Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Better Homes and Gardens thinks "Junior" is code for "full of canned fruit"

July is almost over! If you haven't done anything fun with the kids out on summer break (if you were careless enough to have kids in the first place...), then you'd better hurry up and figure out a few projects before school starts back up.

If you need some ideas, Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book (1979) is here to help. One of the most interesting things about this book is visible right on the cover-- cooking is shown as an activity for both girls and boys (unlike the 1955 version with the cartoon of a perky teenage girl on the cover). The more open gender-roles are shown in the rest of the book, too. The illustration for the main dishes chapter shows a father and son cooking together, for example, balancing out the trio of girls making salads at the beginning of the salad chapter. (BHG doesn't get too carried away, though, as you probably could have guessed which image went with the main dish and which with the salads without much trouble!)

Even if I am interested in the gender roles, you're probably more interested in the recipes.

If your kids are like me and despise too much sweet mixed in with the savory, then Peachy Beef Stew might make them ready to head back to school.

Granted, this is a pretty standard beef stew if you leave out the can of sliced peaches, so if you don't fancy syrupy peaches bobbing in the tomato sauce along with the onion, zucchini, and carrots, this one might be pretty easy to remedy. (You could even go crazy and throw in some herbs since the only seasoning in the recipe is salt.)

The most fun recipes are the salads that double as craft projects, though.

We'll start with the least impressive.

Flower salad just doesn't look all that much like a flower. It's more like a star fish being covered in tiny packing peanuts that are beamed down by a miniature UFO. Wait, that simile just made the salad seem waaay cooler.

On the cuter end of the spectrum, we have a summer-appropriate smiling bug!

From its multitude of carrot curl legs (enough to make me point out that this must be a mite or spider rather than a bug!) to its cherry stem antennae and cherry slice smile, this is adorable. It's also mostly fruit, so it should be a pretty easy sell.

And best of all, the last salad is a two-fer!

Not only do diners get adorable twin mice, but they also get to eat marshmallow ears on pear halves, making this one of the few salads that magically transforms marshmallows from dessert to salad without the intercession of Jell-O! The kids are sure to love it.

Thanks to my sister for the very early birthday present so I would have time to enjoy this before school starts and I have to rely on canned posts from summer vacation to keep the blog going. Now I'm off to make an adorable salad alien out of canned pears dyed green, sugar snap pea arms and legs, carrot curl antennae, and a bell pepper probe.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Funny Names: Beach Edition

I love this recipe from The Best from the Blade Cookbook (edited by Mary Alice Powell for the Toledo Blade newspaper, 1960) because the title sounds like it should be the name of the backup singers for a surf rock band.

Let's hear it for Mussel Murray and the Crabettes! Woo!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The best what, exactly?

The Best from the Blade Cookbooks (edited by Mary Alice Powell for the Toledo Blade newspaper, 1960) starts out on a vaguely scolding note, with the first page noting "it is hoped that this edition will help those homemakers who have neglected to save copies of the annual Blade cookbooks." Got to love the judgmental tone, as if every homemaker is supposed to not only keep the sinks shiny clean, keep the kids from murdering each other over whose turn it is to play with the hula hoop, have the pot roast and scalloped potatoes ready when dad gets home (and be wearing pearls and high heels for him!), etc., but also to collect and save all the annual cookbooks from the newspaper. (And having been 12 years old and/or living in another state a decade ago when the first cookbook came out is probably not an excuse. Come on, you lazy homemakers!)

Of course, maybe the homemakers just weren't very excited by the recipes themselves, which often have a "just throw a bunch of shit together and see what happens" ethos.

Sunday Supper Specialty counts on people having had a pretty heavy Sunday dinner, apparently, so no one will have too many objections to canned mushrooms, pimiento, and peas mixed with hard cooked eggs into a white sauce and sloshed over bed of greasy Chinese noodles.

They might not have been particularly smitten by the idea of a chicken-and-avocado salad heaped atop a wedge of cantaloupe.

Am I out of line in wondering what makes Hearty Summer Delite Salad a summer salad (or a "delite")? There's no real season for canned beets or pickles, and cauliflower and onions are cold season crops. So I guess throwing away a couple avocados on this mess of canned goods, French dressing, and American cheese is what makes it summery?

Of course, my favorite of this line of random things mixed up and served combines random ingredients with time-consuming precision.

It's not bad enough that you have to try to eat chicken, walnuts, apple, and onion in cream cheese; the concoction has to be balanced on top of carefully halved cherry tomatoes!

I have to say, though, that those homemakers who were wise enough to plan ahead and save all the Blade cookbook supplements over the years missed out on something good in the officially printed and bound book: the fabulous early-sixties-style sketches gracing the section dividers.

I can never have too many pictures of ghostly oil and vinegar sets posing in front of wood-grained bowls as a cucumber launches an olive at them....

And the Appetizers and Hors d'Oevres section has one of those cheese ball planets being orbited by olive-and-cheese or olive-and-bacon moons. What more could anyone ask?

Well, aside from better recipes... and I'm really only pretending to complain about the recipes. You must love this stuff as much as I do if you're still playing along at home. Just try not to openly admit it.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Grill with the fishes

Let's take advantage of the heat wave by cooking outside! That would probably be a good option in 1959, before air conditioning was as common and the year Betty Crocker's Guide to Easy Entertaining was published.

Honestly, the recipes in the "Barbecues" chapter don't look too terrible for the most part. I picked the book because I mostly love Peter Spier's illustrations. A mid-July weekend seems like the perfect time to kick back and enjoy whimsical illustrations, like twin Poseidons lining up to grill rock lobster tails.

Or of fish themselves getting into the grilling.

Come on! You've got to love fish in tiny chef's hats, tending their underwater fires (even if you're not really sure how that would work, exactly).

You may have noticed that I qualified my love of the illustrations with "mostly" since it would not be the '50s without a dose of racism....

The lamb shish-kabobs absolutely do not need the turban-clad and sword-wielding men as an illustration.

I know, I know, this was supposed to be a fun summer post, so I'll end with my favorite picture (and probably the most questionable recipe in the lot, assuming the seafood recipes are at least passably good since I have not even a smidgen of seafood expertise).

It's summer, so one would imagine grilling up some fresh sweet corn (or zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, etc.) might be a great way to get a smoky, savory veggie side. But you know what? If you can get an adorable little penguin to stand on a bag of charcoal to grill frozen vegetables in a foil pack, I am sooooo there!

Whatever you have going on this weekend, I hope it's at least half as exciting as watching a penguin grill veggies!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A Book with a Heart of Ice

It's darn hot-- so hot that I'll pretend Ice Cream (Mable and Gar Hoffman, 1981) isn't just a little too new for my mostly-'70s and earlier blog.

Besides, it's got '70s appeal, like this Harvey Wallbanger Pie:

Plus, it's got a tropical twist on the '50s favorite, baked Alaska:

Families in the '50s and '60s certainly couldn't have resisted the Tiki appeal of an Aloha Baked Alaska (even though I have to wonder whether the pineapple shell would have insulated the ice cream as well as cake did). (I guess it probably doesn't matter too much if the whole thing is only in the oven for 3-4 minutes.)

We even have some glorious, how-to pictures, tying it to Betty Crocker's picture cook books.

I love how the instructions say to spread the ice cream and the ice cream in the picture seems like it's too firm for that.

That meringue looks so gloriously smooth-- definitely better than the "stuffed with tuna" look of the un-topped pineapple in the background!

The book also shows how to make a homemade copycat/ precursor of Friendly's Wattamelon Roll. (I can't figure out when that was introduced!).

Added bonus: If the melon-shaped Jell-O mold gets bored, this recipe will make its day! Ice cream > Jell-O.

Or, if you prefer actual melon, the book shows how to make just about any kind of fruit into ice cream.

I'm sure the dinner guests will be thrilled to play a guessing game to which the answer for "What kind of ice cream is this?" is "Random melon flavor."

The book also shows that even though people blame millennials for the rise of avocado-based desserts, the green sweets have been around for a long time.

And they look dang cute in orange peel cups:

The weirdest part about this ice-cream-themed book, though, is that it's not all desserts.

Want some chowder, but feel like it's too hot for that?

Have a Green Chowder FrappĂ©! Enjoy the looks of surprise when guests realize the green slush with a garnish of sour cream in the sherbet glasses is green onions, watercress, peas, potatoes, and broth.

Or, for those who like gazpacho super cold, the booklet offers a Gazpacho FrappĂ©:

I always feel like any reasonably sophisticated adult loves gazpacho, but I have tried to like it and it's just not going to happen. Seeing it as a bait-and-switch recipe in a book that's supposed to be about ice cream does not help!

The pictures are nice and colorful, though!

And I never expected to see instructions for cutting up green peppers in an ice cream book.

Plus, you've got to love a picture that makes gazpacho look like a Bloody Mary that had something go very, very wrong! Thanks to mom for sending this book.

Now, go ice yourselves down! (I'm sure I'd rather roll around in the gazpacho granita than try to eat it.)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Endurance Picnic Prep!

July is National Picnic Month! That's why today I'm posting a couple of nice, relaxing picnic menus from The New Age Vegetarian Cookbook (The Rosicrucian Fellowship, original copyright 1968, though mine is a 1975 edition). You'd better have a big appetite, because there's a lot on the menus.

And if you're fixing the picnic, you better have a shitload of free time and a big tolerance for a hot kitchen because this is an old school, labor-intensive vegetarian cookbook.

The first possible menu has a couple of easier touches. Vegetable sandwich #13 is just chopped raw carrots and salted peanuts mixed with cream cheese and sliced olives. (Of course, the bread it's supposed to be slathered on should probably homemade, so that easy touch is canceled right out.)

The first course of Stuffed Tomatoes is a relatively low commitment...

... provided you already had cooked soybeans on hand to mash into the soybean pulp. The tomatoes bake only for a half hour or so, which is nothing for this book. (I'm not sure whether the picnic is supposed to be in the back yard so everything can easily be carried out and served hot from the oven, or whether the tomatoes are supposed to be chilled after baking and served cold from a picnic basket.)

Of course, the baked beans are going to be the major commitment in this menu, as they have to be made from scratch.

Nothing like simmering beans for 15 minutes, then baking them for 6-8 hours in an un-air-conditioned commune kitchen to make summer fun for the whole collective. (And of course, the tomatoes had a different temperature, so they should probably be cooked separately.)

There's no specific apple cupcake recipe, but I imagine they're expected to be handmade as well, probably baked at 350 so they can't go in with the beans or the tomatoes. You can see how preparing for this picnic would take the entire day. How relaxing!

The alternative menu initially seems better. Even if the cold carob drink is a disappointment for anyone who was hoping for chocolate milk, at least it doesn't take too long.

Maybe the peanut butter and banana will help cover up the carob flavor, and the chance of Campylobacter and Listeria from the unpasteurized milk will make it exciting.

The Vegetable Medley hints that it might be really complicated.

Aside from all the slicing and dicing, cooks need 1/2" of tomato bouillon, and the little star means there's a separate recipe for that.

Luckily, the bouillon only requires five minutes of simmering. (Putting a bunch of peanut butter into tomato bouillon seems like a really odd choice to me... I guess the vegetarians back then were looking to cram extra protein into everything they could!)

The real pain in the ass is the item that sounds like it should be relatively straightforward: the veggie burgers.

Just work some garlic powder into the nutmeat and brown the burgers in oil. The catch, of course, is that the nutmeat is homemade too...

And basic nutmeat requires shelling and blanching 8 cups of peanuts, then putting them through a food chopper and boiling with soybean meal for about four hours! (And I imagine the rolls all those nutmeat burgers will be served on will need to be homemade as well.) No amount of patchouli is going to make the place smell right once everyone has sweated in that hot and steamy farmhouse....

The point is, I am super glad that I can just grab a package of Morningstar Farms Grillers, some burger buns, a bag of pre-cleaned sugar snap peas, a tub of pre-made hummus, and call it a day if I want to pack a picnic. The vegetarians of old must have had 27 hours in a day, 69% more sweat glands than average humans, and non-functional olfactory receptors to endure their carefree picnics.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Hoosier favorite source for interior designer-approved recipes?

The title of this book might be meant to be ASID (American Society of Interior Designers, Indiana) Cookbook, but I prefer the other possible title going around the cover, Parsley, Persimmons and Peas (1977), so I'm going with that.

The title seems apt, too, as most of my favorite recipes call for lots of veggies. We'll start out with a soup course:

I'll admit that I don't know a lot about mixed drinks, so I could be wrong, but is the only thing that differentiates this Bloody Mary Soup from the drink of the same name is that it's being served in a cup rather than a highball glass? In any case, it starts the meal with some tomato.

The main course, while vegetarian, isn't filled with veggies. I just picked it because it's one of those recipes with minimalist directions that I love.

Pearl Bailey's Macaroni & Cheese counts on cooks to have a pretty good idea of what to do with the 2-1/2 pounds of Creamettes, half pound of butter quart and a half of milk, and "lots of sharp cheddar cheese." The only instruction is to bake for an hour at 400 degrees, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta first? How much cheese is "lots"? You better figure it out on your own. I will always love the recipe writers who assumed that readers would just automatically have a feel for these things.

The veggie-filled side is distinguished by being topped with three cups of fried Rice Krispies:

At least Vegetable Casserole is not classified as a Chinese dish, which I half expect for any midwestern recipe that includes water chestnuts and rice in any form....

Dessert even includes a vegetable too, and I'm not talking carrot cake.

This is the first time I've ever seen an artichoke cake! I usually get the logic of veggie desserts: sweet potatoes and carrots are sweet, so they make a certain amount of sense in a dessert. Beets can make a cake red without food dye. Zucchini is just everywhere in mid-summer and gardeners had to use it up somehow. But artichokes? In cake? Especially when it involves a lengthy, multi-step process to get enough pulp? I've got no idea what would lead David Jones to suggest an Artichoke Spice Cake, but I'm stoked to see a weird veggie-based dessert that I've never seen before.

Now, take some inspiration from this post and invent a celery ice cream or cabbage brownies! It might help to make yourself some Dirty Martini "Soup" first to help the creative process along....

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Funny Name: Crustacean Camp

I love this recipe name just because it makes me think of shrimpy parents sending off their even shrimpier little ones to summer camp.

I sooooo want Shrimp Canoes to be illustrated by a picture of a canoe full of shrimp paddling like crazy, but alas, The Meatless Cookbook (Irma Rhode, 1961) doesn't have illustrations.

Come to think of it, I'd also love to see some shrimp making friendship bracelets and roasting marshmallows. I challenge you to make your summer weekend more fun by drawing a few pictures of shrimp at summer camp!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

That's just pow it goes

Happy Independence Day! Let's go to the amusement park with some little friends from Hostess Without Help (Helen Worth, 1971).

Okay, the park seems a little deserted, with just a (cannibal?) pig selling hot dogs to some chicks, a single pig in the ominously-tipping car on the Ferris wheel, and a single chick on the roller coaster. Maybe the park isn't as crowded because everybody is off with the firecrackers.

Okay, I'll admit the tomato, olive, pearl onion kabobs recipe is just an excuse to include the picture Sylvan Jacobson drew to go with it:

That tiny little practical joking chick on the left better run! The firecracker is big enough to blow the little guy up, and if that doesn't get him, I'll bet the pig he's trying to surprise will...

Have a nice holiday, and be safer than tiny chick!