Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cholesterol free coasters and castles

When I bought my first box of frozen veggie burgers from Big Lots-- back when I was a starving college student trying to save money from my work-study job-- I thought that frozen veggie burgers were a relatively recent addition to the grocery aisle. They sure seemed like a novelty to someone from a small town where the one and only health food store smelled vaguely like hay and mostly sold vitamins in brown glass bottles.

I was, of course, wrong.

My Morningstar Farms Cholesterol Free Foods book (1978) shows that there were plenty of vegetarian meat substitutes in the freezer aisles, even back in the '70s. They just didn't make it to the freezer aisles of the Podunk towns where I lived until the '90s.

In fact, here's the whole glorious lineup:

Most of these are still around today. The Play-Doh-looking "bacon" seems nearly unchanged, as do the breakfast links and patties (except that patties now come in multiple flavors). The "Leanies" are just called "Veggie Dogs" now, and the Grillers have expanded beyond burgers to "Chik'n" Grillers as well. The Luncheon Slices must have been way more popular in the '70s, though, because they are gone. (Apparently the appeal of fake Spam is pretty limited.)

Better than the pictures of the old Morningstar Farms foods is the company's ides about what home cooks should do with them.

Have you always wanted a breakfast that looked like a really weird two-tone coaster?

They look so tempting with the spongy brown core and the beige exterior. 

These are Breakfast Pattycakes-- a sad little half breakfast patty encircled with pancake batter. I'm not sure how these are supposed to be eaten. They look super dry, and the parsley on the platter suggests they're not supposed to get a syrupy coating. (Granted, I'm not a sausage-and-syrup lover anyway, but I imagine the parsley-and-syrup types are even rarer!) It looks as if this is a breakfast to be choked down with a lot of orange juice....

Since this is a '70s alternative cookbook, of course it has to have some dubiously "ethnic" recipes.
When I saw "Mandarin Casserole," I of course imagined a casserole full of mandarin oranges and luncheon slices topped off with crispy almonds or chow mein noodles.

My guesses were totally wrong, though! The casserole is initially just fried rice with crumbled breakfast patties. It really takes a turn for the weird fifteen minutes into baking when it is pulled out of the oven to be topped with cottage cheese mixed with egg substitute and Parmesan cheese. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but I will never get over recipes that pretend cheese is somehow a Chinese ingredient. Apparently, packaged fried rice mix is enough to call a recipe "Mandarin," even with Parmesan and paprika toppings.

The most fun recipe, as always, is the shiniest:

If you've ever wanted a jiggly cottage cheese and mayo crown on top of ginger-ale-lacquered veggie Luncheon Slices, pineapple, cucumber, and celery, then Molded Salad Crown is the recipe for you! 

My mind somehow sees this more as a castle than a crown, though. The luncheon slices are drawbridges, and the "crown" is the parapets reaching into the clouds. This is one dish that would be WAY more fun to play with than to eat....

Happy Wednesday! Go play with your food.


  1. Good God! My nightmare came true: a gelatin mould w/ soy deli slices!!!

    1. That is definitely nightmare fuel! You just don't want to know what you'd dream if you actually ate that before going to bed...

  2. Cholesterol watching was as popular in the 70s as far as I remember. Perhaps, these recipes are the reason, Poppy. That Mandarin Casserole would turn anybody off, lol...

    I actually tried MorningStar patties as of lately and I find I just can't warm up to them or those substitute egg products either. Sometimes, I wish I could!

    Thanks for sharing, Poppy...

    1. I'll admit a fondness for a lot of the Morningstar Farms products, but I tend to use them in recipes with a lot of other stuff.

    2. How ironic, Poppy, when I took Marion shopping yesterday she snuck Morningstar sausage in the cart, lol...Yes, she had them for breakfast this morning, lol...