Of course, the new month means a return visit to Beverly Pepper and Glamour Magazine's New After Five Cookbook (1963). What does this book envision for October?
If we're going for genuine scares, this Tuesday menu is the one that would make my hair stand on end:
Start with liver, then throw in a hefty dose of that Styrofoam/ dental floss hybrid known as celery dressed up with sour cream to make it look as if it should be edible. End with broiled battery acid, I mean grapefruit, and then poke yourself in the eye with a sharp stick while you're at it, just to prove that the day could indeed get worse. (I'll rate this one American Psycho for being thoroughly misanthropic.)
For those who just like surprises for Halloween, this Wednesday menu might fit the bill:
Surprise! I didn't pick it because it sounded completely terrible.. only partly. I chose it because the regional names that Pepper seems so fond of throwing around actually kind of fit the recipes for a change. Sure, Bayou Chicken and Rice does feature canned chicken, but it actually does ask for regionally-appropriate ingredients like the holy trinity of green peppers, celery, and onions, as well as okra and Tabasco. I was shocked-- shocked!-- to see that this had even a passing resemblance to bayou cooking. Of course, it's supposed to be served with hot muffins rather than biscuits, but the Southern Compote dessert ties into the hot weather theme with some tropical fruit. (I'll rate this one Hatchet for being set in a bayou.)
If you're just interested in October for the chance to trick or treat, then this menu might be appropriate:
Think you're getting a savory hamburger? Tropical Hamburgers are a trick or a treat, depending on how you feel about the old fruit-and-meat combination. If you've ever wanted to know what hamburger bulked out with a mashed banana would taste like, this recipe is your chance. Just be sure to serve it rare, because banana-y ground beef is apparently best if it's still bleeding. Serve with sauteed zucchini and you can pretend your side is some slimy green alien that you have to eat before it eats you. (Obviously, I have to rate this one Trick 'r Treat.)
If you like a little old-school scare mixed with a little weird, then this last menu might be for you:
The tomato juice starter is a classic for would-be vampires to drink to gross out their middle-school peers, and the weird comes in with Lamb Puppies on Carrots. What are lamb puppies? Luckily, it's not lamb mixed with Labrador. Neither is it hush puppies that somehow involve lamb, which is what I was kind of hoping for. Lamb Puppies apparently consist of a bread crumb/ veggie mix sandwiched between slices of leftover lamb (from a leg cooked earlier in the week). How these meaty sandwiches are puppies and why they like to spend their time atop a bed of defrosted carrots is anybody's guess. (I'll rate this The Island of Dr. Moreau for its weird hybrid animal, even if it is not (to our knowledge) hybrid with a human as well.)
What have we learned for October?
- Spinach salad can be great, but advising readers to use "washed" spinach (Washed only in scare quotes? I'd prefer it to be washed in water...) to make such a salad suddenly makes it sound much less appealing.
- Even though I always assume "tropical" in vintage recipes means "with canned pineapple," it sometimes means "with mashed banana."
- It would be fun to claim that the first Tuesday menu helped originate this phrase, but Looney Tunes are older than the cookbook (and they borrowed it from even older sources)....
- Adding "puppies" to the name of any meat will immediately make the dish sound scarier. Anybody up for pork puppies? Turkey puppies? Salmon puppies?
- I will use any pretext to cram a little more Halloween fun into October.