Wednesday, January 28, 2015

'70s kitchens and casseroles

For the last Cookbook Wednesday, I wanted a book with a classy cover. Specifically, a seriously '70s classy cover. I'm not sure I could do much better than this:

Now this is a kitchen you can set your watch by!

The rust-colored flooring!

The wood accents!

The bright orange canisters, colander, and pans!

The intricately-designed gold ceiling!

The glowing yellow countertop!

I honestly bought this for the cover alone. I could blow it up and use it as wallpaper in my house. Of course it would look funny to apparently have a '70s kitchen in my living room, but it would certainly be a conversation piece if I ever had anyone else over.

I'm not even sure what to call this book. The cover claims it's Favorite Recipes from Our Best Cooks Cook Book, but the inside cover claims it's A Book of Favorite Recipes. Either way, it was compiled by the Cleveland chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in 1976, and it has some really... classy... recipes. Here's one example:

The ingredients themselves sound pretty standard for a casserole of the time-- condensed mushroom soup, onion soup mix, rice, chicken, mushrooms. Nothing too great or terrible or surprising, just salty. It's the name that gets to me. "Chicken Undergrowth"? It sounds like it should be a recipe for a hippie chicken that never shaved its wingpits. If it were a hippie recipe, though, it would be full of nonfat dry milk powder, prunes, and wheat germ, so I guess this is a step up?

If the Chicken Undergrowth isn't elegant enough but you still have a can of mushroom soup burning a hole in your pantry, maybe you'd prefer this:

Add the soup to Stouffers mac and cheese, slightly thawed, along with sherry and tiny canned shrimp! So dainty and delicate for a rainy afternoon with the women's club. Plus it will give you an excuse to finish off the sherry, regardless of whether anyone actually touches the Elegant "Rainy Day" Casserole. (I'm a little sad that Mrs. Sally Maritt didn't understand scare quotes, as they clearly belong around "Elegant" rather than "Rainy Day.")

After all of these canned/ frozen/ super-processed casseroles, I'm ready for something more straightforward, earthy, honest. There should be something like that in this cookbook. After all, Ohio has a pretty sizable Amish population. Maybe the writers got some inspiration from their plain and simple neighbors.

Or...not? I have no idea what to think of this. I associate handcrafted cheeses and home baked breads with Amish cooking, but did they really spend the '70s eating casseroles made with four cans of soup and half a pound of Velveeta, just like everybody else except the health nuts? Did they just give non-Amish neighbors the recipe to see if they could pass it off as a genuine Amish delicacy? Did Dorothy Klemm make this recipe up and say it was Amish because people seemed to be so interested in Amish food, even if she had no idea of what Amish meant? There are so many possibilities, but they all make me laugh!

I hope you've enjoyed our Cookbook Wednesdays, courtesy of Months of Edible Celebrations.


  1. What A Finale, Poppy!!!

    From what you're showing us, the only "cool" thing about this cookbook is the cover. I have quite a few cookbooks with the same cover but not from the same authors. I guess Favorite Recipes Press used this one as a standard back in the 70s. Gotta love those colors though:)

    Each recipe is more "unappetizing"t han the other in this one Poppy. However, I don't think this is a sign of the times. More like "throwing" some doozies out there to see if they catch on. Thank goodness they didn't lol...

    Thank you so much for participating in Cookbook Wednesdays, Poppy. It has been such a pleasure "seeing" your books and learning a bit more about you too:)

    1. This is the only cookbook I have with that cover, but I was kind of wondering if it was a generic one the company reused. Since the cover didn't really match the interior title page, I suspected that was the case. Thank you for confirming my suspicions!

      Thanks again for hosting Cookbook Wednesdays! I'm glad I was finally able to get in on the action.

  2. Maybe the requirement that food bloggers acknowledge who is paying them would have been a good thing for these recipes -- were they paid by the canned soup industry? Can you imagine the mouth-feel from all that undiluted starchy canned soup? Congratulations on finding the worst-sounding recipes ever!

    1. Well, I still consider the fruitcake made out of lima beans to be the worst-sounding recipe, but these are all pretty bad. I do my best to find the worst!

  3. That cover is so vintage '70s, and those recipes are exactly the kind my mother would cook - where you aren't cooking so much as mixing and heating. To this day, I can't stand casseroles. My favorite among the recipes you showed us is the "Amish" one, because I'm so certain the Amish consider Velveeta to be one of their essential ingredients....or not. This was a great entry for Cookbook Wednesday, and I'll be sorry to see them end.

    1. I am thoroughly mystified by the Amish label on that last one! I'm glad you're amused by it too!