Saturday, April 30, 2016

In the scary month of May

Wednesday will be Cookbook Wednesday, so I'm getting the May party started a day early. Here are our monthly recommendations from Glamour Magazine's New After Five Cookbook (Beverly Pepper, 1963).

Our May week starts with something for people with Texas-sized appetites:

... or maybe not. I can't figure out what is "Texas" about Texas Sweetbreads on Spinach. Neither spinach nor sweetbreads seem especially Texan, and the flavoring of wine and tarragon seems more French than Texan to me. Once again, Glamour seems to be trying to make things sound interesting by adding a title that has nothing to do with what's actually in the recipe.

The apple pie is made extra-American by being served with American, rather than cheddar, cheese.

On Tuesday, we travel to yet another state:

I was hoping California Vegetable Cocktail might involve an avocado, but it's just vegetable juice mixed with orange juice. I wasn't really sold on the main dish of chicken livers and onion over spaghetti, either, but the salad is what really got me.

Mixed Vegetable Salad sounds harmless enough, but it's semi-frozen (or semi-thawed, for you optimists out there!) chopped spinach mixed with a can of mixed vegetables and French dressing (served with hard-cooked egg yolks and whites chopped separately, because you have to put in extra work somewhere if you dumped most of the salad out of a can and pulled the rest out of the freezer).

Wednesday moves from the States to Europe:

It starts off with Wiener Schnitzel (garnished with the traditional German crop of olives). A side of potato salad or spaetzle might be too obvious, so the side is Spanish String Beans. (And what makes frozen string beans Spanish? Maybe it's the "pulp of one large tomato." Or maybe it's the salt and pepper. Who the hell knows?)

The dessert of Strawberries with Whipped Custard sounds pretty good, at least until you realize that the "custard" in question is a jar of baby food dressed up with whipped cream.

For Thursday, the Russian Black Bread is apparently a reference to, you know, actual Russian Black Bread. There's no recipe telling readers to make it out of, say, blue cornmeal mixed with black olives and Mission figs.

The Oxtail Noodles sound questionable at best, though. Condensed oxtail soup mixed with onions and peppers, then thickened up with American cheese and egg yolks sounds... well... like a... like an unexpected topping for noodles.

The Asparagus Tip Salad, made with fresh, tender canned asparagus thrown together with leftover corn and shaved onion will be an, ahem, suitable accompaniment, if you know what I mean.

So that, my friends, is Glamour's idea of a proper May menu. What have we learned?
  1. Maybe I was premature in suggesting that the writer had stock in Campbell's. As the weather warms, there is a bit less reliance on canned soups and a bit more reliance on canned everything else. I think the writer had stock in American Can Company.
  2. Whipped cream's flavor can be improved by mixing it with baby food.
  3. "Salad" can mean anything-- even partially-thawed frozen veggies and canned produce-- as long as it's got French dressing on it. Have a can of water chestnuts, a partial bag of frozen Brussels sprouts, and some French dressing? Bam! Salad. Have a can of fruit cocktail, some frozen okra, and French dressing? Bam! Salad. The possibilities are endless.
  4. Throwing an enigmatic picture at the top of the page can make Wednesdays more interesting. What is that supposed to be? The outline of a dirty spoon on a stovetop? A young onion with the top still attached? A deformed two-tailed sperm?
  5. Apparently a previous owner actually tried the Oxtail Noodles? I assume that's what the check mark means. I am not sure I understand this person's selection process....
Happy Saturday! Do a little dance now that May is on the way!


  1. Did people have more access to offal in the mid-century? It seems as though there is an abundance of organ meat entrees from "old timey" cookbooks :)

    1. They must have! Most grocery stores had real butchers back then, and I think organ meats tended to be cheaper cuts, so that could explain their popularity.

  2. As far as I can tell, Poppy, the only resemblance to May's recommendations in Glamour's choices are those "salads." May is National Salad Month!!!

    Happy May, Poppy. The May calendar will be up tomorrow with the "real" food days to celebrate, lol...

    1. I hope you can find better salad recipes than the ones here! Happy May!