Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Looking back at a very different election year

Today's post isn't for a cookbook. I picked up this magazine for a very special reason.

This is the issue of Woman's Day for the month I was born. Yeah-- that means I'm turning 40! Maybe knowing what people were cooking for Thanksgiving when I made my grand entrance will take away some of the sting of getting old.

Oddly enough, there was a recipe to remind me that 1976 was an election year. I was born after voting was over, so at least my developing brain wasn't subjected to any campaign ads. I'm pretty sure I wasn't subjected to Election Cake, either.

My mom isn't the type to make some long-and-involved cake recipe-- especially an old-fashioned bread-like yeast-risen cake-- under the best of circumstances. There's no way she was making one when she was too big to see her feet or newly responsible for looking after a baby who screamed for 18 months straight. Eighteen months. Straight. Just screaming. (She is always very clear on that detail.)

Plus, I'm pretty sure she'd be as skeptical as I am about a cake that requires raisins and a potato.

The real draw of a November women's magazine is the Thanksgiving menu, and this one has two. The first one is for the traditionalist:

Aside from the creamed onions and celery (Ugh! Why bother?), this is totally my grandma's kind of Thanksgiving menu. By that, I mean it has three different pies for dessert. (She wouldn't let you "choose from" the three though. They'd be cut into slivers so everybody would get a taste of everything, regardless of whether we really wanted to try Mince with Cheddar-Cheese Crust...)

There was also a "Take-It-Easy Menu":

"Easy" is of course a relative term. "Take-It-Easy" now tends to mean "pick up a precooked turkey with your choice of three sides, a dozen rolls, and a pumpkin pie from the grocery store deli."

In 1976, it just meant making dressing in the Crock Pot rather than actually stuffing it into the bird, fixing one cooked vegetable side instead of three, getting rolls from the bakery, and serving one pumpkin cake instead of three different kinds of pie... Certainly less work than the traditional menu, but still probably more than a lot of people do today.

My favorite recipes, though, tended to come from the ads for various holiday celebration foods.

Want to give the kids something to munch on while adults enjoy a glass of wine? These might do the job:

If you think these are yummy little fudge squares, though, you are mistaken. Do you know what Knox Blox are?

If you didn't, they were the unflavored gelatin brand's reply to Jell-O's jigglers. Yep-- those cute little "fudge" squares are actually chocolate-flavored gelatin.

While I loooove me some chocolate, I can't really imagine chocolate jigglers as being anything other than a weird, slimy disappointment.

Cheese spreads are more my speed at a holiday buffet anyway. How about these lovely-looking cheese logs?

One is all covered in nuts, and the other festively parsley-green with pimiento stripes. What do you suppose is in these cheesy confections (besides cheese)?

Dual Yule Cheese Logs start out with a can of Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup. I suppose beating a can of bean soup into a pound of shredded cheddar is healthier than using cream cheese as the traditional binder... and the cheese logs don't look soupy. Would this actually be a reasonable idea? (Find out if you want, but I'll leave it up to you.)

How about some holiday pastries instead?

Now don't those look yummy with their fruit filling and sweet glaze? What might these be made of? (I'll bet you can guess if you notice that this picture features the same red tablecloth and pine in the background as the cheese log picture.)

Yep-- the pastry is made from hot roll mix combined with eggs, sugar, almond extract, and a can of Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup! This is a recipe for everyone who's ever had cheese soup and thought it could use some almond extract and a nice topping of fruit pie filling.

It's kind of cool to know about the food landscape from the month I was born, but I don't regret the fact that I wasn't on solid food yet.

Besides finding a bunch of old recipes, I also found a list of everything I've ever wanted in a kitchen (but was afraid to ask):
1.) Pretty much everything covered in plastic laminate so it's easy to wipe off,
2.) A two-shelf cart so I can roll my electric crepe pan, combination juicer/ can opener, and slow cooker anywhere I want, and
3.) Plenty of low cabinets to hold things like preschoolers' coloring books. (I have to admit, I had no idea I was longing for any of that, but who am I to argue with a 40-year-old magazine?)

A weird old lady, that's who! Here's hoping for more years of arguing with old recipes....


  1. Happy early 40th! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go laminate my kitchen ;-)

    1. Thanks! I'm planning a big trip to some antique malls to celebrate, so my birthday gifts to myself will eventually become gifts to you too. I'm so selfless. ;-)