Saturday, April 30, 2016

In the scary month of May

Wednesday will be Cookbook Wednesday, so I'm getting the May party started a day early. Here are our monthly recommendations from Glamour Magazine's New After Five Cookbook (Beverly Pepper, 1963).

Our May week starts with something for people with Texas-sized appetites:

... or maybe not. I can't figure out what is "Texas" about Texas Sweetbreads on Spinach. Neither spinach nor sweetbreads seem especially Texan, and the flavoring of wine and tarragon seems more French than Texan to me. Once again, Glamour seems to be trying to make things sound interesting by adding a title that has nothing to do with what's actually in the recipe.

The apple pie is made extra-American by being served with American, rather than cheddar, cheese.

On Tuesday, we travel to yet another state:

I was hoping California Vegetable Cocktail might involve an avocado, but it's just vegetable juice mixed with orange juice. I wasn't really sold on the main dish of chicken livers and onion over spaghetti, either, but the salad is what really got me.

Mixed Vegetable Salad sounds harmless enough, but it's semi-frozen (or semi-thawed, for you optimists out there!) chopped spinach mixed with a can of mixed vegetables and French dressing (served with hard-cooked egg yolks and whites chopped separately, because you have to put in extra work somewhere if you dumped most of the salad out of a can and pulled the rest out of the freezer).

Wednesday moves from the States to Europe:

It starts off with Wiener Schnitzel (garnished with the traditional German crop of olives). A side of potato salad or spaetzle might be too obvious, so the side is Spanish String Beans. (And what makes frozen string beans Spanish? Maybe it's the "pulp of one large tomato." Or maybe it's the salt and pepper. Who the hell knows?)

The dessert of Strawberries with Whipped Custard sounds pretty good, at least until you realize that the "custard" in question is a jar of baby food dressed up with whipped cream.

For Thursday, the Russian Black Bread is apparently a reference to, you know, actual Russian Black Bread. There's no recipe telling readers to make it out of, say, blue cornmeal mixed with black olives and Mission figs.

The Oxtail Noodles sound questionable at best, though. Condensed oxtail soup mixed with onions and peppers, then thickened up with American cheese and egg yolks sounds... well... like a... like an unexpected topping for noodles.

The Asparagus Tip Salad, made with fresh, tender canned asparagus thrown together with leftover corn and shaved onion will be an, ahem, suitable accompaniment, if you know what I mean.

So that, my friends, is Glamour's idea of a proper May menu. What have we learned?
  1. Maybe I was premature in suggesting that the writer had stock in Campbell's. As the weather warms, there is a bit less reliance on canned soups and a bit more reliance on canned everything else. I think the writer had stock in American Can Company.
  2. Whipped cream's flavor can be improved by mixing it with baby food.
  3. "Salad" can mean anything-- even partially-thawed frozen veggies and canned produce-- as long as it's got French dressing on it. Have a can of water chestnuts, a partial bag of frozen Brussels sprouts, and some French dressing? Bam! Salad. Have a can of fruit cocktail, some frozen okra, and French dressing? Bam! Salad. The possibilities are endless.
  4. Throwing an enigmatic picture at the top of the page can make Wednesdays more interesting. What is that supposed to be? The outline of a dirty spoon on a stovetop? A young onion with the top still attached? A deformed two-tailed sperm?
  5. Apparently a previous owner actually tried the Oxtail Noodles? I assume that's what the check mark means. I am not sure I understand this person's selection process....
Happy Saturday! Do a little dance now that May is on the way!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

That other white powder that celebrities seem to love

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, I'm sure "sweet" is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of me, but today I'm going for sweet anyway.

The Sweet Taste of Success (1967) was Ceil Dyer's work for the Jack Frost National Sugar Refining Company. This collection is not only an ode to the sweet white stuff, but also a celebrity cookbook. Have a burning desire to know what Captain Kangaroo liked for dessert? This is your chance to find out!

I figured the kids' TV figure would name something kid-friendly, like tapioca pudding, but his recipe is by far the most sophisticated one I'm posting. Bavarese mixes a Zabaglione cream with Strega-soaked ladyfingers for a decidedly non-child-friendly end to a fancy Italian meal.

I didn't really expect a boozy dessert from Captain Kangaroo, but I wasn't exactly surprised that Helen Gurley Brown (writer of the then-shocking Sex and the Single Girl) would list a dessert calling for white wine:

I just didn't really expect to see the white wine in quite this pairing. Sure, Sinful Prunes do get a little kick from white wine, but no matter how hard you try to make eating alcoholic prunes with fancy cheese sound sexy, I can't get past the image of grandma worrying about constipation! (Apparently the book's earlier owner could, though, as the discoloration on the page marks this as the only recipe she thought worth bookmarking.)

Some celebrity tastes were a bit more predictable. Ed McMahon never struck me as being very sophisticated, and he didn't disappoint:

Only Ed McMahon could imagine this as a "rare, mysterious combination." I love that his secretary's nickname for the dish (Pineapple, Marshmallows, and Whipped Cream) pretty much gives away the recipe. Who needs McMahon's instructions?

For sheer, head-scratching perplexity, Phyllis Diller comes through:

Fruit Platter Supreme consists of a can of cranberry jelly cut into slices and arranged on a platter with other canned fruits. It's all sprinkled with flavored gelatin powder for a "Party-Pretty" dessert, according to Dyer. I suspect her desire to flatter a celebrity overrode her judgment on this one....

Have a sweet Cookbook Wednesday! Just maybe, you know, use your own favorite dessert recipe instead of using a celebrity one to celebrate.

Thanks as always to Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations for hosting!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tamale pies from everyone-- even stars and Slovenians

Since Helen Brown got huffy about Tamale Pies and said we should find our recipes elsewhere, I thought I would take the challenge and dig up some tamale pie recipes. She was right-- they are ubiquitous!

How ubiquitous are they? Well, I felt kind of dumb looking in Woman's Glory-- The Kitchen (1968), a cookbook put out by the Slovenian Woman's Union of America that-- surprise!-- mostly contains Slovenian recipes. Surely, I wouldn't find a Tamale Pie recipe! Of course, I wouldn't be telling you this story if I hadn't found one:

They had to label it "Mexican Tamale Pie" so readers wouldn't think this was the traditional Slovenian Tamale Pie (consisting, I'm guessing, of veal in a beer-and-paprika-based sauce with a turnip crust). This version has what's expected-- tomatoes, chili powder, ground meat, a cornmeal crust, and cheese topping. I'm not really sold on cloves in savory applications, but this seems remarkably reasonable for a Tamale Pie from a Slovenian cookbook.

That was a relatively recent recipe, so it wouldn't have been around in Brown's time. For a recipe she certainly could have seen, let's go back to 1942 with The American Woman's Cook Book (ed. Ruth Berolzheimer):

Maybe the title of Tamale Pie en Casserole is an attempt to make this sound fancier (as preceding "casserole" with the word "en" is the only way to make casseroles sound fancy by reminding readers of the term's French origins). The recipe is decidedly unexciting, though, seasoned only with onion, pimiento, and an unspecified amount of cayenne. (That probably translated into opening the package of cayenne in the same general vicinity as the food and then closing it and putting it away again for a lot of spice-shy cooks.) This casserole could not have tasted like much of anything. I can see why Brown wouldn't have been impressed.

The Ohio State Grange Cook Book's recipe (1968 edition) doesn't sound much more tempting, even if it does at least add some damn chili pepper (and celery seed?), but what can one expect from this recipe in the hands of Ohioans?

It starts out by boiling the ground meat so it "will not be in lumps." Yeah, instead of flavorful, browned nuggets, the pie will be full of pale, wormy strands of meat. That's so much better.

Campbell's didn't base the Tamale Pie recipe in Easy Ways to Delicious Meals (1968, revised edition) on canned tomato soup, as I suspected they would:

Instead, they used canned beans and beef in barbecue sauce with instant minced onion. But hey-- there's a  measurable amount of Tabasco sauce and a few olives. The Parmesan cheese on top seems like a bit of an odd choice, and there are no tomatoes other than whatever might happen to be in the barbecue sauce on the beans and beef. Pass.

Tamale pie was apparently a celebrity favorite, too, as there is a recipe for it in "Good Housekeeping's Who's Who Cooks" (part of the 1958 Good Housekeeping's Cook Books collection). This recipe is from a famous TV commentator (and Timex spokesperson, as well as distant relative of Patrick Swayze, although that wasn't a big deal at the time), John Cameron Swayze. There's even a glamorous one-color drawing to make readers excited about getting their recipes from celebrities:

Lights! Camera! Smiling guy with a widow's peak half-heartedly pointing in some direction that doesn't seem to have any significance! So let's get to the action:

This version  seems more exciting than most of the others. It's got bacon, green pepper, tomato sauce to enrich the tomatoes, and chili powder... A full small can of olives rather than the four total olives in the only other pie to call for them. I can't really get behind the quarter cup of raisins, though. There's nothing like hitting a chewy, sweet lump in my savory dinner to make me whine and pout like a toddler, but your mileage may vary.

Tamale pie was so popular that Peg Bracken's Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book (1966) offered an alternative to those too lazy to put together the corn meal mush to layer with the rest of the casserole:

Tamale Bean Pot tosses the ground beef and chili powder with two kinds of canned beans, Mexicorn, tomato and Tabasco sauces, and two full cans of tamales! (Be sure to peel the papers off before you chuck them in. Picking paper out of your teeth might be awkward.)

So there you have it: tamale pie was a really big thing. Sometimes it had seasonings in it. Sometimes it did not. It might have raisins or olives or American or Parmesan cheese, beans or wormy boiled meat. Looking at these recipes, I can see why Helen Brown skipped the category entirely.

Happy Saturday! Now go put your watch in the dishwasher and see what happens. (I hope you watched the video link, or that's going to make even less sense than it does, which is, admittedly, not much.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Losing Ground

Let's see how '70s families saved money for 8-track tapes, Daisy Dukes, and macrame wall hangings.

The Sunset Ground Beef Cook Book (editors of Sunset Magazine, copyright 1965, but mine is a 1971 printing) has plenty of suggestions for meals built on the budget-stretching meat. The first one that caught my eye is right in the middle of the cover.

Those enormous hamburger patties look as if they're meant for one of those food challenges at a forcibly-"fun" restaurant. Eat the full burger and ten pounds of coleslaw in under an hour without hosing the place down with semi-digested beef and cabbage, and you can have a free T-shirt!

So are those big burgers what they appear to be?

Yep! They're fancied-up by being called "Hamburger Steak in the Round," and they're meant to serve ten people, thankfully.

At least in the '70s, a recipe that starts out by spreading a quarter-pound of butter on a full loaf of bread that will be topped with three pounds of meat is meant to feed a crowd.

And hey-- the pretty tomato and cucumber flower on top means it's even got some fresh vegetables!

The writers must have been really proud of this one, too, since there's a second photo (though not a full color one):

This cookbook isn't all straight-up burgers, though. There are some interesting variations:

Mexican Meat Patties mash up canned tamales (Yes, they're real, and they're crap-tacular.) with ground beef and seasonings, then serve them over tortillas that have been shredded for some reason.

Mexican Meat Patties call for actual chili powder, corn tortillas, and green chili salsa. A "Chinese" dish in the casserole chapter has a more dubious connection to its supposed heritage:

There are no markers of '70s "Chinese" food-- no rice, no soy sauce, no bean sprouts. The closest this recipe gets is the observation that "the slices of crisp celery taste surprisingly like water chestnuts." The celery, nestled in mushroom soup and light cream, topped with potato chips, has a mighty struggle to get anyone to believe this is a Chinese treatment....

My "favorite" recipe, though, is of course one of the weirdest:

Banana Meat Rolls are basically miniature horseradish-seasoned meatloaves with a surprise filling-- and I'll bet you can guess it based on the recipe title. Who hasn't craved "Individual meat rolls, centered with a whole banana" at one time or another?

Sane people. That's who. But apparently, sane people did not edit Sunset Magazine.

Happy Cookbook Wednesday! Get out there and center yourself on something more pleasant than a banana mini-meatloaf.

Thanks again to Louise from Months of Edible Celebrations for hosting.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Inscrutable Inscriptions

Okay, it's no secret. I love looking through old cookbooks in part for the voyeuristic aspect of peeking into the intimate details of a total stranger's life. A simple stain might tell which recipes were best liked. Even better, a note might show the family's preferences, blank pages might reveal treasured family recipes, or inscriptions might leave sweet and/or awkward hints about the previous owner's life.

So when I opened Modern Vegetable Protein Cookery (Joan and Keith Kendig, 1980-- not that it matters, since we're here for what was written inside of it) at a used book store, I expected the writing in the front page to be an inscription hinting at a Christmas, birthday, or anniversary past, or maybe a sweet thank-you for someone's hospitality. Then I read it and realized the past owner had some really odd ideas about what is appropriate to write in a cookbook:

I hope it's not too much of a shock, but Shelley is divorcing her husband Scott. Upon reading this, a few unexpected thoughts immediately charged to mind:

1. Why would anyone want this permanently in the front of a cookbook?

2. Who is the audience, anyway? Is the book's owner afraid she will forget, so she has to put it somewhere she can reference in the future? Is she in the kitchen with Shelley and/or Scott and trying to clue in a third party who doesn't know the news yet without making things more awkward than they already are?

3. Why specify "her husband"? Is there anybody else Shelley could be divorcing? (And if so, whom? I want the scoop.)

4. Not a question. Just want to note that I love that this news is underlined.

When I flipped to the blank end pages and saw that they too were filled up with writing, I should not have been surprised that they were not covered with treasured family recipes.

The back cover is filled with what appears to be a clothing order. Someone needed size 4X denim/ blue and black/ white seersucker big skirts, size 4X classic red and royal blue cotton big skirts, size 32W denim and khaki twill jumpers, a size 4X sage plaid something-or-other, and size 5X tall knit skirts in sage and navy.

Again, I'm not sure why anyone would want to keep a clothing order for posterity in the back of a cookbook, but the thought process seems consistent with someone who would write "Shelley is divorcing her husband Scott" in the front where the inscription generally goes.

I love this more than anyone has any reason to love it. The chance to sneak into someone else's world and try to figure out how it all works, yet come out more confused than ever, is a thrill I can't even hope to describe. I guess it just makes life a little bit easier, knowing that we're all caught in our own idiosyncratic, inscrutable worlds. I'm not the only one.

So happy weekend! Be inscrutable! Just try to play it cool around Shelley and Scott if you run into either of them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Savage and Savory Stews

My area has reverted from being so warm in February and March that I was hoping I could spot some super-early snakes sneaking out of their holes this year (Yep-- looking for snakes is one of my hobbies.) to seeing April as a good spot to dump all that unused winter weather. Ugh!

That's the long way of saying today is devoted to a cold-weather classic: Savory Stews (Mary Savage, 1969).

My copy, as you can see by all the tears on the cover, appears to have been well-loved. (No stained pages, though, so I don't know what the previous owner had a taste for...)

Have to love the subtitle: "Captured, begged, and borrowed recipes for stews-- from around the block and around the world." I like the idea of the "captured" recipe. I guess the hunting grounds would depend on the type of recipe one wants... You might be able to set a live trap in a church potluck or the corner of a busy restaurant without attracting too much notice, but try setting one up in a modest Appalachian kitchen and you might end up on the wrong end of a shotgun.

I guess the bait would depend on the type of recipe, too. Set out a little cup full of cream of mushroom soup, some red wine, or court bouillon and see what turns up. Just hope the trap springs before the recipe skitters away.

There aren't all that many pictures in this book, but I really love some of the line drawings at the chapter beginnings:

If you don't love the young chicken in a mini skirt with a "Love" sign prancing in front of the old chicken with his cane, bow tie, and 23 skidoo pin, then there is something seriously wrong with your humor gland, and you should get it checked immediately. (Just a little public service announcement.)

The stews themselves tend not to be too surprising, so to represent the chickens, here is a recipe I chose because the description says this is the sort of stew to be "eaten in quantity, praised seldom, and quickly forgotten." Mary Savage certainly didn't believe in overselling her recipes-- or, apparently, in leaving anything out of the cookbook, even if it wasn't particularly impressive:

It looks as if this will completely fulfill her description, too. A stew that relies on chicken noodle soup mix along with the usual assortment of onions, peas, carrots, and potatoes is unlikely to be too memorable-- either as something great or something terrible.

The seafood section gives us some more fun characters:

I don't know about you, but I cannot resist a lobster with a telescope and a pirate's hat or a crab in a sailor's cap! I want to warn the little guys that their "boat" is really a stew pot and their paddle is a spoon, but they just seem so damn excited that I can't quite bring myself to do it. (Besides, they're probably pretty safe since they seem to be in the ocean rather than on a burner...)

Savage has other plans for the ocean-dwellers, though:

Seafood is not at all my thing, but I always thought Shrimp Creole consisted primarily of the holy trinity (onion, celery, and green pepper) with tomatoes, spices, and, of course, shrimp. This version doesn't have much in the way of spice, instead throwing in barbecue sauce and canned tuna, which just seems... odd.  You can correct me if I'm wrong on this one, but I suspect Creole cooks would consider this recipe merde.

The recipe that horrified me the most, though, has a title that says it all:

Pork Chops Stewed with Onion and Peanut Butter not only boasts its headliner ingredients, but also the classic can of cream of mushroom soup! It promises to be overly greasy and salty, with gloppy gravy if one isn't constantly checking to see if it needs more milk. This recipe is sure to be an instant classic in the getting-unwelcome-guests-to-pack-up-and-go-already genre.

And here I am ready to pack up and go too! It must really work.

Happy Cookbook Wednesday! Thanks to Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations for hosting.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Asparagus, five (weird, sad, damp) ways

I wanted something spring-y this weekend, but we're still early enough in spring to mostly be staring at the ground and trying to will delicious things to sprout than actually enjoying any fresh delicacies. (If your mental powers allow you to sprout productive strawberry and/or raspberry plants at will from the early April ground, consider this your formal invitation to visit Chez Poppy ASAP.)

Then I remembered that there is one treat that will be popping up any day now, so I'm officially proclaiming today 'Sparagus Saturday.

I have to admit, some of the recipes I found for asparagus were not particularly exciting. The often-colorful Coastal Carolina Cooking (Women's Auxiliary to the Ocean-View Memorial Hospital in Myrtle Beach, 4th printing, 1963) offers a sad little sandwich:

A stalk of asparagus rolled up in a buttered/ be-mayo-ed slice of bread and stored in a damp towel does not sound like the type of dish that will bring too many people running-- not even the women who are used to being served dyed-pink canned pears at ladies' luncheons.

The often-scary Stuart Simmers Cook Book (The Pine Needles Mothers' Association of the Pine School, ca. early 1970s) may be even sadder:

At least I can imagine Asparagus Sandwich assumes fresh asparagus, but Easy Asparagus Casserole is just canned asparagus baked in damp bread with a little cheese on top, I guess to help distract diners from noticing how dismal this little affair really is.

To really go can-crazy, turn to the American Home All-Purpose Cookbook (Ed. Virginia T. Habeeb, 1966):

Asparagus and Cheese Soup requires two cans of condensed cream of asparagus soup and one cream of celery, plus tomato juice. The whole lot is mixed with Roquefort cheese and served cold with a crumbled bacon topper. It sounds like a salty, gloppy mess... but I imagine some people would at least be tempted to steal the bacon.

The Lutheran Ladies (The Lutheran Ladies Cookbook, 1970) decided to turn their asparagus into a more interesting centerpiece than the usual noodle or rice ring:

They suggest Asparagus Ring, consisting of canned asparagus in a cheese sauce, lightened up with whipped egg whites.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the mold is that it is not only a vegetable ring itself, but the instructions call for it to be filled with more vegetables-- peas and water chestnuts, to be exact. Ring recipes were usually for a carb-based ring holding back a sea of (often creamed) meat. This veggie-on-veggie action, especially in a church cookbook where rice is often considered a vegetable, shocks me maybe a bit more than it should. Apparently some Lutherans are not too opposed to eating their veggies.

The real standout of the retro asparagus dishes, though, is this gem from Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers: Vegetables (Including Fruits) (1966):

Gaze upon the splendor that is Asparagus Macaroni Loaf with Stellar Sauce. The slabs of flat, gray (Okay, the pic is black-and-white, but why do I have a feeling they would still be gray even if it were in color?) asparagus that look like a child could have made them out of modeling clay "snakes"! The weird cross on top, perhaps meant to keep the loaf from turning to evil! The wall of macaroni, frozen in place even as it tried to wiggle away! The disks of lemon and cucumber, apparently inflamed with passion by the plight of their mortal enemy the macaroni, intertwining their slim bodies in full view of god and everyone.

Plus the dish full of nondescript gravy sitting back and watching from a safe distance.

So how can one make a an Asparagus Macaroni Loaf of one's own?

It all starts with instant nonfat dry milk powder-- always the tastiest way to begin a recipe. Just mix with flour, salt, pepper, and water and cook on a double boiler to make the saddest white sauce ever. At least it gets a little help from egg and Gruyere (not American!) cheese.

Thankfully, the asparagus is frozen rather than canned, and arranged with a little pimento cross on the bottom of the loaf pan before being topped with macaroni and cheese.

Stellar Sauce, apparently believing the primary purpose of a sauce is to lubricate, not to complement (or even really change) the flavor of the main dish, mixes some of the leftover nonfat dry milk powder with cream of celery soup and some more Gruyere.

Those home ec teachers really know how to cut loose.

Okay, maybe not. But at least now I know that cucumbers and lemons do!

Happy 'Sparagus Saturday! Get out there and will something tastier than canned cream soup or nonfat dry milk to grow in your yard.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A California Whine about Mid-West Cookbooks

Happy Cookbook Wednesday! I'm glad Louise resumed hosting it. If you love old cookbooks but you're not terribly familiar with my blog, nearly every Wednesday back to December 2014 could count as a Cookbook Wednesday, so check them out if you're so inclined. Or don't. I won't be offended.

I picked today's book because I love the cover (even though my copy of the book is slightly warped, so it is really hard to scan):

West Coast Cook Book (Helen Evans Brown, original 1952, but mine is a reprint from the Cookbook Collectors Library) has just as much personality as the busomy, bonnetted, button-shoed lady on the cover suggests. I'm not sure why this woman is so surprised--perhaps because her left hand is mutating into some kind of sea creature with a glowing white eye?-- but I think she is hilarious.

Helen Evans Brown appears to have a bit of a sense of humor too, especially in her haste to differentiate her tome from the piles of mid-western-style cookbooks that I typically discuss.

She clearly does not approve of "the molded 'salads' made with sweetened and fruit-flavored gelatin mixes" (even going so far as to put scare quotes around "salads"!) that pop up so regularly on this blog. Since there is a chapter on aspics, though, this book obviously does have gelatinous dishes. They're just not the typical mid-western variety:

Wine Aspic would not be a well-accepted component of too many church potlucks. (Think of all the gossip at the following week's ladies' prayer circle lunches! Wine Aspic could bring in some drama...) I can see why this is a west coast dish.

Brown likes the diversity of coastal cooking, too, but does not often appreciate the bastardized versions of what people at the time considered "ethnic" offerings. Here is her take on Tamale Pie:

She's right, of course. I have no trouble in finding Tamale Pie recipes in my mid-western cookbooks.

West Coast Cook Book  may set itself a bit apart from the food trends of its time, but it is not completely unmoved. While mid-western cooks might be making noodle rings, rice rings, or ring-shaped Jell-O "salads," California cooks have their own take on the trend:

Artichoke Ring, just like rice or noodle rings, was to be filled with a creamed meat mixture, but instead of creamed chicken or creamed chipped beef, this one got creamed sweetbreads or shrimps. (Variety meats and seafood are very popular on the coast!)

The seafood had to be set apart from the fish sticks of the mid-west. Obviously, seafood varieties and cooking techniques were much more diverse, but even the condiments had to be more sophisticated on the coast:

Again, this lemon-mayo-parsley-tarragon, and green onion or green olive "Tartare Sauce" sets itself apart from the "chopped-sweet-pickle-and-mayonnaise abomination" one would find in dozens of my other cookbooks.

A meal in California might be as likely as a meal in Minnesota to end in fruit cocktail, but again, the name is about the only commonality in what is actually being served:

California Fruit Cocktail is not canned diced peaches, pears, white grapes, and maraschino cherries. It is fresh citrus, pears, pineapple, and strawberries with some real Maraschino or wine.

This West Coast Cook Book is a fun corrective to all the mid-western church and charity cookbooks lining my shelves, and it is packed with information about life on the coast and historical cookery. I haven't even had the space to show any of the recipes from famous coastal restaurants or historical cookbooks. (I always have to remind myself Brown is referring to the 1870s when she writes '70s!) This book is sure to pop up again, but it's a great feature for the first official Cookbook Wednesday in a long time. Thanks again to Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations for hosting! Now figure out how to work wine and/or artichokes into one of your recipes.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

April Glamour

I hope you're ready to glamorize your life once again with Glamour Magazine's New After Five Cookbook (Beverly Pepper, 1963).

I'm willing to bet that Mondays were just about as beloved in the '60s as they are today. Ms. Pepper saw no reason to fight their bad reputation, apparently, because I doubt many people would be excited to start the work week with this:

Chicken Livers & Celery Tio Pepe! I guess the sherry is supposed to distract from the fact that diners have to contend with the least beloved cut of chicken mixed with the most boring, dental-flossiest vegetable around... Mushrooms and cream might help a little too, but I don't think this main dish is enough to distract from the Monday-ness of that Monday.

I initially misread the dessert recipe and thought it was Cherries Herring Brulee, which would have made for a very interesting end to the meal indeed, but the recipe calls for a cherry liqueur, not a fish. At least this menu doesn't opt to make Monday worse with a briny dessert!

Wednesday, too, is dedicated to pushing that celery:

I have to admit that the Beef au Gratin doesn't sound too bad, but why combine yet more celery with the most stick-in-the-throat dry beans, limas? No amount of paprika is going to save that combination. It almost makes the corn-lettuce-mustard-lemon juice salad seem reasonable by comparison. (Almost.)

Another Wednesday is much more fun:

You know the popular recipe to stuff a frank with cheese, wrap it in bacon, and grill it? This version takes it upscale: the cheese is Roquefort and it's dressed up with leftover lamb before being stuffed into frankfurters and enrobed in bacon. This seems almost like it could be a current recipe, but it could only be served ironically, and the hot dog would have to be artisanally crafted out of bison meat. The side of fruit cocktail would be small-batch fruit cocktail from a nearby farm. The hashed brown potatoes would be cook in the shape of nests and filled with the apple cream made from heirloom apples and locally-produced organic cream.

To round things out, our '60s couple will have some fish on Friday:

It all starts out with Hot Clam Juice! Yay!* Follow it up with Almond Buttered Fish Fillets. (That's where I realize that the recipe actually means almonds in butter, not the kind of almond butter I spread on toast.) Honestly, it's a pretty boring menu, but I LOVE that they give directions for serving potato chips as a side! Sprinkle a small package of potato chips with coarse salt (that will probably fall off) and bake them for ten minutes because apparently it would be unconscionable to simply serve potato chips as a side without some kind of ritual to make them more labor-intensive.

Lessons from April's menus:
  1. It's okay to serve food straight out of a can (like fruit cocktail), but not straight out of a crinkly bag (like potato chips).
  2. If a recipe is going to suck anyway, you might as well throw celery in too.
  3. Heering and herring are not even close to the same thing.
  4. Some '60s recipes could work today if they're gussied up and served ironically.
  5. Clam juice is not sufficiently scary on its own. Heat it up so the whole house can reek of it. 
*That cheer was sarcastic.