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....