Wednesday, January 31, 2018

From the Mixed-Up Files of Enterprise United Methodist

I actually have a good-ish reason for a change, as to why my pictures are askew rather than straight for today's book:

Centennial Cook Book: 100 Years of Tried & True Recipes: 1874-1974 (Enterprise United Methodist Church of Pomeroy, Ohio) got some hard use-- or maybe just some light use from a very clumsy, absent-minded person like me. The back cover has a tell-tale spiral from being burned on an electric stove, and half of the plastic spine is melted. If you're wondering, those are burn marks on the front cover too. This book has some issues...

The recipes make me think that the good Methodists of Pomeroy had some issues as well.

I am no stranger to the frozen salad, but most are pretty straightforward fruit-based concoctions. When I saw the first two ingredients for this one, I thought I was going to see a new type of frozen salad, a savory one perhaps:

Then I realized the pimento cheese and Miracle Whip were getting the crushed pineapple and marshmallow treatment! I'm pretty sure that abuse of perfectly good pimento cheese could get you arrested in a few states.

This dessert recipe seems to be either a tragic misunderstanding of the proper uses for Oreo crumbs or a very wrongheaded early attempt to develop Larabars:

Few cookie-lovers would want to taint their Oreos with dates, and the Larabar crowd buys the date-y concoctions because they have clean ingredient lists, not miniature marshmallows and highly-processed cookies. I can't picture much of an audience for Date-Oreo Dessert....

In Pomeroy, even commonly understood terms like milk shake or ice cream can escape the residents.

You know how people often assume that milk shakes will contain ice cream? Yeah, forget that. And you know how they generally hope for flavors like chocolate or vanilla? Forget that too. In Pomeroy, if you're lucky, your milk shake is apple juice mixed with milk, and if you're not lucky, it's milk and prune juice! (Even Good Housekeeping's misguided prune shake at least had some ice cream!)

But maybe the milkshakes don't include ice cream because the people of Pomeroy aren't even sure that it is:

Aunt Emma, sorry to break it to you, but I'm pretty sure that your "hot ice cream" is what most of us would call pudding.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Putting down the pudding

After weeks of snow and ice, then thunderstorms, then back to snow... and text messages from my power company telling me when power will be restored (sometimes when the power is actually off, and once when it wasn't and I wondered if I should expect to be tripping over cookbooks in the dark at any moment), I could use some comfort food. That means this weekend is pudding weekend!

Of course I'm not going to give you recipes for the warm chocolate pudding that I crave during weeks like these, or the tapioca or butterscotch you may want if you've got the palate of a 3- or 80-year-old. That doesn't mean they'll all be nasty puddings, though. This first recipe from Alaska's Cooking (Anchorage Woman's Club, fifth printing, 1965) offers up a nutty pudding I'd be happy to try if it didn't mean constant stirring over low heat for who knows how long:

Wait another month or so, and you can put fresh maple syrup in the Maple Pecan Pudding. I love that the recipe recommends a variation of the pudding dumped over an angel food for "squashy cake."

Let's get to something a little more period-specific. The mid-20th century loved its cans of fruit cocktail, as this recipe from Favorite Recipes of Ohio: Family Edition (eds. Audrey M. Johnson, Boone T. Boies, and Dr. Vivian Roberts, 1964) attests:

It's the old style of pudding-- more like a cake than a custard-- but it gives an excuse to cram one more can of fruit cocktail down the family's throats if they've finally rebelled against just eating the stuff right out of the can.

If the pantry is out of fruit cocktail but you still need a pantry staple dessert, the Ohioan cooks suggest this instead:

I'm not sure I'd highlight flavorless cream of wheat in the title (or spend the day baking it, crumbling it, molding it with whipped cream, and garnishing with grapes), but I clearly have different priorities than the '60s cooks.

Pudding wasn't just a way to use up cereal or fruit, though. It could hide vegetables, too, as the Alaskans suggest:

Carrot Pudding (a favorite Christmas dessert!) also uses grated potatoes and a full cup of suet (which makes me think of it as bird food).

I won't claim that pudding can be used as a cleaning product, but the name of this Ohioan pudding makes it sound as if it might be one:

Pine-Scotch Pudding: the only dessert that sounds like it might clean your kitchen floor. (Disclaimer: dessert will only make floor sticky.)

If you know me, you know I had to save the worst pudding for last. The Alaskans are a hearty lot, so they put protein everywhere-- even the pudding:

Liver and Rice Pudding might be just the dessert to fix if you're trying to make yourself give up desserts as part of your new year's resolution! Or maybe it's the main course if you're trying to give up carbs like rice? Look, with the onion, liver, molasses, and raisins, I'm not sure quite what is going on here, but I'm pretty sure it would help you give up something.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Another pat of butter

Does Butter 'n Love sound familiar? How about a little misshapen bootleg Strawberry Shortcake-ish girl?

If it seems familiar, it's because you've seen this cover before, but the recipes were from a Baptist Church in Kansas.

This Butter 'n Love Recipes collection was put together by Heritage Temple Ladies Auxiliary (Columbus, OH; ca. 1979 since there's a three-year calendar starting with 1979 in the back of the book).

The book has significantly fewer crazy noodle recipes than its Kansas counterpart. Instead, this one seems to be very, very canny.

I always thought of fruit butters as ways to preserve bushels of fresh fruits picked at the height of the season...

...but here, fruit butter starts with 7-1/2 pounds of canned peaches or apricots.

If you want your own "homemade" soup, it similarly starts with a lot of cans:

Eight total cans, including one of the elusive canned zucchini.  I'm just a little confused as to why it calls for fresh carrots, when a can was just as available. (If I had to pick one vegetable besides the cabbage to add fresh, it would be peas, as the canned variety smell like old socks and the fresh ones could warm through into delightful, sweet little orbs in the last few minutes of cooking time.)

A lot of the cookbook is devoted to perfectly fine baked goods, but it does have a sad little diet section with recipes like this:

The pancake is basically an unfortunate slice of poor French toast sent through the blender.

The diet section also has this decidedly non-diety seeming entry:

With two cups of sugar and a cup of oil, this zucchini bread recipe probably doesn't belong in the diet section, yet here it is. Vickie Skaggs submitted fully 36% of the diet recipes (and 75% of the recipes with a named contributor), so I suspect somebody just put a bunch of her recipes in the diet section, assuming they were all diet recipes without looking very closely.

You know someone at some point used this placement as an excuse to eat a big fat slice of zucchini bread for breakfast instead of that sad little "pancake" and still claim to be on a very strict diet.

Now we're far enough from new year's resolutions that you can do it too. (If you have trouble finding a fresh zucchini now, though, I would not recommend trying a canned one!)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Orange is the new blech!

In the midst of the snowdrifts, I'm ready for some Florida sunshine! Today's theme is oranges. Well, just to make it interesting, oranges with vegetables.

That's not always a bad thing. The American Woman's Cook Book (ed. Ruth Berolzheimer, 1942) suggests a twist on marmalade that would probably be pretty tasty:

Carrot and Orange Marmalade would probably be pretty tasty on a fresh muffin for breakfast. A pop of tartness from the lemon, sweetness from the oranges, maybe a little crunch from the carrot....

Some of the orange-and-veggie suggestions look quite whimsical, like this flamenco-dancing feather duster from Good Housekeeping's Soups/ Salads/ Sandwiches (1971):

The recipe is pretty basic, though:

It's just chicory and oranges arranged around a bottle of salad dressing (though the dressing does have a little rum, for a bit of a kick!). It looks like whoever owned this book actually made the salad, but I only have check marks and underlines-- no comments. 😕 I wish I knew what they thought of it. 

Betty Crocker's Good and Easy Cookbook (6th printing, 1974) offers a similarly simple recipe, but one that sounds way more potentially offensive:

I guess Orange and Onion Salad is for the days when you want both a fruit salad AND bad breath. 

 Betty Crocker also offers up a pretty orange salad:

Nice contrast from the deep green spinach to the orange oranges to the ... white cauliflower?

I guess this one is for when you want a fruit salad that will leave you with cauliflower burps for the rest of the day. 

For a spring twist on oranges, The Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery (1971) suggests pairing them with asparagus:

I have a sneaking suspicion that someone made this with canned asparagus at some point. I'm sure it was a slimy, army-green delight.

This post won't be complete without an orange and bean combo, though, so here is a recommendation from Jacqueline HĂ©riteau's The Complete Book of Beans (1978):

"This dish tastes best when the oranges and beans have a chance to marinate in the tart French dressing before it is served, so try to prepare it in advance." Sounds like good advice. I'd combine the beans, dressing, and oranges, put them in the back of the fridge, forget about them for a year or until the next time I cleaned the fridge (whichever came first), and then pitch the whole mess without even trying to figure out whether I could still identify what it was. 

That's it for today! Orange you sad you read all the way to the end to find out I did use that lame pun after all?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

It's food on a budget, anyway...

Still paying off holiday credit card bills? Tighten that belt! It shouldn't be too hard after having some Good Food on a Budget (Better Homes and Gardens, 1971).

The cover, with its bountiful roast, puffy home baked rolls, and big scoops of ice cream, doesn't hint at the book's favorite methods of making budget meals...

One trick is to simply throw cottage cheese in things. Want tomato juice with breakfast?

Tangy Tomato Cocktail "With white flecks of cottage cheese" (billed as an exciting feature?) means you can save money by not offering bacon or sausage with the cornmeal pancakes.

Want a sandwich?

Spread bread with a cottage cheese and egg filling, then dip in eggs and fry. Call it Quick Blintz Sandwiches so no one will rebel until they realize it's just a fancy name for cottage cheese on eggy bread, not the delicate pancakes wrapped around a seasoned filling as anticipated.

Another budget technique is to take a perfectly good, already-favorite budget recipe, and make it weird for the sake of variety.

Do you yearn for a pizza on a Friday night? Tomato sauce fragrant with herbs? Strings of melty mozzarella stretching and tearing as you grab the first steaming hot slice? Maybe some spicy pepperoni and/or mellow mushrooms?

Well, how do you feel about a pizza that hides chopped-up hard-cooked eggs under a layer of barely-seasoned tomato paste and a puddle of American and Swiss cheeses? It's just another variation of the time-tested favorite Better Homes and Gardens thought you might want to try.

Maybe you'd prefer creamy macaroni and cheese spiked with savory, smoky hits of ham? I foolishly assumed that is what Ham and Mac Bake would be...

But noooo.... The titular "Mac" is macaroni and apples in a mustard and brown sugar béchamel. Ham is not going to fix that.

A final favorite is to have you laboriously make an ingredient that could just as easily be bought, then ruin it with low-cost least-favorite foods. Spend a sunny morning making a batch of fresh, homemade noodles.

Then spend a dreary evening turning them into...

Mackerel-Noodle Bake! Why serve the noodles with an equally low-cost and far more delicious marinara sauce if you can dump in cans of peas, mackerel, and generic tomato sauce instead? Top the whole thing with the orange plastic that is American cheese and you will wonder why you spent the whole day on this shit.

Is this kind of home cooking really your purpose? As you stare down in despair, I can only offer the words of Rick Sanchez: "Welcome to the club, pal."

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Broccoli Party for my 500th Post!

I wanted to do a weekend post about a seasonal food since I have the time, but there's not a lot of fresh seasonal food in my area unless you want a hand-sculpted snowball. (Dirt and gravel for no additional charge, though it is extra if you want to make sure there's no yellow snow!)

Not sure what to do, I checked my Betty Crocker's Cooking Calendar for January and saw that broccoli is a "red letter food" for the month, so today we're taking a broccoli break!

I found a lot of recipes for omelets with broccoli (and usually cheese!), but this one from New Age Vegetarian Cookbook (The Rosicrucian Fellowship, fifth edition, 1975) seemed to be missing a little something:

It's hard to have an omelet without the eggs. I'm not narrow-minded, so I might accept a chickpea flour or tofu-based egg substitute for a vegan "omelet," but this doesn't even go that far. It's just broccoli held together with a big old pile of rice and bread crumbs. It's less broccoli omelet and more broccoli carb-bomb.

I saw a lot of broccoli casseroles consisting mainly of broccoli baked in white sauce/ cream of something soup. 1966's Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers: Vegetables Edition Including Fruits gave me a new insight into the broccoli/ bĂ©chamel genre, though.

This is Party Broccoli. What makes it a party?

The normal bĂ©chamel/ soup is replaced with a sour cream sauce, and the sauce is poured on at the last minute (rather than baked with the broccoli as a casserole). The topping is chopped cashews, not breadcrumbs or crushed potato chips. Pour-on sauce + cashew topping = party-fancy.

I love the old compulsion to bake everything into the shape of a ring, and Family Circle Vegetables and Meatless Meals Cookbook (1978) doesn't disappoint on that front:

This looks almost like it should have been a Christmas post with the bright red tomatoes and green ring.

I'm not sure a baked broccoli custard filled with out-of-season tomatoes would be a real draw at holiday tables, but it might look pretty.

When I saw a mold recipe in Low-Calorie Party Cookbook (Suzy Chapin, 1971), I immediately assumed it would be a gelatin mold.

It wasn't, though. It was a cheesy ring mold! Since this one is full of cheese and lacking mayo, the low-cal version sounds better to me than the full-on Family Circle one. (I'd ditch the canned carrots in the middle though. Who needs tinny overcooked vegetables when there are cheesy vegetables?)

Concerned that I might disappoint without an honest-to-goodness broccoli-gelatin salad, I did track one down just for you! Favorite Recipes of America: Salads Including Appetizers (1968) offers this ray of dirty sunshine:

I suppose it's better that the broccoli is suspended in beef consomme-flavored gelatin than lemon or lime, but I can't imagine there's a huge fan base for broccoli and hard-cooked eggs suspended in slimy, beefy mayo. The aspic hints of days when it's too hot to cook, though, so I'll take it as a promise that summer is eventually on the way!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hairy, homemade happiness

The holidays just keep on giving! This week I have a book my little sister sent me:

The Prairie Du Chien Jaycettes (1978/79? The opening letter is from the 1978-79 president Nancy Ashby, so I assume this was compiled during her tenure.) claim that Happiness Is Homemade, but I'd say this book makes a pretty convincing case that happiness can be found in the Half Price Books clearance racks.

The cover's bootleg version of Dennis the Menace seems not to be having nearly as much fun reaching the cookie jar with the Force as one would assume. Maybe he's self-conscious about his tiny arms and misshapen butt.

There's plenty of fun inside, though. Take Pizza Burgers, for example:

I love pizza burgers-- even have my own custom recipe for homemade veggie pizza burgers-- but I never considered grated Spam to be an essential component. (I guess we're just lucky these aren't Hawaiian pizza burgers, calling for pineapple tidbits in addition to the spam, spaghetti sauce, and mozzarella.)

Te pizza burger is a real recipe as far as I can tell, though, unlike the one for Elephant Stew:

At first, I wasn't sure whether the generically-named Mary Jones sent this in more because she was amused by the thought of spending two months cutting an elephant into bite-sized pieces, cooking it for four weeks, or serving 3800 people. Then I saw it was mostly so she could make a joke about adding a couple rabbits to stretch this feast, even if "most people do not like to find hare in their stew." I hate you Mary Jones, and I also love you.

The opening chapter of the booklet is titled "VIP Section," and most of the recipes are from politicians' wives, like this little number:

If you've ever wanted to eat turnips, but worried they might be insufficiently fluffy, Mamie Eisenhower has a recipe for you!

Nestled in among recipes like this and "Mrs. Richard Nixon"'s steaks braised in V-8 juice, there is one celebrity who is not like the others:

Yep-- Roseanne Roseannadanna sent in a recipe for Soup Without Hairs. (Hint: Wear a hair net while making it.)

A big thanks for this slightly hair-obsessed cookbook!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Trendy diets: 1978 meets 2018

I'm sure at least a few people are still trying to stick to their new year's diets, but if they're feeling smug that today's diet ideas are so much more advanced than the ones from the 1970s, they might want to think again. Some of today's trends have a longer history than people might suspect, but those trends were all buried in now-musty-smelling books rather than going viral at the time.

You know how everyone has been replacing carbs like potatoes or rice with cauliflower? Home ec teachers were preaching that gospel in 1978 (Dieting to Stay Fit, Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers):

Of course, the '70s Mock Potato salad mashed the cauliflower so it was a substitute for both the potatoes and the now-permitted mayonnaise, but it had the same general idea.

And you know the trick of using zucchini instead of noodles?

Yep. Those '70s home ec teachers thought of it too. (In fact, they thought about it a lot. This is the more deluxe version of a similar recipe from the same book that I used for a zucchini post a few years ago.)

You know the popular delusion idea that we should avoid sugar, but that sugar somehow doesn't count as sugar if it's "natural," such as agave or brown rice syrup?

That idea was around in the '70s too, though you were more likely to see recipes calling for apple juice concentrate or honey than agave. 

But you're still right if you think at least some diet cuisine has improved in the last 40 years.

Not too many people now would consider a quasi-crepe made of eggs and pureed bread soaked in a tomato juice/ squash puree to be an enchilada. Mexican-inspired diet entrees might be marginally better now. Progress!

P.S.: Check it out!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Grannie Goes Gourmet

Now that we are sadly done with Alcoa's foil-wrapped nightmares, I wanted a new seasonal book to kick off each month. Then I happened upon a library-bound volume of 1977's Gourmet magazines, so this year we are finding out what rich (or at least the pretentious, aspiring rich) people read about food in 1977.

You might notice that the January cover is surprisingly devoid of food for a magazine called "Gourmet." Well, I guess the buildings are munchable if you're a hut-devouring sea monster, but I don't think that's the target market. You'll notice that the subtitle of "The Magazine of Good Living" suggests this is more than just a food magazine.

In fact, I'd call it more of a travel magazine, as the issue implores readers to holiday in Tahiti, then go skiing in Taos and shopping in Lyons before it gets serious about offering any recipes.

Since I usually prefer much more downscale recipes, we're going to check out their "budget" food article, unpretentiously titled "Gastronomie Sans Argent."

In this world, being down on one's luck means serving chicken drenched in herb sauce from a French copper casserole.

The recipe is definitely upscale from what I usually see. You know the sauce would be canned cream of something soup in a church cookbook, but here we have a roux-thickened stock-and-sour-cream sauce with fresh dill.

Chicken fricassee is the money-saver of choice, as the article lists plenty of variations on this theme. My favorite is the one (in a very hard-to-scan spot) that includes sausage-based dumplings, as we all know that when you're trying to rein in the budget, it's cheaper to make dumplings with sausage than with plain old flour....

We're off to a Gourmet start. Now I'm just hoping 2018 will magically bring us all a Gourmet budget.