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?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Cradle us with crescents and bury us in biscuits

We're taking it easy today!

The Nice 'n Easy Cook Book is undated, but it must be from the late 1960s since it advertises Time Saver Cook Book and Pillsbury's Bake Off Cookie Book, both of which are from 1967, and it has recipes calling for Sweet*10, which contained cyclamate, an ingredient that was banned in 1970.

If your family consists of the floating disembodied heads of a man and boy willing to gaze endlessly into the middle distance as the Pillsbury Doughboy tries to interest them in a Cherry Cookie Torte made of Pillsbury Refrigerated Butterscotch Nut Cookies topped with canned cherry pie filling, then this is the book for you!

According to Poppin' Fresh, the best way to take it nice 'n easy is to use lots and lots of Pillsbury refrigerated doughs. To escape from our frigid winter wonderland, I'm going to look ahead to the spring brunch menu:

The main course is Ham Crescents with Raisin Sauce-- meaning ham lunch meat rolled up in crescent rolls and topped with canned raisin pie filling. Yum!

If you're not a fan of ham 'n raisin pie filling, the alternative is Chicken Delicious on Flaky Biscuits:

That's canned cream of chicken soup fancied up with extra chicken, pimiento, and green pepper, slopped over Pillsbury biscuits.

Is there any better way of ending a crescent roll/ biscuit-centric meal than topping it off with more pastries?

Of course not!

Spring Log a la Mode uses a technique common in the booklet to mask the fact that so many dishes are gussied-up canned dough. It presses all the Quick Orange Danish Rolls together to form an (always-appetizing-sounding) log. Just cover the orange roll log with coconut, icing, and ice cream in a further attempt to hide the fact that dinner is almost entirely Pillsbury refrigerated breads.

Ta da!

The most egregious overreach for the dough just might be this little number:

What is this thing? It looks like rows of very orderly caterpillars migrating across a lake of melted cheese. It's no surprise that the caterpillars are Pillsbury biscuits, but what lies beneath that vast expanse of cheese?

It's lasagne (lasagna?)! With biscuits instead of noodles! I get leaving out noodles for diet versions. (I'm not saying it sounds lovely-- just that I get it.) But replacing the noodles with biscuits and still calling it straight-up lasagne just seems wrong somehow. Maybe I'd be okay with "Lasagna Pot Pie" or something like that, but I just feel like this is a Pillsbury bait-and-switch scam. Am I wrong to get this worked up over a minor (and probably tasty) variation of the iconic casserole? Of course! But hey, it's winter, and I'd rather be obsessing about a weird-looking lasagna and researching cyclamates than trudging through the snow in sub-zero windchills. Thanks for giving me an excuse to get my mind off my least favorite season!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Funny Name: That's ... Serviceable

I think I have just found the most delicious-sounding recipe title ever in The Grange Cookbook Casseroles Including Breads (1969). Let's all have a heaping helping of ...

...Utility Dough! And maybe if we're lucky, we can have it with an Adequate Roast, Some Expedient Green Beans, and a glass of room temperature tap water.