Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ending the year with a limp

The new year is coming, so I decided to go with something traditional for a change. With the gig economy, I'm sure most of us could use some prosperity in the new year, so I'll post the traditional good luck southern dish from the (horribly racist!) Coastal Carolina Cooking (1963 printing):

I'll admit that I mostly chose this relatively plain version of Hoppin' John (just black-eyed peas, pork, onion, and rice) mostly because it came with Hoppin' John's disabled wife, Limpin' Susan.

Don't they make a ... hastily sketched couple? (Cute is definitely not the word I'm looking for here. Maybe part of Susan's problem is that her waist seems to be where her hips should be, and her head looks a bit like it belongs on a chicken.)

My biggest disappointment is that I don't (as far as I can tell, but given the size of my collection, there's a chance I'm wrong here) have a recipe for a jiggly Hoppin' John Salad. So just for you, dear readers, I'm going to make up a Hoppin' John Salad (with a slightly more elaborate ingredient list than Mrs. Charles Mason Crowson's). It has not been tested, and I don't recommend you try it either.

Good Luck with That Hoppin' John Salad

1 box lemon gelatin
1 c. boiling water
2/3 c. cold water
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. vinegar
1 c. cooked black-eyed peas
1 c. cooked rice
2 Tbs. grated onion
1/4 c. minced celery
1/4 c. minced green pepper
4 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add cold water, salt, and vinegar. Chill until slightly thickened. Stir in the peas, rice, and vegetables. Pour into oiled mold of appropriate size (quart, I'm guessing) and chill until firm. Unmold and serve topped with crumbled bacon to get the bad luck out of the way first thing in the new year. (Hopefully it can only get better after this!)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Wrap Yourself or a Loved One in Dough!

We're approaching the high holy day of appetizers-- New Year's Day-- so today I'm going to tease your appetites.

I'm teasing them just like the pathetic cornucopia barely coughing up a few loose apples on the cover of Favorite Recipes of the Hartford Homemakers Club (1975).

My copy has obviously seen better days, maybe because the previous owner really liked spreading thickened cans of tomato soup on things.

You could serve the gelatin-infused tomato soup, mayo, shrimp, and celery concoction with crackers, but it might be even more exciting slopped over California rolls.

The term meant something much, much different in 1970s small-town Ohio than it does today.

If you're not up to making homemade bread, though, there's always Pillsbury.

I've got to admit that I just liked the name "Poppin' Fresh Barbecups." Well, that and the name "Ronda Butt." I really hope that was her married name because the playground must have been brutal if she had to be Ronda Butt in second grade!

My favorite app recipe, though, is the one that alerted me to the fact that Pillsbury used to make a product that sounded like a novelty prophylactic.

Check it out-- Onion Crunch Sticks call for packages of Pillsbury's Wiener Wrap! I thought this might be some 1970s small-town Ohio slang for cans of crescent rolls, but Pillsbury Wiener Wrap was a real thing! I can't tell you how much that makes my day! I'm going to tell Mr. Crocker about that right now because he will laugh his butt off....

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Santa brought the celery!

Just to prove that I've always been weirdly obsessed with cooking guides, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When I was a kid and my mom would get Woman's Day magazines, I loved to look at the monthly menus in them. I imagined how tedious it would be to have to stick to some magazine's idea of what you should eat every day, and I would try to see if there was ANY day when I would approve of every single item on the menu. (Being super-picky, there very rarely was.) So today I have exciting money-saving menus from Decembers in the 1970s.

I love this one from 1976 Woman's Day because Santa is making a special delivery:

Yes, he's got a giant bag full of celery, broccoli, bananas, and cauliflower. I'm sure he'll be reeeaaalll popular with the kiddoes.

Santa appears not to have gotten all that health-conscious himself, either. Here he is on the page with the actual recipes:

Yep-- he still gets cookies. I guess he's trying to protect the kids from all that sugar by eating their cookies and leaving them veggies.

A common theme in the December menus is that apparently "money-saving recipes" was code for "canned seafood with a starch." December 1976 featured these beauties:

 Potato-Clam Fritters! Canned minced clams, mixed with potatoes, egg, and flour, then fried. I'm 100% certain that menu would not have made my "acceptable" list.

The 1974 Woman's Day menu was a lot less colorful.

No Santa. No multicolored printing. Just black and blue, like the parents' finances felt by the end of the month. And of course, the way to save money was to mix canned seafood with a starch and fry it.

This month, it's tuna and rice with baking mix and egg. Probably slightly more likely to win the little-Poppy seal of approval than the potato-clam fritters, but only if the onions disappeared....

This month also featured a few "throw-it-all-in-the-oven" recipes.

How about "Luncheon Meat Oven Dinner (with Cheesy Succotash and French Fries)"? (The parenthetical note in the title makes me imagine this is one of Meat Loaf's lesser-known songs.)

In any case, the name is code for oven-fried Spam with frozen fries and succotash. Yay? I'm pretty sure the only part of this that little Poppy would have approved would have been the fries and the dessert of lemon sherbet with frozen strawberries.

This last recipe actually wasn't part of the menu list, but I saw it and wondered if this was the 1974 holiday equivalent of avocado toast, so it gets thrown in as well:

Nothing says the holidays have made mom lose  her mind quite like broiler-browned bananas on a bread raft with bubbly canned cranberry sauce. Happy Holidays! Now  you'd better get the celery out from under the tree before it wilts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Holiday Magic from Highland County Seniors

I'm going to tell you a secret. This is the first new post I've written in months. I knew fall semester was going to be crazy busy, so everything I've posted since the end of August got written over summer vacation. I just did quick edits and posted leftovers for the past few months.

But now I've got a bit of actual time to look through new old cookbooks and write new posts! When I had trouble picking a theme for today's featured cookbook, I decided to go with a Christmas just because I can make it seasonally appropriate in real time! I'm too lazy to put up any decorations this year, so pretending a thoroughly ordinary community cookbook is Christmassy is my rough equivalent of stringing up some multicolored lights.

The Highland County Senior Citizens Center went with the thoroughly original title "Cook Book" (now with scare quotes!). As the cover indicates, it's from 1976, and I guess the vaguely boxy building is the senior center. Looks like a really warm, inviting place... or maybe an abandoned factory. Could go either way.

We'll start with the holiday recipe that grandmas were known to force on people as a gift-- with one slight twist.

If you're not on board for fruitcake, I'm not sure whether the addition of pork makes it sound more or less appealing. At least it will be a different kind of weird....

I remember reading about making snow ice cream somewhere when I was a kid, and I remember thinking that it had to be made up. Nobody made it, right? I mean, sugar dumped on snow would basically be the crappiest version of a snow-cone ever. But apparently, snow ice cream was a real thing (and it did involve more than just snow and sugar, so my imagination clearly fell short).

Maybe the cream and vanilla (along with constant tossing) would make this more worthwhile.... But the chance of eating twigs, dead leaves, and/or dog piss still leaves me underwhelmed by the thought of snow cream. (Maybe the holiday magic of Christmas Snow Cream makes the debris turn into candy? Just keep telling yourself-- hey, that's chocolate!)

For those who like to give away mini baked goods as gifts, the book has an idea I hadn't really considered before:

The 7-Up Pumpkin Nut Bread doesn't just use 7-Up as an ingredient. Look at the baking directions. you're supposed to bake it in 12-oz. 7-Up cans for four mini loaves. It's a cute idea, though I'm not sure how easy it would be to get out. It's the gift that says, "Happy Holidays, and good luck enjoying this present!"

If you want pumpkin and there's a shortage, though, the pumpkin bread won't do. Doesn't matter-- the book still has you covered. I'm going to call this a distant cousin of mock apple pie, though no crackers are involved.

Yes-- Magic Pumpkin Pie turns pineapple-- through the magic of spices and Eagle Brand milk-- into a pie-like thing that you can unconvincingly tell people is pumpkin. I'm guessing it would be especially unconvincing if you used a can of pineapple rings. (This doesn't specify what kind of canned pineapple after, all!)

I just hope the book has enough holiday magic to make your week a little bit weirder, like Aunt Bethany's Jell-O mold (which is somehow not in this book, possibly because it predates Aunt Bethany's reign of benevolent terror by more than a decade).

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!