Friday, February 28, 2020

Carbo-loading for March

Happy almost-March! Martha Meade's Modern Meal Maker (1935) greets the month with a poem by Bayard Taylor:
With rushing winds and gloomy skies
The dark and stubborn Winter dies;
Far-off, unseen, Spring faintly cries,
Bidding her earliest child arise;

I'm not sure whether Spring is supposed to be calling her child by name or telling the child to GET MOVING ALREADY. I'll vote for the latter (and suggest that Spring learn the difference between semicolons and colons).

March meals tend to be very carb-heavy, I guess to help diners survive the rest of the cold weather. (One day's breakfast menu is just pineapple juice, hot cereal, and butterhorns, the 1935 equivalent of those cereal commercials that used to encourage children to eat their Trix with toast and juice.)

Even fried rice is not sufficiently carby. It has to be mixed with flour (since Sperry didn't sell rice!) to make Fried Rice Dumplings.

A longing for summer vegetables might be indulged by dipping into the canned tomato supply for a Tomato Chip Souffle.

I'll admit that I chose this recipe in part just because it's fun to say "tomato chip." I'm not sure  how well a tomato custard encased in thick layers of potato chips will allay a case of the winter blahs, but at least it's better than eating yellow snow.

And speaking of tomato custards, March really seems to be the month for them. There's also a Cape Cod Custard.

That's code for a salt-cod-and-tomato custard topped with a creamed pea sauce, for the bland and mushy soft-on-soft textures that really make the end of winter seem just a little bit more unbearable.

To round out our Modern Meal Maker recipes for the month, we need yet another recipe that uses  Hearts (since a major component of the cookbook seems to be convincing readers that Sperry Wheat Hearts should be in everything).

This time, it's for a breakfast cobbler-- The sausage and apples topping the cereal-based cobbler mean that this is an all-in-one breakfast (and not just a pure carb-fest). Concerned moms should probably serve it with some extra cereal, though, just to be on the safe side.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Meals for penance

In case Cookbook for Fridays and Lent, the original title of The Meatless Cookbook (Irma Rhode, 1961) doesn't give it away, the shrimp on the cover should. This is not a meatless cookbook in the modern vegetarian or vegan sense, but a fish-heavy cookbook for Catholics who were supposed to abstain from proteins from warm-blooded animals on Fridays, during Lent, and for other holy days. (At least, I think that was the rule. Mammals and birds were out, but fish and shellfish were in as far as I can tell.) I wonder if Irma Rhode was disappointed about the decreased chance of selling reprints of the book once the rules were relaxed in 1966.

Even though the book does have a lot of fish, it has plenty of ... uh ... unusual vegetable-based meals. How about a stuffed head of lettuce?

I can't quite picture sitting down to a head of baked iceberg lettuce stuffed full of mashed potatoes, veggies, and breadcrumbs. The only remotely interesting thing about iceberg lettuce is its crunch, and I imagine that's gone after parboiling and a half-hour in the oven...

Another vegetable-based main that packs in plenty of leafy greens made me do a double take. I was expecting "Cabbage-Egg Roll" to be a Chinese takeout style egg roll filled with cabbage. 

Nope! A Cabbage-Egg Roll is literally that-- cabbage leaves stuffed with eggs that have, for some reason, been stuffed inside of tomatoes. It's a Lent Turducken! 

Some meals mix a bunch of random veggies with a little fish, like Vegetable Medley.

I'm sure Catholic kids looked forward to the night mom plopped a big pile of lima beans, potatoes, beets, apples, pickles, anchovies, and capers bound together with mayo and mustard onto their plates. This was definitely some serious penance.

Of course, there are plenty of fishy recipes too. My favorite might be this one, even though the name Fish Pie doesn't do it justice.

This would more accurately be named Fish Meringue Pie, as it sports a frothy cap of cheesy meringue over its fish-and-mushroom filling. If you're going to be weird, own it! Tell the world you're Fish Meringue Pie and not just Fish Pie! Trust me... I've been openly weird my whole life. And it has won me all of a half-dozen readers and an apartment crammed with crumbling books, so you know I'm a great source of life advice.... Well, at least as good at life advice as this book is at meatless meal recipes.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Funny Name: All Yours, Dear Edition

I'll admit that I'm not really shocked by a tomato-spice cake anymore (or by tomato cookies and brownies). I wonder if the title of the tomato spice cake from A Kitchen Full of Joy (Flowing Wells Assembly of God Christ's Ambassadors, Tucson, Arizona, 1976) suggests that the cake is just as unappealing as I imagine it might be, though.

"Yes, dear, the cake is all yours! That's why I call it Husband's Cake. No, really, I don't want to steal a single crumb from you...." (And yes, this is one of those recipes that assumes that all readers know how to bake a cake without any additional assistance. I didn't cut off the directions.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Aloha from the '80s

I'll admit that this book is a little newer than my usual cutoff of the 1970s.

However, I love 4-H and I was really curious about what 1980s kids were cooking  up for Hawaiian 4-H clubs, so I picked up 4-H Local and Ethnic Food Show 1983 (Aiea, Pearl City, Weipahu, Wahiawa, and Honolulu 4-H clubs) despite its relative newness and outdated title. (All foods are ethnic foods of some sort! I assume that the title means that the collection features recipes from Asian/ Pacific Islander communities.)

While the little girl cooking(?-- It looks like the pot is on a cutting board!) on the cover has an adorable expression on her face, I'm seriously worried about her arms being way too long for the rest of her body. Plus, her severely pigeon-toed stance suggests she might need some medical intervention.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the book, but I guessed that Spam might be incorporated somehow since this is a Hawaiian book.

I was right! The fish cakes feature Spam as well as fish cake.

And if you're a fan of wonton, the book has a Spam version.

The Spam recipes are all more imaginative than Spam, Spam, Spam, egg, and Spam, so the diner in Monty Python should have some real competition.

I had to keep reminding myself that the recipes were from Hawaii, as sometimes the titles would throw me off. For example, When I saw this one, I immediately imagined macaroni and cheese baked in a muffin tin with a pine nut topping.

Of course, in Hawaii Pine-Mac Muffins are sweet pineapple and macadamia nut baked goods.

I kept thinking that recipes were very alarming, as so many of them inspired their writers to scream "Ono!"

Ono! Banana Muffins are leveling the city! Then I found out that ono (or more properly 'ono?) means delicious. So there were no recipes for fire-breathing foods with death rays or laser-beam eyes (except in my imagination).

I loved that the recipe book was clearly printed by a company that must usually have printed books for the Midwest and New England, as the clip art did not often match up to anything on the page it adorned.

The pizza has just about as much in common with the Deep-Fried Walnuts Chicken as it does with anything else on that page (which is to say nothing). It's possible I overlooked something, but I don't think there is even a pizza recipe in the book, but the publisher in Waverly, Iowa, had pizza clip art, dang it! They were going to use it somewhere.

That's not to say that the Midwest had no influence at all out in Hawaii. The Hawaiians might not be eating traditional meat loaf, but they had Tuna Tofu Loaf:

They found out that Manapua (filled buns) could be waaay easier with the help of a tube of refrigerated dough:

And when it's always hot outside, well, the charms of a Jell-O salad are hard to overlook.

The Hawaiians just have to throw in some macadamia nuts so it's clear that this is NOT THE SAME THING as a Midwestern Jell-O salad. (They would probably prefer to use fresh pineapple rather than canned, too, but then it would never set up.)

There are plenty of recipes that seem like they might be pretty authentic (at least to a completely clueless reader like me). I'll leave you with this interesting recipe for sweet or salty filled buns:

Aloha from your clueless Midwestern friend! Dream warm dreams. Spring should be coming....

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Funny Name: Take It Literally Edition

When I first saw the title of Go-to-Town Cookies (Calico Cookbook, Auxiliary Community Hospital, Springfield, Ohio, Sept. 1976), I thought the name was figurative and they would be loaded with different add-ins. (Mom really went to town on these cookies! Oatmeal, chocolate chips, peanuts, raisins, butterscotch chips....)

Nope! The name is literal. Make the cookies, put them in the oven, turn off the oven, and go to town! The one drawback is it "Only makes about 20 small cookies." I love the way Kitty Uhlmann underplays her own recipe at the end.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Getting squirrely and going catfishing down on the farm

If you need some stick-to-your-ribs, belt-tightening, homestyle, old-timey-cliché-inspiring recipes that are not necessarily clichés themselves, The Farmers' Almanac Cook Book (Ed. Thea Wheelwritght, 1969) is a good choice.

The cover picture of the barnyard full of cows, pigs, and sheep suggests that this book is intended for families used to providing for themselves, and the recipes largely reflect that.

I can easily picture Squirrel with Parsley as a late winter/ early spring meal when there is not much left to eat.

Just squirrel, some leftover onions and potatoes, plus dandelion greens-- some of the earliest greens to supplement the parsley growing in the kitchen window.

There are quite a few game recipes, but they're not all as straightforward as the squirrel.

Is it just me, or does the Rabbit with Cabbage and Sausage seem to just chuck a bunch of stuff together and hope it works? I'm just not sure rabbit, onions, and cabbage belong with beets, evaporated milk, sausage,and bacon. (Full disclosure: I'm never convinced beets belong in anything.)

Don't be misled by all the "catch your own meal" recipes, though. I thought Catfish Steak would be, well, catfish, probably some caught from the nearby creek earlier in the day.

But somehow Catfish Steak is basically mush with a can of salmon mixed in.

The Fresh Lima Bean Loaf at least is made of fresh lima beans, but if you're expecting it to be a variation of the vegetarian loaves in older cookbooks, well...

It's not. This is basically mashed limas bound with a little butter and flour and resolidified in a cake around diced weiners or sausages.

The editor of this book seemed to be a bit atypical for a midwesterner, too, as the book does not have a lot of sweets. For the few recipes that suggest a dessert to go with the main dish, I'd say about a third of them recommend cheese and "toasted crackers." Even breakfast foods that are typically sweet often have a savory variation in this book.

I have seen pancakes with cheese in them before, but never a variation that makes a cheese and consommé sauce to pour over/ bake into pancakes.

The salad chapter was devoid of Jell-O salads, and the very few gelatin concoctions were in the (brief) dessert chapter at the end of the book.

The molds are full of mincemeat instead of marshmallows! And they're unmolded on beds of lettuce, even though the rules of telling a salad and dessert apart clearly state that lettuce= salad. A Jell-O to be served with lettuce in the dessert chapter? This is absolute craziness.

As traditional as I thought the farmers would be, their almanac did manage to shake me up a little!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Bury it or cook it in guts?

As I mentioned earlier, Maine Coastal Cooking (Courier-Gazette, Inc., 1963) doesn't just have recipes from 1960s cooks. The end of the book also has recipes and cooking tips from The Accomplished Cook: Or, The Art and Mystery of Cookery (first published in Leistershire, 1664, though the copy here is believed to be from a revision in Boston sometime before 1712).

Even though I characterized the Maine recipes I posted earlier as make-do dishes, they seem positively extravagant next to the recipes from the older book, which are often (understandably!) most interested in preserving the food than anything else.

Don't want your lobster to go bad before you can eat it? (Or should I say "lobfter"? The printer used the old-fashioned s that looks like an f.)

Boil it, wrap it in brined rags, and bury in the cellar in deep "fea-fand" for up to three months. I do not even want to imagine what eating a lobster that had been buried for three months must have been like....

A similar approach might work with venison even after it had gone bad.

I'm not sure how well burying tainted venison in a clean cloth overnight would "take away the corruption, favour, or ftink," but after putting in the work to bury it, maybe families would at least pretend it helped?

And if the family had some ale and vinegar to work with, they could always use a seasoned treatment to try to cover up any off flavors.

What if you were fresh out of venison and wanted to substitute beef without anyone knowing? (This is a really hard scenario for me to imagine, but it must have been a thing!)

Parboil the beef in beer and vinegar, leave it overnight... and maybe it will taste like a tainted deer that you're trying to freshen up, I guess? Yeah, this advice does not really translate for this modern reader, but it must have made sense back then.

And if you have the guts to ask for dessert, well... prepared for rice pudding in guts! It must have been fancy with rosewater, currants, nutmeg, and cinnamon, but I can't get over the thought of rice pudding sausages. At least they don't have to be buried before you can eat them. This book makes me mighty glad to have a refrigerator and freezer!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Mainly Plain Maine Food

If you'ah ready to see today's cookbook, just say "Ayuh."

And thus ends Poppy's attempt to speak like a Mainer to get into the spirit for Maine Coastal Cooking (Courier-Gazette, Inc., Rockland, Maine, 1973). I'm sure you're relieved.

Of course, it has a bunch of ways to cook seafood, like this Northeastern answer to the South's chicken and waffles:

It's creamed crabmeat on waffles! At least you're not supposed to pour maple syrup over all this (as far as I can tell).

The seafood recipes mostly seem pretty standard, though. Another salad that mixes celery and mayonnaise with lobster/ crab/ shrimp/ tuna is not exactly a thrill. I was more interested in the make-do recipes, like the hot dogs that try to masquerade as a holiday dinner.

All you need is a pound of "frankfurts," stale bread, onion, a little bacon, and a good working knowledge of how to make dressing. (Or if you're out of bread and/or frankfurts, raw potatoes and hamburg make great substitutions.)

And if you're fresh out of processed meats, there's always veggie loaf.

Okay, the vegetarian loaf is mostly mashed potatoes with onions, bread, shredded wheat, and nuts mixed in, so it is bound to be a weird starch-fest, but it's something.

The desserts are often very utilitarian too. Have some leftover Grape-Nuts?

They'll be a fine dessert if you cook them in custard. (I'm sure they're better this way than eating them for breakfast in the "bowl of kitty litter" method.)

What if you have a whole loaf of rapidly staling bread? Make a massive bread and butter pudding.

I've never seen a recipe that butters every slice in a loaf, layers the slices with currants, covers all in custard, and bakes the whole shebang in a mold. There's a practical dessert for a big family.

Maine families knew how to have fun, though. For a special occasion, they could make Sham Champagne!

Yes, they still had some good temperance drinks...

I don't actually want to try any of this, but I am kind of in love with with the quiet practicality of the collection... And that's not even counting the seriously down-to-earth recipes from 1664. (Notice the note at the bottom of the cover? Yes, this also has some recipes from a 17th-century cookbook. Stay tuned.)

Saturday, February 1, 2020

February Blahs with Martha Meade

As January grinds its icy gears into February, most people are getting heartily sick of the same old ice, snow, and slush... and maybe the same old winter vegetables too. (More potatoes, onions, and carrots? Hurray.) So let's drop in on Modern Meal Maker (Martha Meade, 1935) to see how our dear friend wheat (Sperry, of course! They sponsored the book.) can help chase away those winter blahs.

Don't serve the family hash again!

Okay, actually do serve the family hash again. Just hide it under some "Drifted Snow"-- that is, a layer of Yorkshire pudding made with Sperry's Drifted Snow "Home-Perfected" flour. If you're lucky, they might not notice it's hash again, and if they do, you can always threaten to make Brownie Pudding for dessert tomorrow if they don't stop complaining.

By February, the at least semi-interesting incidentally vegetarian lunches have solidified into the old standby of the veggie-loaf brick.

Leftover veggies lavishly seasoned with both salt and pepper! I think Martha Meade might have the mid-winter blues too.

The Rutabaga Puff is about as whimsical as she's going to get in February.

(I'm not even sure what makes it a puff, since the eggs aren't whipped and there are no leaveners, but it's best not to ask too many questions when the mid-winter cantankery sets in...)

Since this is Valentine's month, though, I will leave you with a nice heart-themed recipe:

I'm not sure Wheat Hearts Scrapple is technically scrapple at all since it substitutes Wheat Hearts cereal for cornmeal and ground round for pork scraps... but if you didn't pick up the theme so far, it's DON'T ASK QUESTIONS. Let's just get the hell done with February already. It will go faster if everybody just shuts up and eats whatever they can get.