Wednesday, December 6, 2017

This might be a mixtake!

Cooks in the '70s loved their prepackaged food. They also knew that prepackaged was more expensive than homemade-- but they didn't always have time for homemade... That conundrum led to books like this:

Make-a-Mix Cookery (Karine Eliason, Nevada Harwood, and Madeline Westover, 1978) promises to save both time and money by helping home cooks make mixes in their spare time to use later on busy nights. It's a pretty good premise, though I'm not always sure I buy it.

Is it making your own mix if you have to make your mix by mixing two other mixes? (Ask that five times fast!) I'm also not sure how orange and lemon drink mixes + sugar and spices= tea, even if you're supposed to add a tablespoon of this to hot (rather than cold) water.

In contrast to Russian Refresher, most of the recipes are genuinely mixes of ingredients you can buy in bulk rather than mixes of other mixes. I'm just not always sure the title matches the mix. If I were just to look at the ingredients of Mexican Rice Mix without seeing the title, I don't think I would ever guess it was supposed to be Mexican.

Basil and parsley don't exactly scream "Mexico." You might argue that this is just the mix, and the finished Mexican Rice recipe might add some salsa and/or refried beans, for example.

You would be optimistic, but wrong.

Luckily, a lot of the mixes are put to more imaginative use than "Mexican" rice. Here's one of the more imaginative spreads:

I love the little bowls full of garnishes. I'd be happy if I had a little bowl full of shredded cheese and another of green peppers to sprinkle on pretty much any main dish...

But if you look at the mound-o-food in the foreground, you start to realize it's a mishmash of celery, pineapple, tomatoes, coconut, green onions, chow mein noodles, and ... is that cream of chicken soup oozing over the rice?

Hawaiian Haystack may sound like a made-up sex position, but it's really just an orgy of all the misbegotten '60s and '70s casserole ingredients.

If you want a much simpler ill-conceived dinner, there's always this:

Busy Day Casserole also leads to the question "Why bother making my own mixes if I'm just going to resort to cans of spaghetti mixed with pork and beans and ketchup anyway?"

Why? Because it makes you feel like you're saving money. Or caring for your family. Or something. Look, I don't know. The point is, you're doing something, and that's an illusion we all need sometimes. It's just unfortunate your illusion of doing something important involves a freezer full of crumbled pre-cooked hamburger and a can of spaghetti.


  1. How appropriate you posted this today. My quick meal plan for tomorrow involves putting everything in the bowl of my Crock-Pot, putting it in the fridge, and then putting it in the cooker tomorrow morning. No mixing mixes together, or using frozen hamburger for me.

    1. I hope it works out! Should be fine as long as you remember to plug the Crock-Pot in.

    2. Technically it's my IP, so I have to plug it in to set it

  2. Woo whee! That Busy Day Casserole! I'm positive none of those tastes and textures do not belong together

    1. I guess it's for days when you're so busy you don't even bother to pay attention to what you're dumping together.