Saturday, November 28, 2015

Leftover Round-up

Leftover time! For all the leftovers people might have sitting around, I've gathered together a few recipes: two that might use up two leftovers at once and one that's just.... odd.

Are you the type of person who makes oyster-filled stuffing? Buy more oysters than you needed? The New England Cookbook (Melanie de Proft, 1956) has this recommendation:

Mix those extra oysters with leftover turkey, combine with a white sauce, and bake it all up in an entirely beige-and-white pie! (Was there a veggie shortage? I thought pot pies usually had at least some token veggies, but maybe not in New England....)

If you do have leftover vegetables of the sweet potato variety, 250 Ways of Serving Potatoes (Ruth Berolzheimer, 1941) suggests this:

Mash those sweet potatoes up with egg, put them in cups, fill with turkey, onion, and gravy, and bake them into individual, bright-orange casseroles. Maybe a hit for the sweet-and-savory crowd?

These two sound reasonable enough, so I'll leave you with a weird little recipe for leftover turkey from 1974's Favorite American Recipes: A Collection of Classics from Around the Country (Department of Agriculture):

Plunk your leftover turkey in a quart of cream-of-wheat with a little bit of seasoning. Then chill, slice, and fry! I know, in principle it's not that different from fried mush (and it sounds better than traditional scrapple-- hog offal in cornmeal mush), but the thought of farina congealed with a mix of turkey, sage, and chili powder, then fried, makes me wonder if we should take grandma to the neurologist because she is getting some weird ideas....

But then again, I do like to mix leftover dressing into scrambled eggs if I get the chance, so maybe I don't have too much room to talk! Enjoy your weekend of leftovers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Veggie '50s Thanksgiving

As an early 21st century near-vegetarian, I have it easy. Tomorrow I'm going to pop a Field Roast in the oven and serve it with homemade rolls and some roasted Brussels sprouts. Easy and tasty.

A look at the Unity Vegetarian Cookbook (1955, I think-- my copy is VERY well-worn and several pages, including the title page, are missing, so I got the date off the internet) makes me pretty happy to be veg now.

You can tell from the cover this copy got used! It's also filled with extra recipes-- both hand-written and clipped from the newspaper and pasted over the pages with pictures. I will share some of those later.

The book doesn't specifically mention Thanksgiving, but I'm pretty sure that's what they had in mind for this suggested menu:

Let's see what '50s veg-heads went through to prepare the big feast. You'll notice the asterisk after "Cranberry-Juice Cocktail." That means a recipe is provided, so no cracking open a bottle of Ocean Spray:

I had to include the picture because I love the smiling spoon and tomato. I wonder what those two are up to! I just hope they're not partying with both the grapes and the egg, as that could get pretty weird.

The juice itself doesn't sound bad-- straight-up cranberries, sugar, and water, with a bit of lemon. More work than the bottled kind, but it could be made a day ahead since it has to cool anyway.

I was pretty curious about the main course. What goes into a '50s "Mock Turkey"?

If you guessed that it would be pretty similar to a nutty, eggy stuffing, you would be correct! This actually doesn't sound too bad. It would never fool anyone into thinking it was turkey, but my Field Roast probably wouldn't either. The point is to make something festive.

What goes with Mock Turkey?

Water-Chestnut Fritters! I'm not sure what is festive about canned water chestnuts, but my guess is that most people didn't have access to chestnut-chestnuts, so the water variety had to stand in. Water chestnuts may not be the most exciting fritter add-in, but they're deep fried! They can't taste too bad.

Apparently readers are smart enough to make our own mashed potatoes (no recipe provided), but they go with "Unity Inn Brown Gravy."

The eggs on the "Gravies, Salad Dressings, and Sauces" page really seem to be enjoying themselves, so I let them stay. I hope they don't notice the egg beater in the bowl next to them and panic, as that would certainly ruin the serenity of this scene.

The gravy is flavored with onion, celery, and "Stox Soup Base." I couldn't find much of anything about it (except that Google was convinced I don't know how to spell "stocks"), so my guess is that it was a veggie bouillon brand. Using enough veggie bouillon to flavor 2 quarts of water would probably be pretty similar. I'd want to add some mushrooms, too, but even without them, this doesn't sound half bad.

In the spirit of excess, we still have three veggie sides to go. There's no recipe for coleslaw, but we most definitely have a recipe for the Sweet Potato and Pineapple Souffle:

Is canned pineapple over sweet potatoes better than miniature marshmallows over sweet potatoes? That's the real question for '50s cooks. (I imagine some just dumped on both. Maybe I should look for evidence....)

Plymouth Peas rounded out the veggie offerings:

Who would be excited about canned peas heated up with a little celery, green pepper, and onion, especially when there are so many other offerings? (Canned peas smell like dirty socks that got left in a locker for a few months as far as I'm concerned.)

Then there was dessert. Not a typical pumpkin pie, but something a bit more British:

It's a Spice Pudding filled with raisins, cherries, and figs! Okay, the corn "sirup" doesn't sound very health-foody, but otherwise, this is a good precursor to the molasses-and-fruit combos in '70s "healthy" desserts.

This proves that even '50s vegetarians could put on a big show for Thanksgiving-- one that often sounds better than a lot of '70s alternatives sounded! Have a great Thanksgiving, whether you have turkey, ham, Tofurky, Field Roast, or even *shudder* canned peas on your table!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Melted mints, beefy wine, and cranberry miscellany

Since we had some odd savory Thanksgiving sides last weekend, let's try some weird fruity sides and beverages today!

Since I can't get enough Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers, first up is a return to the New Holiday Cookbook (1974). The title of their fruit salad makes it seem perfectly innocuous:

When I hear "Minted Fruit Cups," I imagine fresh fruit-- maybe some strawberries, oranges, and grapes-- with a bright pop of freshly-minced mint.

This has got the grapes. Otherwise, it doesn't have much in common with what I imagined.... The mint primarily comes from after-dinner mints dissolved in juices from the canned pineapple augmented with ginger ale. Yeah, it does mention you can garnish the glasses with fresh mint if you're feeling ambitious, but the after-dinner mints are required!

If you need to wash that fruit cup down with something, here's one possibility the home-ec teachers like:

Hot Buttered Cranberry Punch sounds like something my grandma who liked weird recipes would try. Why not melt down a can of cranberry sauce, add spices, and dilute it with water and pineapple juice before serving it with a nice pat of butter on top?

I can totally imagine her serving this up at a holiday dinner and most of the family acting as if topping off their steaming mugs full of cranberry sauce with butter was a perfectly normal thing to do. Meanwhile, I'd be re-evaluating my assessment of the planet earth, trying to figure out whether I really was an alien who had accidentally landed here and would never quite understand the customs of the inhabitants...

For a more down-to-earth beverage, McCall's Great American Recipe Card Collection (1973) offers this festive-looking sipper:

Imagining wine mulled with some spices, topped with a few lively citrus slices to complete the festive winter scents? Well, as with the fruit salad, you're partly right:

It's Claret-Beef Broth! Because when haven't you had a glass of wine and thought, "You know, this is good, but it would be way better if it were about 4/5 undiluted condensed canned beef broth and only 1/5 claret"? At least this is recommended as a soup rather than a beverage. (Beverages shouldn't be so salty as to make you thirstier!) Still, it seems like a waste of good wine to me.

Our final freaky and fruity recipes come from this little undated pamphlet from the National Cranberry Association:

The recipe for the chicken is just standard instructions to cook a chicken on a grill, and the recommended barbecue sauces are pretty plain (oil and vinegar with a little salt, molasses, and Tabasco, or water, vinegar, butter, and a dash of salt "for a mild-flavored sauce"). The real draw is the "Cranberry Partners" listed on the back:

Cranberry Garden Relish mixes celery, cucumbers, and green pepper in with whole cranberry sauce. Even though I've never really wanted diced veggies in my cranberries, I get why some people might like it. The real sacrilege is Favorite Cranberry Relish:

It sounds perfectly delightful at first: cranberry sauce, crushed pineapple, orange, walnuts. When you throw in the sweet pickle relish, though, we are right back in "What alien planet have I landed on?" territory! This is something I would have been fooled into heaping onto my plate, only to regret it the second I tasted the first spoonful. I'd wish I had the technology to beam the rest of it straight up into space, but it would probably have found a home in a wadded-up napkin instead.

Have a fruity fun weekend!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thanksgiving alternatives from old New England

Need a few vintage line drawings with single-color highlights to get you ready for the holiday season that's about to hit?

Don't say I never got you anything! I can't help it if you didn't specifically request a unibrowed caricature of a Native American standing over a Pilgrim kid (who strangely looks kind of like Blueberry Muffin from the '80s Strawberry Shortcake line), who appears to be bringing a pie to a blue turkey that just happens to be out for an afternoon stroll. Either that, or the kid is sizing the turkey up against a platter, in which case the turkey's stroll just got a whole lot less pleasant...

These guys all come from a little book by the staff home economists at the Culinary Arts Institute (1956):

The New England Cookbook has everything you'd stereotypically expect: baked beans, boiled dinners, clambakes, Boston cream pie. 

I'm going to ignore them in favor of a few recipes that I can shoehorn into the Thanksgiving theme.

First up: pot roast!

What is Thanksgiving-y about Yankee Pot Roast? Admittedly, nothing. Look at the variation, though.

Cranberry Pot Roast! That seems like something my grandma who hated turkey would have made. I'm pretty sure I would have balked at a big old slab of beef topped with cranberries and cloves, so we could have argued festively about how picky I was when people noticed I was filling up on mashed potatoes and dinner rolls. Family fun!

I'm not sure either of us would have been sold on Cape Cod turkey, though. If you don't know what it is, here is a bespectacled hint:

Cape Cod Turkeys are so fancy, I'm surprised this one stopped at the bow tie and didn't add a top hat as well. 

Okay, the official name is "Salt Fish Dinner," but I think we can all agree that "Cape Cod Turkey" is a much more fun name.

A Thanksgiving table with a centerpiece of boiled salt fish, boiled beets, and boiled potatoes topped with Egg Sauce (white sauce with a couple chopped hard-cooked eggs thrown in) and fried salt pork would be a surprise! It would be even more surprising if someone bit into the teeny fish spectacles....

Now we need a dessert to top off the beef-and-cranberry bash or the Cape Cod Turkey. I've picked the perfect finale. Since we've left real turkeys out so far, how about a bird's nest?

This is a rare case where the name sounds worse than the recipe. I'm imagining a mound of straw with shards of egg shell and a few liberal dollops of bird shit, but this is apples cooked in custard! Cape Cod Turkey might not be a great substitute holiday centerpiece, but this might be an admirable stand-in for pumpkin pie. At least one substitute recipe is a hit. Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Meatballs? Soup? Sweet potatoes? Nope. The best Thanksgiving side is a volcano!

I'm starting to dream of Snoopy, Garfield, and Kermit the Frog as tall as my house, followed by a turkey wearing a hat with a buckle. That can only mean that Thanksgiving is coming. Today's theme: weird side dishes.

First you need nibbles to keep the family from getting too drunk while they wait for dinner to be ready. Home economics teachers from 1974 (New Holiday Cookbook) suggest mashing together a few convenience foods, shaping the mass into balls, and baking it:

I can't figure out why Cheez Whiz gets called on by brand name and Bisquick gets no love, even though that's surely what Mrs. Dorothy Smith had in mind for "biscuit mix." I also cannot imagine what these would be like, except for greasy and kind of bland considering how much 3 c. of biscuit mix would dilute a pound of hot sausage.

If you need a hot soup as part of the spread, the same home ec teachers recommend this in the Thanksgiving section:

...because who wouldn't want to accompany a perfectly roasted turkey with canned chicken heated up in cream of mushroom soup?

I tend to skip the nibbles and soup. They waste prime real estate that could be taken up by potatoes. If you're the sweet potato type and think the marshmallow-y versions are too sweet, 250 Ways of Serving Potatoes (edited by Ruth Berolsheimer, 1941) suggests this:

Mashed sweet potatoes topped with grapefruit slices and candied grapefruit peel. Gag-inducingly-sweet potatoes with candied battery acid, as I'd call it, but maybe not that bad if you like sweet potatoes and grapefruit? Or maybe it still sounds just as terrible to you as it does to me, a person who detests both.

The recipe that makes me want to run to my favorite park and kiss a wild turkey is from the 22nd edition of the Ohio State Grange Cook Book (1968):

Full disclosure: the name alone is enough to sell me. When I was a kid, I'd build my mashed potatoes into a little nest shape, put a big lump of butter in the middle, let it melt while I ate something else, and then eat a hole in my potato wall, loosing butter "lava" onto the imagined villages below. (They were usually heavily populated by peas.)

Okay, to be honest, I did that well past childhood, but one day when I was visiting my mom as an adult, she noticed and made me feel like an idiot. Now I remember my volcano-building is only safe when nobody's watching.

Mary A. Nye understood my passion, though, and she wasn't afraid to shout it out to the world: potato volcanoes are awesome! Nothing stopped her from giving instructions to build and bake a family-size potato mountain and fill it with cheesy Welsh Rarebit "lava." We even have permission to put parsley trees and pimento villages at the base. I'll bet they won't last long...

Admittedly, I'd leave the mustard out of the rarebit and maybe swap in a little hot sauce, but otherwise, this wouldn't even be relegated to side-dish status at my Thanksgiving table. It would be the main event. Thanksgiving should be all about burying the villagers in lava and being thankful for a chance to clean up the cheesy, potato-y aftermath.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Unsure what to say, I reveal an odd teenage crush

I picked up this copy of The Art of American Indian Cooking by Yeffe Kimball and Jean Anderson (1965) because I don't know anything about the subject. That also means I've found myself reluctant to write about it because I just don't have the cultural background to figure out if this is anything like a good representation of actual native cookery (or a fair representation of those who do/ did it).

It's an interesting book, though, and I hate keeping it to myself just because I'm not sure what to say.

So here goes, even though the closest thing I have to credentials for discussing this topic is my teenage crush on Ed Chigliak from Northern Exposure. (I didn't realize until years later that Chris Stevens was supposed to be the heartthrob. My tastes have always been a little offbeat.)

The only food-related detail I remember from Ed is that he liked to eat his sandwiches crust first (in a circle) so he could end on a nice bite with plenty of filling-- the same weird way I eat mine! Clearly we would have been a great match.

The book discusses foods regionally, so I'm going to show you the sweet line drawing used to introduce each section and a recipe that seems unusual and maybe representative of each area. First up: Southwest.
What do the gardeners and gatherers feed their families?
Well, if they're too busy to garden and gather, like any good '60s families, they reach for canned goods-- a can of "natural cactus in salt water" and a can of pimientos, to be specific.

Next in the book was Ed's region: the Pacific Northwest.
 Apparently the fishermen came home with more than just the usual fish:

If the catch had extra arms, the fishers could make octopus fritters. I'm not sure what those would be like. The closest I have come to eating octopus was eating a vegan calamari substitute one time. (Yes, I know calamari is supposed to be squid, but 1. a vegan version doesn't have any sea creatures in it anyway and 2. my point is that I have not been even remotely close to eating octopus...) It tasted like deep-fried rubber bands. The breading was yummy, as any deep fried breading tends to be, but it would have been better without any filling! Hopefully this recipe is better than that one was.

Next comes the middle of the country:

The wandering hunters apparently caught more than just bison:

Keeping with the mid-western theme, I like to imagine Venison and Wild Rice Stew being brought to a potluck. (Since it's a stew and doesn't use canned soup as an ingredient, I suppose they couldn't call it hotdish. Too bad.)

I think of corn as mid-western too, but the book pictures it with the south.

This recipe sounds more southern to me:

Sweet potato cornbread! I'll bet someone would love to make stuffing out of that...

Finally, the book features the east:

Apparently the woodsmen are best represented by a chicken enigmatically staring at readers, ignoring the scallop standing on end at its feet.

Instead of chicken, though, the recipe I chose features "goose."

Not avian goose, though: gooseberries!

Just like the cooks of the southwest, cooks in the east would rather reach for cans than try to gather the requisite berries. I can't say that I blame them. The main pleasure of picking berries is putting about 90% in the basket and eating the rest. Gooseberries are SOUR, so that trick will be no fun unless you are a serious sour-head.

So there it is-- The Art of American Indian Cooking. I hope Ed would have approved.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sweetened Condensed Recipes

In my quest for ever-more-obscure kitchen artifacts, I have come into possession of this:

Yep! I have some old Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk labels! I'm not sure of their time period, but my guess would be the '80s since the nutrition information is in the pre-1991 format.

I'm feeling sweet this weekend, so I'll give you some back-of-the-label recipes that actually sound good! How does this look?

If you have a fall comfort food craving, creamy banana pudding should fill it!

Have to admit I'm not totally convinced that watering down a can of sweetened condensed milk and combining it with vanilla pudding mix is superior to just making a couple packages of vanilla pudding mix with regular milk, but hey, it looks good! (For proof of its continued appeal, click.)

For a more seasonal dessert-- and one that seems to actually merit picking up a can of sweetened condensed milk-- try this:

Sounds tasty! So tasty, in fact that they still market the recipe (almost unchanged, except for the fact that cans of pumpkin are now slightly smaller).

If you never have sweetened condensed milk on hand, I found a trick from my mysterious "package of DIL-ICIOUS IDEAS from the folks at DILS":

Just whip up some instant powdered milk, boiling water, melted margarine, sugar, and salt in a blender et voila! Homemade sweetened condensed milk. Given that all the powdered milk I've ever tasted reminded me of slightly sour cardboard and that margarine is not dairy fat, I wouldn't have high hopes for this concoction, but maybe with enough other ingredients, it wouldn't be too bad?

Try it if you want, but I'm going back to pawing through discarded food labels. Try not to be too jealous.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

No succor from Sucaryl

Sugar-saturated from Halloween candy? Good news from 1958! "Calorie-Saving Recipes with Sucaryl" is coming to the rescue.

Sucaryl was the "non-caloric sweetener for reducing and diabetic diets." What could '50s dieters have with a little help from Sucaryl?

My first thought when I saw the picture was a very spongy-looking cheese souffle, but I was only right about the sponge part:

Since there's no sugar to help with browning, I suppose it's a bit much to ask for this to have a golden-brown layer.

The cake would have been a bit of a pain to make, too, what with needing to crush 72 Sucaryl tablets! And this doesn't even explain that the crushed tablets have to be dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water before using... It seems like a lot of work for a recipe that looks so dry and flavorless.

I can understand the craving for a cake, though. I'm sure dieters felt a need for a real(ish) dessert at least sometimes.

Other recipes made me wonder why anyone would bother, though:

I would think "I can't eat all that sugar on my diet" would be the perfect excuse to get out of choking down a bowl full of prune whip! Why make a special recipe so dieters and diabetics too can indulge in the delights of prune pulp suspended in whipped egg whites and gelatin?

I make fun of gelatin a lot, but I have to admit I understand the appeal of the sweet gelatin "salads" loaded up with cottage cheese and fresh fruit. So why would Sucaryl think this is the salad dieters would crave?

Cucumbers, radishes, and scallions suspended in gelatin with green food coloring? Sure, it is only 17 calories a serving, but the veggies by themselves would have even fewer....

Thanks, Sucaryl! Now diabetics can eat stuff they never even wanted in the first place! Hoo-ray.