Tough Girls

They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but recently this blog, was mentioned by Huffington Post contributor Peg Aloi, in Tough Girls: Do They Still Exist?

Apparently there’s a dearth of tough “gals” out there and women are simply “girly” again.  And “the blogosphere proves it!”

Peg writes;

Maybe it’s the “new” (crappy) economy, or our fear of the imminent zombie-vampire-Tea Partier apocalypse, or the realization that teaching our kids self-reliance instead of whiny entitlement really is the best approach to parenting, but there’s so much emphasis on, well, ultra-femme domestic activity these days. This weird retro world of cooking, heirloom tomatoes and Jane Austen is starting to feel a bit smug and smothering. Where’s the fun?

My blog’s mentioned under the auspices of “heirloom tomatoes” and whether this is “fun”?

Well readers, being the “tough girl” that I am, I couldn’t leave well enough alone.  Here’s my retort to this brassy little article;

Thank you for mentioning my blog under the auspices of “Heirloom Tomatoes” (www.candow­omen.wordp­ress.com) in seeking to answer the question of whether tough girls still do exist?

 Funny, I’ve never thought of myself as particular­ly “girly” or indeed “anti-femi­nist”, although I do love to cook. And in answer to your question as whether I may personally qualify as tough? Before you or your readers judge me, perhaps I should include a link to my other blog; the one where I blog about my life as a women in her early forties dealing with metastatic breast cancer (see http://can­cerculture­now.blogsp­ot.com/201­1/01/can-d­o-spirit.h­tml

Your post reminds me that both my blogs have been sadly neglected of late due to all the “fun” my illness has been serving up to me, leaving with very little time, ability or gumption to pursue the things I really like to do. Like being a tough bad-ass breast cancer activist blogger, as well as someone who enjoys a bloody good heirloom tomato.

Tough “gal”? You be the judge.


Courtesy of Past Expiry Cartoon

The Best Heirloom Tomato Salad Ever!

It’s been a long, cold and generally miserable winter here in New Jersey.  But the worst is behind us and after a brief Spring, we’re heading full throttle into Summer.  And I can’t wait!

The Critters Buffet!

All I can think about right now is planting my vegetable garden.  I’m still a bit of a novice in the vegetable gardening department but I’m persistent if nothing else.  Trouble is we live right next door to a woods.  Very pretty and tranquil, but home to a variety of very hungry critters who enjoy popping over to my house for the all-you-can eat buffet that I diligently lay out for them every year. But this year I think I’ve finally figured out the fencing, so I’m hoping for a bumper crop.

On the menu this year?  Heirloom tomatoes and as many kinds as I can fit into the fairly small space I have crammed my garden into.

Do you want to grow your own tomatoes but not sure how?  Click here for some good information.  For staking tomato plants, I use these stacking tomato ladders.  Completely hassle-free.

That's not me. It's the advert, which is not a product placement, but a highly recommended suggestion.

Last year I found the most incredible tomato salad dressing.  It’s so good, that often my beloved and I would make a platter of tomatoes, douse them in the dressing and with a hunk of really good artisanal bread, we called this dinner.  This recipe today comes from one of my favorite recipe sources, the Food52 Blog, from the writers of the The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

So, without further ado I give you:

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Capers and Golden Balsamic Vinegar

(Recipe Source:  Food52 Blog)

SERVES 4 TO 6

2 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges

1 small clove garlic, sliced

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1 tablespoon salt-cured capers, rinsed

2 tablespoons golden balsamic or sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (whole)

Freshly ground pepper

Arrange the tomatoes on a large plate or small platter. Put the garlic on a cutting board, pour the salt over the garlic and chop together until the garlic is cut into very small pieces and the salt begins to dissolve slightly. Put the capers in a small bowl and mash lightly with a fork. Add the garlic mixture and stir together. Add the vinegar and olive oil and mix well. Pour over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the thyme and pepper.

[Note: I've only ever used Sherry Vinegar for this recipe and I can tell you it doesn't disappoint.  But this year I'm promising myself to try it with the Golden Balsamic......mmmmmmmm]

From this harvest.....


To Dinner!


Wonderful Winifred

When  I first considered creating this blog, I thought about the many stories I had read over the years about incredible women who faced insurmountable odds in their lives and yet had gone on to such great achievements and rich experiences.

One such woman, Winifred Steger (1882-1981) hailed from my native Australia, and whose desperate circumstances and life as a single mother led her to the most unbelievable adventures in a time when these kinds of exploits by a woman were practically unthinkable .

An account of  Winifred’s incredible and fantastic life , written by Hilarie Lindsay, called “The Washerwomans Dream: The Extraordinary Life of Winifred Steger, 1882-1981“, is highly recommended reading if you can lay your hands on a copy.  I literally couldn’t put this book down.

After emigrating from England at ten years old, to the remainder of a deprived childhood spent in rural Australia eking out an impoverished existence from the land with her settler father, to her first abusive marriage to an alcoholic husband, then becoming a single mother to four young children by her mid-twenties, to finding work in remote outback Australia, going on to marry two camel drivers in succession and running a camel team, to traveling the world, being presented to royalty , to making the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, to becoming a published author, and living to nearly 100 years old, Winifred Steger was indeed a Can-Do Woman.

Running a camel team?

Australia is a vast country, with mostly unpopulated desert making up a good portion of the land mass.  Up until the early twentieth century, before roads and railways connected the cities with outback areas, the transportation of mail and other goods, was the responsibility of teams of camel drivers, many of whom hailed from Pakistan and Afghanistan, then part of the British Empire.

As a resident of the Australian outback in her twenties, and a single mother of four children,  Winifred had found  work at an isolated outback hotel where she came into regular contact with the visiting camel drivers.  She  ended up marrying two of the camel drivers in fairly quick succession, and became the first, and perhaps the only, white woman to own and run a camel team in outback Australia.

If you’re interested to read a little more about this phase of Winifred’s life, please see this article: THINKING ALOUD: From rural Punjab to outback Australia —Razi Azmi

Have you read an incredible story of  a pioneer woman? Or a story of an improbable and adventurous life of a seemingly ordinary extraordinary woman?  Please share.

Camel Team outside of Cloncurry, Queensland circa 1904

Example of Australian Early Settlers House

Universal Activism

Last night I was reading the latest issue of Time magazine and Bobby Ghosh’s article, “Rage, Rap and Revolution:  Inside the Arab Youth Quake. Middle Eastern youth from Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, now Bahrain and perhaps now Iran, are leading the way in revolts aimed to topple decades old hard line government regimes and bring democracy to their part of the world.  Ghosh says;

‘All of the revolts are led by young men and women, many of whom are novices at political activism.  All use modern tools, like social networking sites on the Internet and texting over mobile phones, to organize and amplify their protests.  And all have the same demands: a right to choose and change their leaders, an end to rampant corruption, the opportunity for employment and improvement.”

It may come as a surprise to many,  that women are playing an important role in this revolutionary activism in the Middle East. But it is happening.  See this article on the women of Egypt and the roles they have played in this recent uprising and indeed historically as well.

“Women have long been told, by the government and even by opposition groups here, that their rights are a priority — but that economic reforms, or security concerns, or cultural considerations must come first.

But as they’ve so fully participated in the first mass protest movement in Egypt in a generation — women here have found that they don’t need to wait for anyone’s permission to be full citizens.’”

Indeed in Yemen, Tawakkol Karman a 32 year old mother of three and one of the nation’s most well-known activists, is striving to produce a non-violent revolution that she hopes will result in similar changes to those experienced in Egypt.  Read more of her fascinating story in this Washington Post article by Sudarsan Raghavan; “In Yemen, female activist strives for an Egypt-like revolution”.

Time and time again the Can-Do spirit of ordinary women propelled to higher action proves to be indomitable.  No matter the geography, and no matter the issues, the themes of feminist theory seem to be universal and there is shared feeling of solidarity with our sisters all over the world.

How do I know this? Look closely at the photo from the Time magazine article mentioned above.

Can-Do Women Are Everywhere. Photo credit: Time, Inc.

Can-Do Cooks: Pasta Sauce with Pork

Quite honestly this might be the easiest, and most perfectly light meaty pasta sauce I have ever made.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can either cook it on the stove top or in a slow cooker.  I prefer to use my $20 slow cooker for this recipe, because I can prepare the recipe in the morning with minimal fuss, set the slow cooker temperature to low and leave it to cook for 6-8 hours.  Couldn’t be easier.

My favorite tomatoes for this recipe

This recipe was originally published in the New York Times, but I’ve made a couple of changes which, in my opinion, give a better result.

If you can find them at your grocery store, I highly recommend using the brand of crushed tomatoes shown at right.  They cost a little more, but the quality and taste is far superior to other brands, in my humble opinion. (Note: this is not a paid product placement!)

Serve this sauce with a thick spaghetti or fusilli.  Absolutely delicious!

SPAGHETTI WITH PORK LOIN SAUCE (ADAPTED)

(Original Recipe Source: New York Times)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 inch-thick slice of pancetta (about 4 ounces), finely diced

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 fresh or 1 dry bay leaf, finely chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary)

1 pound (1 to 2) bone-in pork loin rib chops

1 1/4 cups dry red wine

28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes

Salt and Pepper to taste

16 ounces thick spaghetti

Grated pecorino Romano cheese, for serving.

 

1. Place a large heavy casserole or frypan over medium heat. Add olive oil and pancetta, and sauté until pancetta begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, and rosemary. Sauté until the onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Increase heat to medium-high. Push onion mixture aside and add pork chop(s). Brown lightly on all sides, also stirring the onions to prevent burning. Add wine and use a wooden spatula to mix everything together, scraping the pan. Add tomatoes, breaking them up with a spatula. Season with salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer until meat is almost falling off the bone, about 1 1/2 hours.

Alternatively, after preparing recipe on stove top, place all cooked ingredients in slow cooker.  Set slow cooker temperature to low and slow cook for 6-8 hours.

3. Remove pork, cool slightly, finely shred the meat, return it to the casserole and discard the bone. Over medium-high heat reduce sauce slightly, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and keep warm.

4. While the sauce is reducing, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook just until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well. Return spaghetti to the pot and add the sauce. Stir well. Serve with grated pecorino passed separately.

Yield: About 4 cups (4 to 6 servings).

The Quest for a Better Life

Jacob A. Riis (b. 1849 – d.1914) was a social reformer, journalist and photographer who documented life in the slums of New York at the beginning of the twentieth century.   His photos are incredible, and show with a gritty raw honesty, the abject filth and poverty that residents of the city’s tenements and streets dealt with everyday.  By today’s standards of Western living, it’s unimaginable, how people survived in such crowded and dirty conditions.  But survive they did.  Raising families, working in sweatshops, battling to put food on the table, with either determination or resignation.

Many of the area’s residents were immigrants who came through New York’s Ellis Island with dreams of a better life in America.  For the immigrants who found themselves trapped in slum-life and this cycle of grinding poverty, I wonder if they ever questioned their decision to emigrate?

On perusing Riis’s book, “How The Other Half Lives”, I was particularly moved by the photos of  the women and children.  What a terribly hard-knock life it must have been for these Can-Do Women and their families.  Here is a selection of some of Riis’s photos which I think speak for themselves.

 

Family at home in one room tenement, 1910

Old Mrs Benoir, and Indian woman, in her Hudson Street attic

 

 

Family making artificial flowers

In the home of an Italian rag-picker, Jersey Street

 

If you’d like to know more about  Jacob Riis and his work, click here for an excellent anthology including photo galleries by National Public Radio. And,  if you are ever in New York City, I highly recommend a visit to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, to get a feel for what life must have been like for the area’s residents at the time Riis took these photographs.

What are your immediate thoughts when you look at these photos?  Did any of your family come through New York’s Ellis Island?

 

The Story of Being Sarah

Photograph of Sarah Horton taken by Karen Choudhary

Today I’d like to introduce you to Sarah Horton, author, artist, entrepreneur, blogger, filmmaker, activist and an all-round highly accomplished and creative Can-Do Woman.  I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah through my other blog, The Cancer Culture Chronicles, an insider’s view of living with breast cancer in today’s society.  I found Sarah’s story to be so incredibly inspiring, and I am delighted to be able to spotlight her achievements here today on the Can-Do Women blog. Here is a part of Sarah’s story.

In February 2007, at the age of 43, Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer.  To hear those words uttered is a moment so terrifying and raw, that one barely has time to think, let alone be able to string a sentence together in any cohesive manner.  Yet, that’s exactly what Sarah did.  Despite being paralyzed with fear (or perhaps “despite” should be read as “instead of”), Sarah began to write in earnest.  On the day after her diagnosis she took a leather-bound journal, had her husband Ronnie take a picture of her at their kitchen table, and  began compiling her thoughts, lists of questions for the doctors, research for treatment decisions; anything that seemed relevant to the horrifying road on which she was about to embark.

Sarah, who lives in the United Kingdom, soon realized that in order to secure the best treatment options for herself that she needed to seek out opinions from the country’s foremost experts on breast cancer.  Whilst her initial consultations and ongoing medical care were provided free through the country’s National Health Service (“NHS”), obtaining opinions from the country’s top specialists was going to cost money, and lot of it.  Now, this was money that was not immediately available, but would need to be found if Sarah was going to receive the best advice before deciding on and commencing her next lot of treatments.  By this time, Sarah and undergone two major surgeries with the NHS and was concerned about making the right decisions about treatment from that point on.

And so, Sarah turned to Yes To Life (“YTL”), a U.K. cancer advocacy organization that amongst other services, provides support to cancer patients in navigating their treatment options. In what turned out to be a fortuitous twist of fate, although Sarah could not have known it at the time, YTL suggested that Sarah set-up a website to help with the fundraising needed to pay for her upcoming private sector medical bills.  At the time, Sarah felt aghast and that she couldn’t possibly ask people for money, however YTL helped her to understand that this might just be feasible option, particularly if the fundraising was framed around her story.  And so with some misgivings, Sarah set up her website.

Sarah started to regularly publish an online diary and extracts from her journals, and created links for breast cancer resources as she came across them herself.  She included a “donate” page and despite her initial timidity in commencing the project, quickly gathered an email list of loyal “fans”.  As time went on and Sarah kept up with her diary entries, her following grew and that group of “fans”  began to metamorphosize into a virtual support network, in which real friendships started to develop.  And fortunately, Sarah was able to receive the financial help that she needed to pay for the ongoing medical opinions from specialist cancer doctors during her initial period of treatment, a time when the most important medical decisions needed to be made.  At this point,  no further fundraising activities were needed, and Sarah was able to move on with her treatment, receiving the rest of her healthcare for free under the U.K.’s NHS.  But she still kept writing her on-line diary.

Everything changes when you receive a cancer diagnosis, and Sarah’s experience was no exception.  In her words, “life changed beyond belief”.  Unable to work, debilitated by surgeries, and other medical treatments, feeling unsupported by family and her old circle of friends, Sarah felt a palpable anger bubbling away inside of her.  Surrounded by a breast cancer culture that seemed to be all about pink-ribbons and feel-good survivor celebrations, Sarah began reading about other women’s experiences, notably Barbara Ehrenreich’s famous article, “Welcome To Cancerland”, and came to understand that she “didn’t like pink” and that it was okay to feel angry at what had happened to her.  And so she kept writing, and reflecting, and being angry that control and choice throughout the whole breast cancer ordeal, seemed to be a consistently hard-fought battle for the patient.  And she began to consciously wonder, why she had developed breast cancer, and why at such a young age? And this made her angrier.

Continuing to write her journals throughout her entire treatment, on one hand, kept organized and safe the immense trove of medical information that amasses very quickly with a cancer diagnosis, allowing Sarah to keep control in navigating her treatment and medical decisions, but on the other hand proved to be a highly therapeutic outlet for  what is a lonely, frustrating and bewildering ordeal. By writing, Sarah was able to make sense of her anger and frustration, in the clear and coherent narrative that had started to take shape.  She realized there was immense power in story-telling, and her reflections on the “why’s” of her illness, and so the seeds of a book manuscript were unwittingly being sown.

By the end of 2009, Sarah’s arduous treatment regimen was almost at an end.  She had endured many complications and continued to fight fatigue and other debilitating side-effects of medication and numerous surgeries.  But she was almost there. In early 2010, Sarah began to feel strong enough to think about going back to work in the filmmaking business that she runs with her beloved husband Ronnie, A Sense of Place.  As well, she wanted to start getting back to some of the other activities that she had enjoyed before her diagnosis, like camping, painting, hiking, quilting, and her beloved allotment garden. It was at a meeting with her business adviser that they discussed the possibility of making a film or publishing a book about her experience.  At this point Sarah’s journals had grown to 80,000 words, and there was plenty of film footage shot by Ronnie during her treatment,  but Sarah was still unsure at this time which project would be the better fit.  In making a decision as to which project, Sarah’s business adviser suggested she meet with a local Liverpool book publisher, Fiona Shaw of Wordscapes.

As it happened, in early 2010, from the increasing popularity and visibility of Sarah’s website, Sarah was invited to a live debate on Sky TV, to discuss her views on the culture of positive-thinking that tends to surround the world of breast cancer.  It was a high-profile opportunity, seen by some 14 million viewers, and would be Sarah’s first foray into this kind of media.  As a result of her appearance, Sarah learned that she was naturally able to articulate her opinions and convey her anger, in a way that resonated with an audience.  And she liked the feeling of that.  After that appearance, and upon meeting with publisher, Fiona Shaw, they watched a clip of Sarah’s television debut via Sarah’s website.  Fiona was impressed with Sarah’s resolve and critical thinking in her views on the breast cancer cancer movement, and from there a book project was born.

Finishing the book at Lyme Regis. Photograph by Ronnie Hughes

Sarah took her journals, and commenced the extremely complicated process of completing and editing her journal writings into a format befitting of an audience, and in a way that clearly stated her politics with regard to breast cancer, but ultimately balanced with the story of her life.  A life interrupted by breast cancer. In order to achieve this mammoth task of completing the book,  Sarah and Ronnie took a trip to Lyme Regis, where they holed up in a little beach shack with no phone, Internet or television, and Sarah went to work.  What had started as a diary and a way to navigate her diagnosis and treatment, was at last a finished manuscript and ready for several months of fine editing with publisher Fiona, and finally, setting and design.

Click here if you would like to purchase this book

In October 2010, the book Being Sarah was published, and Sarah was finally able to sit back and catch her breath.  But not for long. Fast forward to today, and Sarah is now back at work part-time in her business with Ronnie.  She also undertakes speaking engagements, where she speaks out on the issues of breast cancer prevention and the importance of control and choice in breast cancer treatment.  Sarah also recently attended and spoke at an environmental summit at the European Union in Brussels on the issue of cancer prevention and environmental policy.  Most importantly, Sarah is finally now getting back to life’s simple pleasures, but she continues to  be an advocacy voice for those dealing with breast cancer who cannot speak for themselves, and passing on the knowledge of her own experience  with the disease in order to engage in debate and motivate future actions in breast cancer treatment  and policy.

I’m sure you’ll agree, Sarah Horton epitomizes the spirit of a Can-Do Woman, in what she’s accomplished so far, and as she continues to set the stage for raising public consciousness of breast cancer prevention and  meaningful debate within the breast cancer movement.  Sarah,  thank you for all that you do.  There is much to be learned from your story, and I am honored to be able to share at least part of your narrative today in this blog’s homage to the amazing achievements of extraordinary ordinary women like you.

If you would like to know more about Sarah, and read more of her writings,  you can purchase a copy of her book at the link above, or Sarah’s blog can be found by clicking on this link: Being Sarah.  I highly recommend you stop by and join in the discussion.

And here is a sampling of some of Sarah’s films.

A short video of Sarah’s book launch.

The Plot is a delightful piece about the Can-Do Gardeners who garden at  Sarah’s beloved allotment.

“What we love, we must protect” is a short film about Sarah’s recent trip to the European Parliaments summit on cancer prevention and environmental policy

Has an event in your life spurred you to greater action? Have you ever considered writing a book?  Fiction or non-fiction? Have you started it yet?

Can-Do Cooks: Perfect Whole Wheat Pizza

I’m the Can-Do Cook who’s constantly searching for the “best” recipe for everything that I like to cook, so I’m always trawling cooking websites and food blogs to try to find that perfect blend of ingredients.  I’m also interested in healthier ways of eating and trying new and better takes on those favorite comfort foods.

The perfect thin and crispy pizza crust is something that I’ve always longed for. And even better? A whole wheat version that doesn’t require a day to rise or a ton of physical exertion in the mixing and kneading.  Well readers, I’ve found it, and it’s become a favorite weekend dinner in my house.  It doesn’t even need a special pizza pan, and in fact, I often just use a cookie sheet smeared with a bit of olive oil and the pizza crust always comes out thin and crispy. You can even substitute the white flour and whole-wheat flour measurements for 3 1/2 cups unbleached white whole-wheat flour. For best results, I like the King Arthur Flour brand.  Enjoy!

AMAZING WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA CRUST

(Original source:  www.Allrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.

2. Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.

4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables.

5. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top.

Give it a try and do let me know what you think.

What Could A Woman Do in 1900?

What Can A Woman Do? Indeed, this is the question asked by Mrs M.L. Rayne in penning what must be a very early example of an occupational handbook for women.  The copy that I have in my library, although without a date, looks to have been written around 1900 or so.

Mrs Rayne explains her motivation for writing this book by saying;

“Equally blessed is the woman who has found her work.  Life is, indeed a burden to one who, day after day, must plod for a mere existence at some work for this there is no special adaptation, but it is peculiarly trying and discouraging to a woman, who cannot choose for herself the profession or vocation in life which will give her the most pleasure to follow in the toilsome effort of winning her own bread.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I think these words could still be relevant today.  Do we work to live or live to work? Mrs Rayne seems to be advocating that it’s of the utmost importance for women to do something they love – and get paid for it!  Certainly words to live by, even by today’s career standards.

In 1900, women represented around 19 percent of the total American workforce, compared to a figure of around 54 percent in 2009,   and  only 1 percent of the lawyers and 6 percent of the Nation’s physicians were women. (See attached article on American Labor in the 20th Century by Donald Fisk).  Compare these figures to 2009, where employed women held around 40 percent of management, professional and related occupations.

So what could a woman do in 1900?  Aside from encouraging women to consider becoming teachers, journalists, lawyers and doctors which was clearly very progressive, Mrs Rayne highlights the possibility that women could also aspire to be wood engravers, or turn their hands to raising poultry or bee-keeping, amongst other choices.

In discussing why women were particularly well-suited to bee-keeping, Mrs Rayne had this to say;

“Bee-keeping, although a laborious employment, demands no great outlay of strength at one time.  It embraces the performance of many little items, which require skill and gentleness, more than muscle. The hand of woman, from nature, habit and education, has acquired an ease of motion which is agreeable to the sensibilities of bees, and her breath is seldom obnoxious to their olfactories, by reason of tobacco or beer.”

And of wood engraving?

“Women who engrave on wood, says a writer in Harper’s Bazar, will tell you that this exacting occupation tries them less than sewing does: and if, after seeing them bent over the magnifying glass through which they follow the movement of their tools along the surface of the boxwood, you ask if their eyes do not trouble them; they will smile and say that the exercise strengthens the optic nerve.”

Are you surprised at the career choices that were available to women in 1900? Are you aware of any women in your family who held jobs during the 1900′s? What did they do?

Can-Do Cooks: Best Tomato Soup

Are you a Can-Do Woman who loves to cook, or perhaps like many, you’re super busy, but you love the idea ? Well, I’m one Can-Do Woman who enjoys cooking all sorts of things.  I’m  not much of a baker, but just let me near a cookbook and pantry full of ingredients and I’ll have a delicious dinner, lunch or snack whipped up in no time.  

This being a magazine-style blog devoted to all things Can-Do Women, today’s post marks the launch of Can-Do Cooks as a regular feature of this blog, where I’ll spotlight my favorite recipes, and yours too if you would like to submit something. Easy, tasty, tried and tested recipes are what you’ll find in Can-Do Cooks.

*                 *                 *                *                   *

I’m feeling a bit under-the-weather today, so I thought I would share with you one of my favorite recipes for good old-fashioned Tomato Soup.  I found this recipe in the New York Times a couple of months ago, and have since made this soup many times to great success.  The magic ingredient here is the celery salt, so don’t try and substitute it – it’s worth a trip to the store if you don’t have it.  Also I like to halve the recipe so that I don’t have to worry about left-overs.  The soup keeps fine in the fridge for several days if you want to feed off of it.

Click on the recipe for the original NY Times publication

 

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