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.