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... 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!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Funny Name: Call the Dentist Edition

Feeling a little bit low on iron? Homemade Happiness (Phoenix Eighteenth Ward Relief Society, 1975) suggests these cookies:

I'd be more than a little bit worried about my teeth, but the title assures me that Wheels of Steel are, indeed, nutritious. Apparently it's worth your while to chew steel.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Some foil egg-citement

The new month means a big new batch of foil-tastic shinies from 401 Party and Holiday Ideas from Alcoa (1971). In this book, April means cute and/or creepy and/or cutely creepy Easter creations.

Mostly on the cute side are Nest Eggs:

The blank eyes and wide-open "feed me!" mouth certainly give the baby bird vibe.

The foil open-on-all-sides nests make them a little too obvious to predators, so Nest Eggs don't usually grow up into real birds. The ones that do, though, are also more than a touch creepy:

Egg Warmers answer the eternal question, "Why did the foil chicken lay its head in the road?"

The answer, I guess, is so it could be smashed into a two-dimensional breakfast table decoration that will haunt the children for years to come.

The most ambitious (and least likely to work) project for Easter is to make a rabbit cake by making your own mold using foil:

You might look at the pattern and think, "Well, that could potentially make a reasonable rabbit cake (or maybe a cake of a duck leaning back in a hot tub)" if you are willing to buy the fiction that wrapping cardboard in a few layers of foil will somehow lead to a functional cake pan.

I can assure you, though, that the cake would not look like the one in the picture:

With its sculpted face, ears, and plump little bunny body, this little guy was clearly made with a rabbit mold.

My favorite Easter treats in this section also happen to be the ones without directions:

They're the foil egg... things! The one on the left is clearly an adorably nerdy bunny. Then we get to... an egg with knockoff Bat Symbol eyes? (Some diabolical device from Egghead, perhaps?) Then we've got... I don't know... maybe Patricia Krenwinkel with devil horns? And lastly, a punk-rock owl eyeing the duckling she has just scooped up for a nice Easter brunch.

Such a sweet holiday tableau! Enjoy it in your nightmares for years to come!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Funny Name: Channeling Chef B Edition

From Ranchers Beef Recipes (1977), the recipe title that was voted "Sounds Most Like a Rejected Chef Boyardee Offering":

ZuBeefi! I'm guessing it would be like Beefaroni with animal-shaped pasta and a few shreds of zucchini.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Allergy-prone caterpillars and apples with digestive issues

Pillsbury is better known for dessert-laden bake-offs than for diet dinners, but in 1970 the company published Pillsbury's Family Weight Control Cook Book.

One interesting thing about this book is that while it assumes that of course the woman is going to be doing all of the cooking, it also assumes that she is not going to subsist on celery suspended in nonfat-dry-milk-enriched gelatin while feeding the kids and husband thick-cut pork chops and ice cream sandwiches. The book emphasizes that it is important to keep the whole family at a healthy weight. It's a little progressive for the time and (unfortunately for me) that means that most of the recipes are not objectively terrible. Seven-year-olds are not going to touch celery and dry milk gelatin no matter how much mom begs.

Another interesting thing about the book is that I have reason to doubt the previous owner's dedication to weight control, as it came with a nice pair of vintage restaurant place mats in the cover:

I'm not sure where they came from, but I sincerely doubt these are from a restaurant known for its diet entrees.

As I said, the recipes are generally passable, and sometimes amusing.

I like the note alerting cooks that the Cranberry Baked Chicken can be baked sans cranberries for some calorie savings. Never mind negating the recipe title....

I was a little concerned when I read the title Cherry Fries, but these involve neither fries nor cherries:

They're just sauteed cherry tomatoes.

My favorite part of the book, by far, is the section on garnishes meant to perk up a diet dinner. Here's the big, crazy, two-page spread:

So many choices!

A cucumber boat with a lemon sail should keep the kids enchanted:

Maybe a citrus tree for the holidays:

To me, the kumquat topper looks like a head, and those weird dark green things are are arms, waving wildly, as kumquat head begs for someone to help pull her out of this ridiculous citrus dress.

You could go with the classics, like radish slices in a partially sliced cucumber:

Such an elegant description for a caterpillar with hives.

If you love food coloring and turnips (and who doesn't?), here's a real treat:

I can't quite figure this one out. I guess maybe it's the radish rose's less-popular cousin?

And my favorite of all, olives stuffed with colored cream cheese...

... or as I like to call it, apple with olives rocketing out of its ass.

Have a great day! And may olives leave your ass alone.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A potpie apostasy

Do you ever think you know what something is, and then BAM! You find out that it means something totally different? Like when I was a little girl, I thought mom and I were invited to a bridle shower, so that meant somebody was getting a horse! Then mom explained that it was a bridal shower, and it just meant somebody was getting married and I'd have to spend a weekend afternoon pretending to be excited to watch the bride-to-be open 1000 picture frames.

Well, I got that bait-and-switch feel from the National Grange Bicentennial Year Cookbook (1975-- they planned ahead!). I kept finding recipes for potpies and thinking about steamy, savory stews under a beautiful, golden-brown pie crust-- the perfect dinners for chilly spring nights. The reality, though, did not line up with my expectations:

This is just ham-- not even with any little cubes of potato for yumminess or peas or carrots for color-- with dumplings, those sodden, tasteless lumps that I always wish I liked and somehow never do. How is this a potpie? Maybe it was a typo? 

Then I found another apparent potpie impostor:

Boiled Potpie is just that-- boiled, and not finished off with a baking to get a nice golden crust. This time we have potatoes boiled in beef stock and then topped with homemade pie crust-ish, noodle-ish bits referred to as "potpies." 

So I did a little noodling (ha!) around on the internet and learned that the Pennsylvania Dutch call boiled dinners like this potpies or, if you want to get even weirder, bot(t) boi. And apparently, the Pennsylvania Dutch were also crafty enough to convince people in Maryland and New York to consider this a potpie too. 

I guess my childhood self would still be slightly more disappointed to learn that the bridle shower was really a bridal shower than to be served a bowlful of dumplings under the guise of a potpie, but not by much.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cookin' it old school!

The title says it all-- we are cookin' it old school. Really old school...

This is Experiences in Homemaking by Helen  H. Laitem and Frances S. Miller, a 1944 home ec textbook. It's a general textbook rather than a cooking-focused one, so readers can also enjoy chapters with discussion topics such as "How can I help my younger brothers and sisters to develop socially?" (Hint: The answer is not "Encourage social interaction with a well-placed 'Kick Me' sign," even though I really hoped it might be.) or "How shall I care for my clothes?" (Hint: The answer is not "Step over the pile rather than on it.")

The world of this book is a little ... shall we say... uptight.

It's also kind of depressing. In fact, the sections on food selection and preparation seem to have waaay more pictures of the terrible things that will happen to rodents if they are deprived of various vitamins and minerals than actual recipes.

Even the included recipes come with their own warnings:

Yes, it's a pretty plain French toast recipe (with no flavoring beyond the eighth of a teaspoon of salt), but it is still dangerous.

No, not because of the saturated fat in eggs or (presumably whole) milk, but because "It fails to give variety in texture to our breakfast, and it does not give exercise to the muscles around the teeth. For these reasons French toast is best served only occasionally."

I had no idea I was supposed to choose breakfast foods not only for nutritional value, but also to exercise my tooth muscles... whatever that may mean.

The book also encourages exciting kitchen maintenance tasks... washing the inside of the refrigerator once a week. Oh, what fun! Apparently it needs to be fully emptied and refilled for this task too, which I'm sure is great for food safety. Leave the eggs on the counter for half a hot summer afternoon while you smear bacteria around the fridge interior!

I guess the alternative explanation is that her family could only afford a fridge OR food, so she went with the fridge and now reverently washes it every week, fantasizing about the day when she will actually be able to put something in it. 

Either way, if I were a student in the '40s, this is the kind of picture that would make me want to turn in my bellybutton, as mom used to say as an alternative to swearing at the end of a rough day.

Luckily, I found a picture that made present-day me cheer just a little, then check to make sure there was no one to overhear me cheering for an old textbook:

Yeah! Salads! A platter heaped up with all of the most popular old-timey salad variations imaginable! Cubed gelatin thingies! A ring of something filled with peas!  Deviled eggs! Celery! That's what I came here for!

Unfortunately, though, the book is just a tease. While it's perfectly happy to show me these dubious delights, the recipes are nowhere to be found. I will leave you with this sad little salad recipe, just a page after this picture but not, as far as I can tell, among those on the platter:

I know Cabbage-Pineapple Salad is inexplicably common in these old cookbooks, but I always cringe a little extra when it involves marshmallows.

I can just hear the girls who learned from this textbook presenting this dish to their whining future children, yelling, "Eat! Vitamin-C-deprived guinea pigs would be happy to have it!" They could show off the pictures of guinea pigs with scurvy if they wanted the night to get really ugly. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Nest egg noodles!

I can tell spring is almost here because the little birdies are starting to yell in the morning when I still want to sleep. I imagine that means they're getting ready to build nests, so today we're going to focus on eating nests.

Okay, not really. Old American cookbooks do not generally have recipes for real bird's nest soup, so we have instead a couple of nests from Magic Menus with Mueller's Macaroni Products (1937).

For the main dish...

...Egg Noodles Benedict. That's little nests of egg noodles topped with frizzled ham, a poached egg, and Hollandaise. I guess it's only fitting that the egg noodles make this twice as eggy as the traditional English muffin version.

Then for dessert....

...Egg Noodle Nests! If you've ever wondered what it would be like to eat a citrus noodle custard topped with a stewed apricot "egg" and stale cake crumbs, this would be your opportunity to find out. (And if you've never wondered about this, then why the hell not? It's obviously a very exciting opportunity.)

I love the bossy little chicken in the picture next to the recipe. For some reason, it reminds me of the chicken egg toy vending machines that always made me beg my mom for a quarter. She usually said no, probably because letting me get an egg would mean having to try to talk me into believing that some bullshit like four neon green fake fingernails or a generic balloon sticker with weak glue was a great prize.

Yeah, I get it, but you better believe I'd be digging around for quarters if I saw one of those machines again.