Saturday, March 31, 2018

Big Surprise: For General Foods, Easter = Jell-O

The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook (the Women of General Foods Kitchens, second edition, 1959) sends Bonnie Bunny to wish us a hoppy Easter!

Okay, I made up Bonnie's name, but I like her perseverance in decorating an egg that's nearly as big as she is, even though one of her legs is clearly misshapen and waaay longer than the other. Plus, she insists on using a palette to mix her paints, even though she's only got spring green. She means business!

What does Bonnie suggest for a special springtime meal? Well, it depends on whether you're a kid or a grownup. If you're a kid, Bonnie thinks you should get ready for eating all that Easter candy by preloading some sugar:

Can you guess what kind of a salad a Bunny Salad might be? If you guessed it's like chicken salad, but made out of rabbit, I like your sense of humor, but you're not thinking like a '50s children's salad maker.

Of course Bunny Salads are excuses for eating Jell-O and not having to call it dessert. The salad molds are filled with carroted pineapple and served on lettuce, so the marshmallow bits used to turn them into bunnies certainly don't turn this into dessert.

Okay, Strip Sandwiches are open to interpretation, as there is no recipe. Let's just assume that it's a kids' favorite, like PB&J, cut into strips. Similarly, Lime Pears are left to our imaginations, but I'm kind of wondering if this is code for canned pears in lime Jell-O-- a meal featuring two canned fruits in desserty gelatin.

Then for dessert (because all the other sugar has been in salad form so it doesn't count!), there are Rainbow-Witches. If I didn't know the term was from a '50s cookbook, I'd hope it referred to witches getting ready to lead the gay pride parade for supernatural entities.

In this case, it's just chocolate wafers sandwiched around dyed Dream Whip and frozen.

Once the kids wash that all down with some nice chocolate milk, they should be ready to tear into their jelly beans, marshmallow peeps, and chocolate bunnies!

The grownups aren't expected to dine on carroty Jell-O themselves. They get their own menu, which, like the children's, is convenient to make ahead.

Yeah, the "like the children's" bit is meant as foreshadowing. If you suspected it might suggest that the grownups were supposed to eat Jell-O too, you were right. The lobster salad, unlike the bunny salad, contains its namesake ingredient:

But it gets served in what many would now consider a crime against avocados:

The adults get their lemon Jell-O filled with pimiento and avocado, then topped with lobster salad. Yay?

The side of potato chips is made a bit more elegant by the book's insistence that they be heated. (Can you imagine arranging gelatin-avocado rings topped with lobster salad on the buffet table just before pulling a tray full of gently-warmed potato chips out of the oven? Easter in General Foods-Land must have been a real hoot!)

The dessert of Easter Ricotta Pie sounds comfortingly cheesecake-like:

Of course, it's filled with Grape-Nuts and candied fruit, so don't get too excited.

Happy Easter! I'm sure you're disappointed that I posted these recipes too late to make for the holiday, but there's always next year. 😄

Now go put on your best referee shirt and trade eggs with your mom (Don't mention her overly bendy arm!) while your siblings dig around in the furniture.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I can believe it's not candy!

We may be in the middle of an obesity epidemic now, but parents in the '70s were just as likely to be panicking over whether to send little Michael to school with cookies on treat day as they are now over Mason. Worried families in the '70s had this book to consult:

The Taming of the C.A.N.D.Y.* Monster (*Continuously Advertised Nutritionally Deficient Yummies) (Vicki Lansky, 4th printing, Nov. 1978) has a seriously long title, but the kid on the cover looks remarkably healthy given the wealth of Sugar Munch, Crunchie Wunchies, Choco bars, bon bons, fries, and hot dogs he's chowing down on. (What's the fluffy pink thing behind the hot dog? Part of me thinks he's in danger of eating mom's house slipper with all the other junk, but maybe it's a misshapen donut?)

In any case, this book is full of types of recipes I was expecting: cookies full of raisins, oats, honey, dates, and maybe a little carob powder or peanut butter if mom is feeling wild. Some are clearly intended to be more healthy than desserty, like this supposed substitute for candy bars:

Yeah-- no kid is going to mistake stale bread dipped in thinned-out peanut butter and rolled in peanuts and wheat germ for a candy bar. 

Other recipes are less overtly healthy, but still weird enough that any kid would know mom was trying to play some kind of trick:

I'm not sure a recipe that starts off by melting butterscotch chips and mixing them with grape jelly is going to register as health food, but I can't exactly imagine kids begging for these Grape Granola Bars either, especially when the ones from the grocery store have chocolate chips. 

I found myself far more intrigued by the little suggestions made throughout the book about ways to get kids to eat healthily than by the recipes themselves.

The kids want pizza or sweet crackers? Why indulge them by giving them something crazy like an English muffin pizza or a graham cracker with a bit of peanut butter...

...if you can give them a mug of spaghetti sauce and microwave-melted mozzarella or a melt a hunk of cheese on the graham?

The kids want a nice frozen snack?

Offer "a small paper cupful of frozen peas or frozen cut corn right from the package." That's surely not bound to degenerate into a screaming fit when you reach right past the ice cream. 

The book seems hell-bent on letting all the kids in the neighborhood know you're the weird parent. This recipe for Egg Sailboats may seem like an innocuous enough take on deviled eggs, a way to get the kids to eat more protein:

They're recommended as something to take to school to share, though. I'm sure the teacher will appreciate the last-minute craft project of finishing the sail assembly and the kids will be thrilled to know that Michael is the one who brought the lukewarm plate of deviled eggs for snack time. He'd better watch his shoelaces pretty closely because everybody in the whole class is going to try tying them together the second he's not looking. 

The C.A.N.D.Y. Monster may be more likely to go wild than be tamed by this collection.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Funny Name: The birds don't look right edition

There is nothing scary about today's recipe from Cook Book: Favorite Recipes from Our Best Cooks (ca. 1979). In fact, this was one of my favorite cookies when I was a kid, but we just called them no-bakes. The United Methodist Women of Worthington United Methodist Church apparently thought that naming them after sickly-looking birds was more appealing, though, so here are some birds for the newly-sprung season:

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A very Germanic heritage

Let's get historical!

Today we have Heritage of Cooking: A Collection of Recipes from East Perry County, Missouri (compiled by the Saxon Lutheran Memorial, third printing, 1970). 

This booklet has some of the usual recipes I expect in these community recipe collections-- gelatin-based salads, carrot cakes, rum balls. You can really tell the Germanic heritage in a few sections, though. There's a whole chapter on sausages.

If you need a gallon of Leber Wurst, they've got you covered.

If you need a gallon of sausage AND you want to get use up some oatmeal, there's Gritze Wurst.

If you want to remind me of the vile tubes of pink-brown paste my dad used to smear on crackers, there's Braunschweiger. 

Mrs. Willis Bremer unfortunately does not tell us whether this will make a full gallon of sausage, as we all know that gallon is the standard sausage measure...

For fellow fans of a certain '70s horror movie, there's even a Head Cheese recipe! (It makes a gallon!)

The Germanic temperament comes through in the non-meat recipes too. No desire to waste money on luxurious trifles? That doesn't mean you can't pretend to have a hot cup of coffee...

Just steep browned barley in boiled water. And if the kids want some hot chocolate....

...well, you better have had the foresight to dry some elderberries during the summer (and kids who are unfamiliar with the concept of chocolate). 

If you want to have a happy birthday, you can enjoy this:

Any day that requires only two measures of Endurance is about as carefree as they get in East Perry County. 

The very end of the book also offers some home remedies for people and farm animals, so now I know what to do if my horse gets sweenied... whatever that might mean. (NOT going to Google it!) I'm not sure I'd take the advice to cure a snake bite though, which is to "cut up a live chicken and immediately place the bloody flesh on the bite."

This is an interesting book to make a dark early spring day just that much darker. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Isle Things

I'm sure it's no surprise that today's post will take you to an island... an island well known for its greenery and its unique flavors.

So get out a big package of pineapple cream pudding and pie mix...

Wait, New the Grange Desserts Cookbook Including Creative Homemaking Tips (Favorite Recipes of the Grange, 1973), are we celebrating Hawaii or Ireland today?

The sad news is that pineapple cream pudding and pie mix is a thing of the past, though I found an ad.

Now we'll never know what pineapple pudding mix boiled with lime gelatin, combined with whipped topping, and dumped into a crumb crust will taste like... But can I still make a little pin inspired by this recipe that says, "Eat me! I'm Hawaiian Irish"?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ohio: A state of confusion

Ready for some Favorite Recipes of Ohio: Family Edition (eds. Audrey M. Johnson, Boone T. Boies, and Dr. Vivian Roberts, 1964)?

The cover led me to believe that Ohioans in the '60s were really crazy about chicken (Roasted chicken! Chicken with cherries, green grapes, and onions! Chicken strips and rice! Maybe a mid-century interpretation of moo goo gai pan?! Chicken legs with the doofy paper frills! If you look closely, there's chicken wire in the background, too!), but the acknowledgments page credits the National Broiler Council for the cover photo. Cover notwithstanding, the actual recipes seem like they could represent a slice of a mid-westernish state.

I wasn't surprised to see "salads" that were clearly a stand-in for dessert:

I'm pretty sure you couldn't even get away with the name "Gumdrop Salad" today, much less marshmallows, gum drops (no licorice!), and whipped cream as a salad just because it had some canned fruit and white grapes in it.

However, I was super-excited to find this seemingly (relatively) ordinary recipe:

What makes this somewhat-ordinary-for-the-time "salad" of fruit cocktail, cream cheese, and marshmallows so thrilling? The note at the end finally tells me how to tell a salad and a dessert apart! If it's salad, serve it on a lettuce leaf. If it's dessert, just omit the lettuce! It all makes sense now. (Okay, not really, but I do love this explanation anyway.)

Maybe because their salads are so often desserty, these Ohioans seem afflicted by weird cravings. For example, I always thought organ meats were something people ate because they were cheaper than other meats, or because they lived on farms and had to eat everything-- not just the most desirable cuts of the cow. This recipe suggests otherwise:

Mock Sweetbreads: for when you're really craving a thymus, but you've only got ground veal and pork!

A land that prefers sweetbreads to veal and offers a mound of gumdrops when you ask for a salad will of course have its own interpretation of what "Some Mores" might mean. Here, it doesn't translate to graham, marshmallow, and chocolate s'mores. Some-More is the main dish:

In Ohio, "Some More" might be ground beef, celery, onions, instant rice, cream soups, and chow mein noodles.

If you're from a family of miners, you might leave out the second m to come home for Some-Ore:

Okay-- it's pretty much the same thing, and not sprinkled with rocks as I feared it might be....

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed wandering through a state where "Some More" is the main dish and you'll have to figure out whether something is a salad or dessert by checking it for lettuce.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Pasta: The universal medicine

I've got a secret. Well, more accurately, the muscles-and-mustaches guys from The Joy of Pasta (Simac's Cuisine Collection, 1982-- a little new for the blog, but so good we'll pretend it's not) have a secret. There's a surprise booklet at the end of their cookbook.

It has no recipes, though it does prominently feature pasta.

It's a "nutrition" booklet, illustrated with cartoon-y pasta, explaining how pasta is good for pretty much any medical condition ever. If you're sick, all you need is an angry tomato-eggplant hybrid and some stoned pasta. The rigatoni and the ravioli seem to be feeling pretty chill, but I think the bucatini's mind is totally blown over the thought that pasta could be the answer to all the world's problems.

Who is pasta good for? Everybody!

It's all just a balancing act! Get it?

Even preggers pasta or little Petey pasta in his baseball cap should fuel up by eating... pasta? The cartoons actually seem to be advocating cannibalism if you think about it.

But seriously, pasta is for everybody! A bit pudgy? Well, pasta shouldn't be the problem, and it might be the solution:

I love the indignant look on chunky pasta man's face! I'm not sure why he's hanging out on a playground full of pasta kids on swings or running around with forks, just waiting for the least excuse to poke portly pasta people in the butt. Something tells me this kid might have the right idea to encourage that guy to move on...

In any case, the cure for obesity is to eat only 3 to 3-1/2 ounces of fresh pasta a day, and to make it with vegetable pulp or juice. (Celery pasta, anyone?)

A consistent theme of this nutrition booklet is that pasta is good both for one problem and its opposite.

I'll bet you can guess what people who are too gaunt (rather than too rotund) should eat:
Yep! Pasta will help with gauntness too. Perhaps more surprisingly, thin people are supposed to stay away from rich sauces, just as the heavy-set are. They should eat watercress juice or raspberries as appetite stimulants.

I think the linguine blowing in the wind is a bit skeptical of these theories... Either that, or it's sad that its plan to asphyxiate the rigatoni bully boa-constrictor-style has been undone by a stiff breeze.

Pasta isn't just good for weight-related issues. It's got real heart, too.
Well, it's good for heart disorders, anyway, if a book whose sole purpose is to sell pasta-making equipment is to be believed. Just ask Dr. Penne. (At least, I assume he's penne. For a second I thought he was a finger, but then I saw the "nail" was just the interior of the pasta tube.) Don't ask Dr. Penne about how smoking affects heart health because he doesn't want to hear it, but if your heart is enlarged to such an extent that a tomato takes one look at you and thinks it's gonna blast some sauce, then Dr. Penne will happily encourage you to eat pasta made with lettuce and cabbage juice. Wait a minute. Maybe the tomato is reacting to the dinner recommendation.

When I saw the next picture, I thought the text would proclaim pasta to be a cure for hot flashes:
But no, apparently hypertension is the ailment that will make steam spew out of your dilated head, your tongue grow to over half your body length, and your eyes to comically pop right out of your head like the eyes on springs in novelty glasses.

Guess what you should do for hypertension.

No, it's not mutter an incantation to Venus and leave an offering of rose and myrtle upon the hearth.

You have to make your pasta dough with cabbage juice! (Or strawberries, olives, and grapes. Yum!)

And keeping up the theme of pasta being the cure for opposing ills, what about hypotension?

Have some pasta! And since pasta is such a well-known cure for hypotension that the book doesn't even have to explain it, also have some water in which barley has been boiled.

I'm less interested in the cure than in what is going on in this picture. The rigatoni fainted from its low blood pressure, but what's going on with the pasta on the top of the ladle? Was it so frightened by the fainting rigatoni that it was trying to get away, or is just the most annoying, least helpful friend ever, ready to slide down the handle and bounce off rigatoni's belly just because it can't stand for anyone else to be the center of attention for even one minute?

The Joy of Pasta wants you to know that pasta is good for all life stages, too. Did you know, for example, that children can eat pasta?

Yeah, I know that's a real mind-blower. Who would have imagined that kids would eat noodles? In keeping with the idea that the pasta dough should be more than just boring water and flour, the text reminds us that meat baby food makes a great mix-in for finicky kids.

(I love the roller skate in the background, which looks waaay too big for the little pasta kids. Is it some kind of vehicle for them to ride around in? Yay for a roller skate full of pasta. And does the pasta tot in the center of the picture look so pissed because it's being used as the teeter totter's fulcrum, or is the teeter totter just floating in midair?)

Pasta is good for the old and toothless, too.

I like the apparent love story in this one, with the old lady with the enormous nose throwing down a flower to express her admiration for the older gent who appears to have retired from the Ministry of Silly Walks. (The ditalini kids on the end seem to be in on the joke, but the one in the middle didn't know it was going to be on camera and is self-conscious about whatever is sprouting out of its head.)

The booklet taught me a bit about the pasta life span, though I must admit I've got more questions than anything else...

How quickly does pasta reproduce, and what's the method? The pasta has not only two toddlers, a tiny baby, and a bucatini on the way, but they're also being joined by a terrified, parachute-equipped pasta baby freshly dropped from something. (A stork? A Cobra plane that G.I. Joe just blew up? No one knows.)

I thought people made pasta, and that was the whole point of buying a pasta maker and a book about said pasta maker, but apparently some noodles are self-replicating. I'm feeling just as confused about this as a diaper-clad pasta baby plummeting from the sky... but at least I love the visuals. Hope you did too!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A book for tomatoes that are paste their prime....

I walked by a shop offering "pasteries" the other day, pointed it out to my walking companion, and then we spent several minutes of deep, meaningful conversation about the kinds of paste-related services such a place might offer. (Book repair? Wallpaper hanging? Help with first-grade craft projects?)

I never thought about food pastes (even though pastry is etymologically related to paste because dough is a type of paste). In any case, this is a super long-winded way of saying today's post is about Hunt's Tomato Paste Recipe Collection (1977).

And since my long-winded introduction mentioned pastries and pasteries, I'll start out with  a couple desserts the book offers (even if desserts are not listed along with more popular offerings like casseroles, pasta, and pizza on the front cover).

Yes, it has the obligatory tomato-paste-based cake, but I've become so accustomed to the tomato-soup-based cakes that I'm going for the cookies instead.

I couldn't decide on just one, so the first is Red Rover Jumbles, which are molasses, raisin, and spice cookies with the secret addition of a can of tomato paste. Yum!

Alternatively, here's a way to turn brownies into drop cookies made out of tomato paste:

Not sure why this would be a thing, but Hunt's had to find a way to put tomato paste into every aspect of a meal. (Sorry about the scan, but it's impossible to get this book to lay flat! It was either well-loved or it survived a flood. In either case, it is nearly as warped as I am.)

I was expecting heavily spiced tomato-based desserts, so I was a little more taken with the '70s photography and loose interpretations of culinary terms. I've got a real soft spot for all the ring-mold recipes, so I was excited to see this picture:

A glorious mountain of golden-brown bundt-baked cornbread overflowing with zucchini-fied cat barf! Awesome!

My impression that this is made out of cornbread would be contested by the recipe writer, though:

That's Polenta Ring-Around. The "polenta" just happens to be made out of corn muffin mix. Plus paprika and cheese, which are clearly ingredients the muffin  mix doesn't call for, so it's totally polenta!

This also fed my love of "crown roasts" made out of hot dogs.

This one looks like it features franks taking a dip in a bean bath, something Gene Belcher would approve of.

What is the white stuff in the middle, of the bean hot tub, though?

Apples! The apples aren't the only sweet and savory element to this "crown." Notice that the recipe calls for a pound-size can of Boston brown bread? That's because a loaf is chopped up and nestled into the bottoms of individual baking dishes to soak up the bean, apple, and hot dog juices. There is no escaping this hot dog day at the spa because everyone gets their own hot tub of terror with a soggy bread loofah on the bottom!

I'm just going to back away slowly at this point...

Saturday, March 3, 2018

March of the fish

Greetings, March! The wind blew in our favorite publication for rich jerks and aspiring rich jerks from 1977, Gourmet magazine.

The well-heeled are supposed to spend part of this month on a gourmet holiday in Savannah before jetting off to enjoy some shopping in Dublin and a pub crawl in London. (That definitely sounds better than the February weekend in Moscow!)

I prefer the lower end of the classiness scale, so I'm going back to the only section of the magazine that admits that not everyone is independently wealthy, but anyone can be pretentious. That's right; we're in for more "Gastronomie sans Argent."

This month is dedicated to fish chowders:

Fish chowders served in fancy Boda Nova ceramics imported from Sweden, that is. Even if you don't have a lot to spend on the food, apparently there's plenty for the dishes.

At first I thought this was a chowder full of chunks of fish and very frugal with the black beans (because we all know beans are super-expensive!), but that's not it.

It's fish with capers and olives. The ingredients do seem pretty reasonable for a recipe in this magazine: mostly cheap stuff like onions, canned tomatoes, and potatoes. Of course, you have to make your own fish stock, but even the stock is cheap and done in less than an hour-- not an all-day project.

My favorite in this section is probably this recipe...

...just because I like to imagine the aspirationally wealthy eating fish heads, fish heads, roly-poly fish heads!

That sounds like my cat's idea of hitting it big, so the unfortunates relegated to eating fish head chowder at home instead of flitting from Ye Olde Cock Tavern to The Magpie and Stump to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese could at least comfort themselves in knowing that someone would be super-jealous of them. I'm not sure that a little black cat is the audience the pretentious but cashless gourmets had in mind, but you have to take what you can get if you don't pop out of your momma onto a mountain of gold coins.