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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tonight we're going to party like it's 1959/69, maybe 1981


P-A-R-T-Y! Why? Because what child of the 1970's loves nothing more than being dragged from their Christmas toys in subzero December weather to visit a relative whom they only see once or twice a year? Let's be forced to play with cousins we wouldn't be caught dead with in everyday situations! Maybe the grandfather's new wife will experiment with something she found in a cookbook. Joy! 


Family gatherings became fewer and farther between as my relatives passed away, we grew up and moved to different states. One thing remains constant is the memory of cigarette smoke, booze, and whatever my step grandmother was creating. I wonder if she went through these cookbooks, had an "a-ha" moment and thought that she HAD to serve this to the family. Gluttons for punishment that everybody was, it still remained the central spot for family gatherings. 

From the kiddie table I present these books. Yes, there is a 22 year gap between them, but these look like the guests of parties in my imagination. What's wrong with my imagination? Yikes. 

Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cookbook, 1959
Better Homes and Gardens Casual Entertaining, 1981

What starts out as a casual drink between lady with the long tie and red and blue leisure suit guy turns into leisure suit guy not realizing that long tie lady has a personal bubble in which he is severely encroaching. Serve your own pie! (BHG 1981)

The skies part, Angel sips her bubbly demurely while the ethereal glow surrounds her. She doesn't mind that she is being treated by a third wheel. Mr. 'Stache is far more intrigued by the allure of the frizzy perm haired Devilina. Angel is summoning a herpes spell on him. Hell hath no fury! On a more serious note, please note the picnic basket behind her. It's like Mary Poppin's purse. Look at the intact loaf and other large foods.(BHG 1981)
I'm not going to sugarcoat it but despite the formal table setting, this slick guy is plotting "dessert" a la cheesy 70s movies. Why? He's the only one with a bowtie and the lady in the mauve vest seems a little uncomfortable at the suggestion. (BHG 1981).
See what happens when you lie? Your nose grows and the little elf people hang pretzels from it. The little elf people have fruit shields in case you sneeze.
Great bread, but if anybody thinks kids aren't going to rip apart the snail bunnies instead of eating them then they don't know kids. By the way, that Easter grass is never going to leave. It will multiply. 10 years from now it's going to be wrapped around the hair on the vacuum cleaner spin brush.
Look what opening a can of tomato soup, beef broth,crackers and inedible parsley sprigs creates! Guests will be befuddled. Not at ingenuity, but that you half assed the soup and dared to float parsley on top of it. If the cracker gets soggy then the parsley gets into the soup. Then what?
I'm going to focus mainly on that cranberry ring. It starts out okay on top, but hidden beneath the lettuce is a gory mixture of mayonnaise, cream cheese, and tiny marshmallows. Twitch.
The Merrie Roast of Beef does not scare me as much as that tree creature clown above it.
Wonderful Sukiyaki! If e coli sickness is not a concern due to the close proximity of raw meat and fresh vegetables. I'm sure it's safe. That wok looks like a trustworthy beast.
Swedish Smorgasborg complete with rolled ham, big cubed ham, and SWEDISH meatballs. I get it. I'm ignoring the horse because I don't think it likes me.
If this is a tactic to scare children into eating, then it just might work. Either that or mess them up for life. Who is going to want to eat a pineapple with the memory of that creepy doll etched into their soul? The food on the left is called an "Outrigger". The book was thoughtful enough to inform the reader/chef in the making that the dolls are Chinese.
 I don't want to burst the bubble of anybody who thinks they are getting a taste of Italy by eating this needs to be informed that real Italian lasagna does not have 3 1/2 cups of large curd cottage cheese in the layers.
For 25 years, Herb carried Esther's purse, ate her cooking even when she was in her gelatine phase, let her work outside the home, didn't get too mad when she messed up his laundry, let her have her pink bathroom.For 25 years, she ran the ship. Herb looked at the pink display honoring their silver anniversary, pivoted smartly, and left. Last anyone heard of Herb, he was walking barefoot along the Florida coastline with a metal detector and a faithful Labrador he named Rex. All he wanted was to contribute to his friggen anniversary.
Five years old and already afraid of clowns. Thanks, Mom.
Somewhere in this entry there is a moral to my story. Maybe it is to cherish the memories because if you don't, the bad and ugly of retro food is going to be imprinted on a small piece of your soul forever. 


Until next time!!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Confessions of a mayophobe and other gagworthy woes


I'm a lifelong phobic of foods containing mayonnaise, boiled eggs, sour cream, cream cheese (except for frosting and cheesecake), yogurt, and anything of that color and texture. My earliest memories involve the smell of Miracle Whip, watching my dad lick it off a knife and smear it on bread, the smell of it mixed with onions and boiled eggs. 

Flash forward over three decades to my current state of mayophobia. Since spellchecker and Google have not recognized that as a word, allow me to introduce it into your vocabulary. Anyway, there are few things that can make me lose my appetite than sitting with someone at Burger King and watching the mayonnaise and ketchup glob plop out of the burger and onto the wrapper. I get very angry when I order no mayo, take my food home and smell it before I open the bun. Scrape it off you say? No way. The mayonnaise has binded itself to the burger/chicken and bun, therefore I know it was there. When I lived in Italy, imagine my horror at watching people mix packets of ketchup with mayonnaise and dip french fries in it. 

It's time to share this wonderful little magazine I bought from ebay. There is very little that does not contain the ingredients which shall not be named. 

I apologize in advance for the creases in the scans. Some of the pictures required both pages to be scanned. To photoshop or alter these images aside from cropping and flipping and straightening them out would defeat the purpose of capturing retro food in its full element.

Kraft Main Dish Cookbook, 1970
As an avid Christmas Story Fan, I am required to say "meatloaf, smeatloaf, double beatloaf" any time I see a meatloaf. This fluffy cloud of Miracle Whip and mashed potatoes reinforces the reason why meatloaf is indeed a "smeatloaf, double beatloaf". The french dressing in the ground beef don't help either.
"If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to--" RUN the other way if you see this San Francisco Stroganoff made of margarine, Miracle Whip, sour cream "sauce". You are better off wearing some flowers in your hair.
The little blue caption on the left says "your family will never say 'Meatloaf Again!'" once you've served this tempting innovation. How about never incorporating that dreadful word into their vocabulary or introducing this "thing" to their palates. They can say "meatloaf" all they want, but I will never cook it. EVER.
The caption says this Bavarian Slaw is something to "yodle" about. The Alp of cabbage and zippy bratwurst. Hopefully you have more than one bathroom because there's going to be a case of the grips like it's never happened before.
This "country set supper" just exudes class and elegance doesn't it? It can't be simple with a boxed macaroni and cheese and a few hotdogs. No, there must be sour cream, onions, and polish sausage.
Aye Carumba! This Mariachi Supper has green sausages. Where does one find green sausages? How long must they ferment before they turn green? 10 years? Oh, never mind. It's just bad 70's photography lighting.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Instead of just following directions on a prepackaged spaghetti dinner mix, add mozzarella cheese, eggs, and bake it. Then call it Spaghetti Pie and see how fast your kids devour it.
This salmon mousse mold might be more alive looking if it was flipped the other way. Not appetizing, just more alive. Who wants to eat a frowny fish molded salmon mousse?
"Obviously when you heat hearty cheddar cheese with bubbling beer, then add egg and serve it over crisp toast triangles, you call it 'rabbit'". What the hell does that even mean? Seriously. I call it toast with melted cheese and beer.
Another faux thermidore. This time it is called a "Philly Thermidore" Cream cheese and canned seafood. Save me a bowl!
What makes this a supreme hamburger? Besides being called a Balboa Party Burger, it is smothered in sour cream and cheddar cheese.
Saving the best for last, this is a Country Squire Sandwich topped with all things bad about food. Sliced hardboiled eggs, sour cream, cheese, and miracle whip.

Now I think I'm going to sit in a corner and rock for an hour. It's been a pleasure sharing my fears.

Jello, Jello, Joy, Joy




What ode to the foods of long lost past would be complete or even intriguing without some mention of everybody's favorite treat made from collagen extracted from the boiled bones, connective tissues, and intestines of animals? That's right. Jello. It was a staple during the days of meat rations and then it's purpose was aspics, molded salads, deserts, and a suspension device for vegetables, potted meat, hard cooked eggs. 

Luckily there were 99 cents recipe books. NOT cookbooks because the only cooking in jello involves boiling water. It is moded, shaped, cubed, and eventually eaten.

The New Joys Of Jell-O recipe book, 1973
This doting mother is teaching her son a life skill. Though what is the white gloop? She looks thrilled beyond belief. He just looks indifferent. Jello is a JOY!
Ingredients that will be used. I'm a little uncomfortable seeing a spoon of pickle relish and a bowl of canned vegetables. Something tells me we are not making a strawberry jello with a little dollop of cool whip.
This jellied peach melba seems normal. Granted it looks like a bird's nest or a receptacle for shortening balls.
It's Party Time!! Bring JELLO!! Okay, this couple deserves credit. The woman's jello dish matches her pantsuit. How she pulled off the unthinkable, we will never know. But it's the first time anyone has seen someone with a matching jello dish. 
Look at this spread! Nothing but Jello as far as the eye can see. No bread to be found. No plates or utensils either.
Moving on to salads. This Green Goddess salad with its thick chunkage is sure to please anybody. At least there's bread and drinks. 
Yes, I was nice enough to include the recipe. Someone is just salivating at the prospect of serving this.
Antipasto Salad. Because it's too much work to make a plate of olives, chunks of cheese, salami, and celery. Jello makes it just so much more impressive.
Don't grab the first bite because it's green and the garnish looks a little feminine. Be warned that this Under The Sea pear salad is more sinister than it looks.
After discovering Pat had made her special Chicken Mousse, Gary rounded up the children and treated them to McDonalds. 
Why have cool, smooth Gazpacho soup when you can have Jellied Gazpacho?
How sneaky to make this look white when beneath the perfect mold shape there is sour cream, radishes, cucumber, green peppers, celery, and other little niblets. My brain and mouth aren't processing this. They have shut down.
The couple in red giggled and talked politics, religion, pot. The girl sitting waited for the date that would never come. The vegetable and egg mold laughed to itself, knowing it was not going to be eaten.
Kids love their jello!! Right, Mr. Real Men Wear Pink Butterfly Collars, Ms. Manson Family Sisters, and Mr. Kid With the Stripey Shirt on Who NEEDS a Haircut and A Smile?
Correct. I have never thought of any of that. Nor will I ever.

Jello played an important part in history with it's versatility. But really, it's 2012. We don't even need Jello unless we just had our tonsils out or are stuck on a clear liquid diet. 

Until next time!!! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Boo-fay, buff-it, buffet.

Who does not remember attending a party with a buffet theme? Clutching your Chinet plate and plastic utensils in anticipation of the feeding trough ahead? Shifting your weight impatiently as the feller in the leisure suit meticulously spoons macaroni salad onto his already piled plate. 

It's your turn at the boo-fay. Choose wisely. Don't take more than you can eat and don't eat more than you can take.

First I want to give a shout out to Mrs. Virginia Kuhnert of Holiday, FL. Despite buying this book several states away, she was kind enough to put her address label in the book. 

One of the best parts of finding these old cookbooks is the underlines, personalization, rare newspaper clippings that were stuffed in the pages, undiscovered until 32 years later. 

I pulled this out and unfolded it to scan the date. I hope by doing that I did not cause a wrinkle in time. 
Better Homes and Gardens Best Buffets Cookbook, 1974. I was a fetus or a newborn most of that year so I was late for the party
Salmon-Crab Veronique in a chafing dish. Guests can spoon the luscious mixture over patty shells. Their words, not mine. Looking at the size of the spoon and the size of the holes in the patty shells, I foresee a big mess on the table. Plus a lot of veronique invading the space of the other delicacies to come. I can't have veronique invading my aspic.
Well this setup is quite the conundrum. My bet is that the Golden Coffee cake goes uneaten because nobody wants to be the first to lift the cover and if they do, they face getting burned by the hot plate with little hams a'sizzling. The Scrambled Eggs deluxe in its hot green pan presents a risk too. The fruit is a mere decoration so don't touch!
While the guests pondered over how to reach the Golden Coffee Cake or the best way to get the salmon-crab veronique onto the patty shells, nobody noticed the wobbling cabbage in the background. Mildred Pierce was standing by and dropped her plate in horror as the cabbage split forth in front of her, spewing a steaming, hissy mess of what it had been fed. The hostess of this boo-fay spent months trying to get salmon-crab veronique out of her shag carpet.
Nothing out of the ordinary. I'm just reflecting that rolled ham was at every party. It still is. I can't speak for the furry grapes.
Roll out the red carpet because serving Beef Fillets Wellington with its noble companion, Golden Tarragon Sauce will make your guests feel like royalty. They must not get out much if this is what it takes to make them feel like royalty. Morale is good for these sheltered folks.
Priscilla followed Bruce, clutching the heavy picnic basket. Bruce was holding a lumpy bag. Her heart beat in anticipation as he found THE SPOT. She knew that he had a ring for her. She KNEW it. Her spirits fell as he opened the basket, permeating the air with ketchup, onions, ground beef. Inside were three meatloaves. He presented a platter of an already sliced and topped with ketchup meatloaf. Priscilla looked at the frozen french fry salad and sad olives and wished she had marked the trail so she could make a fast exit.
Alright, if my "favorite armchair quarterback" wants to call the plays in the kitchen, he can bake his own damn pot pie. Note to Peyton Manning in the Lazy Boy: Celery Leaves make a bad garnish. That's what you get for trying to coach yourself through the recipe.
Hopefully this host is having a no children allowed party or understanding parents. Granted vegetables are the last thing they will reach for, but wouldn't it make sense to have the skewered shish kebobs on a hot electric grill out of the reach of children? Maybe the plates can be lowered so people aren't reaching over the food right away? And what is going on with that cheap plastic bookcase? Then again, this is the 1970s where kids fought over who was going to sit on the hump in the family Buick. Safety schmafety. 
This picture is a sad metaphor to the tater tot casserole slowly pushing the molded cucumber grape salad out of the way. Sigh..
Here's to a happy Sunday and that the graceful hostess finally managed to get the Salmon-Crab Veronique out of her shag carpet. The moral of this story is to beware the pregnant cabbages! 


Until next time!!