We’ve Moved!

Hello lovelies!

This will be the last post on Retrogirl Confessional, so please join us at  Retrogirl’s Kitchen

We’ll still be posting about geeky stuff and music stuff, but since most of what I’ve been writing about concerns food (because…food.) we decided to change the name while we were changing hosts. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll be adding new stuff soon.

Hope to see you there!

What Makes Something Retro Vs. Old?

 

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I’m hanging out in the store today by myself (I’ve sold two CDs to one customer in the last three hours–but they were Sam Cooke CDs, so obviously he had good taste). I’ve been futzing around, straightening displays, checking in orders, posting stuff online–the usual. What I’m trying NOT to do is think about all the things that I need to do to get ready for this weekend, like getting the Retro Kitchen ready for the wedding cake baking marathon tomorrow, or getting my dress and accessories ready for Sunday. Or even painting the bathroom at the new house and schlepping stuff over there. Basically, I’m trying not to think about all of the productive things that I could be doing right now instead of waiting for customers who don’t seem to be interested in shopping today.

While I was scrolling through Amazon and linking things to our Retrogirl Confessional Facebook page, I came across a set of colorful aluminum tumblers like my long-deceased grandma used to have in her kitchen, and I started thinking about what factors make us nostalgic about an item, and get excited about it, versus considering something to be old and outdated.

Obviously,  an item that sparks a fond memory of childhood, or a happy time may inspire you to consider it cool and retro/vintage. I think your design aesthetic also has something to do with it. If your taste leans toward vintage or vintage-inspired items, you’ll be more likely to consider it “good” old, instead of “bad” old. For instance, I love these tumblers. I had a set years ago, and while I was reminded of drinking from a canteen every time I used them, I loved the atomic-age vibe that they gave off. I loved the colors. I loved that they reminded me of my Grandma. They also fit into my style (and still do). Conversely, I also used to have a set of those little juice glasses with orange slices all over them. You know which ones I mean. I think they came from grocery stores or gas stations or something. I don’t have nearly the same retro love for them, because while my other grandparents had a set, they were kind of an everyday item and I never considered them special. I also don’t find juice glasses practical, because they hold like a quarter cup of juice, so what’s the point???

Maybe the usefulness of an item also has something to do with it? We might get nostalgic over our old Atari or Nintendo, but do we really want to play it again (yes, I know that some people do, but I’m not one of them)? Do we want to pull out our old printers, or desktop computers, or cell phones and start using them again? Nope.

I think about this kind of thing when we visit antique stores too. There’s usually a mix of  “real” antiques, vintage magazines (which I totally dig), and stuff that should probably be at a thrift store instead of an antique store. It’s totally up to the store or the person who owns the booth in an antique mall as to what they put in their space, but for me, if there’s too much stuff from the last twenty years in there, I’m more likely to pass it by. I think that’s kind of weird though, because when I was a teenager in the mid-late 80s, I loved stuff from the 1960s, which was also only 20 years earlier. Maybe because I wasn’t alive to experience those things in the 60s when they were new and could only appreciate them later? Regardless, the difference between 1969 and 1989 seemed a lot bigger than the distance between 1999 and 2019.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m old. Yeah..that’s probably it.

 

 

Embracing Amazon

The last job that I had before I went solo was as a buyer for a Public Lands visitor center store. I loved that job, but I had decided it was now or never in terms of opening my brick and mortar store and going all-in. I had that one co-worker though… You know who I’m talking about. The one that doesn’t understand boundaries between what your job is and what their job is. The one that you try to like, but you just can’t. The one who says the stupidest damn things ALL THE TIME. That one.

In this case, she came to the park after closing her own brick and mortar store. She swore up and down that it was Amazon’s fault because she just couldn’t compete with their prices, and she tried to lead boycotts against them. Now, anyone who owns a business knows the feeling, but most of us find ways to work with the big boys, instead of against them. Because let’s face it–trying to beat them is about as productive as screaming into a hurricane.

So what do you do when you can’t compete with Amazon’s prices? You give people reasons to come to your store instead of shopping online. You carry a mix of products that can be found online, and a lot of things that can’t. You provide superior customer service. You hold events, you contribute to local events, local arts, local causes. You explain why it’s important to support small businesses. Is it easy? NO! But it’s important.

And you also do business with Amazon. Or eBay. Or Etsy. Or Wal-Mart. Or whoever.

I’ve been selling online since 2007, and specifically on Amazon for five years. I also just recently began as an Amazon Affiliate, which is why you’ll see product links on our Facebook page, and eventually on the blog (once I figure all that out…in my copious free time…)  Why? Because if you’re going to shop on Amazon anyway–and let’s face it, almost all of us do–I can share really cool things that I find there with my awesome customers and if you buy stuff through my link, I get a small commission. That means, that while you’re buying stuff that you would normally buy on Amazon anyway, YOU’RE STILL SUPPORTING YOUR FAVORITE SMALL BUSINESS. Do you realize how huge that is? It’s a win-win for everyone.

What’s that old saying? Oh yeah– If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Low Carb Buffalo Turkey Bake

zucchini boats 1

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About a month ago, Stephan and I started an Atkins-type diet, where we’re watching our carb intake. We tried keto about a year ago, ended up GAINING weight, and we both experienced all of the negative effects on our guts. Never. Again. BUT! We both agreed that we should cut back, even if we’re not cutting out carbs completely.  We’ve found some things that we love (Low Carb Tortillas, anyone?) and some that we haven’t loved so much. This recipe came from Pinterest and was a winner!

Start by cutting 4 zucchinis in half lengthwise, and scoop out the centers with a spoon. Place on a baking sheet or in a 13×9 Pyrex pan depending on the size of the zucchini. The ones I used were HUGE, so I used a jelly roll pan.  You can see that I tried to use a fork to scoop the center out of the first one and ended up breaking it, so I switched to a spoon. No big deal.

zucchini too

In a large saucepan, cook 2 pounds of ground turkey until fully cooked, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/2 cup hot sauce (any kind, but I used a basic hot sauce), 1/4 cup melted butter, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini boats, filling them as evenly as you can.

zucchini 3

Top with 2-3 cups of shredded mozzarella and cover with foil.

zucchini 4

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender. Serve as-is or with ranch/blue cheese dressing.

zucchini boats finished

Variations: You can use ground chicken or ground beef instead of ground turkey. You can substitute pepperjack cheese for the mozzarella. You can use a bottled wing sauce instead of the hot sauce/butter/garlic powder mixture. You can slice the zucchini into rounds and lay them in the bottom of the pan instead of scooping them into boats. You can also cut the filling ingredients in half if you have normal sized zucchini instead of the monsters that I bought! It’s your meal–make it the way you want it.

What you’ll need:

2 pounds ground turkey or chicken

4 zucchini

1/4 cup hot sauce

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2-3 cups shredded mozzarella

Salt and pepper

 

Spinach and Turkey Sausage Frittata

spinach and sausage frittata 1

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I used to make this as a spinach and sausage pie, with both top and bottom crust, and it was one of our favorites. Then we started doing the low carb thing and I couldn’t waste the carbs on crust anymore. Voila–this frittata was born! It’s super simple, low carb, and delicious.

frittata 2

Saute half of a medium onion that you’ve diced, with a roll of turkey sausage and a little olive oil til the meat is browned and the onion is soft. Remove from the heat, drain, and let cool slightly.

In the meantime, squeeze the moisture out of a 16 oz package of chopped spinach and put it into a large bowl. Season with salt, black pepper, and one teaspoon garlic powder, then stir well.

 

frittata 3

Stir in one cup of ricotta cheese, six eggs, and two cups of shredded mozzarella, then stir in the sausage and onions. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 Pyrex pan and bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

finished frittata

Let cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve with a side salad, or fruit if you’re serving this for brunch (and aren’t doing the low carb thing).

Variations:  I can’t eat red meat, so I use turkey sausage. I’ve also made this with Tofurkey Brand Italian “sausage”, and it was delicious. You could use any kind of sausage you want, including regular Italian sausage cut into pieces.  You could also use pepperjack, Swiss, or even vegan cheese for the mozzarella, and use egg substitute instead of whole eggs. Like most of my recipes, you can adapt this to suit your needs and your tastes!

What You’ll Need:

One roll Turkey Italian Sausage

16 oz package frozen chopped spinach

1 medium onion

Salt, pepper, and garlic powder

6 eggs

1 cup Ricotta Cheese

2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

 

Black Forest Pudding Cake

black forest 1

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Twenty-fiveish years ago, I worked for a huge living history museum here in Williamsburg, Virginia. We often held breakroom parties in my department for holidays since we probably wouldn’t have had time to eat if we didn’t feed each other–and we worked EVERY. SINGLE. HOLIDAY. I was around 23 and had the energy to bake on a regular basis in addition to my two jobs, so I usually brought a dessert to share. One of my staples was a Black Forest Trifle which was delicious, but once several people had taken servings of it, it sort of collapsed into a pile in the bowl. Still yummy, but not as pretty to look at. In fact, I can remember my boss/friend Suz asking me before one party “You’re bringing Goo In A Bowl, right?” It was a little bit popular…  Layers of chocolate cake cubes, chocolate pudding, whipped cream, and cherry pie filling. It looks lovely in a glass bowl, and I still make it sometimes for a crowd.

This cake contains the exact same ingredients, but about half the quantity, and it’s a lot easier to fit in the refrigerator!

Start with a chocolate cake mix and bake it according to the package directions in a 13×9 Pyrex dish. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes evenly(ish) across the top of the cake once it’s cooled.

black forest 2

Prepare a package of chocolate pudding according to the package directions. Before it sets, pour the mixture evenly(ish) across the top of the cake.

black forest 3

Smooth one tub of whipped topping across the top of the pudding., and then use a spoon to place dollops of cherry pie filling on top of the cream.

Black forest 5

I like to swirl it into the cream a little bit to make it pretty. When I make a trifle instead of a cake, I save a few cake cubes and then crumble them over the top of the pie filling to make it EXTRA pretty! You could also top it with chocolate sprinkles or chopped nuts if you’d like. Slice into squares and dig in! This doesn’t last long in my house, and since it’s dead simple to make, why not make one and see how long it takes for your family, friends, or co-workers to devour it!

Can you make this from scratch? Absolutely! Use your favorite cake recipe. Use sugar or a sugar substitute. Use a gluten-free mix. Substitute almond, soy, coconut, or other milk when you make the pudding. Make your whipped cream from scratch and sweeten with sugar, sugar substitute, honey, or whatever you like. It’s going into your stomach–make it the way you want it!

What You’ll Need:

1 Chocolate Cake Mix, prepared according to package directions

1 Package Chocolate Pudding Mix, prepared according to package directions

1 Tub of Whipped Topping

1 Can of Cherry Pie Filling