go to sleep quite happily, and the lift-boy spends his next afternoon off at the pictures with the stolen money.

But here’s the point. The girls have now paid four shillings each (five shillings, less the one the lift-boy returned to them). Three times four shillings is twelve shillings. Right? And the lift-boy has two shillings, which makes a total of fourteen? Right? But originally they paid fifteen shillings, didn’t they? Then what, in the name of goodness, happened to the other shilling?



Is the Sea Calling You?

One of the things I love about looking through vintage cookbooks is discovering all the charming names of desserts, like “Honeymoon Pie” and this “Sea Foam.” It’s delicious, too! Bring this treat along on your next picnic by the sea, or just enjoy at home as I did!
Sea Foam
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 egg white, stiffly beaten
Boil sugar and water together until a little dropped in cold water forms a soft ball. Pour the hot mixture over the egg white, beating while pouring. Add nuts and vanilla extract and beat vigorously, until candy stiffens. When nearly set, drop by spoonfuls on wax paper. Allow to cool and harden.

My Grandmother’s Bread


Have you ever had one of those days – of course you have – when absolutely everything goes topsy-turvy?

I had one of those days yesterday, notably when I put my daughter’s iPhone in the washing machine.

That’s when you need a bit of comfort food, and the absolute best comfort food is warm, homemade bread with butter.

This recipe is from my grandmother, Virginia Lee, who was a wonderful cook (she made the best fried okra) and a wise and gentle person. I’ve written the recipe here exactly as she gave it to me.

2-1/2 cups warm water (100-degrees)
2 Tbsp. dry yeast
2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup dry, non-fat milk
¼ cup oil
2 tsp. salt
4 to 4-1/2 cups additional flour

Mix yeast, flour, sugar, milk and salt. Add to warm water. Add 2 more cups flour then add oil, then add remaining flour.
Knead for about 10 minutes on floured board.
Put in greased bowl and let rise until double in size. (Grease on all sides.)
Punch down and divide into two loaves or buns or whatever.
For onion buns add about ¾ cups dry onions that have been moistened.
Bake loaves about 45 minutes at 350-degrees.
Bake rolls about 20 minutes at 350-degrees.

A Salad Dressing Fit for Gangsters


You may have heard of these guys: the Purple Gang. They were mobsters who ruled Detroit in the 1930s, and their favorite hangout was a place called the Cream of Michigan on Twelfth Street.

I am crazy in love with the idea of experiencing things exactly as they were, especially when it comes to food. So I’ll be posting a lot of recipes that were favorites of famous (and, obviously) infamous people from the past and present.

Awhile back I managed to get a copy of a recipe that actually came from the Cream of Michigan, so without a doubt at least some of the Purples were enjoying this on their salads. Please use caution when eating, though, as it does contain raw eggs – and it makes quite a lot of salad dressing! (All that’s here is the ingredients, by the by; there are no specific directions, so just mix it all together.)

French Dressing

1 quart oil
2 whole eggs
1 pint vinegar
1 cup water and 1 tsp. cornstarch (boil together)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 cup paprika
pinch of celery salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. sugar

Perfect Friday Night Chicken

027 It’s Thursday evening and you’ve yet to prepare any food for Shabbat.

We’ve all been there!

It’s always good to start with the main course which, in our home, usually means chicken and often tofu in the same sauce, for our vegetarians. Then add rice and green beans and a nice salad, and you’ve got a lovely meal.

Here’s a foolproof recipe that everyone likes. It’s easy to prepare and has a nice, old-fashioned flavor that reminds me of something you might find in a Jewish home in the 1940s. I hope you’ll like it, too.


Perfect Friday Night Chicken

1/2 cup Italian salad dressing (or olive oil with some spices, if you don’t have Italian salad dressing)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
Pour over chicken and bake.

If you have time, you can marinate the chicken first. But it will be fine, too, if you simply put the sauce on and toss this right in the oven.