Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cocktail Hour

It's still damn hot! Maybe I should bust out a blender recipe book to fix us some cool "treats."

Electric Blender Recipes (Mabel Stegnar, 1952) has plenty of oddities to encourage homemakers to think a new blender will do absolutely anything.

Need some shampoo?

Why not grind up leftover bar soap with hot water? (I'm clearly too squeamish for the '50s if I'm bothered by the thought of eating food out of a container that had just been used to process gunky scraps of well-used bar soap!)

I was most drawn to the recipes that I tend to expect to see in blender books, the ones for smooth soups and beverages.

The next recipe makes me shudder only because I know how my mind works. If I came across a nice bowl of lightly pinkish yogurt in the fridge, I'd probably think it was a blended peach yogurt and scoop out a dish for dessert, maybe throwing a bit of Great Grains Double Pecan cereal on top for crunch.

And then I'd find out the yogurt was actually flavored with shrimp and cucumber....

Yeah, I'm used to sweet yogurt, so this book would make me extremely skeptical of any yogurt-based concoction in the fridge.

Hopefully I'd smell the onion soon enough to realize this wasn't strawberry yogurt!

In fact, the "cocktails," the precursors to today's green smoothies, are my favorites. I'm not sure anyone was exactly clamoring for a celery cocktail.

Well maybe the Fifth Doctor, but I have my doubts. He may hold the sensible view that celery should be strictly decorative.

The book also supposed there was great interest in battery acid grapefruit juice mixed with random vegetables for a "refreshing" beverage.

Or, for those who found simple vegetable + fruit juice combinations too conventional, there's this alternative:

Yay! The Beet Sauerkraut Cocktail. (Beets taste like dirty sugar and I hate sauerkraut!)

I've spared you a few of their less-creative ideas, as you've already seen the old cottage cheese cocktail, raw-egg-and-orange-juice vitamin drink, and the ever-famous raw liver + chocolate milk trick. Be grateful for that.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Funny Name: Extra Fancy Edition

Are you ready to feel fancy? I mean, really fancy? Fancy enough to break out the "Ooh La La"? Jimmy Dean's Best Sausage Recipes (1973) might sound down-home, but it can be just as fancy as anybody else, dagnabbit.

I'm not so sure the bakers in the French countryside fill their pastry shells with Jimmy Dean, frozen broccoli, and cans of cheese soup, but this extra-punctuation-y dish of Sausage-Ooh!-La!-La! doesn't look too bad if you like phlegm and sawdust over overcooked green stuff.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Blockhead's Lunch Bag

Aaugh! It's back to school time, and that unhappy fact has inspired me to yell like a well-known blockhead.

At least he's willing to show up in Peanuts Lunch Bag Cook Book (June Dutton/ Charles M. Schulz/ Determined Productions, 1970) to take some of the sting out of the season. I'm pretty sure my copy belonged to an actual child at one point, based on the scribbles you might notice on the cover (and the torn-out page inside).

This book is clearly written for families that are serious about making lunch from scratch. Not only does it have recipes for bread and mayonnaise at the beginning, but it also has recipes for snack food. No tossing in a bag of chips or cheesy poofs! Make your own.

June Dutton clearly believed in salad sandwiches, as most of the book consists of recommendations for variations of [fill in the blank]-salad sandwiches. Chicken? Tuna? Salmon? Ham (regular or canned)? Cheese? There are pages of variations for all of them-- usually at least a plain version, a version with pineapple and green pepper or water chestnuts, and a version with chopped hard-cooked eggs. There's even a kind-of peanut butter salad of peanut butter mixed with finely chopped celery and topped with "catsup."

My favorites go out on a limb with the recommendations, but tie the ingredient to a character so it doesn't seem so weird. What is Lucy van Pelt known for?

She's crabby! I can't imagine there are too many schoolkids clamoring to take a crab sandwich to school, but she's a good excuse to cram some crab sandwich recipes into the book anyway.

What might be a fitting sandwich for the gang's too-mature member, the one who's always quoting scripture when everybody else just wants to have fun?

Of course Linus loves liverwurst. I'm not so convinced that the rest of the elementary school set is ready for it, though. Pack this in a real kid's lunch at your own risk.

Sally, true to form, is robbed in her selection, which is just a plain salad rather than one intended to be packed into a sandwich.

Cottage cheese with mayo and pickled peach? Well, it's not as bad as missing out on "tricks or treats," but it's damn close.

My favorite thing about the book is that it offers recipes on the left-hand pages and food-related comic on the right. I'll leave you with a comic in which Snoopy sums up my feelings about most of the recipes I feature on this site.

Monday, August 20, 2018

In which your humble writer makes the wrong choice

Yes, it's the long-awaited day! Pieathalon!

My recipes are from the nicest entrant ever. Bobb of Dr. Bobb's Kitschen is so awesome because he sent me two recipes (Yeah-- the plural in the previous sentence wasn't a mistake!) so I could pick my favorite.

One contender was Strawberry Ginger Pie from Good Looking Cooking: A Guide to the Use of Unflavored Gelatin for Students (1957).

The other was Lime Pie with Crême de Menthe from Thomas Mario's The Midnight Cookbook (1971), though Bobb suggested the alternate title might be The Swinger's Cookbook.

I can't imagine why...

I bet you can guess my pick based on the assembled ingredients:

Don't look too closely at the expiration date on the gelatin, or you might realize that I've been working my way through that box for years now. I only get it out at Pieathalon time, and this year I used up the last packet!

First I made the gingersnap pie crust, but the 15 gingersnaps the recipe specified barely covered the bottom of my pie plate. I crushed up an extra five and threw in a little extra butter, and that was enough to get the sides of the pan mostly coated. At least the butter-to-gingersnap proportion was good with this recipe, so I didn't end up with a butter-and-gingersnap swamp like I did in Pieathalon 1.

The gelatin mixture was pretty easy to make, even though I had to improvise a double boiler yet again. I will say that mixing an egg yolk into 3/4 cup of ginger ale seemed like a very weird thing to do, though.

The recipe said the powdered milk and water mixture would take 10 minutes to whip into peaks, so I started whipping it before I started on the egg white. Once the egg white was whipped, I checked the milk mixture and it was just barely fluffy. I thought maybe it wasn't cold enough and stacked bags of frozen veggies around the bowl as my mixer continued to whip, thinking maybe it needed to be colder to thicken. Folded the egg white into the gelatin and let the mixer go a few more minutes. Still no peaks on the milk, even though it had been whipping 20 minutes by that point. The rest of the filling would set up without the milk-whip if I didn't get it in there soon, so I just added it in its slightly-fluffy state. There was still plenty of filling for the crust, so I guess the under-inflated milk didn't matter.

Then the whole thing went into the fridge to chill and await my special guest taster.

"Wait a minute! This pie is p...urp... pink! I thought it would be green! I only came because I thought I was going to get something with booze! Why didn't you pick the one with booze?"

"Well, that one did sound more interesting, but I don't like going to the liquor store and I didn't want to spend much because I usually throw out most of the pie anyway."

"Ugh. Fine." Pickle Rick rolled his eyes and mimed throwing a grenade into the pie, but he just sliced it with his laser instead.

Ready to dig in?

He took a bite. "What is this? From a dimension that doesn't believe in flavor? I can taste strawberry when I get a bite with one, and the crust tastes like gingersnaps, but that pink crap does n...urp... nothing. You could eat a bowl of strawberries with a couple gingersnaps on the side and get just as much flavor for zero effort. Zero effort, Poppy! You must have too much free time on your hands."

"Well, I suppose it was a good way for families to stretch..." I started, but Pickle Rick cut me off.

"You might have time to kill, but I don't. I gotta get back to weaponizing office supplies and making up catch phrases."

With that, he was gone. I took a taste, and he was pretty much right. The pie tastes... fine. It's not terrible, but it has little to recommend it either. It's just kind of sweet and foamy. My advice for this one is similar to what it was for last year's pie: If you're going to spend the calories on dessert, find something more exciting than this.

Be sure to visit all the Pieathalon posts! The links should be correct and live now if you had some trouble earlier.
It’s not from a Vintage Recipe Card! Surly made a Dutch Peaches and Cream Pie
Kelli at Kelli’s Kitchen whips up a Chocolate Mousse Pie
Dr. Bobb experiments with Ritz Cracker Mock Apple Pie
Marguerite Patten’s Cheese Pie is on the menu over at Kelly’s Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en
Jenny at Silver Screen Suppers put Sweet Onion Pie to the test
Kari, The Nostagic Cook, presents The Tansey
The Battenburg Belle gets her bake on with a Frosty Vanilla Pie
What is Mock Pecan Pie? Find out with Sally at My Custard Pie
Taryn tries her hand at Vincent Price’s Pineapple Meringue Pie at Retro Food for Modern Times
Camilla goes on another Culinary Adventure by making a Peaches and Cream Tart
Peter Fuller, the curator of Vincent Price Legacy, UK gets all cute with a Puddin n’ Pie. (He got my submission, by the way, so you should feel sorry for him.)
Say ‘bon jour’ to Renee’s French Raspberry Pie over at Tortillas and Honey
The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook goes Hawaiian with Aloha Meringue Pie
A pie called The Millionaire? What? Mimi at Once Upon a Salad will find out!
Sue, of Vintage Cookbookery (and the world record holder for the largest privately owned cookbook collection) serves up Yul Brenner’s Walnut Pie
I don’t know who Tyler is, but he has a pie. Go visit Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm
Go inside the Heritage Recipe Box with Clara and an Olde English Egg Nog Pie
Open the Book of Cookrye and discover Cool Mint Cookie Pie
Debra at Eliot’s Eats gets fruity with an Apricot Meringue Pie
Join Judy, Vicki, and The Book Club CookBook for the questionable “Almost a Pie”
The classic Seafoam Cantaloupe Pie is what’s for dessert at Recipes4Rebels
Most importantly, check out Kate's Pie (Wait-- that doesn't sound right... but that's the name, and it is an actual pie. I've got to get my mind out of the gutter.) at Dinner Is Served 1972. We are all grateful to Yinzerella for putting together this event.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A hostile Pieathalon tease

It's the Saturday before the Pieathalon!

That means I am bound by tradition to tease my special "guest" who, for no apparent reason, will help me taste the pie. I am amused by incorporating guests and you just have to humor me.

This year's guest is (per usual) not from my pie recipe's era, the 1950s, but I'm fully confident he could figure out a way to travel back to the 1950s if he knew he could make a lot of money and/or score some unusual drugs from the endeavor.

He materialized in my cookbook room as promised, looked around, and said, "Well, this is a real dump. Did you raid a Half Price Books for everything that was falling apart and then blast it all into this room with a T-shirt cannon? What do y-urp... What do you want?"

"You're coming to help taste my Pieathalon entry on Monday. I want to tease my guest taster's identity, so pick out a recipe to represent yourself and I'll post it today."

He gave me an incredulous look. "Really, Poppy? Really? Take a good look at me and tell me you can't pick a recipe yourself. Quit wasting my time. Humans are such p...urp... pieces of shit."

With that, he was gone. I grabbed the nearest community fundraising cookbook (Catalina's Cactus CuisineCatalina Junior Woman's Club of Tucson, Arizona, 1968), and found this.

Okay, sweet is pushing it a bit, but otherwise, this is appropriate. Special guest and I will see you on Monday with our pie report!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hostess with help from imaginary chickens and pigs

Feeling helpless? I've got just the thing!

Hostess Without Help (Helen Worth, 1971) promises to to let readers enjoy the party with their guests, even if they can't afford help. If you look at the cover, taking in the smiling fish pressing its nose against a carrot, the enormous chickens dancing around the tiny pig, the peg-legged sheep sniffing a mushroom, and the rabbit getting ready to vault over a beet to startle a drugged-out owl, you may figure out that the promised party recipes are not why I chose this book. I got it because I'm in love with Sylvan Jacobson's illustrations.

Yes, some of the recipes are interesting...

This is the type of book that suggests turning caviar into a bombe with the help of instant onion, lemon juice, beef bouillon, and, of course, gelatin.

It's also the type of book that illustrates the idea with a picture of a fish who thinks a Bombe of Caviar sounds groovy.

It's the kind of book that suggests an easy way to impress guests with turtle soup:

Mix canned turtle soup with puréed frozen peas and a bit of sherry!

And of course, get a little turtle to look on with a surprising amount of approval.

The best pictures are often on their own, though, standing outside of specific recipes. If the thought of working all alone on a party is overwhelming, the book provides some adorable (if imaginary) waiters:

The chicken and pig theme is the most common one. Those little guys can help with anything-- even building up a fire for the fondue pot:

You've got to love the chicks struggling with their loads of kindling and the pig carrying a whole load of logs over its head. Even the fondue pot is smiling!

My favorites might be the funny chicken-and-pig pictures that actually go with weird-ish recipes. Here's an interesting use for sherbet that Betty Crocker wouldn't dream of:

Regardless of whether you're sold on a sherbet/ white wine/ rum float, this pig being served by an extremely strong chick seems ready for more!

I'm not sure whether the other chicks have gotten into the punch even though they're clearly underage, but enough of them seem to be precariously perched that I would guess so.

If you're not a fan of whimsy, this book will make you break out in hives. I just want to take this book to park, lie on a blanket, and spend a few hours gazing at the sky with it as we tell each other our deepest chick-related secrets.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The pineapple that saved summer vacation

It's getting to be that time of year when displays of folders, backpacks, and number two pencils on display everywhere make my blood run cold. Next week is my last official week of being semi-off-duty (I'm never really off, but summer work is a lot lighter!), and it's going to be filled with syllabus-writing and class website construction. Fun.

That means today I want to post a fun, summery recipe that always makes me smile when I see it. 

Yes, from McCall's Cocktail-Time Cookbook (1965), it's the Cheese Pâté Pineapple.

Yep, it's just a cheese ball covered with sliced olives and dressed up to look like a pineapple from a fever dream, and I can't help loving it. The garish, almost-neon orange contrasted with the olive-and-red speckles (Maybe it's a pineapple with olive pox!), the carefully-sculpted lines between the olives, the real-pineapple crown-- it's just so beautifully improbable. Someone even added a champagne coupe in the foreground to suggest that this is a sophisticated appetizer, not an edible craft project. The photo could almost be a surrealist artwork. It's... It's indescribably beautiful. It reminds me of the fourth of July-- which is much further from the start of school than today is. And that's why we're all staring at a (literally) cheesy pineapple right now. 

P.S.- I will have one last bit of summer fun on this blog a week from Monday, just as classes start. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


You know you're in for a treat with a gelatin-based cookbook.

The Knox Gelatine Cookbook (1977) does not disappoint. It's loaded with all the congealed-kitchen-sink salads, unspreadably-thick condiment molds, and even (gasp!) palatable-sounding fresh fruit pies anyone could hope for.

I got totally sucked into the chapter announcing that Knox had discovered "The great American snack-time revolution." What was it? Knox Blox, the brand's version of Jell-O Jigglers.

Jell-O's plain, fruity fingers had nothing on Knox as far as gelatin-based finger-food was concerned, though. Knox was all-in! How all-in?

Well, they weren't aiming just for the kids.

Even though the bad knock-knock joke title makes these sound kid-friendly, "Orange-You-Glad" Blox make sure you're glad with the addition of white crème de cacao.

The Knox recipe creators also saw Knox Blox as replacements for all kinds of desserts-- not just a little fruit-flavored snack for the toddlers.

No, the whole family could kick back, watch a baseball game, and enjoy the wonder that is chocolate watered down, then thickened back up with gelatin. (Why eat straight-up chocolate anyway, or mix those chips with cookie dough, when they could be eaten in blox form?)

The grown-ups could chase the kiddies away from the intriguingly two-layered Grasshopper Grabs:

Yeah, kid, I know it has ice cream and chocolate pudding mix in it, but the crème de menthe means it's for mommies and daddies!

If the kids really insist on having their ice cream ruined with gelatin, there's a banana split version of Knox Blox:

If you think you can get out of having to eat Knox Blox by claiming a preference for savory snacks, well, not so fast! The Knox Gelatine Cookbook has more than considered that possibility.

For a general audience, there's the tomato-juice-and-veggie Blox-Busters:

Salad aficionados might prefer Crab Louis en Blox:

And those who have never been to a Jewish deli may trick themselves into thinking Salmon "Lox Blox" is a suitable substitute:

Then again, if they're smart, they may not....

Anyway, I hope you can see how the blox sidetracked me so much that I haven't even mentioned "Pantry-Shelf Supper" or the ice-cube-tray-molded salad toppers. They might show up someday, but I had to present the blox in all their glory!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Funny Name: The Garden's Been Overrun Edition

The title of this recipe from Helen Worth's Hostess Without Help (1971) sounds like the sarcastic nickname someone might give their midsummer garden:

Instead of being named after an over-zucchinified garden, Zucchini Colony is named after the Colony Restaurant, the originator of this recipe. The whimsical book also offers a picture of a chicken and pig demonstrating what might happen if you accidentally overcook the zucchini:

If you don't have a chicken to alert you to the billowing smoke and a pig with a fire hose to extinguish the fire, you're really missing out!