Saturday, May 20, 2017

Oh, Jell No!

Since the weather is heating up and weird gelatin recipes are always popular, here's a Saturday Seven for your reading enjoyment. We'll start with "soup" from Bach's Lunch: Picnic & Patio Classics (the Junior Committee, Severance Hall to benefit Cleveland Orchestra, 5th printing, 1974):


I love mushrooms, but I can't say as I've ever particularly wanted to eat them suspended in gelatin. At least the recipe calls for unflavored gelatin, chicken stock, and lemon juice rather than lemon Jell-O!

And now for a parade of salads to follow the soup (though I'm not really sure how we're supposed to tell the difference). For a protein fix, you can have this entry from Cook Book: Favorite Recipes from Our Best Cooks (the Bethany Club of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Farrell, PA, ca. 1982):


It starts sounding yummy enough, with lemon Jell-O and cream cheese. Throw that in a graham cracker crust and I'd happily eat it. Instead, though, this gets loaded up with the cucumbers and hard-cooked eggs of the title plus celery and onion.

If your gelled protein of choice is shrimp instead of eggs, Margaret Mitchell's Mealtime Magic Cookbook (1964) offers an option:


Astoundingly, only the shrimp topping for Senate Salad is suspended in lemon gelatin. The lemony shrimp squares are just a garnish for the artichoke heart, grapefruit, tomato, celery, Cheddar, olive, and green onion salad. (And what a lovely assortment that sounds like, with or without congealed crustaceans!)

If you're more hardcore into seafood-and-gelatin, Alaska's Cooking (Anchorage Woman's Club, fifth printing, 1965) offers this less traditional take on tuna salad:


I couldn't decide whether to represent Portal to Good Cooking (Women's American ORT, 1959) with another way not to serve cucumbers or with another classic salad that should probably not be jellied, so you're getting both:


Which is scarier for you? Grated cucumbers and minced onion in jellified mayo mixed with cream cheese, or a lemon Jell-O coleslaw mold? (I think I'd rather eat jellied Purell than either of these.)

And finally, just to make sure we get our deep green leafy vegetables, an offering from Polk-Pourri (Polk Public Museum of Lakeland, Florida, 1979):


Yes, Florentine Salad is indeed lemon Jell-O loaded up with spinach (plus cottage cheese, mayo, celery, and onion). I sincerely doubt that this recipe is a beloved Italian favorite.

Happy Saturday! Spend the weekend thinking about ways to convert beloved classics into scary molds. (I'm imagining Summer Chili Aspic and Jell-Lo Mein right now.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A More Metal Margaret Mitchell

Are you ready for a celebrity cookbook?

Too bad! Margaret Mitchell's Mealtime Magic Cookbook may seem to fit the bill, but this book came out in 1964, fifteen years after the writer of Gone with the Wind died.

This Margaret Mitchell should be at least kind of a celebrity on my blog, though. I didn't realize it when I added this book to my stack at the thrift store, but Ms. Mitchell was the home economist for a company we are getting to know and love this year.

Look carefully at the cover. Notice anything special about the way the (presumably tuna) casserole is presented? Is there something odd about the turkey surrounded by tiny baskets? Does the gift bread look extra shiny?

And just in case the description that meals will be "better than ever before...through the truly sensational secrets of aluminum wrap cookery" isn't enough of a clue for you:


How about Rarebit Stuffed Peppers? The yummy cheese sauce stuffing you might (reasonably) be expecting is questionably augmented with ketchup and canned kidney beans before being dumped into peppers, and the filled peppers are wrapped in (you guessed it!) Alcoa foil. It's turning out to be more of an Alcoa year than I anticipated.

If you want something spring-themed and aluminum-wrapped, there's always this:


Nested Chicken in Foil doesn't sound too terrible, but I can't say that the thought of chicken "nesting" on soggy, oniony shredded wheat sounds particularly enticing, either.

Surprisingly, not every recipe calls for foil. Some are scary all by themselves, like Hawaiian Ham Loaf:


Or as I like to call it, Bizarro Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

For those who have always longed for a way to waste some perfectly good white wine, there's Pano Estofado:


Dump it over turkey covered in prunes, onions, and olives, along with plenty of sugar! No foil is harmed in the making of this dish... but pretty much everything else is.

I keep running into all these uses for aluminum foil and Alcoa recipes. It seems kind of like a conspiracy. I should craft some kind of headgear to protect me from these frightening outside influences. Just let me reach for some... foil? Foil!? It is a conspiracy, and there's no way to stop it!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mom's visiting! Let's go on a diet.

Most older cookbooks don't have a special section for Mother's Day recipes because they assume that mom is cooking every day except for maybe a stray barbecue in the summer (when she'll still be required to make all the sides and have to act grateful that dad incinerated grilled the meat). The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook (1959) does have a special menu for the day mother (presumably the cook's mom/ kids' grandma) visits for a few days, so that will be our theme for the day.

I love the super-awkward hug! Grandma looks like she's trying to dance with an invisible man several feet to her right, and mom's arms are so fully extended that I almost think she's trying to push grandma back out the door. The kids apparently think this is pretty funny too: "Ha, ha! Glad it's her hugging grandma and not me!"

Or maybe grandma has just spotted the centerpiece and is gesticulating wildly because she is afraid her daughter has lost her mind. A large red cabbage sliced into a "rose" with some kind of weird green pepper pyramid jutting out of it? A greeting like that is likely to make anyone question the host's sanity.

How thoughtful that the menu assumes grandma is an inveterate dieter, piling on the celery, water cress, string beans, melba toast, and jellied fruit ginger mold (which can be made with low-calorie gelatin for extra calorie savings).


The Veal and Eggplant Casserole has some substance to it, at least, and even an attempt at flavor with the aromatic veggies and full quarter-teaspoon of basil. Fancy!

The mold sounds perfectly adequate:


Whipped orange-and-ginger-ale gelatin can't be that bad, and the drawing cracks me up because all the strawberries in the center of the mold look like malformed moaning heads of people who have been damned to Jell-O hell.

Yep, that's how we feel when mom visits, little strawberries. That's how we all feel.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Lea was losing it and Perrins was a punk!

I hope you're sitting down because today I am amping up the excitement!

Yes, it's the Lea & Perrins Exciting Ideas Cookbook (undated, but a note in the back says the company hasn't "varied Lea & Perrins Sauce in over 130 years," which would mean this is from the late '60s or early '70s). Of course, the Worcestershire sauce company wants everyone to know that there are plenty more uses for the sauce than a rib and kabob marinade or a Bloody Mary seasoner.

If you have expensive tastes, you can use it to ruin perfectly good caviar for an appetizer:


To be fair, though, stuffing celery with caviar-laced egg salad as a variation of ants-on-a-log that would seem to have no target audience is the real problem. I'm not sure how much a teaspoon of Lea & Perrins will mitigate (or worsen) the situation. You'll just have the kids wondering why there's no yummy peanut butter and the adults wondering why you didn't spring for blini and creme fraiche or at least toast points and hard cooked eggs with lemon.

The less expensive mistaken appetizer is the Lea & Perrins version of Guacamole:


Yes, in addition to the tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, this calls for double the amount of "catsup." And that little asterisk means this recipe is fine to make ahead of time, so I'm sure a few '70s party guests had to endure bowls full of brownish, ketchup-y guac if their hosts had this recipe book. Yay!

The onion, garlic, chili pepper, and anchovy-based sauce isn't just good for savory dishes, according to the booklet. It's also an asset for sweet sides:


As if layers of sweet potatoes baked with bananas and corn syrup aren't weird enough, throw in some Lea & Perrins! And hell, throw in some coconut while you're at it.

At least Yam-Brosia doesn't look too scary if you mentally edit out the bottle of Lea & Perrins hovering menacingly above the bananas.

Or for even sweeter Lea & Perrins action, throw it in a classic fruit salad:


It starts out fine: a classic combo of apples, pear, banana, and walnuts. Celery and mayonnaise? I'm firmly in the NO WAY for fruit salad camp, but some people seem okay with it. I hope we can all agree that garlic and fish juice just DOES NOT BELONG, though. Please, help me hold on to a shred of hope for humanity and affirm that this is just not right.


No matter how innocent Fruit Bowl Salad may look, please join me in staring disapprovingly at this picture so it will know that this kind of behavior on the part of Lea & Perrins is not acceptable.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Funny Name: Whose Chow Edition

What do you feed an chickens who have a taste for soy sauce? Well, according to the Pillsbury Family Weight Control Cookbook (1970), it's this:

Okay, Oriental Chicken Chow is actually supposed to be people food, but without a "mein" or "fun" at the end of the name, it sounds like the equivalent of Cat Chow to me.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Weird Mom's Foil Circus

Alcoa doesn't have a lot of ideas for May celebrations (unless you consider wrapping some aluminum foil around a Mother's Day bouquet to be innovative). That means we're dipping into the "Kid's Korner" section of 401 Party and Holiday Ideas from Alcoa (1977) for this month's offering.

The kids are sure to be excited when you whip up a foil version of some entertainment so old-fashioned that it is disappearing...


That's right! The aluminum circus can come to a tabletop near you!

The denizens range from the kind of adorable but bound to be disastrous...


Stand back, penguins! No matter how adorable Sadie the foil seal may be, she's bound to get hungry and snap you up!

...to the poignant and plaintive...

Is it weird that I feel bad even for a foil elephant forced to balance on a big ball? That tiny fake smile glued too far down on Elsie Elephant's trunk isn't fooling anyone. At least she's shiny enough that she gets her revenge on the camera to give it blurry exposure, if nothing else.

...to the eccentric...

Yeah, Ophelia the Ostrich may look extravagant with her long neck, elaborate eyelashes, and poofy feathers, but I'm really trying to figure out why Pedro Panda is holding a duckling on a string like some kind of deranged balloon. Is he trying to train for Macy's Thanksgiving parade and totally misunderstanding the scale of the balloon animals?

...to the clueless...

Dilly and Dally must trust Linus Lion a LOT if they're not even looking at him. (And Dally's hat is so big that it might slip and cover his eyes before the trick is even over!) Meanwhile, Linus looks skeptically at the super-low hoop and thinks it will be better to attack Dilly first, as Dally will be easier to take out.

...to the downright creepy...

Yes, clowns are always creepy, but there's something about this family that makes me think "infestation" more than "family." Can you imagine opening a kitchen cupboard, only to spot those blank, starry eyes staring up at you for a split second before the group scrabbles through the tiny hole in the back you never noticed before?

It's definitely time to call Dale's Dead Bug.

Or maybe just call Captain Spaulding. He's quick with a gun, and I'm sure he'd be happy to take out some lesser clowns, though you'll have to deal with the extra holes in your wall. (Don't click unless you're ready for some good old-fashioned Rob Zombie unpleasantness including plenty of blood and profanity.)

I can't decide whether I'm sad or glad that I can barely remember the 1970s if kids were routinely presented with homemade scenes like this one. In any case, maybe that means my therapy bills are just a little lower than they might have been....

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Funny Name: Potluck Casualty Edition

From The General Electric Microwave Guide and Cookbook (1977), we get the name dad gave that potluck-ready Cheddar-topped casserole mom put behind the station wagon while she tried to load Jennifer and Michael into the back seat, then promptly forgot:

Mom is still not nearly as amused by the "Yellow Squasherole" incident. If dad would just help out once in a while, she'd still have her Woodland Pyrex casserole dish.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Gooey trails, p.b. oysters, and egg-trocities from bland land!

Are you ready for some blandness?

Awesome! (I'm assuming you screamed "YES!" like was a rock star ready to launch into a guitar solo rather than a boring middle-aged blogger of ancient cookbooks trying to get you pumped for recipes using bland lard.)

That's right, today we have Timely Baking Recipes with Swift's Bland Lard (by Martha Logan, Swift's fictional home economist; undated, but I'd guess '40s or '50s). 

I love that "bland" is so exciting Swift felt compelled to underline it the same way my grandma underlines words like "love" or "best wishes" in greeting cards. I guess some brands of lard got pretty gamy?

In any case, the lard itself will not sink the recipes... just the other ingredients.

In fairness, since it's mostly a baked goods book, a lot of the recipes sound pretty tasty, if sometimes a bit impractical.


There's a reason upside-down cake is usually... well... cake. It's big and flat and easy to keep upside down. The muffins don't sound bad, but unless the tops are really damn flat (unlikely with a whole tablespoon of baking powder), they're going to end up tipping over and leaving gooey, sticky tracks all over the counter when they're dumped from the inverted pan.


And of course, if you're into those fake oysters made of corn fritters but find the corn on its own too boring, there are always


Peanut Butter Corn Oysters! Again, probably not terrible, but I can't think of too many peanut-butter-and-corn recipes, so these fall squarely into the odd category.

Plenty of recipes are not exactly what I imagine. If I say egg rolls, I'll bet you're imagining something you would get in a takeout box next to the General Tso's Chicken. That is not what Swift had in mind:


No, they picture a biscuit-y jelly roll with egg salad baked right in! ("Egg salad baked right in" is not a phrase I get to use often, so I wrote it a second time just because it was fun. Thank you for indulging me. Maybe I'll make you something with egg salad baked right in as a reward!)

Unconventional egg rolls are only one of the exciting things you can make with hard boiled eggs and lard! 


There are also Egg Quickies! And no, the meaning is not nearly as interesting as "quickie" might imply. I briefly considered making up a racier definition and adding it to Urban Dictionary, but I guess "hard boiled eggs mashed with bread cubes, onion, and milk, shaped into patties, and fried in lard" is weird enough on its own. 

Well, that's enough blandness for one day. I'd better stop now so I'll still have energy for an egg quickie later. (I'll just leave that one to your imagination.)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Funny Name: It's Totally Legit Edition

Alaska's Cooking (Anchorage Woman's Club, fifth printing, 1965) brings us this credible entry:


Yes, it's Valid Salmon Salad. I hear Margaret G. Mielke submitted the recipe to make up for her Counterfeit Banana Split (made with summer squash "bananas," scoops of mashed potato, and chicken and beef gravy toppings).


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Giving Lady Lazarus a more mundane supper

I've got something valuable for you today.

It's the July 1937 Little Gem Recipe Book no. 1 from the Crane-Krieg-Flory Co. If 1930s families in Newark, OH, needed hardware, washers, lawnmowers, or paint, apparently Crane-Krieg-Flory was the place to go.

Also, if anyone needs nightmares about a ghostly woman with long red hair (or maybe fire?) descending from the sky to devour dinner before anyone else can touch it, this is the booklet to get.

I'm not sure who Arthur B. Bishop was, but maybe he had secret fantasies about giant red-haired ladies. I am not here to judge.

Well, I'm not here to judge secret fantasies, anyway. I am totally here to judge really depressing appetizers...


...like Hot Mayonnaise Puffs, which is apparently a nicer name for mayonnaise meringue toasted atop crackers. Yum! (Just don't let Arthur make any, or that may not be mayonnaise, if you get my drift.)

There are also finger sandwiches:


Yay! Damp bread rolled around celery with just enough soft cheese to make you regret tossing them in the trash after all the other appetizers have disappeared... except for the mayo meringues, which you won't regret tossing at all.

The booklet has the obligatory Jell-O salads:


Ever wanted to try lemon Jell-Oed tomato soup with mayo, cream cheese, stuffed olives, and assorted veggies trapped inside?

Then there are the weird but non-Jell-O-based salads:

Like tomato shells stuffed with shredded pineapple and nuts, then rolled in mayonnaise and crushed pecans. (Maybe it's just because Easter was last weekend, but I imagine these being presented as Easter eggs in hell. They'd be round and white with mayo.)

The booklet offers largely flavor-free main dishes too, like this Chili Con "Carni":

Apparently, chili simply means "Beef Stew with a Can of Kidney Beans Tossed In." Don't look for spices; that teaspoon of kitchen bouquet is as close as you're going to get.

You know, maybe letting that red-haired ghost steal dinner isn't such a bad idea after all. She can have  my full share of wadded-up celery sandwiches and mayo-slathered tomatoes filled with pineapple. Hell, I'll even let her eat men like air if she wants. Arthur B. Bishop would probably like that.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Hey Patricia Cottontail! You might want to check the pH level.

Amazing Magical Jell-O Desserts (1977) wishes you a happy Easter!


The best way to do that is with an extremely long-eared bunny relaxing in a very poorly maintained hot tub, apparently. Just watch out for bunny's whiskers! They bite back.

Oh, and if you're wondering why hot tub bunny has to share the page with Santa on a motorcycle, the book has different tablecloths to designate different chapters. Every holiday dessert gets the Santa tablecloth, so now all the bunnies, jack-o-lanterns, and sentient candy corn have another reason to resent the pudgy old guy for stealing the spotlight. Happy jumbled-up holidays!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fast meals for people with lots of lunch meat

Think fast!

Family Circle Fast Meals Cookbook (1978) is coming at you, and it's got some... uh... interesting ideas about what constitutes a sandwich.

We'll start out with the healthy-sounding Mediterranean Medley...

...which is just a fancy name for deli macaroni salad plopped on a bun and topped with sliced egg, cucumber, jarred olive salad, canned shrimp, and anchovies. (Diners can slather this mound of nastiness with additional salad dressing as they see fit.)

I'm pretty sure when the doctors recommend a Mediterranean-style diet, they don't mean macaroni salad sandwiches.

The book also has a strange affinity for making sandwiches out of lunch meat slices rolled around other sandwich fillings.

Want to enjoy a deliciously salty and smoky ham sandwich? Well, Ham Bounty won't send you on the tried-and-true ham-n-cheese route. Instead, wrap some of those ham slices around the most cat-foody of all dining options-- tuna salad-- and the rest of the slices around (why the hell not?) cold canned green beans.

Now instead of the satisfying simplicity of a typical ham sandwich, you can ruin the ham with nasty fillings and run the risk of the filling shooting out the end of a ham roll and landing on your shirt. It's a real lose-lose!

If you prefer your cold cut roll-ups to look a little jauntier and taste a little slaw-ier, there is always this option:


I have to admit that I am in love with the yellow wax pepper . Kind of feels as if the sandwich is trying to give us the finger.

This time, the cold cuts are "assorted Italian" and the filling is cole slaw, but the soggy, oily risks to your shirt are exactly the same.

The book isn't entirely filled with terrible sandwiches, though. Here's a '70s version of meat-lovers' pizza:

Provolone, salami, smoked link sausages, pepperoni-- all piled on top of a "ready-to-heat" pizza so it will taste at least kind of homemade.

The part I love, though, is serving it with the cherry tomatoes. No, it's not a super-surprising or disgusting move, but look at how they serve the tomatoes in the picture:


Put them in a basket and plop that basket right down in the middle of the nice hot cheese!

(Okay, if you look closely, you'll see that they've pulled the pizza apart and the basket is not actually right on top, but I wanted you to do the same double-take as I did.)

Happy Wednesday! I'm going to go wrap some Tofurky Italian deli slices around some Watergate salad and serve them on bread topped with a big scoop of German potato salad. Ha!