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!


  1. My grandmother always added beer to her beef stew. For tender meat, she said. I think she just wanted to drink the other half of the bottle. Your cake title is indeed funny. I've linked you up!

    1. Thanks! I like when people rationalize decisions they want to make anyway.

  2. I like extra moustaches in my cake!