Saturday, January 22, 2011
I’d Kill for a Hoosier
By Jaymie Leighton, narrator of Victoria Hamilton's Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, coming soon from Berkley Prime Crime
Hi there! My name is Jaymie Leighton. I don’t know what I’m doing on a blog called ‘Killer Characters’ (I’m no killer, though I may be a bit of a character) but they invited me to talk about whatever interests me, so here goes. What interests me is old junk, specifically old junk used in yesteryear’s kitchen. Show me a rickety pie safe, an old mustard tin, or a nice set of Pyrex bowls, and I’m a happy gal. Give me a box fully of vintage cookbooks and you won’t see me for a week. I love kitcheny old stuff so much, that I’ve learned a whole lot most girls my age don’t know. For example, do you know what ‘water glass’ is? Or ‘top milk’? How about a ‘sugar devil’? No? I do!
I’d better tell you a little about myself; I’m 32, and live in Queensville, a town nestled by the St. Clair River in Michigan. My sister, Becca, and I own the Leighton home; our mom and dad, Alan and Joy Leighton, deeded it to us when they retired to Florida. Becca, my only sibling, actually moved to London, Ontario, when she married a Canadian. Divorce didn’t send her home; she stayed there and runs her thriving china matching business. So I live alone in our big, old family home!
Yes, alone. I’m very single. I had a boyfriend, Joel, but a few weeks before Christmas he got up, said he had to go out for a while, and just never came back. No explanation, nothing. He decided to move in with beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed, new-to-Queensville Heidi Lockland. I’m not bitter, really. No, honestly! I guess I’m still a little confused about my feelings. The only romance I get now is in the novels I love to read. Lately, though, I think of romance novels as fantasy literature.
Lucky for me, about the time Joel shattered my heart, I found Grandma Leighton’s old cookbooks up in the attic. With nothing much to do in the winter months, I began to leaf through them, then settled down in earnest to try out the old recipes, modifying and improving as I went. Finally I found a purpose for all the old bowls and utensils I’ve been collecting for the last few years; I use them to try out the vintage recipes!
Before I knew it, I started to write a cookbook. Only don’t tell anyone! Mom isn’t really the kind for heart-to-heart chats, and Becca… she means well, but can’t help jumping in on any idea I have, ‘improving’ it until it no longer resembles what I intended. I’m not saying a word to her until I have it all figured out.
Anyway, my goal now is to find a Hoosier cabinet. I would kill for one. Look at the lovely photo I borrowed from John Lucas. I want one like this, a home for all my vintage bowls, tools, linens and cookbooks. And maybe there’ll be room for my own cookbook someday… Recipes from the Vintage Kitchen, by Jaymie Leighton. Has a nice ring to it!
So that’s me in a nutshell, a broken-hearted, old-fashioned, small town girl with a yen for ‘good old days’ I’m too young to have experienced. Oh, and those terms I used at the beginning? Fascinating stuff! ‘Water glass’ is actually sodium silicate, a chemical that the careful housewife with too many eggs would use in the old days. The chemical powder was reconstituted with boiling water, the eggs were submerged in it, then removed and allowed to dry. This apparently kept them fresh for quite a while, but I don’t think I’d try it.
‘Top milk’ is cream; IOW, milk that has floated to the top, and a ‘sugar devil’ is a wicked looking instrument to break up clumped sugar. Back in the old days, sugar was sold in block form and needed to be broken down into powder.
And a Hoosier? Well, we already discussed that, and my desire to commit mayhem for the love of one! LOL. Actually, if I was faced with a dead body I’d probably faint ‘dead’ away. That’ll never happen in quiet little Queensville, so I don’t need to worry!
Anyway, ta-ta for now. I’ve been invited back to ‘Killer Characters’ and I’ve already accepted. Everyone acts like they know something I don’t know, that I’ll have more to talk about in future; I don’t know about that, but I’ll be back. Maybe by then I’ll have more to say about my search for the perfect Hoosier!
Hoosier Photo courtesy of: John Lucas
Tomorrow on Killer Characters: Dorothy Parker (yes, that Dorothy Parker!) from J.J. Murphy’s MURDER YOUR DARLINGS