Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Taste a health food store!

I am mostly vegetarian, and nothing reminds me just how glad I am to be mostly vegetarian now rather than, say 40 years ago, like an old "healthy" and/or vegetarian cookbook. The Rodale Cookbook (copyright 1973, but mine is the eleventh printing from 1977) makes a great example.

The start of the chapter on desserts sounds just as unpromising as one can imagine. The recipe writers had to deal "with the challenge of providing tempting desserts that are totally free from refined sugar, chocolate, white flour, and similarly undesirable ingredients, most of which are synonymous with dessert." The writers go on to say that "The discoveries we've made in meeting this challenge have broadened our ideas of what a dessert can be." I think that may be a bit of an understatement. Here is one promising recipe:

The title alone is enough to make me run. Naming a grain and a legume and tacking on the word "dessert" to clarify what the dish is supposed to be is not an inviting start. Reading the actual recipe doesn't help. Like many of the desserts in the book, this is loaded with skim milk powder. (Yum!) Adding whole wheat and soy flours, a handful of raisins, an egg, and a dab of honey makes me imagine that the "dessert" will smell like the inside of a health food store, and I have never wanted to eat a health food store.

I'm also amused by the ways our ideas of "healthy" foods change over the years. This is considered healthy at least in part because it has whole wheat and soy in it. They're given prime real estate in the title! Now, many health foodists avoid wheat and soy. (Gluten! Phytoestrogens!)

Another recipe to suggest the gap between health food then and health food now:

Yes, the brown rice and spinach are still "healthy," but it would be hard to get away with labeling this health food now with all the cheese and eggs.

The casserole doesn't sound terrible, but I imagine it as a bit leaden and oily, as seventies "healthy" recipes usually are. If I had to pick between this and the inside-of-the-health-food-store "dessert," though, I think I'd go with the casserole.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

About Starch Foods and Te Puke

The back cover of the 1969 The Graham Kerr Cookbook includes a note from Kerr himself. He writes, "I am known mostly for my television 'performances' in 'The Galloping Gourmet' series.... I try very hard to entertain you (whatever that may mean). Because of this you may doubt me! 'Is he a performer or a cook?' you'll say. I hope I am both...."

Interested to see his entertainment value, I decided to read the introductions to the various chapters in his book, as these are usually a little more lengthy than the notes around recipes and give a better picture of the writer's personality. Here is what I found for the "About Starch Foods" section, a chapter basically devoted to potato and rice recipes:

Well, he has certainly made me imagine that his cooking MUST be better than his entertainment value if this is the best he has to offer and he still managed to have a show.

Then I hit a recipe title that really made me wonder about the food, too.

I wondered if the title was a prediction about what readers were going te do after eating something made with an eggy batter that was left to stand on the counter for hours. A check of Wikipedia assures me that Te Puke is a town in New Zealand. Kerr lived in New Zealand, so I see the connection, but I don't think I'd use that name in a recipe title.

Then again, I'm not an "entertainer."

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How to avoid breaking the law with your new home freezer

When I saw Hazel Meyer's The Complete Book of Home Freezing from 1953, there were no awful pictures to draw me in. There weren't all that many recipes either. A few recipes make their appearance toward the end, but most of the book consists of instructions for preparing and freezing various foods. It almost seemed too boring to bother with, but I couldn't resist picking up a book with section titles like "Don't Be Afraid of Your Freezer."

A look through the book actually made the freezer seem scarier. Home cooks at the time could actually break the law with their freezers.

The book actually has a section on laws regulating home freezing of wild game! The book notes that "Most of the state laws were passed before home freezing became popular and widespread" and suggests that "The laws of more restrictive states will undoubtedly be changed as their constituents convince their legislators of the freezer's logical and valuable contribution to real conservation, both of wildlife and of food." It's hard to imagine a time when state laws had to catch up to the technology of freezers in the home.

I am also totally weirded out by the thought of have a freezer shelf of migratory birds with their feet, heads, and head plumage intact. Nothing like reaching for the peas as a frozen goose looks on.

Just in case you wonder what the laws regulating home frozen game looked like, here's a page:

You'll notice that there's no section for Alaska because Alaska was not yet a state. 

I love that this lists the officials to contact if one wants copies of game laws. Sounds like a fun way to spend a late-summer afternoon. I think I'll have my fake fifties alter-ego write away to the Fish and Game Commissions today! Maybe she can collect all 48 sets of laws. Meanwhile, I will be pawing through old cookbooks.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I love watching bad movies-- the ones that are so bad they're good because the acting, special effects, etc. are laughable. Last weekend I watched Beginning of the End and loved seeing the grasshoppers "attack" Chicago. It was great because in one scene, they were very clearly attacking a photograph of Chicago-- not even a tiny model! One started climbing on the sky, just in case the scene's lack of a third dimension wasn't obvious enough.

I wonder if you can see why I started thinking of bad acting when I spotted this picture in my Better Homes and Gardens Make-Ahead Cook Book (copyright 1971, although mine is from the 1973 fourth printing).

I hope you spotted it, but if you give up-- those are the least convincing fake grill lines I've ever seen in my life (and I have eaten frozen dinners with grill lines that were obviously drawn on at the end of the production line). For one thing, they're not quite parallel or evenly spaced. Close, but not close enough to to seem genuine. For another, the meat looks way too wet to get grill marks, and it doesn't look as if the sauce is on top of them as it would be if it were added after grilling. The color doesn't seem right either. It's as if someone had a cheap black marker and drew the grill lines on the photo of the ham. The lines have that same weak purplish-black tint that I remember from washable markers of my childhood.

This should win an award for least convincing impersonation of a grilled item.

Should you want to see if you can make better grill marks on this recipe, here it is:

I know some people love sweets on their ham, so I won't disparage it too much. I'm sure it sounds delicious to somebody-- especially somebody who hasn't seen the picture.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What qualifies as a cocktail?

Someone tried really hard to make this photo appealing.

This is supposed to be elegant: the gold-tone salad fork matches the gold-edged plates, whose patterns mirror the green of the lettuce and the red of the sauce that the tripod goblet suspends triumphantly toward the diner. A second goblet (apparently brimming with white wine) and a bonsai tree serve as backdrops to give the setting an air of sophistication. What special dish deserves this treatment? (Hint: It's from Better Homes and Gardens Calorie Counter's Cook Book, copyright 1970, although mine is the ninth printing from 1975.)

It is a mushroom cocktail! Only 38 calories per serving! Hopefully the photography and calorie count are enough to make you forget that "Mushroom Cocktail" is just a fancy name for lettuce and sliced raw mushrooms with ketchup dumped on top.

If not, at least you can save yourself 38 calories.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Feeling snappy

I love gingersnaps. They taste like fall, the home of Halloween. They're even good in unexpected places. I had a friend in college whose family was crazy creative and loved making their own ice cream varieties. She would come back from breaks with a bag full of individual cups of all sorts of flavors to share. They were all great, but I'd always go for the chocolate gingersnap if I had the chance.

Better Homes and Gardens Crockery Cooker Cook Book from 1976 had a different idea of the proper use of gingersnaps:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I'll have the corn chip sandwich

When I was a kid, my mom sent me to camp one summer. I was NOT HAPPY the day they served sloppy joes. Most kids are at least okay with joes, but I have never been able to stand sweetened meat, so I ended up stuffing corn chips inside a bun and hoping no one would notice. (For once, my luck held and I did not have to spend the rest of the week being called "Corn Chip Sandwich" or some other stupid nickname that would have seemed terrible at the time and that I could pretend to laugh at now...)

This is the long way of acknowledging that today's recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Barbecue Book (1967) never had a chance of appealing to me anyway. It's basically hot dogs served in a sloppy joe-style sauce.

I'm not sure what makes sassy franks sassy. Anytime I see "sassy" in an old recipe name, I expect the concoction to include 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder or 2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce since minute quantities of seasoning seemed to have a much greater effect in the '60s. Neither of those make an appearance, so I suspect the vinegar or Worcestershire sauce makes the recipe sassy. (The writers must have been part of the faction that reserved "zippy" for titles of recipes containing microscopic quantities of chilies.)

Even people who like sloppy joes might wonder about the garnish. I am not a sloppy joe aficionado, but I have never seen anyone put lemon slices in one.

And why can't I get over the feeling that the salt and pepper shakers are vaguely racist?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Please a Teen!

What is the best way to help your '70s era teen celebrate a special occasion? We all know Betty Crocker is going to suggest food because the ways teenagers really celebrate don't tend to require cookbooks or even parental involvement. Betty Crocker's Family Dinners in a Hurry (copyright 1970, but my fifth printing is from 1973) suggests celebrating "a teen-ager's triumph" with a pizzaburger pie:

I think of pizzaburgers as being individual patties seasoned with basil, oregano, and garlic, topped with sauce and cheese, but Betty envisions hers as a "pie"-- basically a meat "crust" to be topped as a pizza and cut into wedges. Fair enough. It all seems pretty normal until I get to the can of kidney beans. Kidney beans?

Yup! Nothing makes a teenager giddy like a can of kidney beans on an ersatz pizza!

Then I saw that Betty wasn't entirely unreasonable. Underneath, she lists variations, and all of them sensibly omit the kidney beans. Let's see what else we could try.

Mushrooms? Fine! Sliced or French fried onions? Not my thing, but I understand why some people like them. The two in the middle, though? Does it really say what I think it says?

Apparently Betty knew I would start to doubt my reading skills since she chose to picture these toppings rather than, say, French fried onions. Party time! Break out the pizzaburger pie with mushy gray canned green beans or faintly metallic corn! Woo!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

You can trick a potato, but not a fish

How does it feel to be destined for the dinner table? Most people would prefer not to think about it, but illustrations in vintage cookbooks often make the journey to the dinner plate seem like a glamorous and exciting journey. Betty Crocker's Outdoor Cook Book from 1961 (mine is first edition, third printing) has plenty of food that is thrilled to be prepared for dinner:

I could understand the potato wanting to die. His creepy eyes and apparent skin condition won't win any friends. The other foods seem ready to jump into the potato-egg scramble too, though. The onion just can't wait to burn her stinky little feet on a hot pan.

Some foods think dinner is a luxury treatment. Apparently being made into potato salad is the veggie equivalent of a day at the spa:

The potatoes are having a moment of zen as the celery anoints them with oil. (Well, I think the baby potato fell asleep. The others are meditating, though, and glad that the baby finally shut up.) Again, the onion wants in on the action. Apparently BO isn't as much of a detriment to one's social life in salad circles.

Being made into dinner is relaxing for the bread too.

Yes, bread appreciates a good campfire like anyone else. The baguette enjoys some wine as he toasts, and the loaf of sandwich bread warms her crust as she thinks of a song to sing with the muffin as they all await the knives and butter. Fun times!

Even the condiments are giddy!

They're thrilled to perform a ritual dance before sacrificing themselves to your potatoes and onions.

Just when I thought that all food was creepily happy to be dinner, I found an exception:

Fish are apparently not interested in being cooked and eaten, and they're not afraid to let you know it. The woman looks mildly surprised. I'm not sure whether she's shocked that the fish isn't more cooperative or that it is twice the size of the man. The struggle surely took a while-- the man is in a full wet suit. He apparently managed to catch the fish in the open ocean and wrestle it to shore. Not a small feat!

In any case, the woman doesn't seem inclined to grab the ax and help the man out. Is she passive-aggressively hoping the fish wins since she's just been waiting for a day and a half, heating the skillet over the fire until it begins to melt?

The division of labor does not concern the fish, though. He has enough angry stares for everyone:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Campbell's condensed tragicomedy

Although the brand name cookbooks often have the scariest recipes just because they are trying to cram the same product into every meal, there is also something heartbreakingly earnest about some of them. The 1968 edition of Easy Ways to Delicious Meals: 465 Quick-to-Fix Recipes Using Campbell's Convenience Foods is so clearly written for families that want to do better but are limited in time and money. The book makes me feel the same as I do when Charlie Brown brings back the scraggly tree on the Christmas special. I can't help but love it because it tries so hard.

Some of my favorite pages from vintage cookbooks are just ideas for "doctoring up" (as my Grandma used to say) convenience foods. If you feel bad that you didn't have time to spend the whole day making individual pot pies from scratch, try this:

Yes, an entire page for "Meat Pie Flourishes." No recipe-- just things to sprinkle or spread on the pot pie so it won't seem so impersonal. Of course this page is just a glorified ad, but I can't help imagining someone reading this page, hoping to make pot pie night special with olive picks or garlic salt or currant jelly. It's a condensed comedy and/or tragedy if you read it the right way.

Of course, there are more traditional recipes too. For the cooks who want a crown roast but lack time/ skill/ money/ a family that would appreciate a crown roast, there is this option:

The Frankfurter Crown Casserole! Of course, hot dog "crown roasts" are nothing new, but I love this one anyway. This picture clearly took some effort: the bits of bean and bacon on top so the soup-based filling will look appealing rather than gloppy, the way the hot dogs, casserole dish, and flowers in the background all manage to match...

In case you ever find yourself in desperate need of a Frankfurter Crown Casserole:

It's a pretty standard soup-based casserole. I like the hot dogs standing around at the edges in this picture. They look like they're all facing an arena. I can't decide whether the hot dogs are celebrating the action by throwing confetti or pissed off and throwing trash at whoever is losing, but at least whatever they're watching is exciting.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cool Barbecue

Barbecue is popular in the summer, but aren't some days too hot for this warm-weather activity? When you want your barbecue and don't want open flames, the 1963 Joys of Jello has you covered.

Simply use "Barbecue Cubes" to accent your summer salads. (I can't shake the feeling that several people suggested that "Barbecubes" would be a better name for them, but Peggy Hill was in charge of editing and insisted on "Barbecue Cubes." You Propane Maniacs out there know what I mean!)

So how does one make Barbecubes? (I'm overriding Peggy's editorial choice. She shouldn't be associated with these anyway since Hank would never approve of Jello-fied barbecue sauce.)

Lemon gelatin with tomato sauce, vinegar, and any of your favorite barbecue seasonings. Use less water if you want to cut the end product into cubes. I am impressed at the array of potential additional seasonings. Even Tabasco sauce is listed! Some of my old cookbooks remind me why my mom's spice rack consists entirely of a salt shaker and some pepper that she will warn you to go easy on if you actually try to use any of it. No amount of seasonings would make me want to put a congealed hunk of substandard barbecue sauce on a salad, but it's still nice to know it might have a little flavor.

Just when I thought this was the end of the recipe, I looked at the top of the next page. Apparently Barbecubes didn't want to be left out of my sub-theme of scary pies. Check out the last variation:

When I get annoyed by people obsessed with the food trend of the moment, I will try to remind myself that the fad for delicious cheesy pie crusts topped with scary Jello has passed and in 40 years someone else can laugh about gluten-free coconut oil and bacon cake pops.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Practically Cookless!

The promise of escaping kitchen drudgery was (and still is) a potent one, so I was not surprised to find McCall's Practically Cookless Cookbook from 1974. I was, however, a little confused about what counts as "cookless," especially when I came to the page that featured this beauty:

This concoction of flatworms atop aquarium gravel seems as if it was cooked to me. So how would one go about not cooking this pie? (Or "pie," as I prefer to scare-quotedly call it?)

Just cook sliced onions and sausages in butter. Add lima beans and then cream-of-leek soup mix. Dump in a pie shell and bake for half an hour. I was having trouble figuring out how something that needed to be cooked on the stovetop and then baked was cookless, but the title is PRACTICALLY Cookless. The modifier gives away the game: the recipes are very much cooked, but if you pretend really hard because the title promises the recipes are easy, then they don't seem like so much work. The title has a placebo effect on the recipes.

Or maybe threatening to heap lima beans and onions in a pie crust for dinner was a way to ensure the family would opt to go out to eat instead. They couldn't title a book Recipes to Threaten Your Family With So You Can Get a Goddamn Night Off Once in a While, so Practically Cookless Cookbook was a euphemism. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Would choosy moms choose these recipes?

Brand name cookbooks are often the most fun because they force recipe writers to be creative and cram the product into every conceivable type of recipe. That's how we get chocolate cake recipes that call for tomato soup or sauerkraut. (I once lived near a sauerkraut factory, so in my neighborhood the chocolate cake recipe was more popular than it had any right to be. Being reassured that a sauerkraut-containing chocolate cake didn't taste any different from other cakes, even if it was a little stringy, did nothing to convince me that it was worth trying.)

This is me taking the long route to say that today's post is from the Jif Choosy Mothers' Peanut Butter Cookbook. It's from 1979 and was free with the purchase of Jif. It's a great book considering it was free-- lots of color pictures, 50 pages, even a correctly-placed apostrophe in the title! There are plenty of delicious-looking cookies, brownies, and sundaes, but the writers had to get a little... creative... for some of the other recipes. This brings me to:

Yes, it is an unusual appetizer. It's basically a cheeseball held together with peanut butter instead of cream cheese, and two tablespoons of taco sauce is enough to make it "Mexican" in this world. You're not even supposed to roll it in cilantro. The taco sauce is as far as Jif is willing to go to make this Mexican. You will roll it in snipped parsley, thank you very much.

And yes, the title could not sound less appetizing. I am tempted to make approximately 768 disgusting juvenile jokes about the title, but you're already thinking them anyway, so I will leave you to it.

If you must know what a Mexican Peanut Log looks like, feast your eyes on this:

It is on the left, whistling softly and trying very hard to pretend that it is totally normal to be composed of cheese, peanut butter, taco sauce, and parsley. It secretly hopes the weird creature on the right will draw more attention.

What is that weird creature?

They've already used "unusual appetizer," so the writers give up on the description entirely. The picture is in the front cover if you want some idea of what you're getting yourself into if you make this.

It actually sounds pretty good-- mushrooms cooked in butter, cream cheese, bacon. The peanut butter, however, is obviously there because it is obligatory. It's afraid people will catch on and just leave the Jif out. And that's exactly what the choosy moms who wanted to pass on the family tradition of heart disease did.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

DIY Old School

Today we're learning to barbecue from Betty Crocker's Good and Easy Cook Book. The copyright is 1954, but I have no idea what printing I have because the first page fell out. That's a risk of old books with wire binding.

Although I make fun of old cookbooks, there is a lot to admire too. Today we will find out how to make a barbecue for those who don't have the spare cash to go out and buy one. The key ingredient is something most people in rural communities would have on hand anyway...

A wheelbarrow! In case you're the type who needs instructions, they're helpfully provided:

These are the full instructions. I love them: a list of materials, a vague diagram, and a reference to the picture that originally sent us to the instructions. The circularity cracks me up. I guess the writers figure that if this isn't enough instruction for you, then you're probably not smart enough to be trusted with hot coals anyway.

I love the way this allows people to make use of what they have, too. It makes me remember grandma and grandpa getting out the (well cleaned!) hand-cranked meat grinder every year at Thanksgiving so they could grind the cranberries for cranberry salad. It would have been easier to use a food processor, but they had a perfectly good meat grinder and they didn't have a lot of money.

Bonus in case this post makes you feel lazy:

I guess what makes this recipe "lazy" is that it starts with canned ingredients rather than dry beans. It would still take more than a half hour to make from start to finish.

Ideas about cooking were a little different. By that, I mean merely different. If you take this as a cliched lament about how we've lost the good old days, I will chuck two no. 2 cans of kidney beans at your head. (That's approximately 40 ounces, so it's gonna hurt if my aim is any good.) (Don't worry. That's a big IF.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Scary Fruit Salads

Continuing with the summer theme, today's post is from the Better Homes and Gardens Salad Book, copyright 1958. Mine is the tenth printing from 1968.

First up: Frosty Pineapple Pastel.

This picture gives me social anxiety just by looking at it! The size suggests that this is meant for a party, but there is no discernible means of serving it. Even if the cookbook authors think readers will be smart enough to add serving implements, there will be no graceful way to get at the food. If you're serving a mound of various sherbets on a summer evening before air conditioning is popular, this will look nice for five minutes max before everything is taken over by sticky, hard-to-scoop but luckily so unappetizing that it's unlikely anyone will try, rainbow sludge.

If I were at the party where this was served, I'd really want some of the pineapple, but there is no way to get at it without digging through a bunch of gloppy sherbet, and there is actually no way to know it's there just by looking. I'd consider grabbing a few strawberries off the edge, but I know I'd find a way to lose the hull and piss off whoever was throwing the party when they had to get it off the carpet if they were lucky (and try to get it out of their previously pristine white couch if they were unlucky) the next day. There is no way to gracefully eat a whole pear in public (and what kind of a party food is that, anyway?). I'd look at it and swear there was no way I could eat another bite. Maybe serving this would be a good way to avoid buying much for the party, though. One Frosty Pineapple Pastel could feed thousands of socially inhibited guests.

Next up: Pink Pears

Fifties and sixties cookbooks are loaded with suggestions for ladies' luncheons, and the recipes always leave me with the impression that women must have reverted to being eight years old if they congregated in groups at lunch time. This is just one excellent example. It's not enough for the salad to be sweet (with two kinds of candy!) and frilly (with cream cheese and lettuce ruffles, plus a ruffly plate for the truly well-prepared lady), but the pear also has to be tinted pink. The ladies might forget they're ladies if they can't have color-coded food.

A bonus for the kiddies: Speedy Cheese-Over-Pears

Yes, it is a good idea to have easy recipes for kids, and it is easy to slop mayonnaise between canned pear halves and then garnish with lettuce, olives, and shredded American cheese. It would be just as easy to smear Vaseline between canned pear halves and then dump pencil shavings over them, and my childhood self would have been just as likely to eat that recipe as I would have been to eat this one. Why do the ladies get creamed cheese and candy on their pears when kids are saddled with this?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Midas Meat Loaf

Since it's summer, it's barbecue season. Today's entry is from the Better Homes and Gardens Barbecue Book. The copyright is 1965, but my copy is from the second printing in 1967.

I love this recipe for a few reasons. I know I"m a nerd, but part of the appeal is simply the language of the recipe. It asks home cooks to "Lay bacon slices in a chevron pattern." The word "chevron" doesn't get worked into nearly enough recipes. Then later, it instructs cooks to seal foil "with drugstore fold." I can't imagine a modern cookbook saying that unless it immediately followed the line with an explanation of what a drugstore fold is. The original audience didn't even have the internet so they could look the terms up-- they just had to know. They were used to decorating meat with chevron patterns and sealing it with drugstore folds! Think about that for a minute. Or don't. Your call.

I'm also fascinated that the authors apparently imagined the meatloaf as a woman. The caption under the photo calls the bacon chevron a "girdle" that will "help the loaf keep its figure." Yes, ladies, even your meatloaves had to be shapely in the '60s, but the good news was that their girdles could be made of bacon. Interpret the last step of slicing the meatloaf up into 10 to 12 servings as you wish....

Of course, a big reason this recipe is great is the sheer oddness. I guess it doesn't sound horrible, but I can't imagine anyone really hoping to find a big wad of hot celery in the middle of their meatloaf. The picture doesn't make the idea more appealing. I can't help suspecting the "celery" is some kind of alien hidden away, hoping to be eaten as its first sneaky step in destroying humans and taking over the world.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Summer Salad Pie

I am obsessed with vintage cookbooks-- mostly ones from the '50s, '60s, and '70s, although I'm excited when I can find older ones and sometimes intrigued by newer ones too. I have bookshelves full of old cookbooks in my living room and dining rooms. I have piles of them-- tiny islands of cookbooks-- scattered across my office floor. I usually have to move cookbooks off the couch if I happen to have a visitor. I don't have enough books yet, but I fully expect to amass enough for my body to one day be found crushed under a stack of cookbooks that shifted unexpectedly. We all have dreams.

Old cookbooks fascinate me for so many reasons. I love finding the spattered pages or notes in the margins ("This is a good one!" or "Needs more cream soup") that indicate someone actually made a recipe. I love the ways the notes at the beginnings of chapters or recipes suggest the era's social expectations. (So many recipes are labeled as being approved by husbands and/or children! And I always thought husbands and children could be sustained by the same foods as anyone else...) And I really, really love searching for the most disgusting recipes I can find. Who can resist stopping to look at a wreck?

I feel a bit selfish keeping these wonders to myself, so I'm creating a space where I hope I can share them with you too. Since it's my favorite category, I will start with one of the most disgusting recipes I've ever found: Summer Salad Pie from Betty Crocker's Dinner in a Dish Cookbook (copyright 1965, but my copy is from the fourth printing in 1970).

I have to admit, the cheese pie shell sounds pretty good. Filling it with lemon gelatin, tomato sauce, vinegar, celery, onions, and olives does not sound the least bit appealing to me, but anyone who reads many vintage recipe books knows that just about everything imaginable had been suggested as an addition to gelatin at one time or another. Cookbooks would have you believe that people in the '50s and '60s were as obsessed with gelatin as I am with cookbooks.

If a lemon/tomato Jello pie isn't disgusting enough, though, there is still the topper: tuna salad! Again, I have to admit that I hate tuna salad anyway, but I have a hard time believing even those who like it really want to eat it on top of gelatin in a pie crust that is probably rapidly getting soggy.

The Mid-Century Menu bloggers were brave/ foolhardy enough to try this recipe. Go here to see their take on it.

The picture gets me, too. I can almost talk myself into thinking it looks good if I imagine the gelatin layer is chocolate and the topping is some kind of minty concoction, but then the cherry tomato "flowers" ruin the effect. I start imagining the pie is some kind of a primeval swamp and the cherry tomatoes are weird, carnivorous plants ready to swallow anyone unfortunate enough to wade in.

The striped glasses will just stand there and watch. Sick bastards.