Saturday, March 25, 2023

Funny Name: Maybe Don't Make It Rhyme Edition

Yes, it's fun to give things rhyming names, like Crunch 'n Munch or Mello Yello, but this recipe from A Matter of Taste (The Heart Federal Savings and Loan, 1979) shows that a rhyme isn't always very appetizing.

At least, I sincerely doubt that I'm the only person who doesn't think "Yum!" when I hear the word "slurry."

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Even with the benefit of the internet, a midwesterner still fails at understanding Hawaiian cuisine

Ready for another community fundraiser cookbook with a super-generic title and an extremely-'70s looking cover?

Favorite Recipes from Our Best Cooks (Y's Men's Clubs of the Hawaiian Region) might look extremely '70s with its yellow plaid wallpaper, calico placemat, oversized wooden pepper grinder, chafing dish full of rice, and salad with huge romaine leaves, but I'm guessing it's actually from the early '80s based on the 1982 calendar at the very end of the book.

Since this one is from Hawaii, it's full of recipes with ingredients that midwesterners of the early 1980s would probably not have recognized.

Okay, being the unsophisticated person that I am, I kind of thought kamaboko would be some kind of vegetable. Not even close! It's surimi

At least modern midwesterners are probably aware of more of the ingredients than their counterparts of 40-or-so years ago would have been. 

I've never had bittermelon, but at least I've seen cooks fuck it up Chopped. That's more exposure than 1980s midwesterners were likely to have had.

And kim chee (well, we tend to spell it kimchi now) gets so much media attention today that I imagine most non-Korean midwesterners have at least a vague understanding of what it is (and a sizable subset have eaten it and may even have some in the fridge).

Of course, my unsophisticated self has no clue about aburage and again assumes it's some kind of a vegetable. At least I'm closer this time, in that it's plant-derived. You might think as a vegetarian I'd have better ideas of what kinds of tofu products are available, but you would have far too much confidence in me if you did.

A few recipes spell out some ingredients for the uninitiated.

I especially like that the explanation of agehan notes not just that it's a brown fishcake but that it "comes on a stick with 5 pieces, cut in chunks." This is actually more helpful than a Google search, as I just get directions to and reviews of restaurants named Agehan and a suggestion that I might have meant Aegean. 

Some recipes don't call for any ingredients that a midwesterner would have trouble finding, and yet they still remain an enigma to me, like this recipe for lima beans.

It's easy to find lima beans, and most cooks will have the sugar and salt in their pantries anyway. I'm just confused about how much sugar this takes-- 3/4 of a cup! What are lima beans this sweet supposed to be used for? There are no other ingredients to make them savory and barbecue-adjacent, like baked beans. Are they a plainer sweet-ish side dish? Should they be used in sweets like red bean paste? You better know because this recipe expects you to know. 

A few recipes might be right at home in the midwest, though.

Midwesterners can demolish cream cheese and marshmallow cream. That pinch of ginger might be just enough to make us feel sophisticated while doing it.

The Vinegar Taffy recipe reveals a similarity between Hawaiian moms and their midwestern counterparts.

They've both got to make sacrifices: "This recipe is lots of fun for the kiddies, not so much fun for Mom; but be a martyr and try it anyway." Yep-- once you have kids, the fun is over unless you really enjoy playing a martyr (and of course, some do!). In any case, martyrdom is required, like it or not...

I always wonder what a 40+-year-ago midwestern counterpart would have thought of Hawaiian recipes, and I start out feeling superior to that long-ago imaginary person, but the feeling doesn't usually last long. We've all got our blind spots. I can just try to use the internet to make up for mine.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Funny Name: Smells Better than Expected Edition

I often suspect that the recipes I feature were secret pleas to get out of cooking duty. "If I just make this one spectacularly awful dish, maybe we can go out to eat instead," I imagine mid-20th-century cooks thinking. Well, today's dish from Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center Volunteer Cookbook (undated, looks like it's from the 1970s) sounds perfectly fine if you only look at the ingredients. It's just manicotti stuffed with ground beef and veggies (Okay, and rice, which seems a bit odd, but would certainly taste fine). then topped with spaghetti sauce and cheese. Still, though, I suspect the recipe might be a ploy to get out of cooking.

"What are we having for dinner tonight, honey?"

"Sewer pipes, dear."

"You know what? I think maybe it's time I took you out for a change."

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Pancakes and waffles and dumplings! Oh, my!

The friend who gave me The Daylight Time-Savers Are Here! is very serious about saving time, as she also gave me 133 Quicker Ways to Homemade... with Bisquick (Betty Crocker, 1959).

The booklet offers a lot of Bisquicky variations on common recipes, like this love child of pigs in a blanket and corndogs, the cutely-named Pronto Puppies.

Since Bisquick is so commonly used as a pancake mix, the Betty Crocker team had to figure out a way to make pancakes seem more exciting. They went all-in on pancake towers with special fillings between the layers, to be cut and served almost like a cake. There's everything from the evocatively-titled "Sunday in Vermont Pancakes"...

...which are apple pancakes with cranberry sauce between layers-- maybe a good after-Thanksgiving breakfast to use up the leftovers?-- the Colonial Jelly Stack...

...I guess because colonists had to preserve fruit as jelly? (I'm sure they didn't have any powdered sugar, but if you're trying to get old-timey with a baking mix anyway, authenticity isn't exactly the main concern.)

There's also a savory way to dress up waffles that isn't the chicken-and-waffles we're used to today.

I love that "Waffle Club Rabbit" sounds as if it's a reference to the fuzzy mascot kept by an organized group of breakfast enthusiasts, but the rabbit in this case is of the cheesy Welsh rabbit variety. (I still want to know where and when the Waffle Club meets, though. I wasn't much for extracurricular activities, but I'd have been happy to stay after school and make waffles! I might even have accepted them with cheese if I could have skipped the mustard.)

(Also, if you're really into chicken and waffles and disappointed that the booklet didn't offer a recipe, it does mention a "Waffle Supper Royal" consisting of waffles served with the cook's favorite creamed chicken and some whole cranberry sauce. I'm a little surprised Ocean Spray wasn't a cosponsor, as much as this tries to sell readers on adding cranberry sauce to things.)

I also had to check out the dumpling section, as so many people seem to love dumplings and I can just never figure out why. They always seem too heavy and gummy and goopy to be very enjoyable to me. (Give me the crisp, brown, lightly crunchy edges of a biscuit any day!) The book tries to make dumplings look exciting, here with a sprinkle of parsley to make the pale dumpling blobs pop against a red stew.

What's the stew? Good question. The booklet doesn't actually offer a recipe that seems to match up with the picture. Instead, it tells readers to make things like Sauerkraut with Franks and Dumplings.

I wasn't sure there was a way to make dumplings sound less appealing to me, but filling them full of caraway seeds and serving them with sauerkraut is an excellent way to do it. I also imagine this sounds fantastic to somebody out there, but I hate sauerkraut.

Bisquick seemed ready to try to talk haters into giving dumplings a shot, offering five different ways to "dress up" the gluey little fuckers.

Maybe the sweetness of corn contrasted with savory beef stew or the pop of color from pimiento and green pepper in a dark veal stew would help, but raisin dumplings in the chicken fricassee? No thanks.

 I will say thanks to the thoughtful friend (and fellow dumpling despiser) "George" for giving me a fun afternoon of pondering all the things I am happy not to do with Bisquick! Now let's head on over to the Waffle Club meeting. We don't want to leave the rabbit waiting.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

The Moldin' of the Green

St. Patrick's Day is mostly known for one type of consumption: green beer. Okay, some people might make corned beef and cabbage or Irish soda bread or colcannon too. Recipes on Parade: Salads Including Appetizers (Military Officers' Wives Clubs, 1966) thinks that St. Patrick's Day should be a gelatin salad holiday, though. You can get things started with some Irish Turkey.

Yeah... Nothing like preparing for a day of drinking with a belly full of corned-beef-mayo-and-egg gelatin!

Then, of course, you need some veggies. How about St. Patrick's Avocado Mold?

Lime Jell-O with curry powder, avocado, mayo, green pepper, and olives should be pretty memorable. (Just hope you only have to remember it going down and not also coming up.)

Now we've just got to top everything off with a dessert-y Jell-O. How about St. Patrick's Day Mold?

I'm not sure lime and pineapple really need peppermint flavoring, and I really hope the cook is lucky enough to get salmonella-free eggs for the rich and cream cheesy middle layer, but this last mold definitely sounds like the best bet! Of course, the first two recipes set the bar pretty low.

Have a happy St. Patrick's Day next week! You've got plenty of time to prepare some Jell-O!

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Save some time with mostly discontinued brand name foods!

It's almost time once again to spring the clocks forward, in recognition that many of us would rather have the time to do something outside after work than to drive to work with the sun directly in our eyes and come home in darkness. (Not that I'm biased or anything.)

Well, if the time adjustment gives you a little trouble, I'm happy to announce that The Daylight Time- Savers Are Here

This undated booklet looks like it's from the late '60/ early '70s to me, and this "Lickety-Thick Milk Shake" recipe seems to confirm my suspicions. 

It calls for Bounty Dutch Chocolate Pudding, and an ad that eBay dates to 1969 claims that Dutch chocolate was a new flavor, so my guess is that telling people to serve super watered-down (sorry, milked-down) pudding as a "milk shake" (and a thick one at that!) was an attempt to move more of the new-ish flavor.

Though the recipes are all supposed to be still time-savers, most of them were a bit more labor-intensive and at least as questionable as the lickety-thicks. The booklet was also supposed to convince readers to buy more Campbell's soup, so it endorsed a concept I always find a bit questionable: the hot cucumber.

I know-- cucumber might add a bit of freshness to the salt lick that is canned condensed soup, but heated-up cukes just seem wrong to me, and I don't think cream of celery soup is going to help that opinion. (Does the chilled version sound any better? The cukes are still supposed to be cooked before serving, and besides, have you ever wanted to eat cold canned soup?)

The little booklet also tries to make that old classic of stuffed peppers a bit less time consuming.

I'm not sure what makes peppers stuffed with a can of corned beef hash and baked under a veneer of ketchup "peppy." Maybe the home economists at Bounty thought peppers were inherently peppy?

The "best" (meaning, of course, worst!) recipes in this booklet are probably the ones trying to push Franco-American MacaroniOs, though. (Since they were only around from 1967-1972, at least according to this post, that also helps confirm my dating of the booklet.) The friend who gave me this booklet knows my tastes and immediately sent me to this page to check out a couple of absolute gems. 

The Ring O Salad attempts to turn rubbery canned macaroni into a salad by adding salad dressing, bits of chopped veggies, and a couple cans of tuna.

At least this seems macaroni-salad-adjacent-- not terrific, but a recognizable variation of something familiar. The real head-scratcher is this salad:

Yes, nothing says "Chicken Oriental O Salad" quite like the cheese-sauce version of SpaghettiOs fortified with sour cream and then made "Oriental" (cringe!) with the addition of chicken, pineapple, green onions, and slivered almonds. That sounds just... ummm... like a real time-saver, because I'll save so much time not making it. (Of course, the fact that MacaroniOs were discontinued before my parents even met also helps.)

Thanks to my great friend from college for supplying me with this amusing and amazing little booklet! However, I don't think I'm going to try to save that lost hour this weekend by testing any of these recipes....

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Funny Name: Stella! Stella! Edition

Why do I have a feeling that Jill McCulloh's recipe for Christ the Rock Lutheran Church 10 Year Anniversary Family Recipes (1999) is her attempt to justify her decision to major in English or theater?

Hey, you gotta use that degree for something! Might as well be naming a recipe.