Saturday, May 30, 2015

Eyes on the Pies!

It's time to start sending out teasers. Remember last year when I participated in the Pieathalon? There's a new one this year, and I'll be making another vintage pie, sent from another food blogger! You won't see the results until June 8, but I'm starting to get excited about this.

That's why today we're looking at the "Party Pie Book" from Good Housekeeping's Cook Books (1958).

I almost sent this recipe for another blogger to make just because it seems soooo very '50s:

Not only does it contain "gelatine," but also a No. 2-1/2 can of fruit cocktail. (That is a LOT of fruit cocktail: 27 ounces. It's still less than a No. 2-1/2 square can, though, which is 31 ounces. I enjoy looking up can sizes.) 

Toss in a banana, fold in some whipped cream, and you have pure '50s "goodness." (I didn't pick this recipe though. This post doesn't have any spoilers.)

I was interested in the next recipe because I'd heard of fried green tomatoes, but I'd never heard of this:

I'm not sure, but I'll bet "Green-Tomato Pie" tastes a lot like apple pie with its cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice.

I just love the little drawing with the fancy designs in the top crust. I would NEVER have the patience for that kind of thing.... I'm lucky if I can make a pastry that doesn't fall apart on every single one of my 513 attempts to put it in the pie plate.

Most of the pies looked pretty good, but I did see one picture that scared me a little:

What is this? It looks like a crust filled with canned mandarin oranges. Some kind of alien pods with exposed brains are gathered on a pastry ledge to feed on the juices below.

I'm wrong on all counts. This is...

..."Walnut-Prune-Cot Pie." Loaded with dried apricots and prunes, this pie once again hints at Good Housekeeping recipe writers' obsession with regularity. I'll bet they were no fun to talk to once they were in nursing homes (and probably for years before that, too)!

Now you know what I didn't send for the Pieathalon... Keep tuning in and eventually you will find out what I sent and received! Have a suspenseful weekend.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A woman's glory?

I picked up Woman's Glory-- The Kitchen by the Slovenian Women's Union of America (1968) because the title alone makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. Not too many things can have that effect, so when I saw a one-two punch like that, I had to have it.

The title got my interest, but once I opened this and started looking at the recipes-- well, the title might be the least interesting thing about the book!

Maybe part of my fascination is that I have no frame of reference for this at all. I'm not Slovenian and I'm not familiar with the cooking, so I've never even heard of things that seem extremely popular based on the number of variations in the book. There's a whole chapter on Poticas, for instance. Apparently, they are filled rolls that look kind of like this:

And yes, those poticas say "Good Luck President Kennedy from Mrs. Anton Lenich." Apparently this woman from Minnesota made them and sent them to the White House on the occasion of Kennedy's inauguration. (That sweet little detail by itself makes me fall in love with this book. Who decides to send homemade goodies to the presidential inauguration?)

Poticas are so popular that there are dozens of variations, most involving walnuts, raisins, and/or honey. (Kennedy got the "Special Walnut Potica" filled with butter, cream, honey, and of course, walnuts.)

I'm not going to show you that recipe, though, because I like to scare you. This is the only potica recipe that made me shiver:

Pork fat potica features not just "pork fat sediment" (I'm not sure what that means and I don't think I want to find out...), but three whole cups of it! Will the sugar (a teaspoon of it) and cinnamon help make it palatable? I would not want to find out. Considering the amount of work this would take to make, someone must have thought it was really good, though. Remember, this is only half of the recipe because the cook had to get the dough ready first.

What went into the dough? Well, pork fat potica takes dough Number 4 (and the fact that there are four whole variations of the dough gives you an idea of the food's popularity):

A tricky dough that requires a special yeast preparation to be made ahead of time:

Logically, then, pork fat potica must be pretty special if it's worth all this trouble.... It's hard to convince myself of that, though.

The completely unfamiliar recipes often come with stories too...

...stories that transport me to a realm where people are willing to put a lot of work into watering down beer, mixing it with milk and beaten egg, and having it for breakfast or serving it to the kiddies as an after-school snack. It makes me feel like I'm peeking into a surreal landscape. If I'm not careful, the clocks will start melting.

And then I will land on a recipe that seems familiar enough. How about orange cake? The recipe title cracks me up:

Fresh orange juice goes into cake! That title is funny no matter what noun you start with. "Flour goes into cake." "Almonds go into cake." (Of course, I would have to add some completely nonsensical titles as well. "Termites go into cake." "Sadness goes into cake." "Mustaches go into cake.")

The title got even better when I read the ingredient list, though. Do you see fresh orange juice on that list? Frozen concentrate is the closest you'll get, so the recipe writer must have had a sense of humor or a very loose definition of fresh orange juice.

This is definitely a cookbook you will see again, as it is packed with a mix of charm and weirdness that makes me want to put termites into a cake. (I have a very loose definition of termites, though. I might actually mean chocolate.)

Happy Cookbook Wednesday, and thanks to Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet for hosting!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bring on the dancing meats!

Memorial Day! That means while I'm griping about the way families with 27 screaming, unruly kids seem to miraculously appear anywhere I try to go in public this weekend (Seriously, do bratty children spontaneously generate for summer holidays and then disappear for the rest of the year?), you may well be having a hamburger and hot dog weekend. (If so, invite the families with the crazy kids so there will be fewer of them to get in my way!)

To help you get in the mood for cheap but tasty meats, how about some recipes from Good Housekeeping's Cook Books (1958) "Hamburger and Hot Dog Book"?

The picture doesn't really go with anything. I just cannot resist dancing meatballs, hot dog segments, and Swiss cheese, especially if they have top hats and enormous smiles.

What can you make with the hot dogs? If you want actual barbecue recipes, you might want to see what I posted last year. This time I was intrigued enough by the title to choose this to represent hot doggery:

Career Girl's Spaghetti! She should have some time off this weekend, but if she doesn't want to spend it cooking, she can make spaghetti with chopped-up hot dogs, onion, mushroom, and green pepper in a watered-down tomato-juice-based sauce. This sounds pretty bland, and it's still more work than throwing a few hot dogs into a jar of store-bought marinara and calling it a day. Career girls just couldn't catch a break in the '50s.

Dogs are fine for the kiddies, but a lot of grown-ups prefer real meat-- something that clearly had a spinal cord at some point. This next recipe doesn't really still have the spine attached, but it kind of looks like it does:

The "bones" are canned peaches filled with jelly. I'm not sure what makes this peach loaf spicy. The fact that a full third of the meat is sausage (and not necessarily even spicy sausage)? The knowledge that an actual herb has been added, even if it is just thyme?

I also wonder what the 3D viewer has to do with anything.... Is it something to divert the gazes of guests who would prefer not to start a meal by staring at canned peach "vertebrae"?

Okay, but maybe meatloaf isn't the way to go for a holiday weekend. If you want an actual burger-- preferably one that can use up snacks left over from a party that wasn't attended as well as you hoped (The child mob failed to show up? I'd count that as luck!)-- maybe this will help:

Make some chip burgers! The five-year-old in me would be enchanted by the idea of having potato chips and a burger all in one! No need to break out the banjo-and-clarinet band to sell this idea.

And if the weekend partying wreaks havoc with your "digestive health" (as commercials now call it), Good Housekeeping of course has a remedy for that:

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Should you trust a guy in a crooked bow tie?

Today, because I can't resist an old guy in an off-kilter striped bow tie and a boldly-patterned black and red apron, we have New Recipes for the Cuisinart by James Beard and Carl Jerome (copyright 1976, although mine is a 1978 printing).

He looks so proud of his Cuisinart with raw vegetables and meat heaped around it. (That seems like a good way to spread food poisoning to me, but what do I know? I don't even have a bow tie.)

The recipes are not, as one might expect, all for things that need to be chopped up. Here's a lovely bread recipe:

Yes, a rich, eggy brioche loaf, made easy since much of the mixing and kneading is done by the food processor. This could make for some yummy sandwiches...

...if your idea of a yummy sandwich is raw onion and mayonnaise, dipped in parsley. The only thing that appeals to me here is the parsley, but even if you like mayo and raw onion, I'm guessing you will think there's something missing! Aren't mayo and onion usually the garnishes rather than the main attraction?

Other recipes try to find unusual ways to use common ingredients from the processor. Using it to make shredded cabbage for something like cole slaw is pretty standard. It's serviceable, but not exciting. What else is there to do with shredded cabbage?

How about cabbage custard? At least it's not a sweet vanilla custard trying to incorporate hunks of cabbage, as I feared when I saw the title, but I think I'd rather have my cheese sauce baked with macaroni. I imagine this turning into a watery, smelly mess, but maybe the bread crumbs absorb enough liquid that it will only be smelly? (What a sad little hope!)

If cabbage custard isn't strange enough for you, how about this:

Anchoiade Nicoise starts out seeming innocent enough-- toasted filberts, dried figs... It sounds like a nice fruit-and-nut bar recipe for hikers or backpackers. I'm almost ready to toss a couple in my backpack and take a hike. Then the recipe takes a turn for the weird by calling for anchovies and garlic! Larabars do not come in an anchovy-and-garlic variety, and I don't think that's an oversight on the company's part. Apparently James Beard and Carl Jerome might beg to differ.

Happy Cookbook Wednesday, and a bit thank you to Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet for hosting, as always.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fish molds and flamenco crustaceans

I'm excited to have real, hand-washed lettuce again. During the winter, my hands turn blue and white and go numb if they get too cold, so I have to resort to the faintly bleachy-smelling bagged or boxed greens rather than risking having my hands fall off in the cold water I'd need to rinse fresh ones. Now it's warm enough I can have fresh, crispy hand-washed greens again. Yay! So in honor of warm-enough spring, today we'll focus on salads.

Not just any salads. As the lobsters (or crayfish? Whatever they are, they kind of remind me of flamenco dancers for some reason. Becoming a flamenco dancer would be a great strategy for the lobster to stay alive! Why eat a dancing lobster when you could keep it as a pet? Make a tiny dress, maybe get a little fan it can clutch in one claw, charge admission for shows...) from Good Housekeeping's Cook Books "Book of Salads" (1958) suggest, seafood salads.

And since I haven't featured a mold in a while (and I want to make your weekend just a little more scary), I'm featuring seafood salads with gelatin, meant to be served on a bed of nice, crispy greens-- just not the ones I've worked so hard to wash. Get your own!

This first salad might not seem to fit the bill:

It's just a fairly ordinary canned tuna or shrimp salad. But it is supposed to go with "Jellied Cucumber Mold" (which I have to type out by hand because I can't get a good scan or photograph):

Jellied Cucumber Mold

1 env. plus 1/2 teasp. unflavored gelatine [sic]
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup  hot water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablesp. lemon juice
2 to 4 tablesp. granulated sugar
1/2 teasp. salt
2 or 3 drops green food color
1 large cucumber
Mary's Tuna or Shrimp Salad, page 7
Tomato wedges

Add gelatine to cold water; let stand few min.; then add hot water; stir until dissolved. Add vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and enough food color to make liquid a delicate green. Cool (set in pan of ice water to hasten chilling) until mixture begins to jell.

While mixture is cooling, lightly oil 1-qt. bowl or casserole. Wash and pare cucumber; flute surface by drawing tines of sharp fork down length of it. Cut 12 or 16 thin (1/8" thick), even slices; then dice remainder fairly fine (there should be about 1 cup). Arrange fluted cucumber slices around the sides and outer edge of bottom of casserole. Fold diced cucumber into thickened gelatine; pour carefully into mold; refrigerate until firm.

At serving time: Loosen edges of mold with tip of knife; invert onto cold plate. Arrange tuna or shrimp salad around mold. Garnish with tomato wedges and, if desired, few shrimp arranged on watercress or frilly lettuce.

I will admit to being a bit panicked when the recipe got to the oiling a casserole stage. Were cooks supposed to bake the cucumber first? Luckily, the casserole dish was just supposed to serve as a mold... if diners can consider being expected to eat a pale green, weak-lemonade-with-apple-cider-vinegar-and-cucumber mold alongside some tuna salad lucky.

If a "delicate green" blob doesn't hit your sweet spot for molds, there is always this:

Molded sea-food salad should of course come in the classical fish mold with a creepy olive eye and a sea of lemon twist and lettuce "waves." 

The best thing I could say about this cold, jiggly, fishy concoction is that it might bring a special guest to one's dinner table (and maybe it says something about me that I would consider this particular guest to be the "best" thing...)

Happy weekend, everyone! May all your uninvited guests save you from having to clean up afterwards.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

You'll need sunglasses to look at this book

Wake up!

I picked up The New McCall's Cook Book by Mary Eckley (copyright 1963, but mine is a 1973 printing) partly because the very bright cover grabbed my attention. (It didn't hurt that it was on clearance, too-- as you can tell.) I love the way the "O"s in "cook book" are plates, filled with everything from borscht to a Jell-O mold to pork chops with carrots and broccoli to a cherry pie. Even I am not immune to the book's sunny charm.

Although the cover looks welcoming, some of the recipes intimidate me a bit. I've railed against recipes that seem impossible to eat before, and this next is one of those:

Sure, Crusty Chicken Wrap-Ups might sound good. Chicken wrapped in seasoned crescent rolls? Yes, please! (Well, if you like barbecue sauce, anyway.) But the crescent rolls conceal not just a bit of chicken but the entire leg, bone and all! I'm not sure there is a better recipe to get crumbs, barbecue sauce, and bits of cartilage everywhere. (I like that the artist's rendition looks like a little plate full of Jawas! Messy, messy Jawas.)

The next recipe would probably be good for a small holiday gathering... long as the cook has a steady hand, good depth perception, and the confidence to pour flaming brandy over candied sweet potatoes. My best-case scenario would be catching my own hair and/or clothing on fire. The worst-case scenario would of course require a call to the fire department but have the advantage of cutting family time much shorter than anticipated.

Not all the recipes are nerve-wracking, though. This one seemed surprisingly modern:

Avocado pureed with ginger and orange peel! This is billed as a cold soup, but if we called it a green smoothie, added some kale or spinach, and swapped the milk for almond milk and/or Greek yogurt, this would be right at home in a cookbook now.

Here's hoping your Cookbook Wednesday is as bright as The New McCall's Cook Book's cover! As always, thanks to Marjie of Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet for hosting.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A little practical "fun"

Whew! We went straight from winter to summer this week where I live, so this week seemed like a good time to crack out the "Ice Creams and Cool Drinks" section from Good Housekeeping's Cook Books (1958).

Just in case you thought the Good Housekeeping staff might cut loose a little and include some alcohol in a publication dedicated to cool beverages for a fun day in the sun, this is about as close as they get:

If "Champagne" composed of simple syrup, grapefruit juice, orange juice, and ginger ale is your idea of a good time, knock yourself out. I think grapefruit juice tastes like battery acid, though, so I'll pass.

As I continued to browse, I realized that this book's idea of a party may be best reserved for a retirement home. Drinking is a no-no, but staying regular? That's really something to strive for. There are plenty of "treats" to help with that goal.

A prune smoothie is an icy cold start to a day of fun, if the day of fun is spent playing cards in the day room, right next to the restroom.

If straight-up prunes, milk, and ice is a little too ascetic, there's always this:

At least there's ice cream with the strained prunes. (Just leave them out and this might be a serviceable Creamsicle shake, but that might be a little too celebratory.... Must mix the pleasure with practicality.)

And retirement community residents who can't bring themselves to choke down some prunes can go the crunchy route instead:

If I had to pick one, at least bran flakes liberally coated in brown sugar and butter sounds like a palatable enough ice cream topper... but I still think I might leave Good Housekeeping to party with the 70+ crowd. I'll leave them to their fun with prunes and bran flakes. I just hope I don't get filled in on all the details later....

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bring out your bread! Bring out your bread!

I mentioned to my grandma that I have been writing about old cookbooks. (I didn't tell her about it earlier because I didn't want to try to explain the concept of a blog to her, but I forgot this was one of the things I had resolved to keep to myself. Luckily, she was interested in knowing what I was writing about and I didn't have to explain the format!) I was surprised when a few days later, a little package showed up in my mailbox.

This was one of the goodies:

"Sixty-Five Delicious Dishes Made with Bread" is from the Fleischmann Co. The copyright is 1919, so I think this may be the oldest original copy in my collection now. It's even older than grandma, so I'm not sure how she got it. (She's not either.)

I thought this would have some recipes to make loaves of bread, considering it is from a yeast company. Apparently Fleischmann's figured home cooks already had their own favorite bread recipes, so there was not much point in supplying more. Instead, this booklet is dedicated to using up leftover bread. Maybe the company thought cooks would make bread more often if they knew they would have something to do with the excess in those days before home freezing or store-bought bread full of preservatives.

A lot of the ideas boil down to "soak breadcrumbs in milk and throw them into something else."

Making an omelet?

Soak some bread crumbs in milk and add them to the mix. Everybody loves a bread omelet.

Need some sauce?

Use bread crumbs to thicken a cream sauce.

Need a salad, but think croutons are too obvious a choice for using leftover bread in a salad?

Soak bread crumbs in cream, toss with nuts, and serve over lettuce. (Yay! Soggy bread and nut salad.)

Have a LOT of leftover bread and a fixation on funny titles?

Make a cheese custard thickened with bread crumbs and served over toast! Bread sauce on bread! Now if they would just top it with browned breadcrumbs, this would be the trifecta of leftover bread uses. (Why is it called monkey? Apparently, like Welsh Rabbit, the name is a dig on the poor who have to serve less-expensive cheese sauces in place of more expensive meat. Having watched Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom as a child, I would always opt for cheese over monkey.)

Not all recipes feature ways to sneak mushy bread into everything, though. What does the woman on the cover seem so proud to serve?

It's Eggs and Green Peas! Cut some bread (the booklet says a slice, but this looks more like a loaf to me!) "to form large case," then fry it until it's golden brown. Fill with hard cooked eggs and peas topped with a white sauce. Sounds incredibly bland (as do most of these recipes!), but at least it's imaginative.

It's a bread castle! Build your own story from there. I think the peas are villagers storming in to depose the corrupt egg royalty. One tiny pea can't take on a big egg, but their collective might will make short work of the tyrannic eggs. Off with their yolks! Maybe this recipe will make up for the classism of the English monkey... or maybe I'm getting a bit loopy.

This has been Cookbook Wednesday! Thank you to Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet for hosting.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Attempting to be high-minded

It's May! Birds are yelling at each other outside my bedroom window every morning just to make sure I am up, even when I don't have to be. Plants are more quietly sprouting, or leafing, or flowering, or doing whatever any particular type of plant is supposed to do at this time of year..

Since the birds are more annoying, I'm tempted to reach for the Good Housekeeping's Cook Books (1958) "Poultry & Game" booklet, but to atone for my melon snuff film post, I will be high-minded this week and go with the "Book of Vegetables" instead.

Not that the "Book of Vegetables" makes it easy to be high-minded...

... as GH appears not to have gotten the racial sensitivity memo. (To be fair, I'm pretty sure it was not in wide circulation in 1958.) It's not bad enough to call this recipe "Squaw Corn," but the picture also has to feature the native woman carrying a feather-bedecked baby on her back.

I'm not quite convinced that sliced bacon, light cream, and canned cream-style [sweet] corn were authentic to the native American experience, either.

But other sections try harder to keep it classy.

What kinds of recipes might be tempting to someone who wears a suit, a hat, and white gloves to the grocery store?

Perhaps something like this?

And what is "Kidney-Bean Sophisticate"? Canned kidney beans with onion, rosemary, and red wine. (Sounds more like a waste of wine to me, but at least it only wastes a quarter cup.)

If beans need to have a proper name to be truly sophisticated, though, then it is better to go with these:

Good old John J. Limas! The crumbled Roquefort gives frozen limas with condensed consomme and bread crumbs that certain je ne sais quoi that makes you wonder, "Seriously, why didn't I just enjoy this cheese with the wine from the other recipe?"

Have a sophisticated weekend!