Saturday, March 28, 2015

Picking on Pecans!

Time for another cookbook focused on a single food. These are usually fun because they encourage cooks to use the special ingredient everywhere-- so you end up with specialties like "Mexican Peanut Log" or "Chinese" food made with Bisquick. I wasn't so sure that The Pecan Cookbook from Koinonia Farm (1967) would be so bad. Nuts go so easily into so many foods, from nut-crusted chicken or fish to salads topped with crunchy nuts to nuts enrobed in chocolate or perched atop a cake... Just thinking about all this makes me want to get some turtle candies!

Just a quick look at the book proved that the writers had some very, uh, interesting ideas about what constitutes a sandwich. I'll start with an easy-ish one. Everyone has heard of a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Consider this a variation of that classic:

Banana sandwich filling is not content with sliced bananas on yummy nut butter. No-- you have to mix the banana with chopped pecans, grape pulp, and enough orange juice, pineapple juice or "cooked salad dressing" to make it all hold together in a big, gloopy blob. Then spread that onto your bread. (Or just throw it out and revert to peanut butter and banana slices!)

If the banana recipe doesn't appeal but you like gooey, weird sandwich pastes, maybe this is more your speed:

Who wouldn't love cold beans mixed to "a smooth paste" with cream cheese, canned pimentos, pecans, oil, and mustard? (I'd be happy with just the cream cheese and pecans on bread. That sounds a lot easier-- and tastier!)

What if you need something sweet to remind you that summer is coming?

I have no idea what rose jam tastes like, but I'll bet the failure to specify how many rose leaves are needed to sufficiently flavor the syrup would drive a lot of cooks crazy. This recipe is positively crammed with specifications (1/2 c. water to 1 c. sugar! So specific!) compared to some other recipes, though.

Mint butter sandwiches have no measurements at all, except for the instruction to use "2 wafer slices of chilled peeled tomato" per sandwich. They also win the award for most random-seeming layers of ingredients. Spread bread with mint-flavored butter, top with tomatoes spread with cottage cheese, top that with a lettuce heart dipped in tartar sauce, and then sprinkle chopped pecans over the whole monstrous mountain! Maybe the recipe doesn't specify amounts of the ingredients because anybody who bothers to make even one of these sandwiches will not bother with a second.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Eighty-Year-Old Vegetables!

I love Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks because it seems like they put out a million different cookbooks. They're super-easy to find and pretty reliably have weird food and interesting pictures in the specialty books (for fondue, salad, soups and stews, calorie counters, etc.). The ubiquity means I love them, but I'm not usually particularly excited to find them.

This one is different, though:

I rarely see any older than the 1950s, but this My Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book is copyright 1930 (although my copy is from an 1936 printing). There are a lot fewer recipes that call for convenience foods than in later cookbooks, and there are hardly any pictures, but it's got plenty to recommend it. Let's check out a few vegetable recipes!

First up, just because I find celery so disagreeable or forgettable, here's a celery recipe that tries to make the humble vegetable a little more memorable:

I thought the impulse to bread and deep fry pretty much any vegetable imaginable was a more recent one, but women of the '30s used this trick to get their families to eat veggies too! I'm also shocked that this calls for cayenne pepper-- I had always suspected that spice was too racy for the '30s, but there it is. The directions don't even make a big deal about how much restraint the cook will have to use to avoid burning everyone with the incendiary heat of using more than a barely-perceptible speck of it.

Unlike celery, I've always liked parsley. Whenever I was at a restaurant as a child, I'd get a grilled cheese. I'd ignore the pickle that usually came on the platter, but if it came with a sprig of parsley-- that puppy was gone! My mom would always tell me that I wasn't supposed to eat the garnish, spoken in a tone that suggested the restaurant had sprayed it with pesticide immediately before they put it on the plate (because why wouldn't they? Poisoning customers is a great idea). That always just made me reach for the parsley faster on our next visit so it would be gone before she could stop me!

Some people must need encouragement to eat their parsley, though:

Yes-- deep frying is not just for celery. Even parsley could be battered and fried!

Finally, just because I have a fixation on disgusting veggie loaves that were sometimes served as a vegetarian alternative to meats, here is a veggie loaf from a mainstream (not crazy '60s or '70s "healthy") cookbook:

Pea Roast is composed of canned peas and English walnuts, held together with bread crumbs and egg. I'm not sure how anyone can eat canned peas. They smell like a load of extra-dirty socks that got washed with too little detergent and forgotten so they were left to mildew in the washer for a week. Plus they are gray and sludgy. I doubt bread crumbs and nutmeats* are enough to save them....

*Another word that sounds dirty but really isn't.

Happy Cookbook Wednesday! Thanks to Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations, as always.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Are these better than a mouth full of sawdust?

I am finally feeling better after I caught something that made my head feel like it was full of wool and my mouth feel like it was full of sawdust. Time to celebrate with recipes for things I love. I'll just check House & Garden's New Cook Book (1967) to see how they prepare some of my favorites.

I know rice is cheap and a lot of people just consider it filler to go with the main attraction, but I adore the stuff. Cook it in stock with some butter, throw in a little cheese, and I am in heaven. This casserole looks like a good start...

Well, it looks like a good start right up until the Parmesan cheese. Then when you stir in catsup (ugh!) and top it with eggs (fine) and sauteed bananas (What?!*), you lose me! This sounds almost as bad as the Ham Banana Rolls with Cheese Sauce Louise featured on Wednesday!

Maybe simple rice isn't the way to go... How about lasagna? I love a nice thick slice of lasagna, dripping with spicy tomato sauce and covered with golden cheese. How does House & Garden do that one?

Brains with Lasagna! It's lasagna for the zombie apocalypse! I think I will leave this one for people who have caught far worse viruses than whatever I had....

(*Did you know that the question mark/ exclamation point combo is known as an interrobang?! I know this tidbit is not recipe related, but I need to educate someone about it when I learn a word that sounds dirty but actually isn't.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cuts like a knife!

Appliance cookbooks are pretty common. I've featured them for blenders, pressure cookers, slow cookers, even ovens and refrigerators. Today's sponsor is much more basic than that. Today we'll look at recipes from Cutco Cook Book: World's Finest Cutlery (1956).

I'd expect a book like this to really go crazy with the instructions to chop things up-- dicing, mincing, julienning... maybe even "fancy" ingredients like mango. Mix things up a bit. Make kitchen knives sexy. Cutco took a very practical approach, though.

There's hardly any cutting at all in this recipe, and it doesn't make a big deal out of the fact that the onion, pimento, and pepper should be minced. It's certainly not the hard sell!

The recipe sounds fine, if the title is a bit misleading. The meat loaf is on the bottom and the "stuffing" just sits on top. It's more of a layered meat loaf than a stuffed one, but it sounds perfectly serviceable. (Maybe even yummy if you grate the yellow cheese over the potatoes per the variation! I'm a sucker for cheese.)

The all-in-one meal is pretty popular in this book:

I was trying to figure out what makes this a "bride's dinner," but I guess it's the fact that everything is together so there is no messing with various courses: dressing ball, pork chop, sweet potato, baked apple. It's all together in one cloyingly sweet pan the "bride" can set on the table and be done with. Again, not a lot of cutting involved, and Cutco doesn't bother to try to make it sound as if coring an apple or paring a potato will be a real adventure with a genuine Cutco knife.

I love the '50s single-color illustrations:

Here, the Weiner Twins revel in their good fortune that they're allowed to hold such a long sausage rope without the illustrator (Frank Marcello) adding a Scotty dog to try to steal it. They're so glad that they have failed to note he dressed them in sad school uniforms. Nice beanie!

What might they make with their bounty?

Why, 20th Century Weiners, of course! I'm not sure what makes sliced tomatoes, onions, and hot dogs topped with cheese "20th century," but at least this recipe features slicing a little more prominently....

Happy Cookbook Wednesday, and a big thanks to Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations for hosting!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A French-Toasted Salad

Happy Weekend! It's rainy here, but a rainy weekend is a nice time to dust off the waffle iron or griddle and make a leisurely breakfast. I could bust out the real, locally made maple syrup I got last weekend on a trip to a local arboretum's maple syrup days. It would be great on a hot stack of French toast stuffed with bananas or berries....

These thoughts lead me to wonder whether cooks make decadent stuffed French toast in the 1950s. I'll check The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook (1959).

Okay, to be fair, I'm pretty sure this was not intended as a breakfast treat! I just wanted to make you choke at the thought of chicken salad French toast for breakfast. It's not a very nice trick on a leisurely weekend, but I am mean that way!

And perhaps I am even meaner to point out that tuna salad French toast is an alternative option! (The ham and cheese doesn't sound too bad to me, though...)

One other thing I love about this recipe: it turns "French toast" into a verb: these are "French-Toasted" sandwiches. I kind of hope this post will inspire some of you to go out and French toastify something this weekend-- even (especially!) if you don't go the savory route.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I'm being flaky

This is a short Cookbook Wednesday entry because I'm sick. To help make myself feel better, I picked a health food book:

Nutritional yeast was (and remains) a specialty product for hippies and vegetarians. Carlson Wade's 1973 Yeast Flakes Cookbook makes the cover look like a box of nutritional yeast flakes with the "window" that's supposed to show off the box's contents look like the sun. That's right-- the cover subtly suggests that yeast is the source of all life and sustenance. I don't think Carlson worried about overstating his case. He just knew the earth-mother vibe would sell (and hopefully be enough to make the audience overlook the fact that the title makes this sound like a guide for cooking fungal dandruff).

So what could hippies do with these flakes of sunshine? How about this:

Mix 'em with eggs, onions, buckwheat groats, salt substitute, oil and cottage cheese before baking!

If that doesn't make you feel healthy, well... tell mom it did anyway so she won't try to foist a second helping onto you.

This is part of Cookbook Wednesday, hosted by Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Summer from the slow cooker?

As winter drags on and on like a couple yards of toilet paper dragging improbably off the back of my shoe, I find myself looking through slow-cooker cookbooks for something that will make me feel a little more warm and cozy.

Today we have Mable Hoffman's Crockery Cookery (1975) to do the warming. Instead of focusing on meals, I went straight to the quicker warm-ups-- hot drinks-- and I picked out a couple that I found intriguing. They're not necessarily good or bad, but not what I expected in the list of mulled ciders and wines advertised as being slow cooker friendly.

I was trying to figure out why these two hit me, but then I saw it: they both hint at summer, even if they're served piping hot for cold weather.

The first made me think of trips to the Dairy Queen:

It's like a malted milkshake! Only hot! And minty! It's the only slow cooker recipe I've ever seen that begins with six mint patty candies, too. Chocolate and mint are classic, as are chocolate and malt. All three together-- I'm not so sure. At least it hints at summer, though.

The other recipe hints at sunny afternoons on the back porch:

It's hot lemonade-- with cranberry, honey, and spices. This might be a good way to sooth a sore throat while dreaming of spring. Or maybe it would just be really weird to have hot lemonade....

Here's hoping for spring-- weird or otherwise! I just want it here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Aloo Curries!

Today we're going "exotic"-- especially for the '60s. I picked up Curries of India by Harvey Day, assisted by Sarojini Mudnani (ninth printing, 1969), mostly because I was charmed by the line drawings. I like the way the woman (with a halo? I'm not quite sure what is going on there--) is posed similarly to the man in the turban. The parallels suggest similarities between divergent groups, something I don't often see in the older cookbooks. We're kind of lucky the guy in the turban isn't made to do something ridiculous like riding an elephant while he tries to cook.

I also love the lamb and chicken looking at the stew pot. The lamb seems a little too enthusiastic. Does she have a death wish? Is she pleased that a rival lamb has been turned into dinner? The chicken looks genuinely alarmed, but I don't know whether it's by the lamb's attitude or by the knowledge that he could be next! Knowing that things are out of scale doesn't help either, I'm sure. Is this a monster chicken? A tiny lamb? The chicken is alarmed either way.

Some of the recipes give the authentic names of dishes, so I want to imagine they're pretty close to authentic recipes:

I don't know-- a half teaspoon each of "ground chilli" and turmeric doesn't seem quite seasoned enough, but at least there are substantial amounts of actual spices! No pinches of seasoning or single drops of Tabasco sauce...

I love the potato lifting his hat to greet the other with "Aloo!" Is the other potato amused or annoyed by the pun? I'd like a second drawing with a reaction shot.

I frankly doubt the authenticity of some recipes, but this one sounds like a yummy way to use up leftovers:

Season leftover meat, seal it into mashed potato balls, roll them in egg and breadcrumbs, and deep fry. Yum! Potatoes are almost always awesome, and deep frying them, well... even better.

The lumberjack potato gives us another example of a food that seems a bit too excited. The big smile while holding up an enormous ax makes me wonder if this is a potato serial killer, taking the others out so they can go into the potato chops. Or maybe he's using the ax to fend off the cooks? This kind of makes me wish there were a short horror film about this crazy little guy: "Potato Chop: The Potatoes Bite Back!"

Here's one more recipe that is just as unlikely to be authentic (and likely to be yummy anyway):

Potato chip curry! Make your own potato chips, then cook in a highly seasoned tomato mixture. (This calls for whole ounces of fenugreek, coriander, turmeric, and ginger, alongside "chilli" powder and garlic!)

I don't know whether the chip in the picture is falling backwards into the pan or jumping out, but it's just as happy as the other potatoes we've seen. Apparently being made into a curry is pretty exciting. Maybe I should try it sometime.

Aloo Poppy!

Okay, maybe not.

This is part of Cookbook Wednesday, administered by Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations.