Tag Archives: Howto

Queen Elizabeth II’s Scone Recipe

In 1960, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain sent President Dwight D. Eisenhower her recipe for “Drop Scones,” which she had promised to give to him when he’d visited her at Balmoral Castle. Eisenhower was an avid cook.

Elizabeth II doesn’t seem like a likely cook, but she was an auto mechanic during World War II.  She could probably stir up a batch of scones, if called upon in the line of duty.

A photograph of the recipe she sent him is in a book about Eisenhower entitled, The Ike Files: Mementoes of the Man and His Era from the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, which was published by Kansas City Star Books and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Foundation.

The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is in Abilene, Kansas, which is where Eisenhower grew up.  It was the first presidential library I ever visited, which makes sense since I lived in Kansas.  (Although many people never visit the sites in their own states.)

We already had a “history” with Eisenhower, though. My parents had taken me as a baby to Eisenhower’s presidential inaugural parade in 1953, when we lived in Alexandria, Virginia.

Here’s Queen Elizabeth’s scone recipe.


  • 4 teacups flour
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 teacups milk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons bi-carbonate soda
  • 3 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Beat eggs, sugar and about half the milk together, add flour, and mix well together adding remainder of milk as required, also bi-carbonate and cream of tartar, fold in the melted butter.

The recipe was typed, but at the bottom, written in ink and underlined, was the line: Enough for 16 people.

I don’t have the Queen’s instructions for what to do with the dough. Here’s a scone recipe from Epicurious.com that describes how to work, shape, cut and bake the dough.

Hearty Scottish Scones

Blogging friend Paula’s photos of scones and jam inspired me on this topic.  Here’s a link to Paula’s “Jamming” post.  She also included a recipe for scones and more information in her comment below.  Check it out.

To learn more about the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, which sells the book, go to www.eisenhower.archives.gov  I don’t get any royalties. In fact, don’t tell them I sent you.


Filed under Books, Food, History, Howto, Humor, Kansas, Life, Personal, Presidents, Recipes, Royalty

Cutting Edge — How to Use a Straight Razor

This is my son Matt's straight razor and shaving cup, soap, brush and strop.  He says that using a straight razor produces a cheaper and better shave, although it takes three times longer than with an electric razor.

This is my son Matt's straight razor and shaving cup, soap, brush and strop. He says that using a straight razor produces a cheaper and better shave, although it takes three times longer than with a cartridge blade or an electric razor. Link to Straight Edge Razor Father's Day card at the bottom of this post.

                                                                                                                                                                                           My son Matt and his friends love metal — and I’m not talking about music.

They love steel, silver, iron — anything they can forge, hammer, bend and weld. They use words like anneal, temper, ductile, malleable, hone, forge.

They’re fascinated with bladesmithing, such as the labor-intensive process of forging the katana, the long sword the samurai carry.  Matt bought a couple of replica katanas when we visited Japan, but it’s just not the same as the real thing.  They had no cutting edge — all show and no go.  (But they were so much cheaper!)

Matt and two of his friends have brought their appreciation of a sharp edge to their daily routine by using a straight edge razor to shave.  Matt ordered his online, while one friend got his at a pawn shop. 

“I think of my razor as a really high quality knife,” Matt says.  “It’s generally about as sharp as a knife can get.”

Japanese Katana Sword.

Japanese Katana Sword.

Matt bought a DOVO Black Star with a pakkawood handle, made of high carbon tempered steel with a blade that’s five-eighths of an inch wide. It’s full hollow ground, which means that the faces of the blade are ground to make it as thin as possible.

“I wanted a better, cheaper alternative to normal shaving,” Matt says.  “The choice was between a straight razor and a safety razor.”

Matt likes to learn new, unusual skills, so that was another factor.

“How long did it take you to get the hang of it?” I ask.  The thing looks dangerous.  I’ve seen what a straight edge razor can do in “Sweeney Todd”.  (Matt says that a true fan of a straight razor would never ruin a blade by using it like that.)

“It took about three weeks to stop cutting myself at least once every shave,” Matt says.

This is from an advertisement for a DOVO razor.  The guy looks pretty calm, considering someone else is holding a razor to his neck.

This is from an advertisement for a DOVO razor. The guy looks pretty calm, considering someone else is holding a razor to his neck.

Matt describes the basic procedure:  “Strop your razor a dozen times, first on the canvas side and then on the leather side.  I usually skip the canvas side unless my razor isn’t honed enough. 

Shaving is best after a shower. You want your face to be as wet as possible, so don’t use a towel.  Soak your brush (more on brushes below) in hot water and then swirl it on your bar of soap for ten or so seconds.  Now whip your brush in a bowl that contains a small amount of water.  Whip for 30 to 90 seconds to create a lather.  Apply lather to your face. 

Always shave first in a downward motion with the hair growth.  The chin and upper lip are the hardest parts.  After one pass downward, you can re-lather and shave perpendicular to the hair growth, or shave against the hair growth.  Two or three passes are generally required to get a close shave.  One with the grain, one perpendicular and one against.  I generally only do two passes, one with the grain, one against.

After shaving, splash warm water on your face to remove all of the soap residue, then splash cold water on your face to close your pores.  Then pat dry.  Never wipe dry, or you’ll dry out your skin too much.  You can then apply a facial lotion, if you want.”

What does this Samurai have to do with shaving with a straight razor? Not too much, except that he's cool and used a really sharp sword. This samurai is on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas CIty. Pardon my reflection.

What does this Samurai have to do with shaving with a straight razor? Not too much, except that he's cool and used a really sharp sword. This samurai is on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Pardon my reflection.

In the long run, shaving with a straight razor is cheaper than disposable razors and blades and shaving cream in a can, and there’s a lot less waste.

“My bar of shaving soap, which cost ninety-nine cents at Wal-Mart, will probably last for dozens and dozens of shaves.”

Do the guys still shave as often?  One friend still uses the straight razor — when he shaves.  “He tends to grow beards for a while,” Matt says.

“I still shave about as much as I used to, but if I go for several days, and my facial hair gets long, the razor has no problems cutting through it,” Matt says.  “It doesn’t clog like a normal razor does.”

He admits to using a disposable cartridge if he’s pressed for time.  He may get a safety razor for those times when he’s in a hurry. (Which is probably every time he’s heading to class.)

“But if I have an extra fifteen minutes, it’s certainly more fun to use a straight razor,” he says.

Am I a convert?  Considering  I have more area to mangle and mutilate, I don’t think so……..

There are three grades of badger brushes — pure, best and the top grade of silvertip, Matt says.  Matt has the best badger, which is the middle level.  Badger brushes are softer and hold more water than the cheaper boar hair or synthetic brushes.   

Clean the brush thoroughly after each shave and shake it dry.

“Badger smells like wet dog for the first ten times,” he warns. 

For more information,  go to www.classicshaving.com  and www.shavemyface.com  There’s a whole culture of shaving out there!   For a straight edge razor shaving greeting card using this photograph, go to Straight edge razor Father’s Day card.




Filed under Family, Health, Howto, Humor, Life, Personal, Shopping



This is a chigger, enlarged about 1,500 times. Chiggers are red until they are engorged, when they turn yellow. They feed on our dissolved skin cells, not blood. (Photo — Dr. W. Calvin Webourn, the Ohio State Acarology Laboratory.)

Since I’m still scratching like crazy, I decided to get serious about avoiding more chigger bites.  (See my post, “Berry Picking by Moonlight” for an impractical approach.) If you’re wondering whether there are chiggers in your area, there probably aren’t. If you’ve been in nature, you’d already know! 

Wear Insect Repellent.
Wear long pants and long sleeves (which is so much fun when it’s 95 degrees!)
Wipe off your skin with a rough towel when you come inside.
Take a warm shower or bath with soap after coming indoors.
Wash your clothes and used towels in hot water and detergent to kill any chiggers hanging out there.
                                                                                                                                                               Chiggers are the almost microscopically small six-legged larval (juvenile) form of an eight-legged mite (Trombiculidae), related to ticks.  How can something so small cause such torment? You can’t see them to pick them off.  By the time you feel their bite, it’s too late.  Your body has already started its allergic reaction.
                                                                                                                                                         Chiggers are constantly on the move, running onto your body from grass and plants, heading for areas of thin skin such as your ankles or groin area. Their mouth parts are weak, so if they can’t find a delicate area, they need a fold of skin or a tight piece of clothing to help them pierce the skin.
                                                                                                                                                                          In North America, humans aren’t a chigger’s preferred host.  Chiggers would rather bite reptiles or birds, which don’t get an allergic reaction.  We’re just accidental prey. (There are chiggers in Asia and the Pacific Islands that do prefer humans, and their bites cause no itching.)
                                                                                                                                                                       The chigger injects saliva to dissolve our tissue, which the chigger then sucks.  Our bodies react by walling off the corrosive saliva, forming a sort of feeding tube in the center of a welt that itches like crazy.  The tiny chigger then sits on the tube, alternately injecting saliva and then sucking up the liquid tissue.   Most chiggers are scratched off before they complete their one and only feed.  If they don’t get enough to eat, which may take three days of feeding, they won’t mature into an adult mite. Too bad! 
                                                                                                                                                                       The good news is that chiggers don’t carry any diseases.  However, if you scratch too much, you might get an infection.
Now, enjoy your summer outdoors!


Filed under Biology, Family, Gardening, Health, Howto, Humor, Kansas, Life, Nature, Personal, Uncategorized