Saturday, August 29, 2015

'70s vegetarian sandwich mash-ups

My childhood self would have been horrified by a decision to dedicate not one, but two weekend posts to back-to-school sandwich ideas, but it's not that I'm excited by back-to-school time. (I suspect I'm not the only teacher who approaches it with as much apprehension as my students...) I'm just really excited by crazy sandwich ideas.

Last week was dedicated to crazy peanut butter concoctions. This week I thought I'd see what '70s vegetarian kids might pack if it wasn't a trusty pb&j. The New Age Vegetarian Cookbook by the Rosicrucian Fellowship (copyright 1968, but mine is the fifth printing from 1975) has some recommendations.

Now, peanut butter wasn't entirely off the menu. It just might, well, not be what one would expect:

Peanut butter mashed with American loaf cheese, olives, and mayo sounds weird enough to me. When it's served on the recommended whole wheat raisin toast, that sends it to a whole new level of craziness! A briny, oily mush packed into a sweet case? Maybe it sounds appealing to someone out there, but I'm kind of gagging just contemplating it...

The recommendations were not limited to peanut butter, though. If you equate vegetarian cuisine to all beans, all the time, this will live up to your expectations:

Cold baked beans mashed with mayo and spread on bread! Mmm, mmm...monstrous! At least it kind of has a theme that makes sense with the baked beans and Boston brown bread.

But what about cottage cheese? Didn't all health-food cookbooks in the '60s and '70s recommend copious use of cottage cheese? Why yes, they did. 

I like the recommendation to add something "to heighten the flavor." That's a quiet way of acknowledging that mixing soy flour into anything (and especially something that starts out as bland as cottage cheese) is a sure way to suck all the flavor right out. Would you rather your cottage cheese/ soy/ salad dressing mixture taste of onion pulp, nuts, or horseradish? That question should be enough to make a kid burst into tears, back-to-school time or not!

Happy Saturday! If you have a sandwich today, make it a good one!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Some SERIOUS do-it-yourself

If you are a foodie into creating your own artisanal meals whenever you have a long weekend or a doomsday prepper getting ready to make everything yourself in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (that still manages, of course, to allow access to whatever supplies you need), I see the roots of those preoccupations in this book:

The Joy of Making Your Own, by the editors of Consumer Guide Magazine (1976), is a guide for serious do-it-yourself-ers. How serious?

As the first step for making your own smoked meat, it shows how to make your own smoker out of a barrel or an old refrigerator! And these are no half-assed little projects. They require digging trenches, lugging around cement blocks, and cutting holes in appliances. I'm exhausted just thinking about all this.

Even looking at the easier projects is pretty intimidating. I like making homemade veggie "sausage" dough out of gluten and various seasonings, then steaming it into links, so I decided to check out the sausage section. Here are the basic directions-- just the starting point-- before we get to any specific variety of sausage:

Yes, there is a lot of transferring meat and crushed ice in and out of a blender-- so much that the recipe actually recommends taking a break halfway through to prevent the blender from overheating! Then there is the mixing, the shaping (maybe even packing it into casings!), tying, cooking, etc. It makes me glad veggie sausage is so easy! 

As a representative of the sausage section, here is an easy one that is cooked as a loaf rather than made into links:

I didn't know pickle and pimiento loaf was something one could make at home, but apparently it is! I just picked this because I used to work in a deli many many years ago, and I hated the weeks this stuff was on sale. Besides smelling revolting, P&P covered every available surface (the slicer, the counters, my clothing, the floor I'd have to mop at the end of the day) with slimy red and green flecks. At least ours came pre-made and I didn't have to start my workday by making the damn stuff!

Sometimes the book shows a base recipe (such as how to make cottage cheese at home) and then easier recipes in which to use that base. I was amused by this suggestion:

I'm not sure what "super-sophisticates" might find so compelling about cottage cheese mixed with cream cheese, sweet pickle relish, mustard, and caraway seeds, but the mental picture of "super-sophisticates" breaking out the wine to go with this concoction makes me giddy.

Of course, the wine they break out should ideally also be homemade! There are pages and pages and pages of instructions on how to make homemade wine and beer... I want to leave you with an alcohol recipe, but I wanted something a bit less intimidating. So here is something you might actually try (and the book suggests it as a good project to start soon for Thanksgiving):

A cherry bounce might put a bounce in  your step (and make dinner with family a bit more bearable)!

Happy Wednesday, whether you are a foodie artisan, an apocalypse-awaiter, or just a lazy person like me who is content browsing through The Joy of Making Your Own with little intent to make anything too complicated.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Put Jif on it!

We're hitting back to school time, so I'm getting a little nostalgic for the lunches I used to pack when I was a kid. They always starred peanut butter (and butter-- I preferred savory to sweet so I liked peanut butter and salted [dairy] butter instead of the usual peanut butter and jelly!) sandwiches. That meant it was time to dig out my trusty Jif Choosy Mothers' Peanut Butter Cookbook (1979) to see what kinds of peanut butter sandwiches it suggested for the kiddos.

Of course there are plenty of sweet variations: peanut butter paired with mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, flaked coconut, marshmallow creme, etc. But the savory variations certainly wouldn't have gotten me too excited. How about this:

Maybe the layer of cat puke on Swiss cheese doesn't look too scary to those of you whose brains register canned deviled ham as edible, but then you notice the whole thing is floating on a sea of peanut butter. Does anybody other than Jif executives think deviled ham with Swiss on rye really needs peanut butter too?

And that's not all that peanut butter can go with for no apparent reason. Like tuna salad?

Have it with peanut butter on a hot dog bun for a good, old-fashioned "Tuna-Peanut Boat."

Feel left out because you prefer turkey or chicken salad?

You can make any salad sandwich "P-Nutty"!

And perhaps my personal favorite...

Feel like pizza is missing a little something?

Yep-- Pizza Spinners are for when an English muffin pizza just won't feel complete without the addition of peanut butter and bologna.

Happy weekend! And maybe these recipes can help students whose classes ban peanut products feel as if they're not missing out on anything....

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Be glad I held off on the "Knox Knox" jokes....

When we think of all the glorious/ scary/ gloriously scary retro gelatin dishes, we tend to think of Jell-O. Jell-O was not the only game in town, though. Lots of people wanted in on that sweet gelatin money, so earlier in the 20th century, there were plenty of brands to choose from.

One of the more popular non-Jell-O brands was Knox, as you will see from this 1936 pamphlet:

The recipes are mostly pretty basic (and sound pretty good): various combinations of flavored Knox Jell, whipped cream, fruit, and/or marshmallows.

I was a bit puzzled by this one, though:

Why serve slices of fatty meat and radish roses with hexagons of lime gelatin?

If you're a lamb eater, you're probably a step ahead of me on this one: lamb goes with mint.

So are those sparkling green molds lime or mint?

The answer, of course, is both! Apparently, all it takes to make lime gelatin into mint is to add a few drops of mint flavoring. Why you'd want to work to make lime-y "mint" molds when it would be easier (and probably mintier-tasting) to crack open a jar of actual mint jelly was beyond me... until I considered that a lot of 1930s women probably made their own mint jelly, too. Then this alternative looked a little better.

I also loved this picture:

It's just so perky and shiny. It looks like it could deflect a bullet! And I am a sucker for prunes stuffed with walnut halves because they look like tiny alien heads with their brains exposed. The mold is made of some kind of rare metal and whoever is guarding it has surrounded it with dead aliens' heads to suggest that anyone else who wants to try stealing it should think twice.... (Prunes all by themselves would probably deter me from touching this, but I am kind of picky.)

How do you make this "treasure"?

It's pretty easy: lemon gelatin with crushed pineapple, whipped cream, and "prune pulp."

Of course, Knox gelatin might be familiar to a few of you-- especially those who like to make retro recipes. Why? They're still around. They only make unflavored gelatin, now, though, but you can see it's the brand I used in both Pieathalons.

Why don't they make flavored Knox anymore? Knox is now owned by Kraft, which also owns (*Ding! Ding! Ding!*)-- you guessed it-- Jell-O!

Happy Wednesday! I hope you enjoyed this foray into gelatin dessert mix history.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Kind of freaky (but not super-freaky) candles

I'm always a bit disappointed when I hear Rick James's "Super Freak." If this is supposed to be about someone "very kinky," I have trouble taking that claim seriously if she's armed with "incense, wine, and candles." I'm not sure even my grandma could find that combination slightly freaky. I can think of some possibly kinky things to do with the candles, but given that they're keeping company with incense and wine, my expectations are pretty low. They're probably just there for mood lighting. Sigh.

That's my weird little way of saying that today we are going to see that even Good Housekeeping's Perfect Parties (1971) has some semi-freaky ways of using candles (for birthdays! I'm not implying GH is kinky!).

For those with a summer birthday, maybe shove a candle in some ice cream?

This looks pretty awesome, but there is a LOT of work involved in making sure it won't melt before it gets demolished by guests:

Yeah-- they recommend starting this several weeks ahead with multiple freezing stages. The end result looks great, though!

Apparently dads are not supposed to like sweets. This is the recommendation for dad's birthday. Can you tell what they've crowned with candles and set ablaze?

The tiny bread slices at the edges might give you a clue.

Dad is apparently supposed to like cheese. I mean, REALLY like cheese. For a regular party, it calls for six pounds of baby Edam! No one in my family was ever popular enough to have a party that would require 96 ounces of cheese, but I'm sure there are some people out there who would need it. (Even the "small party" option of three 10-ounce baby Goudas would have been too much for us...) Either way, at least the "recipe" is a lot easier and mostly involves using a wooden skewer to make a series of equidistant holes in the tops of cheeses.

My favorite freaky use of candles, though, is of course the one that is the greatest fire hazard:

How can I resist the vision of candles precariously balanced in pineapple leaves, especially when the pineapple top is resting equally precariously atop its shell filled with (rapidly melting) ice cream? Put that baby a little too close to the curtains, and that will be a birthday party to remember!

So there you have it: some semi-freaky candle creations from Good Housekeeping. Have a super freaky weekend!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mexi-Hungarian dip, wallpaper paste, and other questionable table top dishes...

Get out your macrame wall hanging and your leisure suit! Today we are headed to the '70s with 1971's Fondue and Table Top Cookery by Marion Howells.

I love the tiled wall and the pottery crock holding the fondue. I can't quite tell what the little cubes sprinkled with parsley in the front row are. They might be cubed fruit, but they might also be cheese. If this picture is suggesting dipping cheese in cheese, I am definitely excited by that idea!

Despite the cover, much of the book is actually devoted to "table top cookery." What is that?

A lot of it is suggestions for foods that can be kept warm in chafing dishes for guests whose schedules may be a bit unpredictable, such as teens coming home from the big game. They are bound to love dishes like this:

I can't figure out how the dip is Mexican, though. What makes onion, vinegar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and paprika Mexican? There's not even any chili powder! I would assume a few grains of chili powder was the bare minimum for a food to be considered "Mexican" in the '70s. I guess calling it "Hungarian Dip" (not that this would necessarily be any more authentic, but at least it would fit the paprika use) would not have had as much appeal to '70s teens.

Other recipes try to be impressive by cooking the food right at the table, such as in an electric skillet. How about a fresh omelette, made right before your eyes? Before you look too excited, let me make the situation a bit clearer:

How about an omelette full of squishy, slimy noodles in a thin, overly-sweet metallic sauce? Canned spaghetti is so bad, why stretch out the eating experience by adding it to an omelette? This is something I do not understand.

The fondues mostly sound pretty good, though:

Italian cheeses loosened up with a bit of alcohol and melted to a thick, bubbly dip? That's more like it! (As long as you don't look at the picture, anyway):

The recipe sounds delicious, but the picture looks like hard potato chunks dipped in stringy wallpaper paste! Plus the greasy yellow swirls in the pan are... uh... not so inviting. I guess I'm more interested in eating the fondue if I don't actually have to look too closely at it!

Happy Wednesday! Try not to look too closely at a Wednesday, either, or you will fixate on how far it is from a weekend....

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Oyster bake follies, plus saga of the armpit-knitter

Now that we've had a little cooling-off time from the unfortunately retrograde Coastal Carolina Cooking (1963 printing), let's enjoy some cool summer fun from it.

Who is up for an oyster roast?

I love the humor in the writer's voice here, showing that while a lot of people might be up for eating roasted oysters, not nearly as many are interested in making that oyster roast happen. The opening advises readers to "Invite only very good & tolerant friends" and gives prospective hosts notice that "It is not possible [to get guests to help remove mud from the oysters] if they have done it before."

The roast can apparently be a bit dangerous if the host doesn't think things through. I wonder what incident led the writer to note "Old fertilizer bags are definitely not recommended" for steaming the oysters.

Getting at the goodies is a similarly treacherous process requiring not only oyster knives and napkins, but also iodine and Band Aids!

The hyperbole of the closing paragraph needs no adornment from me: "It is said that the precious effluvium emanating from the oyster reaches the brain instantly, giving it vigour, force & potency. Don't count on this sudden vigour for help with cleaning up!" E. Coates turns a recipe into a story. Pair that with the picture of a cookout under a palm as a friend splashes in the ocean just "off camera," and this is a great page to enjoy on a summer day.

This next pair of recipes suggest some (somewhat dubious) summery salads. They're odd, but pay attention to the pictures at the bottom of the page because they are funny in their own right.

The salad is basically an enormous plate of solid condiment. Lemon jello plus whipped cream sounds fine, but mixing it all with horseradish and mayo? Ugh!

The real oddity, though, is the picture at the bottom of the recipe. Apparently a woman is knitting as she watches a cooking show (not so weird), but look at the angle of her needles! I've never seen anyone try to knit with knitting needles in their armpits. It looks very uncomfortable.

Now the recipe and these pictures are weird, but I'm not sure I would have featured them without the continuation on the next page.

I hate horseradish, but I have to admit Lime Salad sounds even worse! Load up your lime jello with vinegar, mayo, pickle relish, celery, and canned peaches!? I'm not a fan of condiments, but I can kind of get that some people may think horseradish mayo is okay in mold form. I can't imagine anyone saying, "Let's throw some canned peaches in with the pickle relish and celery." *Shudder*

Even funnier, the saga of the armpit-knitter continues on the bottom of the page. She is apparently alarmed by the cooking show, evidenced by her open-mouthed panic and dropping the ball of yarn on the floor. It took me a minute to figure out what the trouble was, but I think she is horrified that the pot is boiling over on her cooking show.

Unable to bear the tension of seeing a cooking mishap, she "solves" her problem by turning off the TV. Ha!

Two disgusting recipes and a comic strip? I can't ask for much more!

Happy weekend! Celebrate with a good, old-fashioned jello-roast! Not fancy jello-knives or Band Aids required.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Layered Salad Majesty Above the Day-Glo Roast

Since my Wednesday cookbooks have been mostly pictureless lately, today we'll look at The Kraft Cookbook: 75 Years of Good Food Ideas (1977). The book is a celebration for Kraft's 1978 75th anniversary, and it is loaded with color pictures.

Since it's a celebration, we will start with something majestic:

It's kind of pretty with the various layers, and it probably sounds at least all right to those of you who like mayonnaise with curry powder in it on top of peas and raw onions. But majestic? I'm not so sure. If mayo on top of (previously frozen) peas is your idea of majestic, then either your priorities are way off or most of the world must be mind-blowingly awesome.

This salad just makes me nervous because you know the first scoop will send mayo-covered peas everywhere. The tablecloth will be distinctly less majestic when you're done with this one.

Looking more subdued is Mushroom Bread:

It actually sounds pretty good: crescent roll dough baked with mushrooms and a bit of parm (even if it is sawdust-y Kraft "parm"). It's just that the picture makes the Mushroom Bread look sooo sad-- like a dried-out pizza missing the best parts: sauce and melty cheese! The recipe tries to sell this creation as a "unique bread that resembles a pizza," but to me the resemblance to a pizza is not the selling point. It's the problem. If they had figured out a way to roll crescents around a mushroom filling or something, this would look 157% more appetizing.

Speaking of appetizing, I got a funny feeling when I looked at the Caramel Breakfast Cake:

I knew it SHOULD look good. Come on-- pecans and caramel over flaky biscuits! I should think it looks delicious. But there was just something about that weird, orange-y sheen that made the whole thing look sinister to me. Then I realized it was because the weird, orange-y sheen was shared by this:

When your Spanish Pot Roast with olives and onions has the same glow as the caramel cake with pecans, there is a problem. Now my mind is forced to imagine a Catalina French dressing-topped breakfast cake and a Spanish roast all covered in caramel. Thanks, Kraft. Thanks a freaking lot.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Bisquick Barbecue

For the first day of August, the last full month of summer proper, I thought we should have a barbecue. I wanted a little bit of a challenge, though, so I didn't pull out one of my grilling books. Instead, I looked at my special ingredient cookbooks, wondered which one would be most likely to have an outdoor cooking section despite the fact that it wasn't really for a product identified with grilling, and picked out 1967's So Quick with New Bisquick.

Bisquick is not a crazy choice. Most of us have probably accidentally lit a skillet full of campers' pancakes as we've tried to cook them over an open fire because we overgreased the pan and forgot how heavy a skillet full of pancakes is and how hot fire can get at close range....

Besides the pancakes, though, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy Bisquick in the great out-of-doors. This first one sounds yummy and I only included it because I love the illustration:

The cheesy pup, draped in a bacon a towel, looks as if she has been surprised in the shower. (How do I know this is a "she" hot dog? The bacon "towel" seems to be obscuring her chest, and the scandalously uncovered area above her legs is smooth-- no dangly bits. Despite their phallic shape, hot dogs can be girls.) 

Maybe this is the hot dog equivalent of a scene from Psycho. The final scene of people eating hot dogs wrapped in cheesy biscuit and smoky bacon is pretty polarizing. The movie is rated G for people and NC-17 for hot dogs.

Other recipes just seem a bit odd:

The owl looks pretty excited about "Dough Balls," but a recipe that has little kids dripping water into a bag full of Bisquick and then rooting around in it with a stick and their grubby little unwashed camping hands strikes me as a wee bit unsanitary. I'll let the owl have my share.

At least the dough balls promise to be pretty innocuous. I am not so sure about this one:

Grilled pizza isn't exactly a new idea, and it of course sounds pretty good if you don't look at the recipe. Anyone who doesn't love pizza is probably a psychopath. That's a scientific fact.

The thing that concerns me about Bisquick's Camper's Pizza is the sauce: pure "catsup." That by itself is enough to turn me off, even though I know some people (who are probably also psychopaths) consider ketchup to be a suitable pizza sauce substitution. Even they, though, should be a bit concerned. Why? This recipe specifies the size of the ketchup bottle. Why give the size? The most logical reason is that the recipe writers intend for cooks to use all of it (as the "spread 1 bottle" directions seem to confirm). A 14 oz. bottle of ketchup divided between four personal-size pizzas= 3.5 oz. (nearly half a cup!) of ketchup per serving. In contrast, there's only two ounces of cheese per pizza. Even if you can accept the sacrilege of ketchup as pizza sauce, you better be repelled by pizzas with more ketchup than cheese. If not, you should probably be locked up because there is definitely something wrong.

Happy Saturday! Get out there and grill some dough!