Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Is it diet?

Ready for another Cook Book? (Those fundraising cookbooks in the '70s sure came up with some creative titles!)

This one is from Derby Sisters Rebekah Lodge #908 (Derby, Ohio, 1975).

The colander full of vegetables on the cover seems appropriate for this book, as it has more of a diet-y feeling than most of these fundraiser cookbooks, which usually have a recipe for cabbage soup and a couple Jell-O salads that are composed primarily of fruits and vegetables (rather than cream cheese, marshmallows, and ice cream) for dieting readers.

The diet-adjacent recipes are everywhere, too, not segregated in a two-page "chapter." I came upon the appetizingly-titled "Broccoli Diet Bake" right at the start of the book:

Green peppers, broccoli, and chicken baked in tomato juice. Woo hoo. These Ohioans really know how to excite the taste buds.

Maybe the diet bake would be better with a little sour cream garnish?

The buttermilk-and-bouillon-gelatin will be a fine substitute.

Even a lot of recipes not billed as diet food read as pretty bland and diet-y to me. When I see the title Macaroni and Frank Casserole, I think of a big, gooey plate of mac and cheese studded with hot dog medallions.

This isn't supposed to be diet food, but the dab of macaroni in a thin white sauce seems like it should be.

When I think of lasagna, I think of big slabs of rich tomato sauce and gobs of gooey cheese. (The real takeaway here is that I think cheese should be in pretty much anything!) I don't think of this:

Canned tuna, mayo, some spinach... It's basically hot tuna/pasta salad, with lasagna noodles standing in for the macaroni.

Some of the official diet recipes actually seem less diet-y than the non-diet ones. Substituting cottage cheese for ground beef in a loaf may seem like a diet move...

...but when you use crushed potato chips (instead of, say, oatmeal) as the binder, and drown the whole thing in mushroom soup "gravy," well, the diet cred is more than a little questionable. Maybe you should just have some damn meat loaf if that's what you really want.

Of course, the fact that this cookbook gives me so many recipes I don't really want is exactly what made me want it in the first place. Life is weird.


  1. This also seems to be one of those cook books that is a little short on words sometimes. Add a chicken cube, mix your diet sour cream, but no instructions if you should refrigerate or use right away. I also like the vegetarian cottage cheese loaf, served with meat. I know that they weren't advertising it as being vegetarian, but that is the only reason people make non-meat meat loaves.

    1. The old cook books often lack instructions. I just read a cookbook the other day with a cookie recipe that was just a list of ingredients-- not even a baking temperature.

      Yeah, the idea to serve the loaf as a side for meat is especially weird since it's mostly eggs and cottage cheese. I could kind of (but not really) see it if the loaf were one of those carb-heavy mostly bread crumbs and veggies loaves, but this one is clearly meant to be the protein already. (And as you said, who makes one of those loaves as anything other than a vegetarian meat replacement? It's not like they're usually delicious.)

  2. I call Shenanigans! The lasagne is tuna noodle casserole. I expected more from 1975, that was the year of my birth.
    I also feel like these recipes feel more like the 50s than 70s. That's Ohio for you, 20 years behind the times

    1. That's true! The mayo rather than cream of something soup made me see it more as a salad, but you're right that since it's served hot, it's more of a casserole.

      Yes, Ohio is great at being behind the times!