Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Glamour-ous End of the Year

December! It's the month when I traditionally begin wishing I could hibernate until family gatherings are over and warmer weather is creeping back in. Instead of passing out until mid-April or so, I will just have to content myself to say goodbye to Glamour Magazine's New After Five Cookbook (Beverly Pepper, 1963). We've spent a whole year getting to know what 1960s couples might have put on their dinner tables, so let's see what kinds of comfort they might have reached for as the days got shorter and colder.

One option was to make spaghetti and dump a can of pepper pot soup on it. Not so much an option anymore, as canned pepper pot soup has pretty much disappeared. It also seems kind of weird to eat it on top of spaghetti since along with plenty of tripe and potatoes (but apparently, no peppers), the Campbell's version already had macaroni in it. Then mix canned beets, cauliflower, cucumber, French dressing, and anchovy paste for a salad that is sure to be... uh... memorable? (Adding a little extra rum to the Baba au Rhum Cream Cakes might just help make that memory go away.)

Friday's seafood gets better treatment than the anchovies did...

Shrimp with some vegetables and actual seasonings (more than a single dash of Tabasco, even!) over rice should be fine. I'm not sure what makes green beans mixed with onion and French dressing then poured over lettuce into New Orleans Bean Salad, exactly, rather than, say, Minnesota Bean Salad. I love the simplicity of the Avocado with Sherry recipe. You don't really have to read past the title. A recipe is included, but it's exactly what you imagine. 

Another Friday offers an entirely different take on seafood:

Here we have mackerels stuffed with packaged stuffing and wrapped in bacon, then basted with lemon juice, tomato juice, and white wine. Maybe that's not bad? (Don't know, because I am not a fish person!) The part of this recipe that (unnecessarily) scared me was the dessert. What is Dijon froth? I immediately pictured whipped cream mixed with mustard. In fact, Dijon Froth is just orange-flavored instant vanilla pudding mixed with Cointreau! The liqueur makes it French-- not mustard!

Like November, December offers a holiday menu:

The menu seems strikingly similar to Thanksgiving's-- turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes. The additions of soup and rolls, and the swapping of mince pie for plum pudding with egg nog sauce, are enough to make this a Christmas menu. (If you're wondering how the cook is supposed to make the plum pudding, the weekly shopping list specifies to buy "1 small can plum pudding." Only the egg nog sauce requires preparation.)

What have we learned for December?
  1. Anything served in the same meal with shrimp can be labeled "New Orleans."
  2. Always add sherry to canned soup served in December. It's just more festive.
  3. You might need a recipe to pour sherry on an avocado, but not to put butter on lima beans or broccoli. 
  4. Babas are just yeast cakes, not grandmas, so splitting one is not nearly as violent as I might have imagined.
  5. Tease Christmas guests by putting pictures of cocktails at the top of the menu, but not actually offering any damn cocktails. 
That's it for Glamour! Maybe I'll find a new theme for the new year.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Funny Name: Repeat That First Word Edition

I'm guessing Mrs. Solon Scrudder (in Collection of Recipes, Midway Assembly of God Women's Ministries Dept., 1978) didn't understand the legend of how that common chocolate chip cookie recipe got its name.

Or maybe she just thought the inventor lived in a high rise?

(For more about Funny Name Saturdays, click here.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Questionable treats

Up for some Tantalizing Treats?

This fundraiser cookbook (from The Naomi Circle of the Women's Society of Christian Service at St. Paul Methodist Church in Springfield, OH, 1955) raises a lot of questions, so the opening line is only the first of many.

You might ask, for example, if we can call this "chile" (chili?):

I know there's a lot of controversy over what, exactly, constitutes chili, and plenty of Texans would insist on getting rid of the kidney beans. But they would not replace beans with noodles, and they would be horrified that this is also missing something nearly anyone would consider a prerequisite for chili: chili peppers and/or powder of some sort! This is clearly just a beef/ noodle/ vegetable soup, not a chili. You might even ask if this is more of a soupy Johnny Marzetti recipe than a chili recipe.

You might be right, but even this version at least has some green pepper.

Here's another question: Did you know that Johnny Marzetti apparently has a rich cousin?

Compare the two and you'll see that they're nearly identical, except that bad boy Johnny Malletto has three times as much meat and green pepper.

"What about salads?" you might ask. "Is this book full of big, desserty bowls of Jell-O sanctified with a 'salad' halo?"

Hmmm. Not quite sure how to answer, so I'll just show you:

Yes, Governor Lausche's Salad is full of yummy lemon Jell-O, cream cheese and crushed pineapple nutty goodness. Like many pretend salads, it's purified with the most boring of the crunchy vegetables-- celery-- to help defend the salad illusion. But it takes a sudden and unexpectedly hard line on the salad angle by being topped with a jar of olives! There's no way to pretend you're eating a close cousin of pineapple cheesecake when you're biting into an olive.

Here's a Jell-O creation that doesn't hide its dessertiness, but how are we supposed to pronounce its name?

Is the "Fine" sincere, as in (spoken in a gentle Southern drawl), "My, that is a fine dessert, Miss Replogle. I do hope someone with your Jell-O and ice cream combining skills will be available to accompany me Tuesday next to the box social"?

Or is the "Fine" more of the "Let's at least pretend it will be acceptable" variety: "I'm out of pretty much everything, but I do still have a couple boxes of lime Jell-O, some ice cream and...[rummaging in fridge] some leftover pineapple juice. I'm sure mixing them up for dessert will be fine"?

In any case, after reading through the book, I wasn't left asking myself, "Why did I pick this thing up, anyway?" The laughs are enough to make it a good purchase...

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Funny Name: Bring on the Relatives Edition

I'm not sure what makes this recipe from National Grange Bicentennial Year Cookbook (1975) so crabby. There's no crab in it. It doesn't look like the kind of overly-complicated concoction that would make the cook crabby. Maybe it's just like my mom's old roast recipes that left us with an end product not unlike shoe leather? That certainly leaves the diners crabby....

In any case, I'll bet the title describes even more family conversations over Thanksgiving dinner than usual this year.

(For more about Funny Name Saturdays, click here.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Looking back at a very different election year

Today's post isn't for a cookbook. I picked up this magazine for a very special reason.

This is the issue of Woman's Day for the month I was born. Yeah-- that means I'm turning 40! Maybe knowing what people were cooking for Thanksgiving when I made my grand entrance will take away some of the sting of getting old.

Oddly enough, there was a recipe to remind me that 1976 was an election year. I was born after voting was over, so at least my developing brain wasn't subjected to any campaign ads. I'm pretty sure I wasn't subjected to Election Cake, either.

My mom isn't the type to make some long-and-involved cake recipe-- especially an old-fashioned bread-like yeast-risen cake-- under the best of circumstances. There's no way she was making one when she was too big to see her feet or newly responsible for looking after a baby who screamed for 18 months straight. Eighteen months. Straight. Just screaming. (She is always very clear on that detail.)

Plus, I'm pretty sure she'd be as skeptical as I am about a cake that requires raisins and a potato.

The real draw of a November women's magazine is the Thanksgiving menu, and this one has two. The first one is for the traditionalist:

Aside from the creamed onions and celery (Ugh! Why bother?), this is totally my grandma's kind of Thanksgiving menu. By that, I mean it has three different pies for dessert. (She wouldn't let you "choose from" the three though. They'd be cut into slivers so everybody would get a taste of everything, regardless of whether we really wanted to try Mince with Cheddar-Cheese Crust...)

There was also a "Take-It-Easy Menu":

"Easy" is of course a relative term. "Take-It-Easy" now tends to mean "pick up a precooked turkey with your choice of three sides, a dozen rolls, and a pumpkin pie from the grocery store deli."

In 1976, it just meant making dressing in the Crock Pot rather than actually stuffing it into the bird, fixing one cooked vegetable side instead of three, getting rolls from the bakery, and serving one pumpkin cake instead of three different kinds of pie... Certainly less work than the traditional menu, but still probably more than a lot of people do today.

My favorite recipes, though, tended to come from the ads for various holiday celebration foods.

Want to give the kids something to munch on while adults enjoy a glass of wine? These might do the job:

If you think these are yummy little fudge squares, though, you are mistaken. Do you know what Knox Blox are?

If you didn't, they were the unflavored gelatin brand's reply to Jell-O's jigglers. Yep-- those cute little "fudge" squares are actually chocolate-flavored gelatin.

While I loooove me some chocolate, I can't really imagine chocolate jigglers as being anything other than a weird, slimy disappointment.

Cheese spreads are more my speed at a holiday buffet anyway. How about these lovely-looking cheese logs?

One is all covered in nuts, and the other festively parsley-green with pimiento stripes. What do you suppose is in these cheesy confections (besides cheese)?

Dual Yule Cheese Logs start out with a can of Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup. I suppose beating a can of bean soup into a pound of shredded cheddar is healthier than using cream cheese as the traditional binder... and the cheese logs don't look soupy. Would this actually be a reasonable idea? (Find out if you want, but I'll leave it up to you.)

How about some holiday pastries instead?

Now don't those look yummy with their fruit filling and sweet glaze? What might these be made of? (I'll bet you can guess if you notice that this picture features the same red tablecloth and pine in the background as the cheese log picture.)

Yep-- the pastry is made from hot roll mix combined with eggs, sugar, almond extract, and a can of Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup! This is a recipe for everyone who's ever had cheese soup and thought it could use some almond extract and a nice topping of fruit pie filling.

It's kind of cool to know about the food landscape from the month I was born, but I don't regret the fact that I wasn't on solid food yet.

Besides finding a bunch of old recipes, I also found a list of everything I've ever wanted in a kitchen (but was afraid to ask):
1.) Pretty much everything covered in plastic laminate so it's easy to wipe off,
2.) A two-shelf cart so I can roll my electric crepe pan, combination juicer/ can opener, and slow cooker anywhere I want, and
3.) Plenty of low cabinets to hold things like preschoolers' coloring books. (I have to admit, I had no idea I was longing for any of that, but who am I to argue with a 40-year-old magazine?)

A weird old lady, that's who! Here's hoping for more years of arguing with old recipes....

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Funny name: Sad Cake

I'm not sure what the occasion for this recipe from The Secret's Out (United Methodist Women, Reseda, CA, 1976) might be. Maybe if you've had a bad day and want dessert, but you don't want to be cheered up too much? Maybe if you just like yelling at cakes, and want the cake to feel appropriately bad about being yelled at?

On a not-funny note, this might be a good day for sad cake (if I didn't hate coconut) because I had to say goodbye to my funny tuxedo cat yesterday. We will love you forever, little guy!

(For more about Funny Name Saturdays, click here.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mueller's Marvelous Macaroni Mania

Ommmm. Ommmm. Ommmm.

I'm not meditating, (Okay, maybe I am trying to, with only limited success.) I'll just say I'm trying to prepare for the onslaught of M's in today's pick:

Magic Menus with Mueller's Macaroni Products (1937) is, I believe, the M-iest title in my collection. Good thing it was written before World War II hit and wartime rationing forced spare M's into service as weird-looking W's.

This booklet shows women how to use various Mueller's noodles, including one that isn't so familiar today. Ever wonder why old recipes sometimes specify "broken macaroni"? This is why:

When we hear "macaroni," we assume it means elbow macaroni, but the unbroken, long tubes used to be more widely available. (Okay, maybe you're not wowed by this, but I thought it was pretty cool to see "long-form" macaroni.)

And while Mueller's only seems to sell dry pasta now and we tend to think of Chef Boyardee when we think of canned pasta, Mueller's used to be in on the canned game too:

I'm not sure why anyone would want to don a sombrero for an exciting evening of eating canned spaghetti out of a green pepper, but this recipe seems to suggest it's a fine idea. I guess the green pepper is supposed to make the spaghetti somehow seem Mexican?

In fact, a lot of the booklet plays a bit fast and loose with various types of cuisine. While the idea of spaghetti and meat sauce is not exactly earthshaking...

...I can't help but notice that this recipe for an Italian-American style meal looks a lot like this other recipe:

Spaghetti Oriental has almost the same ingredients in only somewhat different proportions (a bit more pepper and onion, a bit less tomato). Apparently, the additions of diced celery and bacon-wrapped meatballs (instead of cooked-in-the-sauce meat bits) are supposed to make this so exotic that a woman in harem pants dancing with a veil endorses it. (Okay, I moved her slightly so she'd fit on the recipe, but she is on the page!)

I'm not sure whether the artist's rendering of what Spaghetti Oriental should look like helps set it apart from the more typical spaghetti with meat sauce recipe...

...but I do like the way the bacon-wrapped meatballs make it look as if some alien has laid gooey pods in a nice symmetrical pattern on top of dinner.

Perhaps the most puzzling recipe of all is this one, though:

If you are wondering, yes. Yes, that is a big puff of meringue on top of some noodles.

Well, not just noodles. Noodles and prunes! And custard! Maybe they're wearing the meringue as a disguise, realizing it's for the best that they not be immediately recognized for what they really are. Neapolitan Fluff is just lucky that no one threw a gratuitous sombrero on top for good measure.

Now that I think of it, Neapolitan Fluff and the Gratuitous Sombreros might be a pretty good name for a band. Maybe I will run away and start a band....

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Funny Name: Cheese Pit

If anybody from Coastal Carolina Cooking (Women's Auxiliary to the Ocean View Memorial Hospital, 1958) ever asks if you want a dip in the Cheese Pit, the only honest answer is "Yes, please!"

That mouse at the bottom of the page knows what I'm talking about! (The cat might too. I know we're supposed to think the cat is chasing the mouse, but I suspect my cats are far more interested in eating cheese than in eating mice...)

(For an explanation of Funny Name Saturdays, click here.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Glamour and the Misplaced Thanksgiving

Here comes November-- the month when pumpkin-everything hits its zenith and all things nog and peppermint begin creeping in. What did November menus look like back in 1963, though? Considering our source is Glamour Magazine's New After Five Cookbook (Beverly Pepper), it's probably a safe bet to guess that November meals required a lot of canned soup and French dressing.

The first Monday of the month confirms my suspicion:

Mock Cassoulet is just about as mock as it can get. I guess the frankfurters are supposed to stand in for the sausages in the genuine article, and the poultry components have flown the coop. If that's not enough to make this a mockery, the long-simmered white beans are replaced with a can each of onion soup and baked beans... No surprise that this is followed up with a French-dressed salad, but it's made with real greens for once rather than random canned and frozen veggies.

Wednesday brings another soupy main dish:

Tuna-Mushroom Casserole initially seems like a pretty standard tuna-and-canned-soup casserole, but then I realized there's no real starch component to bulk it up. There are a few bread crumbs, but that's about it, so that casserole is sure to be a concentrated blast of tinny goodness. Maybe the apples boiled with cabbage will be enough of a distraction that the casserole won't seem so weird.

I love that the fancy-sounding Peach Liegoise is just a name for lemon gelatin with defrosted peaches mixed in. I would have paired it with the Mock Cassoulet, though, since this bears just about as much resemblance to the ice-cream-and-whipped-cream confections I found when I looked up Liegoise as the cassoulet did to the real recipes.

Another November Monday presents another soup-based casserole:

A box of frozen fried chicken is hardly ever that good to begin with, but at least it might crisp up a little if you throw it in the oven for long enough. Celery Chicken Casserole dismisses this possibility entirely, smothering the chicken in a can of cream of celery soup for a limp and soggy salt-lick of a casserole. Yay? The salad surprisingly calls for bleu cheese dressing, though, and the pineapple mixed into whipped cream should be pretty tasty, even if it is inexplicably topped with a dusting of undiluted orange juice powder.

I was a little surprised to see an actual Thanksgiving menu , but I was even more surprised at where it was placed in the chapter: the third Thursday in November. Wondering if I were confused about Thanksgiving's timing or if it had been historically celebrated on the third Thursday of November, I checked around and discovered that 1. Thanksgiving was indeed on the fourth Thursday back then too and 2. The third Thursday of 1963 was the day before Kennedy was assassinated. So here is the incongruously holiday-themed dinner from the third Thursday of November:

It's fun to see a Thanksgiving menu for two, and it's not too bad as far as Glamour recipes go. The (presumably turkey) drumstick filled with an oyster dressing is just right for an intimate little holiday, though the sauce is unsurprisingly mostly condensed mushroom soup with some organ meats blended in. The candied sweet potatoes are fresh-- not canned-- and drowning in brown sugar, though marshmallow-free. The menu offers respite to those who are sick of pumpkin with its mince pie. Top it off with some flamed cognac in coffee, and I could see '60s couples feeling a little bit sophisticated to have this for a holiday meal. (I'd certainly rather watch somebody make Cafe Brulot than watch Uncle Bill let out his belt a couple notches or listen to toddlers scream because there are no chicken nuggets or french fries.)

What have we learned for November?
  1. The illustration for the first Monday is probably a head of lettuce, but maybe a bowl full of circus peanuts candy.
  2. The skinny rooster is pretty glad his legs are too puny to stuff.
  3. Nothing is safe from casserolification-- not even frozen fried chicken.
  4. The return of cold weather makes coffee + booze the preferred meal-ender.
  5. Thanksgiving in 1963 must have felt pretty weird.