Wednesday, February 27, 2019

All Colour Fish

I don't often come across genuine, British 70s Dinner Party-style cookbooks, but a thrift store trip paid off!

Of course, my copy of the Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book (copyright 1970, but mine is a 1978 printing) didn't come with the dust jacket, so I'll have to show you the inside cover page instead.

One interesting feature of the book is that it was written by three authors, Mary Berry, Ann Body, and Audrey Ellis, and each was responsible for several specific chapters of the book.

As I paged through, I became mesmerized by Ann Body's chapter about fish and shellfish. I just can't look away from the pictures. Sometimes it's because the fish is so clearly fish:

I just can't look at this picture of whitebait without thinking anyone who wanted to eat it would have to pretend to be a pelican. I mean, who else could be as excited to have a whole basket full of full-on, barely-disguised-by-thin-breading fish? (Okay, maybe Opus.)

Sometimes it's because the fish are in that uncanny valley.

The one that '70s cooks so often achieved with olive "eyeballs."

Sometimes I just can't trust my eyes at first.

I initially thought of tire tracks on a bumpy road before I saw the little tails sticking up.

Sometimes the pictures look like a dinner scene from a science fiction- horror hybrid.

Alien slugs with extra mucus and lemon wedges, anyone?

Not alien sea slugs-- just deviled lobster.

Even the most artificial-looking preparations are eye-catching.

Little Debbie Christmas Coffin snack cakes, anyone?

Or more accurately, Salmon Chaudfroid? (I think I'd rather have the snack cakes!)

I'll end with a fish recipe from Audrey Ellis, though. Her pictures were not generally nearly as attention-getting.

But guess what's in this one...

It's a fried peanut butter and sardine sandwich! Or, as I call it, the Surprised Elvis! (Or the Scandinavian Elvis? Or the Baited Elvis? Feel free to make up your own name to this one.)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Funny Name: Get Out the Giant Stew Pot Edition!

Do you have an uncle who is not holding up well? Maybe he's lopsided, droopy, or leaky? Maybe he won't shut up about wanting the border wall, or he has told his bowling league stories so many times that you can recite them along with him? In short, you're ready to trade in, but don't know where to trade him? Fun with Food: Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch Edition (1965) has the perfect plan. Cannibalize him!

Full disclosure: Rickety-Uncle contains no uncles. It's apparently just an oatmeal bar-type dessert. But maybe feeding your rickety uncle some Rickety-Uncle will at least shut him up about the bowling trophy he won in 1987.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Fun? With Food

Are you ready for some fun with a teal chicken who can apparently lay dozens and dozens of eggs, possibly because she is being threatened with hot sauce?

If so, then you are ready for Fun with Food: Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch Edition (1965).

This book has some truly amazing recipes, so many that I didn't know where to start. I almost gave you the whole page devoted to nothing but salads that made me do double takes (ketchup and cherry gelatin, anyone?), but I think I'll save that for a salad post and give you a good overview of the book as a whole with one of Poppy's Patented Menus of Mayhem.

We'll start with the appetizer.

Chicken-Pineapple Treats are to cupcakes what sandwich loaves are to cakes. Here, we have pineapple-slice-sized bread rounds filled with pineapple slices, canned chicken, olives, pickle relish, and mayo, then frosted with cream cheese to make the scariest mini-cakes ever!

I'm saving the cherry-ketchup salad for later, but that doesn't mean you'll be deprived of weird-ass cherry-based salads with this menu.

This actually sounds pretty delightful if you like cherries-- lemon juice, orange gelatin, cherries, pecans... right up until you hit the stuffed green olives. Then you have to wonder whether Mrs. W. L. Hodgson was passive-aggressively punishing friends and family for not letting her have a real name, or whether she was a confused social climber who thought that randomly adding olives to everything was a way to class things up.

Since our meal is so much work-- appetizer (especially building, stacking, and icing all those little sandwiches!), salad, main dish, and dessert-- I thought I'd make the main dish easier by incorporating some canned food.

Just mix canned mushrooms and  macaroni and cheese (Mmmm.... Mushy!) with canned chicken à la king (which I didn't even know was a thing, but apparently, it still is!), then bake under enough bread crumbs with butter and cheese that it may start to taste decent if you mostly stick to the top layer....

You may have noticed that aside from a ton of olives, the menu doesn't have a whole lot of veggies. Maybe I should throw some in for dessert.

Squash-based desserts aren't that uncommon. (Grandma's "pumpkin" pie was almost always really made out of squash.) They're usually made to taste like pumpkin spice, though. This one is just flavored with butter, sugar, and vanilla, and maybe topped with meringue-- not a treatment I see too often. It's probably one of the blander squashy desserts, but-- I would guess-- the tastiest thing on this menu. (If you want to remedy that, just throw on a few stray leftover olives.)

Books like this are probably what made going out for brunch on the weekends so popular. You certainly wouldn't want to stay home and eat this instead!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Funny Name: Beware the Cabbage Edition

Let's play a new game: recipe in Top Value Favorites (Top Value & TV Travel Employees for United Way Campaign, 1982) or slang term for a sex position involving one's cousin and maybe a head of cabbage?

Okay, I guess it's a recipe... but maybe the term hasn't made it to Urban Dictionary yet, and it's secretly both?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Dinner for a Special Man and Sugar for a Room Full of Teens

Okay, obviously this close to Valentine's day, so of course I'm tempted to post my favorite clip from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I promise that I'll try to be a little sweeter than usual this year, though. Instead of heart-ripping-out-action, we have two alternate Valentine's plans from The Nice 'n Easy Cook Book (Pillsbury ca. 1967). For the grownups, the booklet offers a gourmet-as-you're-gonna-get-in-a-cookbook-dedicated-to-selling-refrigerated-dough-products menu.

Dinner for a Special Man starts out with a quick-n-easy take on Beef Wellington:

You might notice that the "Dinner for a Special Man" is more like "Dinner for a Special Man, Plus Family" (or maybe, "Dinner for a Special Man, Plus Two Other Members of Our Polyamorous Community"?), as there is enough minute steak wrapped in crescent rolls for four.

Of course, one Pillsbury dough is not enough, so dessert is taken out of the fridge and baked as well.

Dessert is bigger, so the less-popular members of the extended poly group can be invited too.

If the other invitees to the Dinner for a Special Man are just your teen aged children, though, then you'll have to work up a separate party for them and their friends.

Surprisingly, this one is less dough-based, as it starts out with Strawberry-Vanilla Ice Cream Parfaits (which are, just as the name suggests, layers of strawberries and vanilla ice cream).

So the kids will have something to giggle about, the menu also includes sugared nuts:

*Insert your favorite nut joke here.*

For the required refrigerated dough component, there are Orange Danish Hearts:

The kids will really appreciate the way the dough was slightly reshaped into a heart-ish shape.

And finally, something to wash it all down.

I love how the entire "menu" is sugar upon sugar upon sugar, and then the drink is made out of diet cranberry juice cocktail and Sweet*10--the cyclamate-based artificial sweetener that was soon to be banned by the FDA. It's certainly not that Pillsbury just wanted to figure out another way to work another of their products in since only one other menu item used a Pillsbury product. The nice home economists who put all this together just suddenly realized they went a little heavy on the sugar and decided to dial it back a bit.

Hey, at least it's safer eating this stuff than, say, being at the center of a certain religious ritual.

Sorry! Couldn't resist. Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Funny Name: Celebrity Trolling Edition

I found a recipe in The Grange Cookbook Casseroles Including Breads (1969) that I'm pretty sure Gwyneth Paltrow would NOT approve of, no matter what the title might suggest.

Hey-- at least this Goop will cost waaay less than a jade egg, and it will actually do something constructive: feed 50 people.

(Also, I love the fact that a recipe so big that it calls for 1/3 cup of salt is so cautious with the pepper. A half-teaspoon is plenty.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Tricky February

Peg Bracken is of course famous for hating to cook, so I was a bit shocked that the entire month of February in her The I Hate to Cook Almanack (1976) is given over to bread. I know quite a few people who are ready to cook just about anything, but balk at the though of a yeasted bread. Bracken, sensing her readers' surprise, has a rationale for this chapter. The most salient points seem to be that 1.) home cooks generally "don't have to bake bread, and electives are always more fun than requireds"; 2.) "There is no such thing ... as a totally hopeless home baked loaf. If it isn't even good toasted, it will still make good crumbs ... for meat loaf; and if worst comes to absolute worst, it is an adequate doorstop. Shellac it"; and 3.) most of the time needed for making bread is just waiting around for the yeast to work anyway, so it doesn't require as much effort as people might suppose.

I was most intrigued that the list of recipes at the beginning of the chapter promised one that "scrimpeth on calories." How was the book going to manage this? When I came across this recipe, I assumed it was the answer.

Anything with cottage cheese was usually the diet option in old cookbooks, as the protein in the cottage cheese (presumably) canceled out all the calories in the cream. I was wrong, though. While other breads have a rationale for their inclusion (mostly ease of preparation, or, in the case of beer bread, the prospect of finishing off the part of the beer not used in the bread), Dill Cottage Cheese Bread has no explanation. It's just there because Bracken needed something for February 23. 

The diet bread doesn't show up until the end of the month-- the 27th. 

You might notice that this recipe is from Dr. N. and wonder whether that's a reference to the pun-loving fellow we met last month, Dr. Neitzelgrinder. It is indeed. 

Since this is a LONG recipe for a book for reluctant cooks, the steps emphasize just how much of the preparation is hands-off time. Cooks are to "Look out the window or go water the cactus" while the butter melts in step 2, and perhaps go out for "a walk and a little TM or the matinee at the Bijou" while the dough rises. 

It's also fine to shape the dough chunks in whatever way is easiest, even if they end up looking like "undiscovered continents."

It was a bit of a mystery to me as to why this particular recipe, with its quarter cup of butter and several tablespoons of sesame seeds, is the diet one, but apparently the fact that it's rolled so thin is supposed to make big pieces of it seem really substantial. This has no fewer calories than any of the other recipes, (and probably more per ounce than, say, the French bread), but "a book-sized piece of it has the dieter feeling loved."

The trick is to make it seem like much more than it really is-- perhaps the theme for most of the recipes in this book. Here, "more" means both size and amount of work, but the work part applies just about everywhere! I started the chapter feeling as if it was out of place, but by the end, it almost seemed to epitomize the book as a whole. That's a pretty neat trick-- even neater than convincing oneself that this is low-cal bread.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Funny Name: Moldy Joke Edition

It sounds as if this recipe from The Knox Gelatine Cookbook (1977) is a dad-joke nickname for the time you forgot about the dip in the back of the fridge.

It's really just a name for guac made mold-ably thick with the aid of unflavored gelatin. So... that's better? I guess?