Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vanilla Foolishness

Sometimes I like to imagine the people who originally owned my cookbooks. They were usually super-busy. One day my imaginary cookbook owner is driving a tractor through the bean field and cutting up firewood with a chainsaw. Another, maybe she's smacking her repellent boss's hand away from her butt as she tries to balance her drawer at the bank so she can leave her job as a teller at a decent hour. Maybe she's dejectedly cleaning spoiled food out of her refrigerator that just died, but secretly excited to get a shiny new one. In any case, the previous owner is always too busy for too much "foolishness," as my grandma used to call overly-fancy recipes.

Then I will see a recipe, like today's from Betty Crocker's Hostess Cookbook (1967), that says at least some of those cooks had plenty of time for foolishness. Today's example looks quite complicated:

It almost makes me think of a skirt on a long dress, with petticoats poofing it out and little ruffles tucked here and there. I'm tempted to think that people stuck hunks of grape bubblegum (chewed, of course!) on the skirt at intervals, but I think those are supposed to be flowers.

It looks like this takes a lot of work, so what goes into this ethereal dessert?

It's basically vanilla ice cream. Sure, the outer shell has a little hard-to-find rose water and a smidge of nutmeg.

Yes, the center has a tiny core with some maraschino cherries and walnuts in it.

Still, it's basically vanilla ice cream.

I'm sure I have more than a little of my grandma's attitude. If you want to scoop out some vanilla ice cream and dump cherries and walnuts on it, by all means be my guest, but I can't imagine spending hours softening, molding, freezing, resoftening, remolding, refreezing, etc. for fancy-looking vanilla ice cream, especially after a long day with the chainsaw.

After a long day on the farm/ at the bank/ in the broken-down fridge, I'd be off in the corner mixing a spoonful of peanut butter into a bowl of chocolate ice cream.

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