Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Don't panic, even if something with seven legs and a chef's hat is following you

Let's go to the country!

The Casual Country Cook Book (1970, Tophill Farm, Lee, MA) is by Lorna Lowes Sheldon.

I couldn't resist it for the cover alone. It's covered not just with anthropomorphic flowers and arthropods, but mostly unhappy anthropomorphic flowers and arthropods.

That flower on the right (a daisy, maybe?) looks especially distressed. If daisies could get diarrhea, that is the look they would get on their faces right as it hit.

At the bottom we have the arthropods. The one on the left is the only one that looks genuinely happy, probably because its chef's hat is a clue that it plans on eating the other... creature. I think the chef is supposed to be a spider based on the web behind it, but it's only got six legs (five of which appear to be on the right side of its body), so all bets are off.

The seven-legged creature the "spider" appears to be tracking is not happy he's about to become lunch, but it looks as if that little guy has a circular saw blade sticking out of his ass. Why he won't just saw the spider chef in half is beyond me.

The cover is not the only quirky picture. Right before the recipes begin, we see this:

Ol' Possum's Owlhouse Menu promises all kinds of owl-appropriate fare: frittered titmouse, squirrel soup with cricket croutons, chipmunk chunks, artichoke mouse, and the Christmas special of woodcock wassail.

The recipe cards (all the pages after this one are divided into two cards-- one top main dish and one bottom dessert, dip, or side) do not tell how to make a tickled trout or a pickled piglet, though. Apparently Ol' Possum keeps her recipes to herself.

The cards all feature brief handwritten instructions:

For a second, I was excited that we might get Walter White's Meatball Dish, but this is from Walter Wright. I was thinking of a different guy who liked to cook....

The handwriting confused me for a minute. Take 2 lbs chuck around three times? Is this some weird country way of saying the recipe took 6 pounds of meat? Then I realized whoever wrote this was using a sheet of paper as a guide to help keep the writing straight, so any parts of letters that would dip below the bottom line got cut off. It's "ground three times."

Once I figured out that mystery, a new one presented itself. Why would anyone want to cover balls of raw meat with a bottle of stuffed olives, a bottle of "catsup," and a bottle of water and bake it for 1-3 hours (depending on when the guests actually show up , because this is clearly a fancy recipe meant for guests)? I figured out the first mystery, but this one is much more of a stumper....

The casual tone of the recipes can be very charming, though:

I love the directions as they get toward the end. "Don't panic- when you must now pour 1 c. boiling water over all." Any directions that make me think of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will make me smile. At the end, we learn why it's called "Best Blueberry Bravo." Even after the weird step of dousing the whole thing with boiling water, "BRAVO!! It's lovely."

This is a whimsical little book, so I will leave you with one more whimsical picture (this one cut in half because it was in the recipe card section):

Apparently, if your lemonade stand is commandeered by an enormous butterfly, it's best to get out of the way!

Happy Cookbook Wednesday!


  1. I too wondered why Walter White was making meatballs. I wonder what sort of unhappy children illustrated this? "No, dearies, you can't go outside until you draw 412 illustrations showing why this cookbook is so splendid....I don't care if you don't like Mr. White's, er, meatballs!" I've linked you up.

    1. Thanks! The pictures alone on this are priceless...

  2. That butterfly has a nose like Cher, it's very off are all of the illustrations from this book ;-)

    1. Ha! I never thought of Cher. Good call!