Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Black-and-white eggs and glop

It's egg week! That means today we're looking at 300 Ways to Prepare (or to Serve, depending on whether you're looking at the top of the book or the middle) Eggs (Culinary Arts Institute, ed. Ruth Berolzheimer, 1950).

Gotta love the tomato and mushroom tentacle reaching down the side of the plate. Maybe that's what distracted the cover designers enough that they couldn't remember what they were calling this collection.

I was a little surprised by the content. There aren't too many books where you will see recipes like these side by side:

It's surprisingly inclusive to have Eggs with Shrimp and Scrambled Matzoth together, but they really are printed like this right in the book! I didn't cut and paste them together. These recipes are willing to live and let live.

And this book is not quite as timid with seasonings as a lot of other books of the same vintage:

A bit more timidity may be in order, though. Four tablespoons is a full quarter cup of curry powder, which seems more than a bit excessive for a six-egg scramble to me, unless curry powder back then was waaay weaker.

The real highlight of this collection is the pictures, though. There were no food stylists sweating over the Eggs and Macaroni:

I would be hard pressed to guess what this dish is supposed to be if it didn't have a caption. Maybe "Random Untopped Casserole #5"?  It's just a bit swirl of semi-solid ingredients-- apparently macaroni, hard-cooked eggs, white sauce, pimientos, and cheese-- but it could be some kind of a whipped gelatin salad or diced sweat socks with white sauce for all I can tell. 

The next recipe doesn't look so great to me. I think celery is super-boring, so any recipe that features it prominently can only hope for a yawn, at best, as my reaction:

Hard-cooked eggs, cold boiled celery, and salad dressing? "Sign me up!" says no one. Still....

...even I think it's rude just to barf on the plate like that. 

Speaking of bodily fluids, I suspect this is a picture of eggs with really bad colds:

I honestly can't figure out which recipe this picture is supposed to represent, but I do know when their mucus is that color, the eggs really should get to their doctor for a check-up.

Happy Wednesday, and try not to barf on the eggs!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Beware the Pizza Bunny

Today's recipe is a bit of a cheat because the book is slightly past my usual cutoff date of 1979, but I thought it was worth bending the rules.

Pizza Bunny is from The Children's Cookbook: A Beginner's Guide to Cooking (Favorite Recipes Press, 1980):

"It's kind of odd to make a pizza crust out of rice, eggs, and cheese," you might say to yourself, "but the rest looks pretty normal. It's just topped with the usual pizza toppings. What makes this recipe so special?"

Maybe you'll get to "The Final Touch" and say, "Yeah, I guess a basket full of parsley and candy eggs is pretty weird too. I suppose I'll give Poppy a pass."

The truth is, I didn't pick this one because of the recipe or even because of the odd notion of what constitutes an appropriate garnish. No. I picked this because it is accompanied by the creepiest damn picture I have ever seen of a bunny-shaped foodstuff.

Prepare yourself for the horror that is Pizza Bunny:

The vacant olive eyes! The too-jaunty parsley whiskers and pimento belt! The pizza sauce that makes it look as if the bunny may have been secretly eviscerated, then hurriedly covered in mozzarella "fur" in a botched taxidermy job. (That would also explain the dead, dead eyes...)

This is the cookbook to give your kids if you want them to stay out of the kitchen forever.

Here's hoping that if the Easter bunny visits you this weekend, he's not nearly as horrifying!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Slick Chick '78 and the Guide to Modern Meals

I always wondered where '70s cooks got the idea that Spam and fruit cocktail might make a fine main dish, or that ham and processed cheese on potato-chip-coated white bread is a nutritious lunch, and today I have one of many answers:

Guide to Modern Meals (Dorothy E. Shank et al., second edition, 1970) was one home ec textbook that sent high schoolers on the course to serving up those meals.

I even know who learned (or perhaps, "learned") from this book, as it still has the stamp in the front where users had to sign their names. I kind of wonder how they all turned out... The first few list real names, so I imagine them as being pretty earnest and trying their best, checking to make sure their sample menus written for homework had enough cottage cheese to help meet the milk requirement and enough fruit cocktail to meet the fruit and vegetable one. I'm pretty sure later students "Moose" and "Slick Chick '78" took this all a bit less seriously. The teacher was lucky if they remembered to fill out sample menus in the study hall before class... and those probably counted cheese Tid-Bit crackers as the milk and Hawaiian Punch as the fruit. (Confession: My parents quit buying Tid-Bit crackers because when I was little I pronounced it "Tit-Bit" and they were embarrassed if I asked for crackers when anyone else was in earshot.)

There are waaaay too many lessons in the book to pack into one post, so let's just look at a lunch menu the students were supposed to make in class:

Yep, this is a lunch menu, not a dessert party menu. Clearly, Dorothy E. Shank et al. had no fear of sugar.

They also were perhaps some of the most anal-retentive people around. The book is packed with super-detailed charts to help with planning even the most mundane meals. Here is the first 2/3 or so of the chart showing the supplies needed to make this sumptuous repast of salad, cinnamon rolls, and pudding:

As I hinted, there is still plenty more of this chart on the next page, as well as "The Work-and-Time Schedule for Preparing Lunch in a Double Class Period" (parts 1 and 2, one for each period), a complete layout for how the table should look when it's set, and a list of criteria for evaluating the lunch when it's all over. I don't even make such detailed plans when I spend the whole day baking on Christmas Eve, but this little meal is planned down to the plate to hold the sliced lemon.

Lunch is, as I noted earlier, almost entirely sugar. The first item is at least a bit more substantial: a salad.

The salad is mostly apples, though, so it's still pretty sweet. The sliced celery and English walnuts add at least a little variation. 

If you want to fit cinnamon rolls into even a double class period, they can't really be the yeast kind, so the rolls start out as baking powder biscuits:

It's a pretty familiar recipe, but I love the standards set out at the bottom: biscuits should be "pleasing in flavor." I would hope that everything should be pleasing in flavor. If not, I've been seriously misunderstanding one of the main purposes of recipes for all these years (although it would help explain a lot of the recipes I've featured on this blog.... Maybe a pleasing flavor was something cooks only occasionally aspired to, so it was worth noting if that was the goal?)

A few extra steps can turn biscuits into cinnamon rolls (or the more charming "pinwheel biscuits"):

Then to round out this "balanced" meal, we need a milk component:

Chocolate cornstarch pudding should do. Maybe the students can even use it as a dip for their cinnamon rolls if they feel creative. 

So there we have it-- an example to show what '70s students learned in their home ec classes. The recipes certainly aren't crazy, but the way they are planned and combined into a "meal" certainly gives me a sense of how some questionable aesthetics could emerge from classes like this. 

Happy Wednesday! Now go make a bunch of seriously-detailed charts to plan your next meal of Watergate salad, blueberry muffins, and custard.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Peter Cottontail should maybe hide out under the bunny trail...

I have to admit, the Valentine's day heart post made me start thinking about ways to make other upcoming holidays equally unsettling. Can you guess where this is heading? If not, here's a hint from The Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery (1971):

Yep. Today we're finding out what else you can do with the bunny besides letting it leave "chocolate eggs" in your yard.

As far as I know, I've never had rabbit, but I'm not certain. Sometimes when I was a kid, my family we went to my farmer uncle's house for Easter dinner. One year he assured us kids that the main dish was chicken, then asked the grown-ups whether they wanted a front leg or a hind leg when he thought I was out of earshot.... He quit complaining about the woodchuck ruining his yard at about the same time he served that meal, so I suspect we were eating woodchuck, but it could have been rabbit.

The cleaning instructions are making me glad that I can say I probably haven't had rabbit. Even this not-particularly-detailed picture makes me feel a bit squeamish, especially at step 5 where the recognizably "bunny" parts are getting peeled off, or step 9 where it's still pretty clear that the stubby, barely-identifiable remains are going to lose their head.

So what are the next steps to get bunny ready for the table? The Wise Encyclopedia suggests an old classic, Jugged Hare:

The rabbit is seared in bacon drippings, then stewed in a covered pot with onion, salt pork, tomatoes, and seasonings.

This version is served with a currant jelly and sherry sauce rather than the more traditional sauce made with the hare's blood and port. (That would literally be a meal that ended in a bloodbath! Holiday family dinners can get contentious, but hopefully not that contentious...)

Woman's Glory-- The Kitchen (Slovenian Woman's Union of America, 1968) goes a similarly-traditional route with a recipe that my childhood self imagined Bugs Bunny made up:

Hasenpfeffer is real, though the ingredients are quite different from the ones in Yosemite Sam's recipe. His seems to omit vinegar-- a main component in all the versions I looked at-- in favor of Worcestershire sauce. Plus Sam's is full of potatoes, onions, and carrots, when this only has onions as the vegetable component-- and they're just in the marinade. Sam has no sour cream to finish his version either-- at least I assume not, though he never got all the way through the recipe for me to be sure. Anyway, to make a long story short (Too late!), my childhood self was kind of right in suspecting that the Hasenpfeffer in the cartoon was made up. It doesn't come close to matching up to any real recipe for the dish.

Yosemite Sam's attempted concoction was closer to something from The Lutheran Ladies Cookbook (1970):

Here we have bunny with potatoes and onions, and it certainly wouldn't be a stretch to throw in some carrots too. Of course, it would be Pennsylvania Dutch Rabbit Pie when it's done, but I'm not sure Yosemite Sam would know the difference.

Most rabbit recipes I found tended to be fairly traditional, but appropriately enough, Going Wild in the Kitchen (Gertrude Parke, 1965) had something different:

I'm not sure why Parke seems to think it is a liability for a recipe to come from the Caribbean. This version smothers the rabbit (Wait... Does that kind of sound like a euphemism to you too?) in tomato puree, garlic, onions, olives and their oil, white wine vinegar, potatoes, and sherry. Is that almost enough stuff to hide the bunny origins?

I'm not sure, but I'll bet these recipes are enough to make all the rabbits wish they had nasty, big, pointy teeth like the Rabbit of Caerbannog.

Happy weekend! Now run away! Run away!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Of potatoes and politics

I originally picked 250 Ways of Serving Potatoes (Culinary Institute of America, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, 1941) because this post is right before St. Patrick's Day.

As I looked through the book, though, I started to feel as if it was somehow a comment on the rhetoric of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates.

Maybe that seems like a big stretch to make for a 75-year-old booklet about potatoes, but the collection is a total sausage fest... just like some of the debates we've heard lately.

Candidates who want to minimize their opponent's size...

...might opt for suggesting the other guy's teeny-tiny pigs get lost in great big 'taters. (I'm not sure what the 'taters are supposed to represent. I think I will go the lazy/ incoherent political cartoonist route and label the potatoes "wasteful spending.")

Those who want to imply they have big... uh... links... without actually explicitly stating it might go for Pigs in Blankets:

Just make a hole in that potato and "force a link sausage" into the "cavity." (I feel kind of dirty just reading the directions!) We may not see much of that sausage, but we will sure as hell know it's all there.

For those who want to go the full Donald and put the size of their sausage right up front...

...there's the Vienna Potatoes variation of Oyster Baked Potatoes. Everyone wants to see a wiener front and center, right?

(Am I the only one who thinks that oysters in baked potatoes sounds odd too? And I can't be the only one who sees that either variation will give potatoes a much stronger erotic charge than one would expect from a starchy side dish... Those '40s housewives had to have some kind of outlet for their sexual repression.)

Happy Wednesday, everyone. Just try to get those images out of your heads! (No need to thank me. I'm sure you won't.)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Watercress margarine and Dublin pineapple

In case you're wondering why my leprechaun lives in a pink world instead of a green one, the Culinary Arts Institute's The Holiday Cookbook (1973) uses pink for all its one-color illustrations. It works pretty well for Valentine's Day and Easter, but not so much for St. Patrick's Day or Thanksgiving. (Pink turkey and pink cornucopia, anyone?)

This little guy is hiding away under a mushroom with his treasure, not at the end of a rainbow as one might expect. That will set our theme for the day: something a little unexpected. No corned beef and cabbage: these are recipes billed as St. Patrick's Day appropriate, even if it is a bit of a stretch.

For the main course: Shamrock Sandwiches.

The recipe promises "real eating enjoyment," but I'm not sure how much excitement I could muster over a shamrock-shaped slice of bread covered with watercress-mayo-horse-radish-margarine. (Okay, there are potentially better combinations (for people who can stand mayo and horseradish), like chive-mayo-horse-radish-butter, but even that still strikes me as a pretty sad sandwich on its own.)

If shamrocks aren't lucky enough, you can always turn your green spread into Lucky St. Pat-wiches by cutting the bread into horseshoes rather than shamrocks. (I have to admit, the phrase "St. Pat-wiches" kinda makes my day.)

The suggested accompaniment is in the heading: "Dublin Pineapple Salad." Ah, yes, Dublin is so famous for growing the world's best pineapples in its balmy climate...

So what puts the Dublin in this salad mold of pineapple gelatin, cream cheese, lemon, and whipped cream?

Look down. Way down. Yeah-- there at the very bottom. You're supposed to cut green pepper shamrocks as a garnish. (Green pepper and pineapple is some good eating!)

Why do I have a feeling I will look at another book in this series and find a nearly identical recipe with a name like "Pineapple-Cheese Salad"? Maybe it's because I have (in 1956's The Cheese Cookbook, for one). This looks like one case where the editors just needed another recipe to fill out the section so they grabbed one at random, threw "Dublin" in the title, garnished it with completely superfluous shamrocks, and called it a day.

Happy St. Patrick's Day is Coming Weekend! Have yourself some watercress and pineapple to get ready.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Stuart Simmers its Wildlife

I have a weird little book for you today. It's such an obscure treasure that when I tried to do an internet search to find out if the estimated "1970s" date assigned to it by the antiques dealer was accurate, I couldn't find any results at all. I present to you The Stuart Simmers Cook Book, published by The Pine Needles Mothers' Association of The Pine School in Stuart, Florida:

While I couldn't find anything about the cookbook, I did learn the school was founded in 1969 and changed its name in 1975, so this cookbook is indeed probably from the early '70s.

I got it mostly because I loved the cartoony cover. The witches sure seem delighted by whatever they're simmering up. The two on the left seem to think the cooking process is going pretty well, but the one on the right looks a little too excited by it all. I think Hazel expects a scantily-clad prince or princess or toad (hey, don't judge!) to leap out of the steaming cauldron and kiss her right on the end of her enormous nose. (James Hutchinson, a well-regarded Florida artist, made the cover. I'm learning all kinds of things from this one!)

The most telling bit of the book may be the subtitle on the inside cover: A Potpourri of South Florida Cookery. The recipes definitely have more than a bit of Florida about them.

Have some Florida road kill?

Just start out by cleaning that armadillo. (Helpful hint: it isn't easy. This is not a Betty Crocker picture cookbook with step-by-step instructions, for which I am entirely grateful.) And if you need to know what "Pig Sauce" is, it's way less exotic:

Just salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano in oil. When armadillo is the lead, apparently the supporting cast shouldn't try to steal the show.

Dick Hupfel was apparently a real specialist in cooking wild game, also contributing this recipe:

It must have been great fun to rummage through this guy's freezer, knowing you could come across a skinless, coiled-up rattlesnake, always ready for whenever rattlesnake salad or creamed rattlesnake might be needed.

Other recipes are tamer, but still clearly Floridian. Swamp Cabbage, anyone?

It's just hearts of palm with salt pork and onions, but the name makes me think of cabbage that has been boiled long enough to make the entire building stink.

The book isn't all swamp cabbage and armadillo. It shows some southwestern influences, too. For those of you who thought chalupas were a Taco Bell invention:

I love that this recipe is in the "Vegetables" chapter, so that gives you an excuse to say you're just eating your vegetables whenever you have a chalupa.

I'll top this all off with a citrus-y dessert:

If you always thought shortcake was just for summer, try piping-hot grapefruit shortcake with nutmeg sauce! I would just as soon eat battery acid as grapefruit, so I will leave you to judge just how tempting this recipe sounds. (At least it calls for biscuit-style shortcakes. I am not on team sponge cake or team angel food.)

Happy Wednesday! And remember, no matter how tempting that armadillo may look, it is NOT easy to clean.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

I'm getting sappy...

Maybe I feel a little bad about giving you actual hearts for Valentine's day. Maybe I'm sorry that when I do show desserts, they tend to be atrocities like flat, pale microwaved cupcakes and muffins. For whatever reason, today I'm going sweet on you. (Okay, I'm really going sweet just because it's maple season, but sometimes it's nice to at least pretend I have genuine concern for the readers' tastes....)

I love maple syrup and almost every year I go to local parks so I can stand in the slush next to a steaming vat of sap and the park workers can tell me once again how it takes about 43 gallons of sap for every gallon of syrup they make. Then I can get away with a taste of maple sap and maple syrup at one park, or maple syrup, maple sugar, and maple gingerbread(!) at another. 

Last year, I went on a special walk to see them actually tap a tree, but it was so cold, the sap wasn't running and the only thing that came out of the tree was a sad trombone sound effect. I've been way too busy to go this year, so my real motive for this post is to make myself feel better about missing out on the hot maple-y action. 

I'm not sure what recipe the park uses for its maple gingerbread, but here's one from 1971's The Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery

Even though maple is a late winter/ early spring product, it's in a lot of fall-ish recipes. Doesn't matter what time of year it is, I would be all upons this beauty from The Pecan Cookbook (Koinonia Farm, 1967):

Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie with Maple Whipped Cream sounds heavenly to me! Maybe it's a little light on the pecans for a recipe in a pecan cookbook, calling only for an unspecified amount to be used as garnish, but that's a minor complaint for all the pumpkin-maple-gingery goodness.

The American Woman's Cook Book (edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, 1942) initially made me wonder if their maple recipe might be a sweet mixed drink...

...but Maple Scotch is apparently just a variation of butterscotch.

I found a couple recipes that were a bit more unusual, though. Blueberry Hill Menu Cookbook (Elsie Masterton, 1963) turns the maple into dumplings:

The only dessert dumplings I knew of were filled with fruit, but this recipe uses a maple-lemon syrup to cook dumplings similar to the kind used in chicken and dumplings recipes. (Well, except for the vanilla... I hope nobody puts vanilla in their chicken dumplings!)

The surprise hit just might be from Going Wild in the Kitchen (Gertrude Parke, 1965), which suggests this as a sundae topping:

A taste of the tropics with pineapple, a suspicion of spring in the maple syrup, the nip of spices and rum, all over ice cream as a reminder of the melting snowballs or as a promise of summer to come... Your choice. This seems like the perfect antidote to late February/ early March.

Have a great late winter/ early spring weekend, and if you get a chance, slurp up some maple syrup for me! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The lambs go silent...

Happy March! It's a new month, so you know what that means: more recipes from Glamour Magazine's New After 5 Cookbook. How were 1960s "working girl" cooks to celebrate the promise of spring?

By eating the symbol of spring, of course! If the indignity of being turned into a meal isn't enough for the lamb, try heaping on indignity in the form of prunes....

The "Spanish Salad" continues the book's proud tradition of throwing random place names into recipes to make them sound more exciting. How Bermuda onions + French dressing = Spain is anyone's guess.

I'm on board with the maple yogurt, though. March is when the fresh crop of maple syrup starts coming out, so some real maple + shredded almonds + yogurt = yummy!

March seems really focused on lamb, though. Another Monday has diners eating getting more exotic than the common chops:

This time it's Mustard [Lamb] Kidneys on Rice! At least it's an organ meat recipe more creative than "cook it for a long time with some onions." The kidneys are in a mushroom, bouillon, sour cream, and mustard sauce, over the old standby, precooked rice.

Plus there's canned pea soup with a beaten egg yolk in it for some reason, and canned carrots with a little thyme and cream. This book really believes in what my grandma called "doctoring up" prepared stuff from the grocery store.

This dinner for a Wednesday night mostly sounds pretty good, but I wonder about the side:

Okay, undiluted cream of mushroom soup as gravy isn't exactly a thrill, but at least the broiler with sage stuffing sounds reasonable enough. It's the Broccoli w. Grapes that I really wonder about. I love broccoli with cheese... or butter... or tofu and soy sauce... but I can imagine ever having the desire to toss it with halved seedless grapes!

The real head-scratcher comes on a Friday, though:

It sounds promising enough: lasagna! But then you notice that the yummily-seasoned tomato sauce is replaced with overly-sweet condensed tomato soup with a little oregano and basil thrown in.... And then you notice the cottage cheese standing in for ricotta.... And then you see that canned tuna is going in there too.... And then, if you're like me, you lose all interest.

At least there will be tropical fruit with curacao or kirsch to look forward to if you can choke down the main dish.

Lessons from March's menus:

  1. The new baby lambs better watch their backs!
  2. Feel free to throw prunes or grapes in with whatever.
  3. French dressing goes with most salads, even the titularly Spanish ones.
  4. If the main course is bad enough, dessert better damn well have alcohol in it.
  5. The authors HAD TO HAVE stock in Campbell's. I mean, seriously. The majority of menus call for at least one can of soup and/or bouillon in at least some capacity.  
Happy March! Winter is on the way out!