Saturday, September 23, 2017

Funny Name: Don't Talk to Me in the Morning Edition

I know the name from Make-a-Mix Cookery (Karine Eliason, Nevada Harwood, and Madeline Westover, 1978) is supposed to evoke granola...


...but Gruffins just sound like muffins you don't want to talk to before they've had their first cup of coffee.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Got a Minute?

I know Minute Rice's The Art of Budget Cooking (1976) is not exactly the kind of book most people would get excited about.

Yay. A skillet full of green peppers, onions, and instant rice. What could be classier?

I was kind of excited to see what kinds of Minute Rice recipes were popular around the time I was born though. One of the first things I learned to cook was Minute Rice. I remember we had a tiny (one-cup) saucepan. I would feel so grown-up if I filled it halfway with water, brought the water to a boil, threw in some rice and salt, let it sit for a few minutes with the teeny lid on top, and stirred in as much butter as I could without mom yelling at me. That was breakfast for the gods as far as I was concerned.

I was not surprised that this collection didn't have my first self-created recipe in it. One morning shortly after Easter, I mixed a chopped hard-cooked egg in with the rice and felt like I had created a masterpiece. I was such a culinary genius. (And yes, I'm rolling my eyes.)

I was surprised that a budget cookbook from the '70s had so many color illustrations, though. 

Some are downright whimsical:

The pineapple pick sticking out of the mound of molded rice makes me think of one of those long cigarette holders, like the rice is some kind of glamorous movie star smoking amid the rabble of peppers, canned pineapple, and mystery meat. I can't help thinking of Janet Snakehole, even if this is far too colorful for her style....

This is packed with the stereotypical retro Hawaiian ingredients of canned pineapple and green pepper, so I'm going to go ahead and assume they mean Spam by "cooked ham." They just can't say so because General Foods doesn't own Spam.

I also loved a picture showing off several rice-based pies, and the Pieathalon participants should be glad I didn't find these until after we were done.

Okay-- they're not all pies. The one in the middle is a mock quiche.


At least, I think it's supposed to be a mock quiche. The title-- Mock Rice Quiche-- suggests even the Minute Rice people are not so sure that Minute Rice counts as rice. That's why editors are so important....

What are the other two? Well, one of them is Rice-Crust Meat Pie:

I'm pretty sure this is the one on the bottom, even though the book swears this is the top pie. It's basically a really thick tomato-meat sauce cooked in a rice shell.

The other one is Rice Pizza Pie, but I like to call it Meat-Crust Rice Pie:

Again, I'm pretty sure it's the one  on the top since that one is pictured with a green pepper garnish, even if the caption insists it was on the bottom. 

My favorite picture- recipe combo might be for Molded Salmon Rice Salad. 


You know when it's full of canned salmon, mayonnaise, and finely diced odds and ends, it's going to look like cat puke. This is special, though, because it's cat puke in a mold!

If you look closely, you will realize that this recipe required two molds-- the one the food stylist actually used to make this feline ejecta look vaguely like a fish wearing an out-of-control ruffled body stocking, and the one resting uncomfortably next to that pink monstrosity and thinking, "Hey, at least I didn't have to get packed with that garbage!"

On second thought, maybe I shouldn't be too dismissive of my Minute Rice and Easter egg mashup breakfast. Even as a child, I could create a better recipe than this one....

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Funny Name: The Wrong Funny Name Edition

Are you ready for something crazy? I mean, really crazy? The Kraft Cookbook: 75 Years of Good Food Ideas (1977) just got this wild idea for a Crazy New Sandwich:


Oh, wait. They'd just never heard of a Fluffernutter.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

International Gardening Services in the United States Food Book

I'm not quite sure what to say about the recipes in this book.

This American Field Service International Cook Book (Western New York Committee for American Field Service, 1958) is full of actual international recipes, as they were all sent to the recipe compilers from parents whose children were sent to America as exchange students, or parents who accepted American exchange students into their own homes. I don't really want to make fun of other countries' cuisines, but I do find a certain amount of charm in the way the recipes are written. It seems as if a lot of the parents involved made a good effort to write the recipes in English, even if it wasn't their first language, and the committee emphasized that "When the recipes were written in English, they were used without change." That makes for some interesting ingredients and instructions. (My title for this post is a bit of a nod to this style of writing. It's the title of the cookbook as I imagine it might be if it were oddly translated.)


Aside from my usual amusement with "recipes" that just list a bunch of things that may be served together, without any real instructions about proportions, preparation, etc., I am also interested in the ingredients. Is "palmetto" another name for hearts of palm? And what are "cabbage-trees"? Is this another name for cauliflower or Brussels sprouts? I could see people using that term for either of those... Is there a vegetable called "cabbage-trees" that I'm just not familiar with and can't find on a simple Google search?

Whatever vegetables you choose from that list, though, "To serve with this salad can be used shrimp, chicken pieces, ham, salmon, sardines or left-over meats." You've got to love the awkwardness.

When I got to Caramel Pudding, I had no trouble figuring out the mystery ingredient. I just liked its charming new name.


The egg yolk has already been added to the milk mixture, so I can guess that "egg-snow" is the writer's attempt at being creative with the term "egg white." (And in case you're wondering, the milk measurement does actually make sense. At first I thought it was 3/8 1 and I was thinking "Three-eighths of one what of milk?" The "one" is really a lowercase "L," so it's 3/8 of a liter, which the book's table of conversions lists as the equivalent of 1-2/3 cups.)

Sometimes I am a bit mystified by the recipe, but my perplexity here is doubled:


Why list the creatively-named "Appetizer/s" twice? They are identical, except for the sugar and egg order being reversed and the half cup being written once in words and once as a fraction. I can guess "the liquidizer" refers to a blender, but I still have no conception of what diners are supposed to do with the mixture of water, sugar, egg, and rum. Are they supposed to float some tomato, fish, and pickles in it to make a weird soup? What is it supposed to accomplish with toasts or bacon-fried plums? I have no idea, except that it has to be ice cold to accomplish whatever the goal is...

And finally, I will admit that I'm not really into herring, but that's not what drew me to this recipe. It's what appears to be the first ingredient.


Did you read the first ingredient as "6 persons" too? I'm sure it's just supposed to be the number of servings, but the placement and wording make it look... well... like a cannibal feast! And the ingredient of "3 Decilitres boiled sliced flesh" doesn't help either, considering there is no specification of the type of flesh involved. (At least it's not "cut into dies" like so much else.)

This is a pretty scary recipe just from the wording, even if we don't take into consideration that it's for herring, pickles, sour apples, beets, and eggs. Just make sure enough "cream is beaten up" to make the sauce, and this recipe is pretty all-around brutal.

For fans of awkward translations, this is a must-read.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Funny Name: Inadvertent Admission Edition

Don't EVER praise the appetizer if you're served this recipe from Bach's Lunch: Picnic & Patio Classics (by the Junior Committee in Cleveland's Severance Hall to benefit the Cleveland Orchestra, fifth printing, October 1974):


If you do, you'll be admitting something about your intellectual status.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Foil as fuel for therapy sessions

It's September. The older kids are off to school, so now we've got time to scar the younger ones for life!

Ahem. I mean to make the younger siblings some delightful foil-based toys to amuse them while the older ones are gone.

How about lovely little baby buggy?


Or how about a creepy little monkey climbing out of a foil-lined hell? If the late, great Romero hadn't written and directed Monkey Shines, the recipient of this creepy little carriage certainly would have.

But what if seeing toys swallowed up by foil isn't enough? What if you want to become part of a horrifying foil monster yourself? The clown box is for you!


This kid seems amazingly unfazed for someone sitting in the foil belly of a creepy clown. Even the weird, thin dolls waiting to spring to life and strangle him at any moment seem a bit perplexed. Just look at the one on the far right. She's clearly thinking, "What the hell? We're going to have to work waaaay harder than I thought to creep this kid out."

Kid seems ready to spend the whole morning sitting around in a clown belly, gazing at plaid and flower-print dolls and planning to use them to take over the world. I thought the clown was the scary part of this picture, but the longer I think about it, the more convinced I am that it's the little goblin in his belly.

Mom isn't going to fuel his therapy bills with this clown atrocity. The boy's probably already fueling hers, and this attempt to turn the tables is backfiring.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Rotten to the core?

I know we're barely into September, but there's already a nip in the air, and the Paula Reds and Ginger Golds are out. That means today we're taking on some weird-ish apple recipes!

First up is the one that probably seems weirdest to me and most normal to everyone else. From The Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery (1971) is Apple Chutney. 


I know it's a personal failing, but chutneys never sound remotely appealing to me. I can't imagine longing to dump green peppers and onions mixed with apples, raisins, and grape jelly on roasts, samosas, or poor innocent goat cheeses. Obviously plenty of people see the appeal, though, or at least write recipes to make it look as if they do. 

If you like scalloped potatoes and/or cheese on your apple pie, then Wise also offers this recipe:


Scalloped Apples and Cheese calls for real grated cheese-- not a can or two of condensed cheese soup-- so maybe it would work? I'll let you figure it out if you really want to know. 

The always-reliable-for-a-questionable-recipe Weight Watchers International Cookbook (1977) has a couple of offerings. If you want a throw-it-all-together salad, there's this:


With bean sprouts, celery, and fresh apple, this will be pretty crunchy, but I've never really hoped for apples coated in soy sauce and dry mustard...

In the questionable dessert category, we have a pudding:


I'm shocked that actual slices of raisin bread are permitted, so this is likely to be one of the better Weight Watchers dessert recipes. It's not all unflavored gelatin and chocolate extract. Will the rutabaga make the pudding thick and sweet, or just weirdly vegetal? I only have enough motivation to ask the question. 

The scariest apple recipe is from another international cookbook: Craig Claiborne's The New York Times International Cook Book (1971). Even though I don't get the appeal of fruit-and-meat pairings, like the ever-popular apples and pork chops, I'll bet I'm not alone in questioning this pairing:


Oh boy! Herring and apples! Opus might approve, but I think I'll just wait for the Cortlands to come into season and eat them unadorned....