Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cook Book Returns Again: The Sequel's Sequel

The title of today's cook book has been featured three times already, and even the exact same cover has been featured once before.

You know that means it's time for another little regional cookbook with weird recipes from a church or women's club.

This time, Cook Book: Favorite Recipes from Our Best Cooks (ca. 1979) is from the United Methodist Women of Worthington United Methodist Church.

They offer the kinds of recipes that made me dread church potlucks as a kid. Few things are more terrifying than being cornered by an old lady with a gleam in her eye, handed a plate full of unidentified foodstuffs, and implored to try and guess what she's force feeding you.

If you guessed raspberry Jell-O full of stewed tomatoes and topped with horseradish sour cream, you were correct (but having to eat the damn stuff made you a loser regardless of your guessing ability).

It also has some of the potluck offerings that may have seemed benign at first glance, then made you regret wasting plate space if you actually tried it....

Reading this, I thought Pineapple Cheese Ball would be one of those dessert cheese balls that comes surrounded with graham crackers or wafer cookies. Yum! Then I saw the green pepper and minced onion, and realized I was mistaken. This would have been surrounded with Ritz crackers and presented as a savory cheese ball, and then I would have been grossed out by the pineapple bits inside, the way I was when I accidentally tried a bit of pineapple pizza. I love cheese balls, and this could have been great if it chose the sweet OR savory route, but this version... well... it's very vintage.

There was one trend I could get behind as a kid forced to attend church potlucks.

Honestly, I liked plain old broccoli just fine as a kid, but still... There's not much better than getting to be self-righteous when mom asks if you got some vegetables by pointing out that big mound of broccoli. Never mind that it's so coated in margarine (or maybe butter if you're lucky!), cheese, and Ritz crackers that the green is barely visible. It's still broccoli, right?

One other thing I love about this book is the old-fashioned, make-do notes in it. I'm no fan of pickles (well, except for one very violent pickle), but the notes for this recipe make me love it anyway:

"May be frozen in regular freezer containers or inexpensively in cottage cheese containers or margarine tubs." That just makes me smile, remembering rummaging through grandma's fridge and never knowing what might be in the cottage cheese tub. Maybe cottage cheese. Maybe fresh carrot or bell pepper sticks. Maybe the remains of some green beans that she's reheated three times already and is still trying to finish off.

You want them? She'll heat them up right now! It would be really nice to get them out of the fridge! (This is the cue to make your exit...)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Funny Name: Not Nearly as Interesting as I Imagined Edition

I know most of you probably haven't heard of the regional "furniture" chain now called Beds 'n' Stuff (or Waterbeds 'n' Stuff back when my college friends and I would gigglingly dare each other to go past the furniture part of the store to the more famous back room). You have to know that bit of background for this recipe from Favorite Recipes of Ohio: Family Edition (1964).

If you didn't know about Beds 'n' Stuff, you wouldn't know why I laughed and imagined "Green Beans 'n' Stuff" as green beans seasoned with bongs and vibrators.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Putting a little Lipton in your life (or at least your sour cream)

When I post from a soup cookbook, it's usually a Campbell's book. They were very eager to sell cans of soup via soup-centric cookbooks. They weren't the only ones in on the soup game, though. Somebody had to sell those dry little powdery soup packets!

Enter Souped Up Recipes from Lipton (1978). This booklet offers soooo many ways to cram Lipton Onion Soup Mix into pretty much everything... and a lot of those ways start with the '70s-ubiquitous California Dip. (For the uninitiated, it's a packet of the aforementioned onion soup mix blended with a pint of sour cream.)

The asparagus on the cover is coated with a California-dip-based sauce, for example, and most of the recipes in the snacks and appetizers section start with it too:

Maybe the bright orange and yellow flowers will temporarily distract you, but you might notice how brown and goopy the deviled eggs and the dip look. That's California dip color!

Granted, I HATE mayonnaise, so I would probably like these "devilish" eggs better than the typical deviled offering:

I have to admit that the creamy cat barf consistency makes them look pretty unappealing, though.

You might wonder what kind of dip is in the bowl at the bottom of the picture. Maybe an odd California-dip-based bean dip?

Nope! It's pre-browned guacamole! You won't have to worry that it will start to look "off" as the party goes on. It looks off from the beginning.

That's not to say that all the recipes start with dip. A lot of recipes put the soup mix right into ground meat, like this one:

You might wonder what makes this straightforward recipe worthy of the "Round-the-World" title, but the answer is the variations:

Dinner can be "Typically British" with some cheddar and Worcestershire or "South-of-the-Border" with tomato and chopped chilis.  Sour cream, raisins, and curry powder turn the burgers Indian, though I might recommend using ground mutton or chicken instead of beef!

Lipton did have one idea for tacos that seems so sensible, I'm not sure why it didn't catch on:

You might be so busy looking at the very green pitcher of something (Margaritas, maybe? It doesn't say.) on a yarn-covered platform that you don't notice something unusual about the taco meat.

Look closely. It's not all poised to fall out!

It's filled not with loose taco meat, but a sausage-shaped Taco Burger! That means when the crisp tortilla inevitably shatters, diners won't be showered with loose, greasy bits of spicy meat. It will just be shards of corn tortilla, under-ripe tomatoes, and finely shredded lettuce. Yay! Okay, maybe it's not quite as practical as I initially thought. Maybe they should bind it all together as a taco salad using "guacamole" as the dressing. Now that I think about it, I'm kind of surprised they didn't.

Thanks for reading about old packets of onion soup mix! I am glad others are also easily amused.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Food you've gotta chop down

If you had to be memorialized in food form, what would you want to signify you? I'd want to be remembered in peanut butter + chocolate form, as I will always be convinced there is no greater combination than that. (Maybe a nice chocolate cake decorated with peanut butter frosting to look like an old cookbook?)

Well... for Presidents' Day, let's learn from New Holiday Cookbook (Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers, 1974) how the honorees Washington and Lincoln were celebrated in food. I'll bet you can guess Washington:

Of course it's with cherries! To make sure it's perfectly '60s-'70s appropriate, we also have fruit cocktail, crushed pineapple, and cottage cheese in the gelatin. The fact that there are few actual cherries in this (aside from the maraschino or two in the can of fruit cocktail) and that the black cherry gelatin may be swapped out for any flavor makes this feel not particularly special to Washington... not that I would be accusing the editors of just finding ways to shoehorn loose recipes into a holiday so they can go home early, even if this could just as easily (and more accurately) be called Special Pineapple Salad or Special Cottage Cheese 'n' Cool Whip Salad....

This unique pie fits the cherry theme better:

Okay, the picture is black and white, so you just have to take the little fake cherry decorations' word for it, but that's a cherry pie. You're probably more intrigued by the crust, though. What is going on? Was the pie attacked by a pack of rabid foam packing peanuts?

It's Popcorn Crusted Cherry Pie! For all those times when you wished to have a cloying, overly-chewy popcorn ball covered with red goo.... Well, this is the answer! I'll bet Washington would be thrilled. 

Washington is associated with sweet, beloved cherries, though, so he shouldn't complain too much. Lincoln isn't exactly associated with a type of food-- more of a shape-- so recipes in his honor tend not to have the most appetizing titles (or appearances). 

Yep-- You're looking at Lincoln Logs. These are the candy ones. 

If you want logs that will maybe look a bit less like they're predigested, you can go the savory route:

I think sweetened peanut butter rolled in more peanuts is more my speed than deviled ham rolled in olives, but your mileage may vary. 

Either way, I'd feel bad leaving you with appetizers and desserts, but no entree, so here's a little something for the Minuteman:

I'm not sure what broccoli, stuffing, and cheese bound with mushroom soup and mayonnaise and baked for half an hour has to do with a Minuteman... Maybe he sees that's what will be for dinner and says, "Hey, I've got to go out, but I'll be back in a minute!" (It's gonna be waaay more than a minute.)

Any other theories? 

Anyway, happy Presidents' day! Now go out and petition Trader Joe's to start selling Cherry Goat Cheese Logs for next Presidents' day, as that has to be the classiest way to combine these two for a truly holiday-appropriate snack. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Muscled-up pasta watchers

When Mr. Pantries and I go to thrift shops, we usually go on our own separate adventures and compare loot once we're done. On a recent trip, though, he bounded up to me with a book and asked, "What's the concept for this cover?"

Apparently, the concept is "muscular guys stare at piles of fresh pasta." Why that was the concept of choice, I'm not sure. Maybe they're expecting the pasta to become sentient and they have to guard it so it doesn't become criminal pasta, trying to steal all the anchovies and olives from grocery stores.... I don't know! In any case, the cover got our attention, so I guess it worked. We were so amused that I obviously had to get this book.

That means for this Valentine's day the muscular hunks from The Joy of Pasta (Simac's Cuisine Collection, 1982) will give us some romantic pastas.

I don't automatically think of pasta when I think of romance. I think of chocolate. Well, The Joy of Pasta has ways of combining the two.

No, that's not hot dog medallions on kelp.

It's Cocoa Tagliatelle with Würstel Sausage Sauce. (And yes, you can substitute hot dogs for the sausages if you must... Just as long as you are willing to eat them over cocoa tagliatelle with some paprika and cream.)

If you're not so excited about pasta made dog shit brown with cocoa powder, you could always go the chocolate sauce route:

If you thought I meant a cloyingly sweet dessert pasta with that chocolate sauce, you were mistaken. It's spaghetti with a cream, Parmesan, and bitter chocolate sauce... although the cognac might make it dessert-ish? Can't quite wrap my mind around that one, to be honest.

If you want an honest-to-god dessert pasta, though, this book has some of those, too.

You can stuff ravioli with marmalade and deep-fry them, for a slightly-fancier take on state-fair food.

Or if you want to go all-out on buying Simac Cuisine products and also make more traditional pasta, there's this:

Note the extremely subtle product placement. I almost didn't realize that Simac made juicers in addition to the pasta machines....

And that juicer and pasta maker combo will allow you to end a meal with Bucatini with Orange Sauce, a concoction of cognac, orange peel, butter, and Romano cheese over a big bed of pasta with orange slices instead of meatballs. It gives you a possibly pretty-messy ending to a romantic dinner, but maybe you'll lose interest and go off to have an early dessert before this makes an appearance....

Well, I'm off to see what my pasta is doing. I've got no muscular Marios guarding it, so it could eyeing my chocolate for all I know, and I want to keep them separate!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A different kind of engagement ring

It's almost Valentine's day, which means I am trying to resist the urge I get this time every year to find a recipe that will give me an excuse to link to the clip of the ritual heart excision in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Instead, I'm transporting us to The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook's (1959) idea of romance, the engagement dinner that often followed the Valentine's day celebration.

Engaged couples had their pick of two engagement luncheon menus. The first comes with a lovely scene of the excitement of the new engagement:

You've got to love the picture of dad handing his little girl off to her fiancé. The men are looking serious, shaking hands over the business deal, while she's smiling blankly into the middle distance trying to convince herself that it's perfectly normal to be treated like property and that everything is fine, just fine, and this is what she always dreamed of. Mom looks on, slack-jawed since her Miltown kicked in.

The other doesn't get an illustration, but you may notice a certain similarity in the menu:

Apparently, the rule for engagement parties is that you have to serve an aspic, preferably in a ring mold to make the engagement ring look way more impressive by contrast. The book helpfully encourages hosts for menu 1 to "Make two molds of the beautiful mousse, so that latecomers to the table will see it in all its glory." Who wouldn't want to spend days eating leftover jellied chicken just so everyone could judge your mold-making prowess? And what a jellied chicken it was:

Cold cream of mushroom soup with chicken, mayonnaise, celery, and lemon juice, leavened with (wasted!) whipped cream-- such an inviting welcome to the family. At least it uses unflavored gelatin, unlike the Lime Ring with Avocado and Shrimp:

You want to marry our daughter? You've got to eat lime gelatin full of vinegar, mayo, and cottage cheese topped with shrimp and avocado first! You've got to prove you really want her.

The menu makes for a mesmerizingly surreal tablescape, though.

The glowing green rings surrounded by frills of lettuce and topped with pink shrimp and pops of red tomato makes me think it could be a "hat" Bugs Bunny is fashioning for Elmer Fudd.... I hope Sue and Bob have a good sense of humor, and the good sense to eat before they show up to the luncheon in their honor.

Here's hoping you have a happy Valentine's day that doesn't lead to an engagement party like one of these! (And since I still can't resist, here's hoping your heart doesn't get ripped out either!)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Is it diet?

Ready for another Cook Book? (Those fundraising cookbooks in the '70s sure came up with some creative titles!)

This one is from Derby Sisters Rebekah Lodge #908 (Derby, Ohio, 1975).

The colander full of vegetables on the cover seems appropriate for this book, as it has more of a diet-y feeling than most of these fundraiser cookbooks, which usually have a recipe for cabbage soup and a couple Jell-O salads that are composed primarily of fruits and vegetables (rather than cream cheese, marshmallows, and ice cream) for dieting readers.

The diet-adjacent recipes are everywhere, too, not segregated in a two-page "chapter." I came upon the appetizingly-titled "Broccoli Diet Bake" right at the start of the book:

Green peppers, broccoli, and chicken baked in tomato juice. Woo hoo. These Ohioans really know how to excite the taste buds.

Maybe the diet bake would be better with a little sour cream garnish?

The buttermilk-and-bouillon-gelatin will be a fine substitute.

Even a lot of recipes not billed as diet food read as pretty bland and diet-y to me. When I see the title Macaroni and Frank Casserole, I think of a big, gooey plate of mac and cheese studded with hot dog medallions.

This isn't supposed to be diet food, but the dab of macaroni in a thin white sauce seems like it should be.

When I think of lasagna, I think of big slabs of rich tomato sauce and gobs of gooey cheese. (The real takeaway here is that I think cheese should be in pretty much anything!) I don't think of this:

Canned tuna, mayo, some spinach... It's basically hot tuna/pasta salad, with lasagna noodles standing in for the macaroni.

Some of the official diet recipes actually seem less diet-y than the non-diet ones. Substituting cottage cheese for ground beef in a loaf may seem like a diet move...

...but when you use crushed potato chips (instead of, say, oatmeal) as the binder, and drown the whole thing in mushroom soup "gravy," well, the diet cred is more than a little questionable. Maybe you should just have some damn meat loaf if that's what you really want.

Of course, the fact that this cookbook gives me so many recipes I don't really want is exactly what made me want it in the first place. Life is weird.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Rich people pretend to breakfast in France or down on the farm

It's February, and that means another check-in as to what the rich (or at least aspiring-to-be-rich) jerks were daydreaming about in the February 1977 issue of Gourmet.

The cover is of cows grazing in Auvergne, France, the destination recommended for those wishing for a gourmet holiday. (Rome is recommended for shopping in this issue, and oddly for February, Moscow is recommended for a weekend getaway. Apparently it's not exciting enough to freeze for free at home; a Gourmet reader should spend more than I make in a month to freeze in the Russian winter for a change of pace.)

Since there's a full-color spread of winter breakfasts, we're going to look at a couple of those.

The magazine doesn't specify that the menus are supposed to suggest any kind of a theme, but I suspect readers are expected to imagine one anyway.

This minimal spread is supposed, I think, to make one imagine a morning in France if the reader is obstinate/unfortunate enough to stay home:

Okay, I know nothing about furniture, so I'm not sure how French it was to lounge about on wicker furniture, but the breakfast of croissants and coffee is certainly meant to give readers a mini taste of the continent.

They would certainly need plenty of leisure time (or a well-paid personal cook) to make this seemingly-simple breakfast:

Even though they're petit, the croissants will take nearly a full day to make.

Prep is much easier if you want to pretend you're off for a weekend in the country.

Even though the country breakfast has more components (home-mixed sausage, apple rings, blueberry muffins), making everything (aside from the hands-off overnight sausage chilling) will take less time than the croissants. (Maybe make breakfast yourself and give the cook the day off!)

I guess I expected a few more herbs than the bit of sage and allspice for the Herbed Sausage Cakes, but it is a modest country recipe.

The sausage is sweetened up with (caramel) Sautéed Apple Rings. Accompany all with Blueberry Muffins...

...and you've got a rich person's fantasy of life in the country.

It's a fun fantasy, but not one that matches my memory. My country grandma tended to serve cereal, severely overripe bananas, bruised apples, and-- Don't tell anyone!-- cookies for breakfast. That's my breakfast for an imaginary weekend in the country, but I'm not rich...