Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A prickly collection

I'm not sure how I want to start today, but since I have a big old cactus guy, I'll just put him front and center.

Okay, technically he's front and aligned left, but don't tell anybody.

Catalina's Cactus Cuisine (Catalina Junior Woman's Club of Tucson, Arizona, 1968) has one of the funniest covers I've seen: a comically tall cactus in a chef's hat. The needles make it look as if he has super-hairy arms and neck (and the neck is almost long enough to make a giraffe tell him to quit showing off). His asymmetrical arms hold the fork and spoon as if he's trying to conduct two orchestras at once, and the little round mouth under his straight-across mustache suggests he's singing along. The tiny cartoon legs are clearly not enough to hold up the oversized cactus body, yet there he is, standing upright and singing along with his food-based orchestra anyway. (And is it just me, or do the cactus needles on his nether regions suggest humorous striped boxer shorts sticking out from under the apron?)

With a name like Cactus Cuisine, we might expect some authentic southwest recipes.

That might be expecting a little too much. Easy Tacos made with little more than a ground chuck/ onion/ tomato soup/ taco sauce filling could be straight out of a Minnesota cookbook, and I suspect most of those would at least add a little chili powder or a packet of taco seasoning. 

While there were fewer Southwestern recipes than I anticipated, there were more Polynesian ones. Maybe the people in Arizona just like to pretend they're near water? In any case, recipes with titles suggesting Hawaiian influence did not always follow the usual "we dumped in a can of pineapple" procedure:

They may blanket crab, avocado, and coconut with white sauce and American cheese...

They may dump a bacon/ curry/ steak sauce/ lemon/ baby food combo over chicken and sprinkle the whole mess with coconut, but they do not just dump in a can of crushed pineapple and call it a day. 

I was excited that my copy even came with a bonus recipe written in the "Write extra recipes here" space:

That's quite a recipe: Grape juice + ginger ale + vodka. I can see why the previous owner wrote it down!

Even though the book never lives up to its promise to give me some recipes for things cacti like to eat, it's a pretty fun find. I rate it one blooming cactus.


  1. At least you got a classy extra recipe. Real grape juice, not grape drink, or grandma's special - crystal light and chardonnay (because you can't waste it).

    1. Maybe I should write "Grandma's Special" in one of my books so someone else can find it later on!

  2. According to Peggy Olsen, a cocktail has to at least 3 ingredients "Mountain Dew & vodka is just an emergency"