Saturday, December 15, 2018

Funny Name: Anatomical Anomalies Edition

I didn't have to take a lot of science classes in college, and Electric Blender Recipes (Mabel Stegnar, 1952) makes me wonder if I missed a something.

Just where the heck does a carrot keep its giblets?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Betty in the oven

Today we have the oddly faded Betty Crocker's Easy Oven Meals (1973). It originally lived in a junior high school library, so my best guess is that it was at the end of a shelf for a long time and the book end made those lines... In any case, this doesn't appear to have been a favorite of the junior high set, whose moms may not yet have trusted them with the oven.

The book is full of menus in which everything is thrown into the oven at varying points, so it's supposed to be easy as long as the oven is big enough and there's someone willing to do all the prep and wait around to chuck something new into the oven every so often.

Maybe the book is not popular with the junior high set because even if they want to help mom (a BIG if), a lot of the menus take a good chunk of the day. This menu for "Just Peachy" is a good example:

Even if you think pairing corned beef with canned peaches, pickling spices, brown sugar, and mustard is a great idea, you have to be willing to throw the whole mess into the oven four hours before dinner time:

Then shred up the cabbage for the baked (!) slaw and get it mixed with canned green beans in time for the last hour of cooking.

At least it will be easy to \get the Scalloped Potatoes Deluxe ready at the same time:

They're just from a mix, but it makes me sooo happy to know that the secret to deluxe-ing them is throwing in a can of sliced mushrooms!

Then there's the matter of fixing the cake from a mix and throwing it in for the final 35 minutes of baking, along with adding the peach and sugar glaze to the corned beef.

The book is full of the questionably "ethnic" cuisines of the time, too. The "Fit for a Czar" menu makes me hope that the czar will be much more merciful than one would imagine:

I don't think ground beef in an envelope of sour cream mix and "catsup" is exactly what the czar has in mind as a royal dinner, even (especially?) if it's accompanied by canned beets glazed in orange marmalade and a rhubarb-strawberry shortcake.

And no book like this would be complete without the "Orient Express":

Yeah-- canned veggies and tuna, cream soup, and soy sauce baked under a layer of chow mein noodles is as Chinese as it gets. Serve it with canned carrots heated in a little sweet-and-sour dressing, and it's practically a trip to China! If you don't know what China is! And you are very gullible...

From the looks of it, not even junior high students fell for this one.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Funny Name: Pre-Christmas Jitters Edition

Christmas is coming! If the kids are driving you crazy, The Twentieth Century Club Cookbook (The Twentieth Century Club of Newark, OH, 1977) has a project for them.

No, Aggression Cookies aren't supposed to make the kids even more unbearable! According to Jacquelyn Snow Madison, the kids will make the cookies taste better AND get their anxiety out by kneading, mashing, squeezing, and beating the dough.

Or maybe they'll just get extra hyper while making fifteen dozen cookies full of pet hair and cold germs at the time of year when everyone is overwhelmed with sweets anyway. Either way, they'll be busy for the afternoon!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Gourmet Goodbye

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus!

Or at least "Joy to the World."

December marks the end of my Gourmet 1977 series. I'm not really going to miss this snooty collection.

In the spirit of egalitarianism, I'm going to end with some unusual candy gifts that even us commoners could afford to give away to our woodland friends.

If you've got rabbit friends and/or want to butter up Santa's reindeer, this one's for you:

I've seen plenty of similar recipes for candied citrus zest, but this is the first time I've seen it applied to carrots.

Even better: If you've got squirrels on your gift list:

Okay, I just picked Spiced Meringue Nuts so I could do a Letterman-style joke: The holidays are so festive this year that I saw a squirrel in Central Park putting meringue on his nuts!

Now I'm off to coat the Gourmet 1977 collection in meringue just because I can! I think the monthly book I've got lined up for next year will be more fun.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Funny Name: It's Got to be in There Edition

Please, you've got to tell me...

I can't be the ONLY person who's surprised that "New Jersey Clam Pye" (The New Jersey Heritage Cookbook, Public Service Electric and Gas Company, 1976) is NOT an especially raunchy entry in the Urban Dictionary, right? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Chiquita Banana Presents Her Fever Dreams

This week is way too cold for November, so I'm going tropical to warm up! Today we have the notorious Chiquita Banana Presents 18 Recipes from Her Minute Movies (1951), a booklet with recipes that are rock stars in vintage horror recipes circles.

Yes, it's those Ham Banana Rolls that more adventurous cooks than I have been making for years.

In case you don't remember, they're bananas baked in ham and mustard, then served with a cheese sauce.


Just across the page is a slightly less popular recipe, though.

The Retrochef who tried these was afraid actual scallops might be involved, but they're just supposed to look like scallops. At least that's my guess. Her take on the recipe: "Meh. If you like cornbread with warm bananas, then this is the dish for you! They might have been better with a finer cornmeal, since they had very crunchy outsides and very mushy insides."

My favorite part is the caption under the picture in this booklet:

I'm assuming this is only giving part of the movie title. The full title is "Chiquita Banana Convinces the Cannibal that He Has Made the Right Lifestyle Choice." Now he's sure he'd rather face a plateful of fried fingers than mushy hot cornmeal bananas. It's always nice to know for sure!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Funny Name: Department of Redundancy Department Edition

At least Mable Hoffman, author of Crockery Cookery (1975) was aware that this wasn't a real Chinese recipe.

She just doesn't seem to recognize that the "chop suey" pretty much implies an American dish. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Stuff it!

Thanksgiving is coming! I've posted lots of alternative recommendations for Thanksgiving dinners (and sides!) over the years. Thanks to a big, odd chapter in House & Garden's New Cook Book (1967), this year we're going right for the stuffing.

Okay, admittedly, not all of these are designed for turkey. Farce Mirabelle may be intended more for a holiday goose or duckling than a turkey.

Still, they had me at the words "unusual dressing" followed up with canned plums, celery, and orange juice. Maybe this is an attempt to pair up the main course and the plum pudding?

Here's another that's not exactly designed for turkey, but good for goose or-- if you want it to look really holiday-appropriate-- stuffing into a pumpkin!

Of course, you might want to really think hard about whether you want want the centerpiece to be a pumpkin stuffed with crushed shredded wheat, walnuts, bacon fat, orange sections, watercress, and onion before starting to make it.

If you want to go fancy with squab or small game birds, the book offers Kenscoff Dressing:

Yes, this is from back when cookbooks wanted people to put cooked banana in everything, so it's a half-crouton, half-banana purée blend. Will the lime, rum, and Tabasco help? I'm not sure, but if you steer the discussion to politics, then nobody will pay attention to the food anyway.

If you're having Thanksgiving somewhere cold, Macadamia Stuffing transports dinner to Hawaii/ the deep south.

I don't see too many Macadamia nut/ baking-powder biscuit combos, but this does look a lot more like traditional stuffing than the others.

If you're the type who likes meat stuffed into other meat and can't afford a turducken, then Port-au-Prince Dressing might be the poor family's version.

Enjoy a turkey stuffed with pork loin, salt pork, and kosher(!) frankfurters mixed with rice and mushrooms.

I always thought dried fruits and shellfish were the primary divisive stuffing ingredients, but these stuffing recipes give families entirely new sets of ingredients to fight over. Still, fighting over the stuffing is better than listening to uncle Bill rant about tax rates. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Always make sure the cranberries are dolphin-safe

Are you tired of the same old cranberry salad? Will your special heirloom turkey turn tail if it has to share the table with a cranberry sauce shaped exactly like the can it shplooped out of? Well, Three Rivers Cookbook (Child Health Association of Sewickley, PA, copyright 1973, but mine is the ninth printing from 1977) has a very special recipe for you.

Cranberry Tuna Mold! The perfect accompaniment to a good Thanksgiving dinner is tuna salad aspic topped with a citrus-cranberry gelatin, right? Plus, for avowed turkey haters, this can be dinner and dessert all in one! Leaves more room for the mashed potatoes (if the indigestion doesn't hit first).

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Rx for blandness

How are you feeling? Really, everything okay with you? I've been kind of worried, seeing as how you share my fixation on weird old cookbooks. I think I better take you to the hospital.

Okay, maybe it's just The Cookbook of Highland View Hospital: Rx for Happy Eating (Oct. 1972).

What is the recipe for happy eating? Well, it's pretty bland for the most part.

You might expect a recipe called Chicken Delicious to have something in it to make it... well... delicious.

Will 8-10 chicken pieces pressure cooked in two cups of barely-seasoned water (1/8th of a teaspoon each of pepper, meat tenderizer, paprika, MSG, and garlic powder) have a delectable flavor? What if you release the pressure and add some bell pepper along with onion that will be barely cooked before it's taken off the heat? Well, I guess that raw-ish onion will have some flavor, but its deliciousness will depend on one's tolerance for onion.

Usually recipes with "zippy" in the name have at least a minuscule measure of Tabasco sauce, or maybe some vinegar if the writer equates tang with zip. Zippy Vegetable Soup with Meatballs, though...

...has no discernible zip. The meatballs are the most basic meatballs you can imagine: ground meat pressed into a ball. No seasoning. No binding. Hell, not even any browning! They're just squashed meat simmered in slightly salted water. Throw in some common veggies and "salt to taste," then wonder if the word "zippy" wandered into the title from a nearby recipe, didn't feel like going home, and just decided to live as a squatter at the beginning of the title. The word Vegetable is pretty easygoing and just went with it. Vegetable kind of appreciates not having to take all the pressure of being the first word in the title anymore. Meatballs is pissed because it's tired of hearing Zippy's stories about life in Louisiana (probably made up anyway, that liar!), but Meatballs is too far away to do much and just sits at the end of the title, stewing in its own juices.

If you think you might need an appetizer to stimulate your appetite for this bland glop, you're in luck. The book offers some suggestions for consommé-based starters:

If you think I included this just so you could see that bouillon-cube-based broth mixed with "tomato catsup" or cut with canned asparagus juice was suggested as a good starter, you'd be right. Any meal might taste better compared with this!

My favorite part of the cookbook might not be the recipes, though. I kind of love Mrs. Nancy Minadeo's illustrations at the beginnings of the chapters. They show various hospital employees doing something food-related. Some are just straight-up playful, like this title card for the "Meat, Poultry, and Fish" chapter:

I think it's a little late to help that patient-- unless they're just helping themselves to some slices of white meat. (Is it normal to have a table in the surgery to be used for chicken carving? It looks way too small to be used for human surgery.)

Some of the pictures are just kind of inexplicable, like this one from the "Bread" chapter.

Does anybody have a clue what's going on here? There's a speech therapist, apparently trying to get the patient to say bread. The other people have PT and OT on their sleeves, so I'm guessing they're the physical and occupational therapists. It looks like they're all tending to a patient completely covered with a sheet, which would suggest to me that the coroner and mortuary attendant might be more appropriate than any of these therapists.

If the patient is supposed to be yeast bread rising under a towel, I'm not sure what physical and/or occupational therapy might entail. (Maybe the PT and OT are getting ready to shove the dough into the oven so it can become bread, thus fulfilling its occupational destiny?) The speech therapist is just deluded if she thinks she's going to get the loaf to say its name, though.

If you've got better theories as to what's going on in this one, feel free to share!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Funny Name: Primal Scream Edition

Do you want a dressing that will make you scream and breathe heavily? Spices of the World Cookbook by McCormick (Mary Collins, copyright 1964, 1976 reprint) has just the recipe for you:

Okay, clearly this has nothing to do with Lamaze classes. For a half-assed history of the sauce name and a taste-test of an even more half-assed version of the recipe from Campbell's, check out this post from Retro Recipe Attempts.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Breakfast that will make you burst, even before the turkey hits

November means turkey and pumpkin pie recipes for any cooking magazine. Gourmet's 1977 offering tries to keep its holiday spread fresh by using a trick grandma used to use-- substituting winter squash for pumpkin to make a squash pie. 

We're not going to look at more turkeys and pumpkin-spiced pies, though. I'm taking a cue from the cover. The real November treat for the idle rich was apparently to go for a Thanksgiving hunt in Connecticut, "complete with sumptuous hunt breakfast" because, you know, there just aren't enough opportunities to gorge oneself at Thanksgiving.

For those who want to reproduce the experience at home (rather than eating at "Chef Victor Modic's Thanksgiving hunt breakfast buffet"), the menu will be easy to fit into holiday cooking schedules: Gazpacho Bloody Marys, Cheshire Cheese Omelets, Seafood Quiche, Apricot-Glazed Pecan Coffee Ring, Apple Crisp with Almond Streusel, Rumtopf, and Pumpkin Cheesecake, plus these two recipes that I could easily scan without ripping the collection apart.

The first recipe depends on previous success at a hunt, unless your party can field dress and butcher a deer really damn fast:

I'm sure it was a complete coincidence that this venison sausage recipe appears just a page away from a food processor ad.

The spread also features this unique take on apple dumplings:
These aren't apples baked in a pastry crust, but apple bites cooked in a gnocchi-esque casing. I hadn't seen any apple (and plum) dumplings like these before.

Since I didn't scan the full menu, I'm throwing in another brunch-appropriate, super-rich dish from the same issue. November is the month to gain 10 pounds to get in practice for December's 15, right?

Yeah-- Noodles with Scrambled Eggs encourages you to split a dish containing a full stick of butter between two people-- three if you're feeling stingy. Let the holidays begin.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Funny Name: Extra Crunchy Edition

Today's recipe from The Complete Book of Outdoor Cookery (Helen Evans Brown and James Beard, 1955) sounds like just the type of thing that would seriously jeopardize the peace brokered with the giant telepathic spiders.

Don't be too alarmed, though. The name Spider Bread isn't referring to the ingredient list, but to the pan used over the fire.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The onions that will make everybody cry, and other tales of terror

Are you a body builder? I can carry multiple bags of groceries at the same time. That's about as close as I can get to claiming the title. That's okay, though because even though today's cookbook is for body builders, it's not what you think.

Body Building Dishes for Children (ed. Ruth Berolzheimer, 1950) is for a different kind of bodybuilders whose group I don't belong to-- kids!

The booklet suggests kids were made of much different stuff (literally and figuratively) in 1950 than they are now. Here's a dinner suggestion from the book's "Menus for the Preschool Child" page:

I don't necessarily believe that kids really need to run on a steady diet chicken nuggets and mac 'n' cheese (as so many kids' menus seem to suggest), but I can only imagine full-on temper tantrums when a toddler confronts a plate of baked stuffed onions and a "sandwich of watercress and lemon butter."

Things get no better on Tuesday:

Liver and potato pie? Minced uncooked cabbage with lemon juice? Again, this seems more like a recipe for kicking and screaming than for a peaceful meal...

The fare for slightly older children presents its own kind of problems. In fact, the book seems at least semi-aware of the problem. The vegetables chapter, for instance, suggests it has found the perfect way to get little ones to eat their greens:

Yes, "The valuable but less popular vegetables will be welcomed lustily if baked in a ring mold." Never mind that I don't want to see kids welcoming anything "lustily" (gross!).... The only people who really seemed excited about ring molds were the women mid-century cookbooks were marketed towards. Even the editors don't seem to buy the argument that kids are way into ring-molds, as this is the only actual ring molded recipe in the vegetable chapter (aside from a briefly outlined variation of a chopped spinach recipe):

The ring mold section is not the only apparent misunderstanding of child psychology:

If you had told childhood me that you were serving a "schoolmate of Donald Duck," I would not have found it "really hilarious." I would have been sobbing for an hour, and I probably would have wanted to keep ALL the adults who had apparently participated in his murder as far away as possible.

Reassuring me that dinner was not, in fact, a duck, but a hacked-up little lamb would not have helped.

Fifties kids must have been made of much sterner stuff than eighties kids (or current kids), and/or Ruth Berolzheimer et al. must have had some really weird ideas about children that they did not bother to field test. Either way, this book makes me glad I have never tried to ply a toddler with stuffed onions or insist that a carrot ring be welcomed lustily by the elementary school set.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Funny Name: Yam Not! Edition

This recipe from Favorite Recipes of Ohio (1964) has me wondering wtf...

Yamzetti has no yams... and no spaghetti... so where is the name coming from? After I stared at it a while, I realized it's basically Johnny Marzetti, but what makes this version Yamzetti? I'm open to ideas!