Saturday, September 23, 2017

Funny Name: Don't Talk to Me in the Morning Edition

I know the name from Make-a-Mix Cookery (Karine Eliason, Nevada Harwood, and Madeline Westover, 1978) is supposed to evoke granola...


...but Gruffins just sound like muffins you don't want to talk to before they've had their first cup of coffee.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Got a Minute?

I know Minute Rice's The Art of Budget Cooking (1976) is not exactly the kind of book most people would get excited about.

Yay. A skillet full of green peppers, onions, and instant rice. What could be classier?

I was kind of excited to see what kinds of Minute Rice recipes were popular around the time I was born though. One of the first things I learned to cook was Minute Rice. I remember we had a tiny (one-cup) saucepan. I would feel so grown-up if I filled it halfway with water, brought the water to a boil, threw in some rice and salt, let it sit for a few minutes with the teeny lid on top, and stirred in as much butter as I could without mom yelling at me. That was breakfast for the gods as far as I was concerned.

I was not surprised that this collection didn't have my first self-created recipe in it. One morning shortly after Easter, I mixed a chopped hard-cooked egg in with the rice and felt like I had created a masterpiece. I was such a culinary genius. (And yes, I'm rolling my eyes.)

I was surprised that a budget cookbook from the '70s had so many color illustrations, though. 

Some are downright whimsical:

The pineapple pick sticking out of the mound of molded rice makes me think of one of those long cigarette holders, like the rice is some kind of glamorous movie star smoking amid the rabble of peppers, canned pineapple, and mystery meat. I can't help thinking of Janet Snakehole, even if this is far too colorful for her style....

This is packed with the stereotypical retro Hawaiian ingredients of canned pineapple and green pepper, so I'm going to go ahead and assume they mean Spam by "cooked ham." They just can't say so because General Foods doesn't own Spam.

I also loved a picture showing off several rice-based pies, and the Pieathalon participants should be glad I didn't find these until after we were done.

Okay-- they're not all pies. The one in the middle is a mock quiche.


At least, I think it's supposed to be a mock quiche. The title-- Mock Rice Quiche-- suggests even the Minute Rice people are not so sure that Minute Rice counts as rice. That's why editors are so important....

What are the other two? Well, one of them is Rice-Crust Meat Pie:

I'm pretty sure this is the one on the bottom, even though the book swears this is the top pie. It's basically a really thick tomato-meat sauce cooked in a rice shell.

The other one is Rice Pizza Pie, but I like to call it Meat-Crust Rice Pie:

Again, I'm pretty sure it's the one  on the top since that one is pictured with a green pepper garnish, even if the caption insists it was on the bottom. 

My favorite picture- recipe combo might be for Molded Salmon Rice Salad. 


You know when it's full of canned salmon, mayonnaise, and finely diced odds and ends, it's going to look like cat puke. This is special, though, because it's cat puke in a mold!

If you look closely, you will realize that this recipe required two molds-- the one the food stylist actually used to make this feline ejecta look vaguely like a fish wearing an out-of-control ruffled body stocking, and the one resting uncomfortably next to that pink monstrosity and thinking, "Hey, at least I didn't have to get packed with that garbage!"

On second thought, maybe I shouldn't be too dismissive of my Minute Rice and Easter egg mashup breakfast. Even as a child, I could create a better recipe than this one....

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Funny Name: The Wrong Funny Name Edition

Are you ready for something crazy? I mean, really crazy? The Kraft Cookbook: 75 Years of Good Food Ideas (1977) just got this wild idea for a Crazy New Sandwich:


Oh, wait. They'd just never heard of a Fluffernutter.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

International Gardening Services in the United States Food Book

I'm not quite sure what to say about the recipes in this book.

This American Field Service International Cook Book (Western New York Committee for American Field Service, 1958) is full of actual international recipes, as they were all sent to the recipe compilers from parents whose children were sent to America as exchange students, or parents who accepted American exchange students into their own homes. I don't really want to make fun of other countries' cuisines, but I do find a certain amount of charm in the way the recipes are written. It seems as if a lot of the parents involved made a good effort to write the recipes in English, even if it wasn't their first language, and the committee emphasized that "When the recipes were written in English, they were used without change." That makes for some interesting ingredients and instructions. (My title for this post is a bit of a nod to this style of writing. It's the title of the cookbook as I imagine it might be if it were oddly translated.)


Aside from my usual amusement with "recipes" that just list a bunch of things that may be served together, without any real instructions about proportions, preparation, etc., I am also interested in the ingredients. Is "palmetto" another name for hearts of palm? And what are "cabbage-trees"? Is this another name for cauliflower or Brussels sprouts? I could see people using that term for either of those... Is there a vegetable called "cabbage-trees" that I'm just not familiar with and can't find on a simple Google search?

Whatever vegetables you choose from that list, though, "To serve with this salad can be used shrimp, chicken pieces, ham, salmon, sardines or left-over meats." You've got to love the awkwardness.

When I got to Caramel Pudding, I had no trouble figuring out the mystery ingredient. I just liked its charming new name.


The egg yolk has already been added to the milk mixture, so I can guess that "egg-snow" is the writer's attempt at being creative with the term "egg white." (And in case you're wondering, the milk measurement does actually make sense. At first I thought it was 3/8 1 and I was thinking "Three-eighths of one what of milk?" The "one" is really a lowercase "L," so it's 3/8 of a liter, which the book's table of conversions lists as the equivalent of 1-2/3 cups.)

Sometimes I am a bit mystified by the recipe, but my perplexity here is doubled:


Why list the creatively-named "Appetizer/s" twice? They are identical, except for the sugar and egg order being reversed and the half cup being written once in words and once as a fraction. I can guess "the liquidizer" refers to a blender, but I still have no conception of what diners are supposed to do with the mixture of water, sugar, egg, and rum. Are they supposed to float some tomato, fish, and pickles in it to make a weird soup? What is it supposed to accomplish with toasts or bacon-fried plums? I have no idea, except that it has to be ice cold to accomplish whatever the goal is...

And finally, I will admit that I'm not really into herring, but that's not what drew me to this recipe. It's what appears to be the first ingredient.


Did you read the first ingredient as "6 persons" too? I'm sure it's just supposed to be the number of servings, but the placement and wording make it look... well... like a cannibal feast! And the ingredient of "3 Decilitres boiled sliced flesh" doesn't help either, considering there is no specification of the type of flesh involved. (At least it's not "cut into dies" like so much else.)

This is a pretty scary recipe just from the wording, even if we don't take into consideration that it's for herring, pickles, sour apples, beets, and eggs. Just make sure enough "cream is beaten up" to make the sauce, and this recipe is pretty all-around brutal.

For fans of awkward translations, this is a must-read.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Funny Name: Inadvertent Admission Edition

Don't EVER praise the appetizer if you're served this recipe from Bach's Lunch: Picnic & Patio Classics (by the Junior Committee in Cleveland's Severance Hall to benefit the Cleveland Orchestra, fifth printing, October 1974):


If you do, you'll be admitting something about your intellectual status.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Foil as fuel for therapy sessions

It's September. The older kids are off to school, so now we've got time to scar the younger ones for life!

Ahem. I mean to make the younger siblings some delightful foil-based toys to amuse them while the older ones are gone.

How about lovely little baby buggy?


Or how about a creepy little monkey climbing out of a foil-lined hell? If the late, great Romero hadn't written and directed Monkey Shines, the recipient of this creepy little carriage certainly would have.

But what if seeing toys swallowed up by foil isn't enough? What if you want to become part of a horrifying foil monster yourself? The clown box is for you!


This kid seems amazingly unfazed for someone sitting in the foil belly of a creepy clown. Even the weird, thin dolls waiting to spring to life and strangle him at any moment seem a bit perplexed. Just look at the one on the far right. She's clearly thinking, "What the hell? We're going to have to work waaaay harder than I thought to creep this kid out."

Kid seems ready to spend the whole morning sitting around in a clown belly, gazing at plaid and flower-print dolls and planning to use them to take over the world. I thought the clown was the scary part of this picture, but the longer I think about it, the more convinced I am that it's the little goblin in his belly.

Mom isn't going to fuel his therapy bills with this clown atrocity. The boy's probably already fueling hers, and this attempt to turn the tables is backfiring.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Rotten to the core?

I know we're barely into September, but there's already a nip in the air, and the Paula Reds and Ginger Golds are out. That means today we're taking on some weird-ish apple recipes!

First up is the one that probably seems weirdest to me and most normal to everyone else. From The Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery (1971) is Apple Chutney. 


I know it's a personal failing, but chutneys never sound remotely appealing to me. I can't imagine longing to dump green peppers and onions mixed with apples, raisins, and grape jelly on roasts, samosas, or poor innocent goat cheeses. Obviously plenty of people see the appeal, though, or at least write recipes to make it look as if they do. 

If you like scalloped potatoes and/or cheese on your apple pie, then Wise also offers this recipe:


Scalloped Apples and Cheese calls for real grated cheese-- not a can or two of condensed cheese soup-- so maybe it would work? I'll let you figure it out if you really want to know. 

The always-reliable-for-a-questionable-recipe Weight Watchers International Cookbook (1977) has a couple of offerings. If you want a throw-it-all-together salad, there's this:


With bean sprouts, celery, and fresh apple, this will be pretty crunchy, but I've never really hoped for apples coated in soy sauce and dry mustard...

In the questionable dessert category, we have a pudding:


I'm shocked that actual slices of raisin bread are permitted, so this is likely to be one of the better Weight Watchers dessert recipes. It's not all unflavored gelatin and chocolate extract. Will the rutabaga make the pudding thick and sweet, or just weirdly vegetal? I only have enough motivation to ask the question. 

The scariest apple recipe is from another international cookbook: Craig Claiborne's The New York Times International Cook Book (1971). Even though I don't get the appeal of fruit-and-meat pairings, like the ever-popular apples and pork chops, I'll bet I'm not alone in questioning this pairing:


Oh boy! Herring and apples! Opus might approve, but I think I'll just wait for the Cortlands to come into season and eat them unadorned....

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Frankly freaky franks

The official grilling season is wrapping up, so let's look at a few recipes that won't make us miss it too much. (The fact that we will keep unofficially grilling veggie burgers for at least a couple more months means I won't miss it too soon anyway.)

Better Homes & Gardens Barbecues and Picnics (1963) offers plenty of grilled surprises, especially for fans of franks.

The picture initially made me think that Circle Pups were grilled with some kind of weirdly lumpy egg in the middle:

The "egg" is thickened hot sauerkraut with a mustard "yolk." (I'm sure that sounds good to some of you, but I wouldn't even want to be within smelling range of this ring of terror.)

Some recipes bury hot dogs in all the stereotypical Polynesian accouterments:

How about a little hot dog with your apricot preserves, tomato sauce, soy sauce, honey, ginger, and canned pineapple?

Some try to throw hot dogs into family standards:

I will freely and openly admit that I have never liked sloppy joes, so I'm no expert. I'm pretty sure that sloppy joe sauce doesn't usually consist of condensed tomato-rice soup and steak sauce, though.

The book also has a few recipes for people who can't decide between the classic hamburger or hot dog.

If you like the classic burger shape but can't give up the hot dog flavor, there are Pennyburgers:

I'm pretty sure I would have gone for a burger full of hot dog "pennies" as a kid.

If you're a guy who feels kind of inadequate, you might want to go with Hot Dogie-burgers.


No ordinary franks, Hot Dogie-burgers fully encase the weiner in a hamburger for a bun-filling behemoth. If you want your summer to end with a bang, this may be the best bet!

Thank you for reading a barbecue post ending with a dick joke.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Breakfast is broken

It's back to school time! Betty Crocker's Good and Easy Cookbook (1971) suggests changing up the morning routine to make sure the kids get off to school fully nourished. If you want to make the kids happy (and make their teachers want to murder you), there is always this sweet option:

You might be thinking, "Hey! That looks like a chocolate shake."

There's a reason for that.


It is, in fact, a chocolate shake made with a pint of chocolate ice cream. It's okay because the Cocoa Puffs make it breakfast-y!

If the kids are in a rush, you might want to just send them out with a cereal bar. In the '70s, you had to make those things yourself. If the kids insisted on peanut butter and jelly everything, then these might fit the bill...


...if that weirdly overpowering artificial fruit flavor in Trix counts as jelly, and sugar held together with more sugar counts as nutrition. (And it does! Cf. Cocoa-Cereal Milk Shake)

If you want something slightly more nutritionally sound (but just as weird), then the boringly-named Breakfast Bars might work...

...not that I've ever thought mixing the peanut butter and marshmallows with raisins, dry milk, Cheerios, and "orange-flavored instant breakfast drink" was a solid plan. It sounds almost sane-- peanut butter, milk, fruit, whole grains-- until you hit the (what I assume is a generic name for) Tang.

The best way to motivate the kids to get out of the house when they'd rather stay home and play with their Weebles might be to serve them something that won't make them inclined to linger. Do baked apples sound good on a crisp, edge-of-fall morning?


Well, the closest you're going to get is crushed Wheaties dumped over some applesauce. Take it or leave it, kid.

And of course, I'm saving the best recipe to motivate the kids to get the hell out for last:


Yep: Soup 'n Cereal! If the inherent nastiness of having a can of tomato soup dumped over corn flakes or puffed rice isn't enough to make the kids run screaming out to the bus stop, the knowledge that mom is in the kind of mood that makes this seem like an appropriate breakfast should be. When mom gets that look in her eyes as she's pouring hot red soup over the Cheerios, run!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Fakin' it in Florida

The cover claims this is Polk-Pourri:

It looks more like an urn that would rapidly start to smell very, very bad to me. Layer the fish on top of the pigs and mutant-sized geese and crabs, and you will have an unforgettable (and unavoidable) odor in no time.

Polk-Pourri was a fundraising book for the Polk Public Museum of Lakeland, Florida (1979). As I flipped through the pages, I found a lot of recipes that mirrored the cover, in that they were not exactly what they claimed to be.

For the main course, how about some Chicken Kiev? Are you imagining a crispy crumb-coated chicken cutlet hiding a luscious herb butter center? Well, that ain't Chicken Kiev in Lakeland.


Their Chicken Kiev (titled "My Chicken Kiev," but I don't want you to mistake the "my" as referring to your humble author!) is something like a hoity-toity version of shit on a shingle, sans the shingle. The dried beef is wrapped with cheese inside the chicken breasts, which are then wrapped in limp, flabby bacon and baked in mushroom-soup-and-sour-cream sauce. It's just like Chicken Kiev, in the same way that Green Bean Casserole is just like Haricots Verts in herbed butter.

To balance out that heavy main course, let's turn to the vegetable section for a side dish.


Okay, there's nothing bad about Cheddar Cheese Noodle Pudding. It's Butter, cheese, noodles, and sour cream all baked into a gooey, cheesy casserole. It is genuinely in the chapter for vegetables, though, which makes me think that Lakeland has a very elastic definition of "vegetable" as well.

How about we just get some dessert?


Good old Elmer's Corn Cookies... with sugar, eggs, quick oats, Rice Krispies, coconut, and... no corn. Mr. LeRoy T. Swanson might want to know who the hell Elmer is too, while we're at it.

I guess I'll just leave you with a nice illustration instead of a recipe.

Maybe it's the fact that Mickey and friends seem to be part of some fever dream (and is Mickey flipping me off?), but I don't think this picture was officially sanctioned by Disney.

Nothing is what it seems.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Let's abandon this halfw

For a late summer weekend, I decided to give you a menu that really highlights the bounty of fruits and vegetables. Let's start out with a salad from Better Homes and Gardens Good Food on a Budget (1971). Doesn't it look fresh and colorful?


Okay, maybe lettuce with varying shades of reddish-brown is more apt, but the caption insists this mix is "intriguing."


And yes, the caption is also accurate when it says the salad combines diced apple and (American) cheese, kidney beans, onion, and salad dressing. I'm also guessing it says these things in a significantly different tone of voice (more weirdly optimistic and less horrified) than I do. The writers apparently think I've always wanted to figure out a way to serve all of these ingredients at once...

The Best of Home Economics Teachers Bicentennial Cookbook (1975) seems to invite us to raid the garden for the Garden Patch Dinner Dish...


...which is apparently a loose collection of slime-coated vegetables contained by a ring mold of paste.

Even more interestingly, the garden is just barely involved. Half the veggies (okra, squash, and green beans) are frozen, and onion is a pantry staple. All you'd need to steal from the garden to make this is a single green pepper and tomato, but "Dinner Dish Mostly Dug Out of the Freezer" didn't sound quite as appealing.

Heat it all together with a little cream and dump into a cottage-cheese-and-noodle-ring, and you've got... well... probably a bland and watery meal that is nominally from the garden. Way to celebrate summer.

Let's top off this bounty with dessert from Ann Seranne's Good Food Without Meat (1973). How about some nice fruity ice cream?


Yeah, if you know old cookbooks, you should have seen the prunes coming. Why enjoy ice cream too much if you can make it vaguely medicinal? Even though it looks as if I only gave you part of the recipe, this is the full thing. Apparently cream infused with prunes is so delicious that you will barely have a chance to churn the ingredients together before starving hordes will devour it. Or maybe they figured nobody's going to waste perfectly good cream on this anyway, and abandoned the recipe halfway through. (I'm teasing-- the full instructions for ice cream come before the list of recipes, but it's fun to imagine the writer just giving up on this offering.)

That seems like a good bet for this late summer menu: lazily kind of look it over, but abandon it once you see it's all kidney beans with apples and American cheese, mucilaginous frozen veggies, and ice-cold prunes. Just eye it all and back awa

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Souper Heinz

When I was a kid, we lived not too far from a Heinz factory. We always knew back-to-school time was approaching when we could smell ketchup in the air. (I'm sure that's not the only reason I can't stand the condiment that everyone else seems to love, but it's probably part of the equation....)

Even though everyone thinks ketchup when they think of Heinz, I have a cookbook that will probably surprise American readers. 


For Variety Cook with Soup is a Heinz company cook booklet from 1977 trying to get home cooks to use Heinz rather than Campbell's soups in all their home cooking. (Even though Heinz gave up on selling soup in America, it's still a thing in the U.K.)

What kinds of delights did Heinz soups promise? There were, unsurprisingly, plenty of negligible casserole recipes calling for cream soups:

Corn Pudding is probably exactly as cheerless as you imagine a can of cream of celery soup and some extra eggs baked into a can of creamed corn might be.

I just picked this recipe because I love the ear of corn lying back on its husk, enjoying a summer afternoon, blissfully unaware of the fate that awaits....

Some recipes get pretty photo spreads.

What is this vision so bountiful that it necessitates an overflowing cornucopia in the background?

It's Harvest Bean Bake, for all those people who can't decide whether they'd rather have a tomato-soup-meat-sauce, a can of beans, or a serving of baked apples. Just throw them all together and bake for a real harvest "treat."

Of course, any soup cookbook would be a failure if it limited soup use to casseroles and skillet dinners. 

All the old cookbooks needed at least one recipe of foods wrapped in biscuit dough:


This ring is Beef Carrousel. The picture on the back cover is not quite as cute as the one with the recipe, though:


I love the little cows running around on the merry-go-round, especially the way that some of their tails are drawn so it almost looks like they're kicking up an extra leg. Maybe they're trying to run away from a recipe that will mix them with cream of mushroom soup before encasing them in biscuit dough and dumping on a leftover mushroom soup and tomato soup topping. Their resistance is futile.

My last recipe for today says, "Forget soup and sandwich; soup should be on the sandwich":

It doesn't dump barely-diluted condensed cream of something soup on just any old sandwich, either. It's over a baked tuna salad and cranberry sauce sandwich! What fun!

The recipes may be barely passable at best and "Run away!" at worst, but the pictures make this a fun booklet to page through on a lazy afternoon when I'm happy not to smell ketchup hanging in the air.