Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cookbook: The Novel

Old cookbooks are a bit like mystery novels to me. Who owned this before I did? How did they use it? What was their life like? Did anybody ever really eat this stuff? I recently got a [second] copy of American Home All-Purpose Cookbook (ed. Virginia T. Habeeb, 1966) just because it was obviously well-loved by someone: held together with shipping tape, extensively stained,  with handwritten notes and newspaper recipes squirreled away between so many pages that it's hard to pick the book up without something falling out.

One little note that fluttered out suggested at least some recipes DID get used:

It looks like a list to get ready for some event-- something that would call for Cauliflower-Asparagus Polonaise, Fresh Fruit in Grand Marnier, Sugar Cookies, and -- apparently -- salad in "High C." I love the way the menu turns into a shopping list at the bottom. She had some supplies, but needed sherry, "naval" oranges (Ahoy!), strawberries, melon balls, and Romaine. (Not sure where the lettuce comes in, but old cookbooks showed it on every platter.)

My guess at the event, based on the fancied-up veggies as the centerpiece to a fruit-and-dessert spread, is a ladies' luncheon. Of course, it could have been something else-- the Hi-C fruit salad featuring canned mandarin oranges and pineapple suggests kids may have needed an alternative to the Grand Marnier fruit-- but I'm saying it was a ladies' luncheon.

So what did the fancy ladies eat?

Cauliflower and asparagus with bread crumbs dumped over the top. Since the head of cauliflower is supposed to be whole, this must have been great fun to serve. Try to cut off a floret or two and send crumbs flying right down Marjorie's bosom!

Of course, ladies must have plenty of fruit-- preferably boozy fruit-- so next is this:

Maybe not quite enough Grand Marnier to get Shirley to tell everyone about what Phyllis and Rosemary were doing were doing with Earl and the hay baler down at the grain elevator, but it's a start. As long as somebody brings an extra bottle of sherry, the whole story might come out.

Plus sugar cookies to cap it all off:

These were probably pretty good, made with actual butter instead of shortening... but they do seem a little boring. So I've added an extra recipe-- I presume it's for a syrup of some sort-- that slipped out of a nearby page:

That recipe is dope!

I don't think this is what my grandma was worried about when she complained about all the kids on the dope these days, but I don't know... Maybe they were all hopped up on cornstarch and brown sugar? The ladies' clubs were fueled by Grand Marnier, so you never know...

Happy Saturday! Now go make some dope or find something interesting to do with the hay baler. Your choice.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cholesterol free coasters and castles

When I bought my first box of frozen veggie burgers from Big Lots-- back when I was a starving college student trying to save money from my work-study job-- I thought that frozen veggie burgers were a relatively recent addition to the grocery aisle. They sure seemed like a novelty to someone from a small town where the one and only health food store smelled vaguely like hay and mostly sold vitamins in brown glass bottles.

I was, of course, wrong.

My Morningstar Farms Cholesterol Free Foods book (1978) shows that there were plenty of vegetarian meat substitutes in the freezer aisles, even back in the '70s. They just didn't make it to the freezer aisles of the Podunk towns where I lived until the '90s.

In fact, here's the whole glorious lineup:

Most of these are still around today. The Play-Doh-looking "bacon" seems nearly unchanged, as do the breakfast links and patties (except that patties now come in multiple flavors). The "Leanies" are just called "Veggie Dogs" now, and the Grillers have expanded beyond burgers to "Chik'n" Grillers as well. The Luncheon Slices must have been way more popular in the '70s, though, because they are gone. (Apparently the appeal of fake Spam is pretty limited.)

Better than the pictures of the old Morningstar Farms foods is the company's ides about what home cooks should do with them.

Have you always wanted a breakfast that looked like a really weird two-tone coaster?

They look so tempting with the spongy brown core and the beige exterior. 

These are Breakfast Pattycakes-- a sad little half breakfast patty encircled with pancake batter. I'm not sure how these are supposed to be eaten. They look super dry, and the parsley on the platter suggests they're not supposed to get a syrupy coating. (Granted, I'm not a sausage-and-syrup lover anyway, but I imagine the parsley-and-syrup types are even rarer!) It looks as if this is a breakfast to be choked down with a lot of orange juice....

Since this is a '70s alternative cookbook, of course it has to have some dubiously "ethnic" recipes.
When I saw "Mandarin Casserole," I of course imagined a casserole full of mandarin oranges and luncheon slices topped off with crispy almonds or chow mein noodles.

My guesses were totally wrong, though! The casserole is initially just fried rice with crumbled breakfast patties. It really takes a turn for the weird fifteen minutes into baking when it is pulled out of the oven to be topped with cottage cheese mixed with egg substitute and Parmesan cheese. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but I will never get over recipes that pretend cheese is somehow a Chinese ingredient. Apparently, packaged fried rice mix is enough to call a recipe "Mandarin," even with Parmesan and paprika toppings.

The most fun recipe, as always, is the shiniest:

If you've ever wanted a jiggly cottage cheese and mayo crown on top of ginger-ale-lacquered veggie Luncheon Slices, pineapple, cucumber, and celery, then Molded Salad Crown is the recipe for you! 

My mind somehow sees this more as a castle than a crown, though. The luncheon slices are drawbridges, and the "crown" is the parapets reaching into the clouds. This is one dish that would be WAY more fun to play with than to eat....

Happy Wednesday! Go play with your food.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Horror comedy? You betcha!

I recently became completely addicted to the Fargo series-- meaning I watched the very first episode and within about two weeks I had seen the entirety of both seasons, even though I am not usually the binge-watching type. I can't resist the combination of hilarious and terrifying-- either in entertainment or in cookbooks-- and the series delivers. If an episode can show a murderous couple trying to escape into the night, slightly delayed by the husband's interest in an unexplained object hovering over the scene and the wife dismissing it with "It's just a flying saucer, hon. We got to go," I'm ALL IN.

This is the long way of saying that I decided to go for recipes from the frozen north today. My recipes aren't specifically from Bemidji or Duluth (where season 1 was set) or Luverne or Fargo (where season 2 was set), but they're at least from the Minnesota/ Dakotas area. More importantly, they're hilarious/ terrifying.

I will start with my most subtle example of horror comedy from The Lutheran Ladies Cookbook (1970):

I know, deep-fried cauliflower is a staple of fairs, one of those foods that allows kids to tell their parents that they ate their vegetables and the parents to half-heartedly believe the assertion even though everyone knows these little nuggets are just an excuse to eat deep-fried dough. The self-deception is of course part of the comedy and the actual nutritional content compared to plain old cauliflower the horror, but I also picked the recipe because it shows our long history of trying to pretend cauliflower is something else. Now that people are trying to use cauliflower for everything from rice to mashed "potatoes" to pizza crust, we're facing a shortage. I love glimpsing the roots of new crazes in the state fair-style recipes from South Dakota....

Here's another trick: imagine some custard. I instantly think of those little glass custard cups slightly jiggly as they come out of their oven steam-bath, vanilla perfuming the air. If I change the recipe to carrot custard, it's still not too hard to imagine even though I've never tried it. I picture orange cups, perhaps scented with cinnamon and ginger, whispering of pumpkin pie. That's not what is on the minds of the St. John's Ladies Gp. of Motley, Minnesota, though:

This is a savory custard, the carrot and eggs mashed up with crushed crackers and shredded cheese and topped with bacon. It might sound good to you sweet and savory lovers, but carrots with bacon and cheese? I think broccoli would sound like a better pairing, but "Broccoli Custard" would probably be a pretty hard sell....

For some really oddball recipes, I moved on to Stay for Lunch (eighth printing, 1978, members of the Crippled Children's Hospital and School Auxiliary, Sioux Falls, South Dakota):

You know you're in for something weird when the head note admits that the recipe "sounds strange." Should you try it? Maybe-- if you like bread spread with jam, topped with an American cheese-studded souffle mixture, and baked. I've never personally had a yearning for runny, hot jam topped with puffy, American-cheese-filled eggs, but the thought of that gooey concoction does make me laugh a little and feel a bit terrified.

Let's cap off this horror comedy feast with that most mid-western of dishes: the Jell-O salad:

Polka-Dot Cups mostly sound delicious: cherries, orange Jell-O, pecans, cream cheese. But just to add the horrifying element, these initially yummy-sounding cups can stare up at the person ready to eat them with green olive eyes!

Have a horrifyingly funny weekend!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dieting with the home ec teachers

I hope you're not sick of wacky diet recipes. If you are-- too bad! I'm not. Today's diet recipes are from one of my favorite sources-- home ec teachers:

Dieting to Stay Fit (1978) covers a whole spectrum of concerns. There's a chapter on low-calorie recipes, of course, but there is also one for weight gain recipes. Some chapters seem a bit dated (low-cholesterol recipes), while others match current diet trends (high protein, natural foods).

I'm a little bit confused about how the recipes were categorized, though. For example, the next two recipes are from two different chapters: one from the low-cal chapter and one from the weight gain chapter. Which one is which?

Given that I just told you I was confused about how the home-ec teachers decided which recipes should go in which chapters, I hope you guessed correctly. That's right: the Hawaiian Cool-It, full of sugary Hawaiian Punch, ginger ale, and fruit juices, is the low-cal recipe. It doesn't even use diet ginger ale! Maybe the fact that it doesn't call for a hearty pour of straight-up corn syrup and/or heavy cream makes it diet?

The recipe for lean chicken breasts stir-fried in minimal oil with non-starchy vegetables is billed as a weight gain formula. It even has a reasonable serving size, dividing the two chicken breasts among four people! Maybe Susie Devoll forgot to add that the whole thing is supposed to be served on top of an enormous mound of fried noodles and/or rice?

Not all of the categorizations defy logic, though. I'll bet you can guess what chapter this recipe comes from:

Yep, "Hip Padder Bars" are from the weight gain chapter. I'm not sure how caramels, German chocolate cake mix, margarine, and chocolate chips will help with the "fit" lifestyle the title suggests, but they are pretty certain to add some padding!

I may have been most fascinated with the high protein chapter because that's a current diet trend and I always wonder how people will cram extra protein anywhere they can find a space. Here's an idea that I still see in "new" recipes:

Turn the carby pizza crust into something else. I see chicken breasts as the go-to option today, but Meat-zza Pie uses meatloaf as the "crust." (I think I would have minded meat loaf a lot less as a kid if my mom had topped it like a pizza!)

Other high-protein recipes, however, seem largely abandoned:

Nutritious Lemonade, anyone? Or even better, to reflect the egginess of this recipe, "Lemon Nog"?

No matter the name, I think I'll pass.

Happy Wednesday, and you have my permission to work on padding those hips!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The '60s meaning of "hot sauce" and a fundamental misunderstanding of tortillas

I often take the bus to and/or from work. It's not usually so bad if I can avoid getting a seat next to someone who wants to tell me how the lizard-people are running a false-flag operation to distract us from the real problem of our time: electromagnetic pollution.

The thing I hate is freezing my pinkie toes off while I wait for the bus... and that makes me imagine myself as the star of an old Campbell's soup commercial. I'm not big on eating canned condensed chicken soup, so instead of warming up by eating soup, I will try writing about it instead. From Campbell's Easy Ways to Delicious Meals (1968 revised edition), we have a whole soup-centric spread:

You can tell it's festive because the drinks each have two mismatched straws in them. Two!

Hiding off on the far right is some kind of a jellied thing. Apparently it is so hideous that it insisted it remain mostly off-camera.

On the left, we have the ever-popular sandwiches with olives on the top so they kind of look like they're staring at you.

Plus bottom center, we have taco shells filled with what the bare minimum of shaved lettuce you can put in a taco shell to convince mom that you really are eating vegetables, plus a bit of cheese, with their butts sinking into some baked beans.

So how did Campbell's make all this stuff? And what does it have to do with a guitar?

Apparently the guitar is to show us this supper is "something to sing about." (I'm not sure what the song would have been. I'd have guessed "Eat It" if that song hadn't been a couple of decades too late.)

Note the discrepancy between the drinks in the picture and the ones listed in the actual menu. Campbell's doesn't seem to be fully convinced that hot V-8 juice spiked with A-1 sauce and topped with a pat of butter is an acceptable beverage. They can't even commit to photographing it.

The next item on the menu is "Hot Sauced Chicken Towers." I perk up a bit on reading this, wondering if this is a case where some actual hot sauce might make an appearance. Is it possible that dinner could have a bit of spice?

The answer, of course, is no. These are just chicken, bacon, and tomato sandwiches. The "hot sauce" is not Tabasco, but heated chicken gravy with some onion and canned mushroom added. Woo!

What is the deal with all the taco shells?

They are thrown into/onto "Mexicali Beans": a combination of canned barbecue beans, celery, and corn. Tortillas are fried and folded, (barely) filled with cheese (and maybe green pepper), then unceremoniously plunked into the beans and baked.

I get frying, folding and filling tortillas. Everyone knows that's the way to make hard tacos. I get filling, folding, and cooking the whole thing in a sauce. That's the secret to enchiladas and other treats. But frying, folding, (sort of) filling, and then baking with their butts in a sauce? These will neither be a shatteringly crisp vehicle for seasoned meat, cheese, and/or veggies nor a soft parcel stuffed with spicy surprises and bathed in delicious sauce. They're too big to give the top an addictively crunchy layer in every bite, as crushed corn chips could. The middles will be soggy and the tops unwieldy and bland. Throwing on a handful of shredded lettuce will not be enough to save this show. That seems like a complete misunderstanding of tortillas to me.

Lastly, what is that mold trying to hide in the corner? Does it really have soup in it?

That is Gingery Fruit Mold, and it is indeed made with a can of condensed consomme. (At least it's not cream of asparagus!) Using condensed consomme in the mold solves the problem with lemon gelatin if you've always thought it wasn't nearly salty enough. Otherwise, I'm not sure of the advantage of this addition unless one owns stock in Campbell's.

Have a happy weekend! Don't freeze, or if you do, warm up with a few Campbell's ads that may have been familiar to this book's original audience.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Weight Watching, 1978 style

Ugh! January is now here in earnest, and it cannot be over soon enough! If I could just hibernate, there would be no more posts until April or so.

Extra time to look at old cookbooks can at least help to make up for my inability to hibernate, and January resolutions continue to give me a good excuse to keep checking out old diet books. I am secretly in love with old diet books because I am endlessly fascinated by wtf dieters would substitute for the off-limits foods they craved.

Case in point: pancakes. Want some? Too bad, because they have too many carbs and not enough protein. Solution (all of today's solutions are from Weight Watchers New Program Cookbook by Jean Nidetch, 1978):

Yogurt Pancakes! Just egg and unflavored yogurt with a teaspoon of flour and a dash of salt. Add a bit of wishful thinking, and perhaps you won't realize that this is basically just a scrambled egg.

If you are hard-core into dairy, these might be more your style:

Cottage Cheese Pancakes top a mostly-egg-and-cottage-cheese mixture with plain yogurt! Sure to be a delightfully bland dairy overload.

Some recipes just leave me mystified. What kind of an occasion would call for this?

Equal amounts of unseasoned kidney or white beans and cooked pumpkin pureed together and then heated? Is it supposed to be a soup? A sauce? Caulk? The thought of the thick graininess of the pureed beans with the slight sweetness of the pumpkin and no salt or seasonings to tip the balance toward savory or sweet or any real flavor tickles my gag reflex.

If there is one theme that runs through the book, though (and I won't say anything about whether a pun is intended), it is prunes in places where they don't belong. (Granted, I think the only place they really belong is the grocery store where people who are not myself can buy them, but I suspect even those people would not use prunes as Jean Nidetch instructs.)

Let's start with an easier one:

If you like eating sweet omelets, then maybe folding some prune puree into your scrambled egg sounds at least reasonable.

If you are really, really concerned about fiber:

Combine beans and prunes! I doubt Nidetch would have approved of Fruit 'n Fibre cereal when it came out-- what with the added sugar-- but I'll bet it made this basic idea a whole lot more palatable.

If weird salads are your thing:

Mix prunes, curried rice, and green peppers in a yogurt/mayo sauce...

Or if you just straight-up want to make my skin crawl, go all the way:

Mix sauerkraut and prunes.

Dana Andrews and I will be clutching our torsos and whimpering. If I'm feeling generous, I might give you extra credit points if you figure out why I dragged Dana Andrews into this.

Happy Wednesday! Stay away from the prunes and just enjoy some semi-obscure cult movie references instead. They're calorie-free!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Have a damp, flavorless sandwich!

January= diet time for a lot of people. What if, a week into the 1971 resolution to lose weight, a dieter really wanted a sandwich? Better Homes and Gardens Calorie Counter's Cook Book (1970), gives readers their pick of this lovely spread:

I'm not so sure about the composition of this picture. I can see why the pile-of-indistinguishable-bits-of-something-on-a-lettuce-leaf is in the bottom corner, but why center the slabs-of-beige-topped-with-something-that-maybe-got-rolled-in-rust sandwich? I'd pick the much prettier cucumber sandwich to go front and center....

So what are all these delightful concoctions?

Top left: Fruit Wheels!

The name is plural because the recipe makes four of them. You only get to eat one of them, though, so you better have some friends to share or you will be eating a soggy bagel topped with brown fruit (the lemon juice to prevent browning will only go so far...) by day four. Of all the recipes, this is the most palatable. You get a tiny bit of cream cheese (a tablespoon-- half a serving-- divided among four servings if I'm reading this right) separating a bagel half from slices of fresh peach, banana, and honeydew. Not necessarily thrilling, but it would have a bit of flavor.

Top right: Cucumber Sandwiches.

As I said, clearly the prettiest. With its bright red radishes and green cucumbers, it may almost make you feel like you get a little extra Christmas-- until you bite into it. Eating it with a knife and fork may help you feel more like you are eating some actual food, but thinly sliced cukes and radishes on barely-buttered bread? I think I'd rather just look at it and save the calories for eating something that has more flavor (and less soggy bread).

The beige-on-beige-fest in the center: Chicken Open-Faces.

Spread bread with a homemade dressing of sorts, consisting mostly of thickened skim milk seasoned with dry mustard and vinegar. Top with watercress, sliced chicken, and "a few slices of paprika-edged water chestnuts." I love craft project recipes, but what does rolling water chestnuts in paprika really accomplish? Not exactly a burst of flavor-- just a slightly wet and grainy crunch to try to balance the probably dry (and just as bland) chicken....

Bottom right: Ham and Salad Rolls.

Not ham salad, but ham and salad, meaning ham slices wrapped around shredded lettuce, cucumber, and dill pickle. (I love the way the book italicizes "1 pickle," as if the diet will be totally blown by eating an extra pickle spear.) The hot dog bun gives this the distinction of being the only non-open-faced sandwich, although it seems to follow the exciting diet theme of "crunchy and damp."

Finally, that random-ish pile of stuff in the bottom right: Cottage Cheese-wiches.

Prepare for the glamour of cottage cheese mashed up with celery, carrot, radish, and caraway! And the recipe makes enough for six of these babies! Crunch, moisture, and the growing conviction that dirt has somehow been mixed into the topping (courtesy of radish and caraway) rightfully relegate this to bottom-corner status.

I think I'd just prefer the more current diet trend of using veggies (peppers, mushrooms, lettuce, etc.) as "buns" or wraps, even if these sandwiches with actual bread may be a bit easier to eat. At least the new fillings tend to be a little more interesting....

Have a happy (and hopefully sandwich-filled) weekend!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The BIG pictures

Today is a treat because I can post about a book I've been putting off for quite a while:

Life's Picture Cook Book (1958, but mine is from the second printing, 1959) is a monster! A 9x13 baking dish is small by comparison. I never posted about this because I wanted nice scans of the pages and my scanner was way too small for the job.

I got a new all-in-on printer for Christmas, one with a SERIOUS scanning bed, so I knew it was finally time to bust this baby out!

I love, love, love this book for the late '50s/ early '60s illustrations. Just the pages in the front cover give a sense of the book's feel:

If you don't love black-and-one-color silhouettes, then I don't know why you're even looking at this blog.

Where else will you see a teal lobster, a harvest gold dutch oven, a bottle of Chianti against an avocado backdrop, brown pheasants and ducks behind a black gun silhouette, and a robin's egg blue pineapple? (That's a rhetorical question, but if you do have an actual answer that is something besides "The inside cover of your book," let me know!)

There are TONS of full-color photographs inside. Some of them seem a bit surreal:

If I title this The Persistence of Fried Rice with Ascending Dragons, I can almost convince myself that Salvador Dali had a brief stint as a food photographer....

Some of the pictures make me think more of horror movies than of dinner.

The duck hanging upside-down behind the various platters of duck-based dishes is described as "decorative," but I'm sure I'm not the only one shuddering when I look at this. I imagine even hunters would prefer not to see those roughed-up feathers and coldly curled webbed feet threatening to topple into their dinner...

Duck viewers, of course, may even mistake this for the dinner scene from Louisiana Twelve-Gauge Massacre, expecting Featherface to show up at any minute....

And just in case you think the theme of "trophy food dangling limply over its prepared compatriots" theme is limited to animals, let me set you straight:

Yep! It's heads on pikes! Right over bowls full of their dismembered buddies! Okay, they're heads of lettuce, along with bunches of other greens and green onions, but I can't get past the idea of heads on pikes.

(You get a sense of how enormous this book is, too. I couldn't even fit two full pages side-by-side in my massive new scanner...)

Since the editors want this to be seen as a relatively sophisticated collection, there is of course the requisite selection of flaming foods:

If you want fire, we have everything from a flaming fruitcake (top row, second from left-- and suggesting a great idea to re-purpose that fruitcake you didn't want: use it instead of a log on the fire!) to flaming punch and sundaes (far right, top), to flaming duck (far right, front). My favorite is almost dead center: a cabbage covered in meatballs with flame shooting out of the center. What kind of occasion calls for flaming cabbage covered in meat balls? A St. Patrick's Day celebration in Sweden? An occasion on which Cabbage Patch dolls are sacrificed to appease a volcano god? Your guess is as good as mine, but if you do think of such an occasion, here is the recipe:

Here's hoping your Wednesday doesn't go down in flames or get impaled on a pike!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Lessons from January menus, 1962

In 2014, I resolved to post a bit from Betty Crocker's Cooking Calendar at the beginning of each month. I kind of missed having a book to return to each month in 2015, so I decided to pick a new one for 2016. That means this year I am treating you to this beauty:

Glamour Magazine's New After Five Cookbook (Beverly Pepper, revised 1963) gives four weeks of menus for each month. Each week starts with a list of ingredients for the week's worth of quick dinners (mostly for two; for four on Sundays), then menus and recipes, spanning from Sunday to Friday. This format is supposed to appeal to "the working girl who comes home after five o'clock, to face the problem of preparing a meal for her husband or companion." (I like that this leaves a space for other sorts of arrangements with the "companion" option. Even though the "working girl" is still responsible for dinner, at least she's not necessarily married to whoever else she may be cooking for.) (She still can't be completely on her own, though....)

Anyway, at the beginning of each month, we'll look at a few menus for that month. This time I'm starting with Monday:

Starting a dinner with soup is a great idea in January-- but do we really want to mix cans of condensed black bean soup and asparagus soup with milk and a bit of liquid from cooked lima beans, then split the mess between two people? (And I like beans at least as much as anyone else, but a side of lima beans with a can of black bean soup? That's a recipe for an-- ahem-- aromatic evening.)

Serve that big mass of beans with strips of beef liver and a salad composed of onion, oranges, and black olives for a memorable evening. (Yeah, you can try to forget, but I have a feeling this menu will stick with you for a while.)

On Tuesday:

I'm not sure what makes "Nebraska Pork Pie" either Nebraskan or a pie, but it's definitely pork, with bacon slices on the bottom, pork chops in the middle, and "slivers of fat cut from pork chops" on the top. The potatoes here are canned, sliced potatoes, cooked under the chops, so it's definitely not a shepherd's pie. The topping is a sprinkle of bread crumbs with a touch of cheese, so that's not much of a crust. Maybe the bacon strips count as a bottom crust to transform this into a pie? Maybe Nebraskans have no idea what a pie is, so Beverly Pepper could call anything a pie as long as she claimed it was from Nebraska?

Serve with defrosted string beans and sliced artichoke hearts in French dressing. For dessert: bananas baked in half a can of crushed pineapple!

Are things looking up by Wednesday?

It depends on what your definition of "looking up" is. The soup may be marginally better than Monday's, mixing pea soup with bouillon and liquid from canned corn. I'm pretty sure the Ham Vegetable Loaf sounds pretty repellent to most of you, mixing ground ham with cottage cheese, shredded carrots, onion, egg, and seasonings, but I have to admit that it sounds WAY better than the traditional brown sugar/ vinegar/ mustard-fest to me. Seems kind of weird to serve it on English muffins, but that's a small concession for not having to deal with that disgusting glaze.... Plus, salad is mercifully mixed greens!

Finally, our Thursday menu for January:

This time, cooks get to dump canned cream of pea soup with a touch of butter, cheese, and whipped cream over toast and sauteed sweetbreads. The salad is once again orange and onion, this time with Italian dressing.

I'm not sure what to make of the peach betty. It sounds like it would be pretty soupy unless this is calling for a can of peach pie filling, which doesn't seem to be the case.... I think I'd skip the extra steps and just have the peaches with whipped cream rather than baking them in bread slices first, but I guess that shows I would be a lousy '60s cook and companion.

Lessons from January's menus:

1. When in doubt, add canned leguminous soup.
2. Salads normally consist of a random collection of canned and/or frozen veggies, onions, and/or oranges, preferably marinated in dressing.
3. Organ meats are our friends. Bonus points if they can be combined with canned soup.
4. If you feel sophisticated, dessert is cheese with fresh fruit or crackers.
5. If you feel cozy, dessert is something baked with canned fruit.

Happy January! Go open a few cans!