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...

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.