Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I do declare! More recipes from the dubious south

After the recent "trip" to Arizona, I decided to stay in the south and/or west with The Southern and Southwestern Cookbook (Culinary Arts Institute home economists directed by Melanie de Proft, 1956).

The cover looks more like a nod to the southwest than to the south with its avocado-and-grapefruit salad and big bowl of chili, but the book covers more ground than it lets on. (The fried chicken recipe has a variation for Maryland fried chicken-- not the most southern and/or western variation!)

Today I'm going the "weird menu" route, so prepare yourself for a series of recipes that only sort of go together.

For the main course, something "spicy":


Of course, I'm not sure how Spicy Beef Stew got labeled spicy. It looks like... well... plain old beef stew. Are the MSG and "few grains cloves" enough to make it spicy? Are we supposed to think that a can of sieved tomatoes or a bit of bell pepper will liven things up? Is the recipe's proximity to other recipes claiming to be from the southwest enough to give it an edge? I have looked this recipe up and down a dozen times, and I still have no idea what makes it anything other than the staid beef stew that't the staple of heartland family dinners.

Speaking of things that don't exactly scream southern or western, let's serve our stew over slices of this:

Yes, scrapple, that hallmark of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, is somehow southern and/or western if it's made with a mixture of vegetables and peanuts instead of hog offal. I can see where they're coming from on this one since it's full of those southern staples cornmeal and peanuts, but I kind of wonder why they went with the name scrapple. Why not Vegetable Fried Grits or Veggie Grit Cakes?

In any case, I'd be more willing to try this version of scrapple than the traditional one, but I digress.

Now on to dessert:

Sopa Capirotada finally presents something that seems like it belongs in this book! I did a little research, and apparently this is a bread pudding traditionally served during Lent in Latin American households. (Don't tell anyone that I pulled it out for mid-summer!)

It's loaded with piñon nuts, which are apparently special pine nuts most popular in New Mexico. It's also full of the brown sugar and cinnamon common to bread puddings, and layered with novel to me, but apparently not to Capirotada fans, Cheddar cheese.

I'm guessing this sounds exciting to those of you who love a slice of cheese in their apple pie, and scary to those who have never figured out why anyone would do that to an innocent slice of pie that was minding its own business.

I couldn't make up my mind, so you have your choice of beverages.

If you want the worst variant of breakfast in a glass, have some of this:


Grapefruit Cooler handily combines the most vomit-y tasting of breakfast beverages with the potentially salmonella-laced glory of raw eggs! The whites are even whipped, so it's likely to be thick and sludgy as well!

If you'd rather go the the sweet-sweet-sweet route, I'll take you to Texas:


Texas Sparkler mixes a can of frozen juice with extra sugar, then dilutes it with nothing but ginger ale. Even if it's "dry" ginger ale, I imagine a glass or two could send imbibers into a diabetic coma. (I am totally in love with those grape tumblers, though.)

So there you have it-- a weird thrown-together meal with varying degrees of south/western credibility. Not sure how I want to end this, so I'll just throw in a line drawing of a proper southern family waiting on the butler to serve them dinner.

I was going to say that I hoped their cook had better taste than I in choosing their meals, but they all look like they're probably racist anyway. I hope the cook made them exactly what they deserve.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Road Trip!

How about a road trip? Let's pack into the car with some snacks, get onto the road, and stop at any thrift store or antique mall we happen across. You can pick up whatever you like... VHS tapes? Vintage Star Wars? Generation 1 My Little Ponies? Playboys with models who are now older than your mom? I won't judge. And I'm going to pick up exactly what you think I'm going to pick up: enough old cookbooks to ruin your car's suspension. (You know we're taking your car, right?) Well, those and maybe a few of the Playboys you didn't pick up.

What should we bring for snacks? I am super-boring and usually just bring a peanut butter cookie Larabar, but today let's look at some vintage snacks to go with our antique-mall theme. 

New Age Vegetarian Cookbook (The Rosicrucian Fellowship, fifth edition, 1975) suggests something that sounds a little dirty:


Nut Balls! Your inner teenage boy can giggle about nuts with balls. (How would that even work?) Loaded with unsulphured molasses, soy milk powder, and the eternal disappointment that is carob powder, these should easily last the whole trip... and well into the next decade.

Would you rather have candy? The Lunch Box Cookbook (Home economists of the Culinary Arts Institute directed by Melanie de Proft, 1955) offers Fruit-Nut Candy Squares:

These are a precursor to the '70s health-food "candies," sweetened mainly with figs and dates... and nothing that I would ever call candy, even if they're probably not bad for coconut lovers.

If you're really the gung-ho energy bar type, Arizona Cook Book (Al and Mildred Fischer, sixth printing, 1979) offers a cereal bar:


What would a block of oatmeal and powdered milk held together with sugar, honey, and citrus gelatin taste like? I'm not sure, but it can apparently pack 400 calories into a 2 x 2 x 1.5-inch space. That will power you through some serious VHS browsing.

If you have a sick sense of humor like me and want to pretend you're a cannibal, the More-With-Less Cookbook (Doris Janzen Longacre, copyright 1976, but I have Bantam's 1981 edition) offers this recipe:

What? What do wheat, oat, date, nut, and seed sticks have to do with cannibalism? Look at the name! They're Hinkelsteins.

I hate coconut, but I might be able to power through one or two just so I could say, "I'm eating the Hinkelsteins." Sounds like I'm taking out a whole German family... but it would really just be a bunch of grain, nut, and seed families.

So what do you say about the trip? You ready? Not quite? Give you a minute? Okay, I'll just wait here with my credit card and my Hinkelsteins.

Waiting patiently.... 

Waiting patiently....

Waiting... waiting... waiting...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Censorship, cacti, and beans in unexpected places...

It's not the heat! It's the humidity! As much as I hate hearing people say this in a self-congratulatory way, as if proclaiming the humidity the real enemy makes a hot day any better, I am taking their idea. Today we are going somewhere hot and (usually) dry: Arizona!

Yes, it's the Arizona Cook Book (compiled by Al and Mildred Fischer, sixth printing, 1979).

This book has a diverse cast of recipes: Indian, Mexican, and Western food, with plenty of recipes for Arizona crops and outdoor cooking.

What's with the little green bar off to the side? It's the first instance of censorship in Grannie Pantries history! Whoever owned this before me was a racist, and they penned epithets for Indians and Mexicans right on the cover. Very thoughtful, asshole.

I decided "cowpatty" didn't rise to the same level of offense, so I left it there so you could get a taste of this person's rapier wit.

The book itself boasts "more than 350 authentic Arizona recipes," but I'm never quite sure what that means. Authentic to what? Some seem to be authentic to 1970s-style cooking, which is not a boast many cookbooks make.


I kind of doubt an authentic Mexican recipe calls for a pound-sized can of roast beef and another of Rosarita refried beans, or wrapping the whole shebang in a package of Rosarita tortillas. Granted, I have zero expertise in authentic Mexican food, but I feel pretty confident making this call anyway.

Same thing for the Chicken Enchiladas:


A recipe calling for a can of cream of chicken soup and a jar of boned chicken (and more Rosarita tortillas-- and yes, the acknowledgements page does thank Rosarita Mexican Foods, in case you were wondering...) seems to have more in common with an authentic midwestern church cookbook recipe than anything else.

Some recipes do seem specific to the region, though. I love a good marmalade, and this one would seem authentically southwestern:


I'm not sure what prickly pears taste like, but I'd be willing to try them this way! And if you can't get enough Arizona-specific sweets, here's another with a lovely little drawing to illustrate it:


Again, I'm not sure what it would taste like, but any candy recipe that begins with a warning about the legality of making it and instructions to remove spines is pretty exciting.

The book is definitely committed to providing recipes for other Arizona staples, like sourdough (not just for California, apparently!) and pinto beans.

The book lists plenty of expected recipes for sourdough bread and pancakes, but I was a little surprised to find this among them:


Sourdough drop cookies!

The biggest surprise had to be in the pinto bean recipes, though. Nestled in among the variations of baked beans and soups was this little gem:


Pinto bean fudge does not use the pinto beans as a thickener, as I thought it might. Beans are add-ins, just like the chopped nuts!

Now I'm starting to imagine a mashup of the old Velveeta Fudge recipe with this one... It could be dessert, or heat it up for a very weird bean queso dip! At least the thought has gotten my mind off the damn heat and humidity.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rice and ham that didn't quite stack up

I have a nice little Tofurky "ham" roast to eat, so I started looking for appropriate vintage recipes to make with it. I haven't been feeling all that inspired since I got back from vacation, though, so nothing was looking exciting. (I'll blame my lack of inspiration on my trip to Evolve. Nothing I make will rival their cashew mac n "cheese" or southern fried "chicken.")

The Better Homes and Gardens Casserole Cook Book (fifth printing, 1970) had a recipe I kind of thought might be okay with a few adjustments:

It has three things I love: rice, ham, and cheese! But the rice layer looked kind of skimpy-- mostly just plain old rice. And I don't particularly like olives or sliced fresh onions and tomatoes. And I didn't see any point in leaving the ham in a slice if I'd just have to cut it up anyway.

Maybe you've guessed it by now, but I ended up making something so tenuously inspired by this recipe that I wondered whether I should write about it at all.

What the hell, though. I'll post it so you can see just how cavalier I am with recipes.

Poppy's Rice and Ham Casserole

1/2 c. instant brown rice
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt
pepper, thyme, and rosemary to taste
1/2 c. diced Tofurky ham
veggies as desired (I used a handful of sliced mushrooms, some diced bell pepper, and about a quarter bag of Kroger frozen Fiesta vegetables)
1 Tbs. milk
1 egg white
1 slice cheese (I used Muenster.)

Combine rice through ham in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook for about five minutes and then add vegetables. Continue cooking until rice is tender and vegetables are partially cooked.

Meanwhile, mix milk and egg white. Pour milk mixture into rice mixture and stir to combine. Pour into greased individual casserole dish. Bake 10 minutes at 350. Then add cheese slice to top and bake 10 minutes more.

Here's what it looked like in the cookbook:


Very neat little piles with a topper that looks like it belongs on a sea creature or something. I didn't have any gelatin salads just lying around (as people in the '70s did), so I didn't bother with their serving suggestion either.

And here's my version:


Yeah, looks almost nothing like the original because I skipped the whole "layers" thing. How did it taste?

Meh. It was surprisingly dry. I figured the egg-and-milk mixture would make it kind of custard-y, but it somehow seemed to lock all the moisture up so the whole thing seemed kind of sawdust-y. The parts on the top that were covered with cheese were pretty great, but the rest was just okay.

Would it have been any better if I had come even close to following the directions? Maybe, but I kind of doubt it. So much for that experiment, and now I'm feeling even less inspired.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gelatincraft!

Happy Summer Weekend! (Well, we haven't hit the solstice quite yet, but we're well into meteorological summer and it is freaking HOT here, so I think it counts.) What better way to celebrate a sultry summer weekend than with a chilled craft project/ recipe? (Okay, there are plenty of ways: eat a peanut butter sundae with chocolate ice cream, go for a walk to watch the sun set (or rise, if you're one of those types), crank up the a.c. and watch Friday the 13th or Jaws or Taxi Driver.... But quit undermining my premise! Just go with it, okay?)

Good Housekeeping's Soups/ Salads/ Sandwiches booklet (1971) has the perfect project:


Make Muffin Salad Cuplets! They can be as nice or as scary as you like. I'm sure the red-Jell-O-and-melon-ball variety is fine if you're a melon-head. The orange is probably okay if you don't mind a big old mouthful of pith. The cucumber and lemon version looks like a perfect little stained glass window and will taste... meh.

My favorites, though, are the two in the back. The pea pods in the yellowish glob look like a row of fish, rushing to the surface to try to eat a red flower. If I were 6, I'd take it to my room and try to keep it as a pet, only to be disappointed as it melted and my "fish" ended up floating listlessly on a pile of goo as the flower sunk into the muck.

As an adult, I have more appreciation for the perfect absurdist art of cauliflower cutlets framed by a wall of beef consommé, resting under the shade of an (egg white?) daisy. I want to frame it and put it in a gallery next to a picture of a woman with a wind-up kitchen timer for a head and spatulas for arms. (My evaluation of the last two items is even more favorable knowing that they are likely to be inedible. I would not eat a work by Salvador Dalí, so why would I eat a beef/ cauliflower/ egg or pea pod and pimento salad cuplet?)

Should you want to create your own masterpieces, the recipe is pretty easy:


Perhaps I will make some green bean eels in berry blue Jell-O, lounging under a banana-slice moon... Too bad the '70s missed out on berry blue.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I think I see why "ECONOMY" is in all caps on the cover... rather than "delicious"

My seasonal farmers' market is finally open, carrying things like... uh... lettuce... and lettuce... and tons of homemade scones/ bread/ cookies/ etc., since not a lot is really in season yet. More veggies are coming soon, though, so let's explore Ann Seranne's Good Food Without Meat (1973).

The cover certainly looks like it will be an exploration of vegetables, what with the suggestions of carrots, onions, cabbages, lettuce, and a big fat tomato.

Some recipes are actually veggie-centric, like this soup I could actually make with current farmers' market ingredients:


You'd have to be pretty committed to eating lettuce in all its forms to eat Potage Santé: a big bowl of boiled lettuce. I hope the butter, scallions, and lemons would help, but they would be better off topping a fat stack of juicy roasted asparagus anyway.

A lot of recipes kind of forget the vegetables. Of course Soufflé Roll by itself is supposed to be pretty eggy:


But you'll notice that it calls for filling. Surely this is a great opportunity to add some peppers, tomatoes, and/or broccoli!


Or you could just fill the eggs with... more eggs. This is the first time I've ever seen a souffle with a hard-cooked egg filling.

Unlike many of the old gelatin-based salads, the salads in this book do have actual vegetables in them. This one is an ode to all my least-beloved vegetables:


Diced beets (sweet dirt!) with celery (dental floss!) and (stinky, watery!) cabbage. Whee!

I'd say it was a waste of perfectly good cottage cheese, but I know a lot of you hate cottage cheese. If so, you can say it's a waste of mayonnaise, and we can gaze across the trench of the cottage cheese- mayo divide and realize that at least we can both agree the salad is a waste of something.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Venus Dessert Trap? Moon Jellyfish Jelly?

Sorry! I was on vacation and thought I had this scheduled to post automatically on Saturday. Obviously, it didn't.

On a busy summer weekend, I thought you might need a cool and creamy treat from Good Housekeeping's Dreamy Desserts (1971).


Or maybe it's a pet jellyfish? Or a carnivorous plant that got baked in the sun, and now has a quintet of green stink bugs throwing an orgy in its once-imposing trap?

No, it's an Apricot Cream, Tiffany. (Don't ask me who Tiffany is, but she's part of the title. I am also unable to say the title without sounding sarcastic.)



If you want a chance to get salmonella from a brandied apricot gelatin mold, this recipe was made for you!

I kept staring at the picture, though, sure that I had seen something like this before. Then it hit me: this is the dessert version of those "crown roasts" made out of hot dogs that used to be so popular.

If you want a faux-elegant weekend, make yourself a Frankfurter Crown followed by an Apricot Cream! I think I'd rather take my chances with a carnivorous plant.