Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Questionably modern sour cream

Are you fit to be clipped? I hope so, because today's booklet is the companion piece to the "Fittin' for Clippin'" cottage cheese recipes.

A Sampler of Modern Sour Cream Recipes (Home Economics Department of the American Dairy Association, undated, but Michigan State University Library's Alan and Shirley Broker Sliker Culinary Collection estimates it as 1955 and offers a full scan of the booklet here) has a cross-stitch themed cover with a house during an ambiguous season. (When I was a kid, the apples were on the trees long before we fired up the wood-burning stove for the season.)

The smooth and creamy tang of sour cream is a much easier sell for most than lumpy cottage cheese. There aren't a lot of terrible recipes in here, but I'll do my best to put together a questionable menu. Let's start with an appetizer.

Chili Cuke Dip doesn't sound too bad, but it should probably just be called Cuke Dip. I'm not so sure the eighth of a teaspoon of chili powder is going to give it a lot of zip, even if it is backed up by 2-3 drops of Tabasco.

Since we're going all-in on the sour cream, maybe we should lighten things up a bit with fish as the main course.

Well, with fish sticks. I don't know anyone who is really in love with frozen fish sticks. What's the only good thing about them? That's right: the crispy coating. So how are these fixed? They're plunked on top of a bed of steaming hot green beans, then slathered with mock hollandaise. In other words, they're now mush, losing the ONE redeeming feature they had.

Let's just move on to dessert. How about a modern take on the creme brulée?

This was Modern Creme Brulée for the mid-'50s, when home cooks would try anything if it started with packaged goods-- at least, if you believe what the old cookbooks suggest. Vanilla pudding made from a mix and topped with pears, thawed raspberries, and brown-sugar-bedecked sour cream caramelized under the broiler seems the antithesis of the ideals of scratch-cooking, farm fresh evangelizing, torch-equipped chefs making fancy desserts today.

You know what, though? I'd still try it. Even bad sour cream desserts are bound to be pretty good.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Not the Dutch apple pie you're imagining

Checking out Top Value Favorites (Top Value & TV Travel Employees for United Way Campaign, 1982), I saw the name Apple Pot Pie and wondered what made it pot pie. Apple pie isn't exactly an unusual dessert, so what would make it pot pie? Chunks of chicken and some peas and carrots?

Then I realized that this is a Pennsylvania Dutch style boiled pot pie that I complained about as a bait-and-switch earlier. If you ever want a whole menu of soggy boiled dishes that will disappoint diners waiting for crisp, golden-brown crusts, this recipe will complete the suite I started with the earlier post. Yay?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Swappin' in cottage cheese

I know Greek yogurt is the currently fashionable high-protein dairy snack, but I secretly prefer the salty, tangy goodness of its old-fashioned counterpart to its chokingly-sour contemporary. That means I'm more predisposed to be charitable with the offerings of this little booklet than a lot of you might be. (Who knows, though? Cottage cheese is making a comeback!)

Swappin' Good Recipes Featuring Cottage Cheese (Home Economics Department of the American Dairy Association, undated, but Michigan State University Library's Alan and Shirley Broker Sliker Culinary Collection estimates it as 1955 and offers a full scan of the booklet here) features charming, blocky, needlework-style flowers, a cow, a tree, and a girl on the cover. The cow looks like it's getting ready to deliver a fresh, steaming cowpat, but the girl is smiling because she's not downwind. Although the cover promises the recipes are "Fittin' for clippin'," I'm not always so sure about it.

This booklet has the expected last-of-the-pantry main dishes, including this one featuring canned tuna and mushrooms mixed with cottage cheese and the ubiquitous, greasy chow mein noodles (mixed with rice this time, for variety).

My real favorite section is the salad chapter, though. Here is another proof of my conviction that the only word that should ever precede "mousse" is "chocolate."

Even better is the fact that a lot of the salad recipes have pictures. We have a representative of the "ring of one kind of food filled with another kind of food" genre.

Even as a cottage cheese fan, I can't say I've ever had much of a craving for cottage cheese mixed with cucumber and green pepper, then dumped over tomato juice aspic. (Given the red and green theme, I'm a bit surprised this isn't being marketed as a Christmas salad. I guess there's not enough sugar.)

Then there's the always-popular mound of shiny pinkish slime model:

The shrimp is already paired with cocktail sauce, plus cottage cheese and sour cream, all in a creamy, slithery gel. Talk about convenience!

Some salads (like the Cottage Cheese Asparagus Mousse?) must not have been very photogenic, as the salad photo page had to fill space by including some pictures of salads without any recipe at all.

Apparently even the American Dairy Association couldn't convince itself that anyone actually wanted a recipe to combine canned pear halves and green pepper rings with a big mound of cottage cheese, so nobody wrote one. The picture looked better than the alternative possibilities, though, so someone slapped this salad together. Enjoy! (That mousse must look ghastly!)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Funny Name: Lingering Aromas Edition

Even though it's got "potpourri" in the name, I don't think leaving this concoction from Favorite Recipes of Jaycee Wives Meats Edition Including Seafood and Poultry (1966) out in the family room would be a good way to temper its funk:

Seafood Potpourri is not a highly-requested Yankee candle scent, either.... Go figure.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Gourmet for fuzzballs

I guess the picture for the October 1977 cover of Gourmet could maybe qualify as Halloweeny if you squint and try to imagine Château Margaux in Bordeaux as a spooky old mansion, but it mostly looks like a building on a college campus to me. I imagine someone inside giving lessons on Chinese Civilization rather than ghosts dancing a stately waltz or trying to force somebody into a guillotine.

Oh, well. I guess I'll force this issue to be Halloween-appropriate by posting a recipe my little black cat would approve of.

You might not think pastry strips would seem particularly appealing to a cat, but mine is a carbophile. He will steal bread crusts if we're not looking.

He'd be even more excited about the filling, though.

Anchovies! (The cut-off part of the directions says to bake for 25 minutes, cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then cut into 10 strips and serve them warm.)

I could almost see David Letterman dumping a plateful of these into a trick-or-treater's bag and the kid would shoot him a "You've gotta be kidding" look.

Whether you'd be excited to find Anchovy Pastry Strips in your Halloween treats depends on how you feel about anchovies. My cat would think he'd hit the jackpot!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Funny Name: Can you be more specific? Edition

Whenever I see this title from Cook Book (Derby Sisters of Rebekah Lodge #908, 1975) I imagine Margaret Worthington submitting her recipe for "Salad" and the editor asks her if she can give it a catchier title. "Fine," sighs Margaret, as she hands over this new title:

Yes! It's SEVEN THING SALAD! Put things in it! All seven of them! It will be a salad! Made of seven things! (Maybe you're not nearly as amused as I am, but this is killing me.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Big dreams for dried herbs

I often make fun of old cookbooks for printing recipes almost devoid of seasonings (such as "chili" that is clearly just misnamed vegetable soup), but spices did exist, even in mid-20th-century America.

Spices of the World Cookbook by McCormick (Mary Collins, copyright 1964, 1976 reprint) unsurprisingly makes sure there's plenty of seasoning in every recipe. Some of them are quite sophisticated.

I know I'd never find Truffled Chicken Breasts Elégante in a church potluck cookbook.

Sometimes it seems like the recipes are trying a little too hard, though. This one splits the difference between "Elégante" and church potluck cookbook for a wholly unnatural concoction:

Has anyone ever really thought the best use for champagne is to make it into a gelatin topped with a second gelatin consisting of spiced cream cheese, canned pineapple, and limeade?

My favorite feature of the book might just be its overselling the virtues of dried herbs. Yes, dried herbs can be a great addition to soups, stews, and other juicy, long-cooking dishes. If herbs are an important component of something with a short cook, though, maybe McCormick's dried versions aren't the best bet...

Of course, diners might think of these Herb-Broiled Sandwiches as grilled cheese with bacon and tomato, so they might not really notice the dusty dried-herb flavor.

If you offer a Cheese Omelette aux Herbes, however...

...well, diners will definitely expect fresh herbs-- not a teaspoon of dried parsley flakes and another of Season-All (seasoned salt). Sorry, McCormick, but an Omellete aux Herbes is not exactly something you can deliver.

I'll finish today's post with a dessert. If you're excited about the prospect of Rum Buns, though, remember the book.

You're not getting any rum in Rum Buns-- just some powdered sugar mixed with a bottle of rum extract and dumped liberally over and on some hot roll mix.

I've got to appreciate this book for encouraging more seasoning in its mostly-salt-and-pepper time, but just like synthetic fabrics didn't make '60s models into astronauts, a teaspoon of dried parsley doesn't make eggs into an omelette aux fines herbes. Both notions would make me laugh 50-some years later, though.