December 10, 2010

Choices, Choices

If you are the grocery shopper in your family, you know that every day seems to bring more and more choices to make as you fill your cart. Twenty years ago, the bread aisle featured soft white bread of the Wonder Bread ® persuasion, whole wheat, rye and maybe a pumpernickel loaf or a raisin bread.  You might have found English muffins or plain bagels. Today, those choices have multplied exponentially. White bread?  Would you like yours square, or with a rounded top? Italian style, with a bit of crust, or maybe a sourdough, french bread stick or round loaf from the in-store bakery? Hard rolls, soft rolls, hoagie-style rolls, pita bread, deli flats or ciabatta squares? And you want English muffins? Will that be whole wheat, blueberry, cinnamon,  fiber added? Regular size or mini? These a just a few of the increasing options among which you can choose.

But, reading through The Lunchbox Cookbook (CulinaryArts Institute, 1955) I have realized that in another way, our choices for sandwich making have become narrower and narrower. How many sandwich fillings can you think of? Exclude turkey, beef, ham, bologna and salami - how many can you come up with now?  Probably not too many.  Peanut butter, tuna salad, egg salad, brunschweiger and cheese are what I come up with.  Well, our friends at the Culinary Institute would scoff at that meager list!  The Lunchbox Cookbook features almost 100 varieties of sandwich fillings! "Turkey, roast beef, ham or salami today, honey?" Obviously a sandwich amateur!

The sandwich fillings featured in The Lunchbox Cookbook are divided into ten categories, and I'll try to explore them all, so you can see what you've been missing.  Today's recipe comes from the "Fish and Shellfish Fillings" category: Favorite Fish Filling.  What makes this a frightening food is the way the chef who devised this managed to put together a lot of things I like to eat to create something that sounds terrible!  See if it appeals to you:


3/4 cup cooked fish (salmon, tuna, crabmeat or shrimp)
1/2 cup finely chopped cabbage
3 tablespoons pitted and chopped ripe olives
3 tablespoons salad dressing (Miracle Whip®)
1 tablespoon olive juice [sic]
1/4 teaspoon MSG
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 or 3 drops of tabasco sauce

Flake fish. Moisten with salad dressing. Blend in remaining ingredients, mixing lightly but thoroughly.

December 8, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is a Bologna King

Today's recipe choices were inspired by their equally alliterative names, one following right after the other in the 'Main Dishes like Magic' section of the Better Homes and Gardens Meals in Minutes cookbook (Meredith Corporation, 1963). The anonymous editor of this addition to BHG's "Creative Cooking Library" had quite a fondness for alliteration, titling other sections Buzz it in the Blender, Skip-a-Step Salads, Easy Frypan Favorites, and one I have mentioned before, and a particular favorite of mine, Dandy Do-little Desserts.  My first choice is titled with 'two great words that (don't) go great together' - Bean Banquet.  In my mind, the name conjures up the mental picture of a 1930's hobo camp, with a couple of grizzled old guys stirring the ol' beanpot over the campfire.  The second recipe is Bologna Bake, the ingredients list of which begins, "3/4 pound big Bologna, diced". It begs the question - if you are going to dice it, why must you start with a 'big Bologna'? We may never know. Unless, maybe, we attend next year's annual Big Bologna Parade in Yale, Michigan and ask around a bit. Perhaps the Bologna Royalty (yes, you read that right) can tell you.  Bologna seems to be big business in Yale, where the King and Queen of Bologna, apparently willingly, promote the wonderful motto, "Yale, Michigan. We are full of bologna and proud of it!”

BEAN BANQUET                                                    
4 cups pork and beans in tomato sauce
1/4 cup catsup                                                 
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 to 1-1/2 tsp liquid smoke
2 12-ounce cans luncheon meat

In a 10x6x1-1/2 in. baking dish, combine beans, catsup and seasonings.Cut meat in half lengthwise. Cutting not quite through, slice each half in 7 cross-wise slices. Arrange meat in "accordians" on beans. Bake in moderate oven (375) 25 to 30 minutes or until beans are bubbling hot. Place in broiler a few minutes to brown meat; brush meat with melted butter. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Greetings from the Yale Chamber of Commerce.

 3/4 lb big Bologna, diced (2 cups)
1 cup celery slices
 1/4 cup sliced stuffed olives
4 hard-cooked eggs, diced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
Dash pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup crushed potato chips

Combine all ingredients except potato chips. Place in a 8-1/4x1-3/4 inch round ovenware dish; sprinkle with crushed potato chips. Bake in hot oven (400) 20 to 25 minutes.  Makes 4 or 5 servings.

November 29, 2010

In a Poetic Vein

Today's inspiration is the poet Maya Angelou, who also happens to be a cookbook writer (who knew?).  A recipe from her second cookbook, Great Food All Day Long (Random House, 2010) was featured in this week's Parade magazine, but what caught my attention was this quote: "Kidneys have wonderful flavor, and yet few Americans eat them. First remove the veins and fat and soak in salt water. Veins will take all the joy out of a meal." [my emphasis] True, so true, Maya. Yet even the fabled Culinary Arts Institute has omitted this crucial step.  Thus, prepare today's recipe at your own risk.  It is destined to be a joyless meal.


3 lamb or pork kidneys
1 sprig parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon drippings
1 cup water or consomme
1 teaspoon vinegar

Wash kidneys, slice very thin and season with salt and pepper. Cook with herbs in drippings until tender. Add water and vinegar, heat to boiling and serve at once.  Serves 3

250 Ways to Prepare Meat, Culinary Arts Institute, 1940

Perhaps the boiling water that you will down along with your serving of kidney will distract you from the sad vision of veins on your plate.  Then again, it may just double your reasons to think this a joyless meal!

November 17, 2010

The Surprise Inside

Before microwave ovens entered the typical American kitchen, how could the harried housewife get dinner on the table in 45 minutes? "It's possible!", says the Better Homes and Gardens Meals in Minutes cookbook, adding, "The family will think you're a wonder." With chapters headed "Main dishes like magic", "Skip-a-step salads","Dandy do-little desserts" (my favorite) and "Bigtime broiler meals", this cookbook offers plenty of options for quick meals, accompanied by luridly colored photos of the final product.  I'm especially taken with their desire to avoid showing a brand preference by disguising their ingredients in plain brown wrappers (well, actually plain yellow, pink and green wrappers):

Note the can of soup labeled as FROZEN SHRIMP SOUP.  Is it frozen, or is it canned? Make up your minds, people!

Today's selection comes from the "Broiler recipe roundup".  Aren't you tempted by a dinner with the enticing name "Surprise Logs"? Me neither - which is why this dish makes it into the  frightening food category. The intro tells us "Inside each, a row of olives.  Next time, the surprise can be a dill pickle stick -".  It sounds like the start of a game - "Name that Surprise"! Next time, the surprise can be - a row of lima beans.  Next time, the surprise can be - pickled beets.  Next time, the surprise can be - I could go on and on! But you, dear reader, are no doubt waiting with bated breath for the recipe, so I will stop dallying with fun fillings and get on with it.


1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup corn flake crumbs
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chili sauce
2 tablespoons chopped ripe olives
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon snipped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
20 pitted ripe olives
5 coney buns, toasted [and of course the recipe leaves you with 3 lonely hot dog buns]

Combine first nine ingredients; shape in 5 logs to fit coney buns. Press a row of olives into center of each log, molding meat around olives. Broil 3 inches from heat, turning occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes or until done. Serve in coney buns. Makes 5 servings [duh!]

Better Homes and Gardens Meals in Minutes, Meredith Corporation, 1963

November 12, 2010

The Frugal Feast

Today's recipe comes from  - who else - our friends at the Culinary Institute.  In 1940, the country had yet to recover from the Great Depression and times were tough - so what to do when pesky relatives or other unwelcome guests continued to invite themselves to your table?  Stuffed Crown Roast is the answer!  "It can't be", you think, "Crown Roast is much too expensive." Well, if you are referring to Crown Roast of Beef, why yes it is.  But the editors of 250 Ways to Prepare Meat have a clever alternative:
"A crown roast of wieners is an ideal solution for guest problems when the budget is low." 

Serving hot dogs and sauerkraut is a reasonable choice when you have many mouths to feed and money is tight.  But trying to make it look like a Crown Roast? That has a certain whiff of self-delusion.  Really, do you think anyone will be fooled?  You can use a string to sew through hotdogs and make them stand on their own, stuff the middle with sauerkraut and say you are serving a Crown Roast, but WHY? (Yes, that is the technique. "Using large needle and string sew through all the frankfurters 1/2" from the top, and again 1/2 " from the bottom" - tie the ends together, and voila!).
Hmmmm... are you sure those are frankfurters?

November 4, 2010

Squirrel - The Other White Meat

Norman Squirrel first appeared two summers ago, just as the first crop of fresh peaches appeared on the trees that my husband had planted that spring.  While Casey watched patiently for the peaches to ripen, Norman apparently decided that you can't judge ripeness by looks alone.  Every day we would find more peaches on the ground, a few little rodent bites nibbled from each one, as if they had been tasted and found wanting. As time went on, the number of ripening peaches on the tree got smaller and smaller, and more and more peaches hit the ground.  There were still some good looking peaches, though, ripening under Casey's watchful gaze.  Then one day, there were none.

Clearly Norman was to blame.  It seemed unlikely that one squirrel had managed that much destruction in one night - he must have had a party and brought all his little peach-eating rodent friends over to finish off the job he had started.  Of course, once you start talking about a squirrel having a party, your discussion veers quickly right past silly and into ridiculous.  By the end of our dinner-time chat that night, Norman was the star of a new children's book, "Party On, Norman Squirrel!" Casey found it much less amusing than the rest of us.

Flash forward a year.  For the second year, we put up a nice canopy with screened sides on our back deck, and enjoyed bug-free dining - until Norman struck again.  He had decided that netting makes great dental floss.  Big ugly holes had been chewed in each corner of the netting, and even into some of the canvas.  Now I was beginning to appreciate Casey's increasing desire to "get that squirrel". 

This year, we had a very busy summer, much of it spent away from home.  Casey put the roof up over the canopy frame, but we never did get around to hanging the new netting.  "Well, at least Norman won't be eating it this year." Wrong! He must have really like that netting - this year he climbed to the top and chewed up the netting between the little cupola and the rest of the canopy.  Enough is enough, Norman! Someone might just use you and a few of your partners-in-crime to make a stew. 

In case anyone is inspired, here's a recipe:


Clean 3 squirrels, cut lengthwise into halves, simmer in boiling salted water with one pound of carrots until tender. [Note that the recipe doesn't mention whether this will be a matter of minutes, hours, or days!] Blend 6 tablespoons each melted fat and flour, add 2-3/4 cups of strained squirrel stock [not available commercially], 1 teaspoon minced onion, 1 bay leaf and salt.  Cook until thickened and serve over squirrel for 6.

250 Ways to Prepare Meat, Culinary Arts Institute, 1940

November 1, 2010

Friday's Frightening Photo was.....

Grilled apricots in a marmalade glaze.

I Left My Heart.....Simmering in a Saucepan

What I especially like about this recipe:
* They suggest packing it for lunch.  Picture the comments in the cafeteria when this comes out of the brown bag!
* The handy progression of heart sizes - one for every appetite.  And who doesn't have an appetite for heart once in a while? Okay, who does have an appetite for heart, ever? Looks like this poll is a handy win for the heart-haters.

Set out a saucepot with a tight-fitting cover.  Cut arteries, viens and any hard parts [unspecified! Maybe from animals with high cholesterol] from

1 small beef heart, or
2 veal hearts, or
3 pork hearts, or
4 lamb hearts

Wash in warm water. Drain hearts on absorbent paper. Put heart in the kettle. Add water to cover, and
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. celery salt
3/4 tsp. margoram
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. MSG

Simmer covered 2-1/2 hours, or until tender.  (Add 1 to 1-1/2 hours for beef heart.)
Drain and chill in refrigerator.  Slice and wrap for lunch or use in sandwiches.

The Lunchbox Cookbook, Culinary Arts Institute, 1954

October 29, 2010

Friday's Frightening Food Photo - Halloween Edition

What is it?  And, no, that's not a Gieger counter at the top of the picture - 
although the food does look like it might be radioactive.

October 26, 2010

Fresh, Fresh, Fresh...

Cow tongue in situ

tongue.  Yes, today's feature is that special favorite, Pickled Fresh Tongue! [Fresh as opposed to..?? Rotten? Stale? No, smoked.  For which delicacy we are also given the recipe, and I quote, "For preparation, follow directions on wrapper."] Pay careful attention to the step that comes after simmering - if you think you might try tongue some day, this will dissuade you, I believe. If it still appeals, you are on the wrong blog.  Try the Food Network - I suggest Extreme Food with Jeff Corwin.


Set out a large kettle or sauce pot having a tight-fitting cover.  Wash thoroughly in warm water
1 fresh beef tongue, 3 to 4 lbs.
Place in the kettle.  Add water to cover and
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon monosodium glutamate
4 whole cloves
3 bay leaves
Simmer covered 3 to 4 hrs., or until tender.

Slit skin on underside of tongue and peel it off.  Cut away roots and gristle. {{Shiver}}

Return to liquid to complete cooling. Drain and chill in refrigerator.

Slice and wrap for lunch or use in sandwiches.  ["You'll never guess what I packed for you today, little Billy. Nyah hah hah hah."]

9 to 12 servings [ Right. As if you could find 9 to 12 willing tongue-eaters.]

The Lunch Box Cookbook, Culinary Arts Institute, 1954

October 18, 2010

Friday's Frightening Photo was.....

from 230 Sandwiches, Culinary Institute of America, 1975.  Although I think it looks like cockroaches emerging from a block of wood shavings, no. Here's how they describe it: "Sprinkle a cream cheese frosted sandwich generously with sieved cooked egg yolk for a goldenrod color." That doesn't answer the question of what is emerging from the loaf, now, does it?  I still say cockroaches.  And you have to wonder what yummy use they will find for all those hard-cooked egg whites that will be left over, because they will not let them go to waste.

October 15, 2010

Last One Picked

The final recipe in "Balls on Picks" uses everybody's favorite fishy treat: Anchovies!
This ball-on-a-pick has been given the clever name of - yes, wait for it -

Mash 4 oz. anchovy paste with 2 hard-cooked eggs; add 5 drops Worcestershire sauce, few grains of cayenne and 1/4 cup minced parsley. Form the mixture into balls. Chill. Serve on picks.

500 Tasty Snacks, Ideas for Entertaining, Culinary Arts Institute, 1949 

Friday's Frightening Food Photo


October 14, 2010

Do You Like Green Balls and Ham?

Ever hear of a hand model?  How about a ham model?  In one of our dinner table conversations, someone ( I can't remember who) misheard hand model as ham model.  We have had a good bit of fun with that phrase over the years, elaborating on the role of a good ham model.  I just thought of that because a recipe for Ham Mold is on the same page as this week's frightening food category of Balls on Picks.  Once again - who chooses these names?  Molded Ham, I think food.  Ham Mold, I think of a ham covered with black slime. Worse, it falls into the jellied meat category, so even if it isn't moldy, it's a frightening food

Today's Balls on Picks selection is Green Balls.  What a mouthwatering title! 

Guest: "What are you serving for snacks tonight?"
Host:  "Green Balls!"
Guest: "You know, I'm just not hungry this evening."

Bonus! The recipe for Ham Mold, New Orleans Style follows the Green Balls.


1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup minced ham
1/2 tsp. prepared mustard
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. salt
dash pepper

Mix and roll in minced chives or parsley. Chill. Serve on picks.

500 Tasty Snacks, Ideas for Entertaining, Culinary Arts Institute, 1949

2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 Tbs. cold water
3 ounces cream cheese
1 can condensed chicken gumbo soup
1 cup ground ham
4-5 Tbs. salad dressing

Soften gelatin in water.  Heat cream cheese and 1/3 of the can of chicken gumbo soup until cheese and soup are blended.  Add remaining soup and heat and dissolve softened gelatin in hot mixture.  Cool and add ham and salad dressing.  Pour into molds and chill until firm.  Makes 6 to 8.

500 Tasty Snacks, Ideas for Entertaining, Culinary Arts Institute, 1949

October 13, 2010

Burn, Baby, Burn

500 Tasty Snacks, Ideas for Entertaining offers a seemingly endless supply of awful and/or ugly dishes.  Today's recipe falls into the ugly appearance category, though it does have a beautifually alliterative name.  Burning Bush is just one among several bad choices featured under the scary heading 'Balls on Picks'. Sadly, I don't have a photo to accompany this recipe, so you will have to use your imagination.

3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 tsp. minced onion

Mix cream cheese and onion.  Form into balls and roll in minced dried beef.  Chill. Serve on picks.

500 Tasty Snacks, Ideas for Entertaining, Culinary Arts Institute, 1949

Friday's Frightening Photo was.....

a cranberry-stuffed omelet served with sausage links.

October 8, 2010

Taking a Turn..ip for the Worse

Indiana has three entries in The Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places. Sour Cream Raisin Pie - well, anything sweet gets a bye from me.  Sweet-Sour Cucumbers - a bit of an odd item for a signature dish at a famous restaurant, yet interesting.  But Turnip Soup?  That's the best dish of the house? Certainly they have a secret blend of herbs and spices that makes this Turnip Soup special, you say?  Sorry! Salt is riding solo in this dish, but for a sprinkle of parsley on top to perk up the presentation. 

Can you imagine how bland the rest of the Nashville House menu must have been? Thankfully, they've perked things up since then, and feature a "country" menu in the rebuilt restaurant (the original burned in the '40's).  The description of the restaurant in the Ford recipe book sounds like this could have been the model for the Cracker Barrel chain, with it's country store entry (or, gift shop from hell, as some in my household prefer to call it).  Nashville House is now one of four dining choices at the Brown County Inn, an apparently attractive and reasonably priced resort.

"A giant [!] bowl makes a hearty lunch". Perhaps for patients restricted to a bland diet.  Poor things.

Frightening Friday Photo

What is it? 

October 7, 2010

French Fried Frog

Frog's legs, like organ meats, are a type of food that reminds me a bit too much that they belonged to some other animal before they hit the table.  Much as my daughter preferred to think of her little rabbit fur jacket as being made from bunnies who passed away peacefully in the woods, I prefer to avoid conscious consideration of where my food originates.  As I've said before, if I ever have to "live off the land", I'm a goner unless I can find a wild soybean field to supply my protein.

Today's recipe is from Au Petit Robinson, a restaurant and inn on d'Ile Bizard, which is now annexed to Montreal. Today it exists only on postcards, which is disappointing, because it offered an interesting and unusual ambience - the tables were set up on treetop platforms a la Swiss Family Robinson. 

The worst part of this recipe is the first step.  I don't know how you pare a leg, and I hope I never have to learn.

October 6, 2010

Two Great Tastes That [Don't] Go Great Together

♪♫ Meat and bananas, meat and bananas ♫♪, Go together like ♫♫ um…hmm….the shore and cabanas♪♪.  Well, maybe not quite that well. An interesting choice of ingredients, though.  Banana Meat Rolls are exactly what you would expect - bananas (sliced) and meat (cold, ground, type unspecified) rolled up in a biscuit dough.  The Gold Eagle is no longer in existence.  If all of the dishes were described as enticingly as this one, who's surprised?

Another recipe from The Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Favorite Eating Places, Simon and Schuster, Dearborn Michigan, 1950

For a short history of the Gold Eagle Inn, visit

October 5, 2010

That Damn Pfnudel!

 What do you expect from a dish called Dampfnudel?  I immediately pictured a bowl of pale, limpid, damp noodles - oh yummy. It was a welcome surprise to read the ingredients and find that Dampfnudel is a Tyrolean sweet roll, made with almond butter and a little lemon rind, and topped with vanilla sauce.  Which raises the question, what is Tyrolean?  I pictured it having something to do with Heidi and the Swiss Alps. Close, but no cigar.  According to Wikipedia, it is in west Austria, and it turns out that most of us are vaguely familiar with the area - it's capitol is Innsbruck, site of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. I also learned that a Tyrolean hat is what Pinnocchio wears, but that he has it all wrong - to wear it correctly, you are supposed to get your hat a size smaller than your head and sit it on your head, rather than over it.  There is no mention of how the hat is supposed to stay on your head; maybe the tradition is a subtle way to promote excellent posture. Pinnocchio isn't the only character who doesn't know how to sport a Tyrolean hat with style.  Yes, Reeeeeeeecola guy, I'm talking about you. Shape up.

Another recipe from The Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Favorite Eating Places, Simon and Schuster, Dearborn Michigan, 1950

The Blue Spruce Inn, the former Skillman house, was destroyed by fire in 1975. The Harbour View Shopping Center occupies its former site.

October 4, 2010

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck... before it was hungry for a nice salad?

Does anyone go on Sunday drives these days?  I've been thinking about that for two reasons. First, because we went to the Barnes Museum yesterday, only to discover that our tickets were for the first Sunday in November, not the first Sunday in October. (The guard at the gate was very nice about it, but I still felt like a moron, since the date was printed right on the parking pass.) So, Casey and I decided to make the best of it.  Since the Barnes was right off of Old Lancaster Avenue, we decided to see if Old Lancaster Ave. actaully went to Lancaster (and it did - it turns out you can take Route 23 almost the entire way from Lancaster to Philly's City Line Avenue and it's a heckuva lot prettier than the Schyulkill).  It was a beautiful day and we poked along behind dozens of buggies on our way up 897 through farm country.  It's the first time we've just taken a drive, however unintentionally, in a long time and it was a really relaxing way to spend a beautiful fall day.

The second reason I've been thinking of just going for a drive is this week's featured  frightening food cookbook, The Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places.

This small hard-backed book was published for "the touring public" in 1950.  It includes an illustration with each recipe, picturing either the interior or exterior of a restaurant that gives travelers a dining experience that provides, as Editor-in-Chief W.D. Kennedy puts it, "exciting food in an unusual atmosphere".

Today's frightening food recipe gets it's frightfulness from its name, which makes it sound like it will be a side of mincemeat made from groundhogs.  The actual dish sounds a lot like PA Dutch coleslaw:

The Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places, copyright Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Michigan, 1950

The Walpole Inn is still being operated, as a bed-and-breakfast and reception hall.

Friday's Frightening Photo was.....

grilled new potatoes.  I think the skewers look more like straws, but not everyone agrees with me...

October 1, 2010

Name That Food! Friday Photo

What's your guess?

Orange You Glad It's Friday?

For the final frightening food feature of SPAM week, I chose a recipe that's shown on the cover of Meals in Minutes, a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from 1963. The picture is actually what made me pick up the book - it's the kind of picture you look at and just think, "What IS that?" and also, "Does that shade of orange really exist in nature?"

The sweet potatoes are recognizable, but would you have guessed that the radiantly tangerine stuff in the center was good old SPAM?  Two cans worth, sliced and stuffed with half-rings of pineapple and topped with apricot jam.  The pastry shop where I once worked used thinned apricot jam to make fruits shiny and to keep them from turning brown.  I do not recall them radiating with this intensity, but perhaps that was the fluorescent lighting under which none of us look our best. The dish also has an alliterative but completely non-descriptive name, so you can keep the family guessing even when you answer the daily question, "What's for dinner?"


1 1-pund can applesauce
1/4 tsp. ginger
2 12-oz. cans lucheon meat [SPAM, wonderful SPAM]
1 8-oz. can pineapple slices
1 1-pound 2-oz. can sweet potatoes
*   *   *   *
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. water

Combine applesauce and ginger; spread in 10x6x11/2-inch baking dish. Slice each loaf of luncheon meat 3 times on the diagonal, cutting only 3/4 of the way through. Halve pineapple slices; insert in cuts in meat. Place meat atop applesauce, arrange sweet potatoes around meat. Combine remaining ingredients. Spread over meat, pineapple and potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Meals in Minutes, Meredith Corporation, 1963

September 30, 2010

Shish Kabob? SPAM Kabob!

Today's frightening food is again courtesy of the prolific Culinary Arts Institute, this time from The Lunch Box Cookbook, 1955.  These folks have some interesting ideas about what constitutes a good choice for the lunch box.  There are a few recipes that are scary enough to merit their own post in a future frightening food, but then there are ones that just seem like bad ideas, like Swedish Meatballs (yum!) served cold (yuck!). Today's SPAM Week recipe falls into the bad idea category - what might be palatable warm from the grill doesn't sound all that appealing served cold from the lunch pail.

Judging from the cookbooks in my collection, shish kabob seems to be a popular 50's fad, right up there with everything-in-aspic and candles dripping onto empty wine bottles. Here's the intro to the 'Kabobs' section of The Lunch Box Cookbook:
I can't agree on the "equally delicious..." claim. I like cold marinated mushrooms.  I like warm grilled mushrooms.  But warm grilled mushrooms when they get cold? Spongy, slimy and sad. [Hard to believe - a Google search for 'sad mushroom' returned 182,000+ items!]

Kabobs - Base Method

Set out wooden or metal skewers or wooden picks. Cut meat, large vegetables or fruit into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces. Drain cooked or canned food thoroughly. To give extra zip and juiciness to the kabobs, marinate the meats, vegetables and fruits by allowing pieces to stand in a seasoned liquid, such as French Dressing. Liquids such as oil and vinegar or oil and lemon juice blend well with the flavor of meats and vegetables.  Fruits become especially tempting in a sweet marinade sauce such as Honey French Dressing. Herbs, spices, garlic, onion, sugar (brown or granulated), zesty meat sauces or tabasco sauce will pep up the marinade. Carefully thread ingredients for the kabob on to the skewer, alternating foods to be used. Place meat morsels slightly apart on skewer to insure thorough cooking.  To broil, brush with melted butter or margarine or with the marinade.  Place in broiler with tops of kabobs about 3 in. from heat source; broil until particular food being used is done.  Turn kabobs frequently during broiling and brush with marinade.  Cool kabobs, wrap individually, and chill in refrigerator until ready for packing. 

Fruit and Meat  Kabobs

Follow Base Method. Cut into 2x2x1-in. cubes
Canned luncheon meat [aka SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM]
Rinse and pat dry [!]
Apricots, dried (uncooked) or fresh unpeeled, and pitted
Thread meat cubes and apricots onto skewer with
Pineapple chunks
Honey French Dressing is especially good for marinating this kabob.  Drain and pack for lunch, or broil about 5 minutes, or until well heated.  Eat at once or chill and wrap.

Honey French Dressing

3/4 cup salad oil
 1/4 cup lemon juice
1 TBS. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup honey
1/4 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. celery seed (optional)

Combine in a screw-top pint jar. Cover tightly and shake vigorously.
Store covered in refrigerator. Shake well before using. About 1 cup dressing

Pierre has a salad bigger than his head,
with delicious Honey French Dressing.
Marie easily resists eating thanks to
her bariatric reduction belt.

September 28, 2010

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam!

Last week we went to see Spamalot at Lancaster's Fulton Opera House. Great production, full of laughs - and inspiration for this week's theme of yummy SPAM recipes.  I went looking for a picture to go with this post and found that SPAM is everywhere (that's SPAM, registered trademark of Hormel Foods, as opposed to small-s spam, which is also everywhere)! The most surprising thing to me was on the SPAM homepage hosted by Hormel - talk about brand extension! Those folks have been very busy inventing new variations on the theme. Here's their current selection of tasty canned meat:
 Yes, SPAM Hot Dogs. Ugh.  The folks at Hormel seem to have a sense of humor, or at least have decided to make the 'Spamalot' connection work for them.  They've included this link to the Monty Python Coconuts and Cows game on their homepage:

 And if you want a link to anything, and I mean anything, else to do with SPAM, check out the SPAM website put together by Dan Garcia at UC Berkeley:

The frightening food of the day comes from Pillsbury's Creative Cooking in Minutes, Especially good and easy meals for all occasions, Pillsbury Publications, 1971. The recipe is introduced with these comments: This recipe is a money saver as well as a time saver. Add color and texture with peas and an orange and carrot salad. I've included their recipe for Carrot Orange Toss after the meat recipe, so you can present your Crunchy Luncheon Loaf properly.


4 serving recipe Pillsbury Hungry Jack Mashed Potatoes
1/2 cup creamed cottage cheese
2 cups (3-oz. can) French fried onions, crushed
1 can (12-oz.) luncheon meat

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 4 serving recipe of mashed potatoes as directed on package. Blend in cottage cheese and 3/4 can crushed onion. Stand luncheon meat in shallow baking dish.  Make 4 to 5 cuts down into loaf, about 3/4 way through. Place spoonful of potatoes between each meat slice. Spoon remaining potatoes around meat. Sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. 3 to 4 servings. Tip: If desired, place pineapple slices in cuts of meat.  Spoon all potatoes in mounds around meat. Or, omit the onion rings and place thin slices of orange, cut in half, in the cuts along with some whole cloves. Bake as directed.


2 cups (4 med.) grated carrots
1 cup (2 med.) orange sections
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup dairy or immitation sour cream

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well.  Chill until ready to serve. If desired, serve on lettuce leaves. 4 servings.

TIP: canned or fresh oranges can be used. For flavor variations, grapefruit or mandarin orange sections can be used for the orange sections.

September 27, 2010

'Dat Silly Ol' Cannibal

One of my favorite features in vintage cookbooks is the illustration.  Much of it is rather witty, putting a comedic spin on the recipe's origins, its name or when/where/how it is typically eaten.    Here's a cute example from The Cheese Cookbook (Culinary Arts Institute, 1956):

The illustration is with a recipe for Welsh Rabbit (also called 'Rarebit'), which was ostensibly the poor man's substitute for the real thing - thus the rabbits' willingness to serve it. I particularly like the lady rabbit in her pearls and mascara, bringing up the rear. 

But it's not all wit and whimsy.  The illustrations sometimes reflect the thoughtless racial and ethnic stereotyping of the era. Today's frightening food recipe recipe is a case in point - although the bedazzled expression on the face of this sandwich-eating cannibal makes it just plain silly!

Two thoughts come to mind after re-reading this recipe:
1) Can you say "E. coli?"
2) Nice with....chowchow? Methinks Mennonite missionaries have been to this cannibal's abode!

Frightening Food Photo #1 Is......

tuna chowder!  Another recipe that doesn't sound quite as bad as it looks, if you like a fishy soup.


2 cans solid-pack tuna, in oil
4 medium onions, sliced
5 medium potatoes, sliced and pared
3 1/2 tsp. salt (I don't think I've ever seen this much salt before in a family-size recipe. I'd put in < 1 tsp.)
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 cups water
1 qt. milk
1 pkg. frozen corn, thawed
2 Tbs. butter or margarine
Dill sprigs

Drain oil from tuna into Dutch oven or large kettle.  Saute onions in oil until golden, stirring often.  Add potatoes, salt, pepper, water; cover; cook 15 min., or until tender.  Add milk, corn, and tuna broken in large pieces. Heat. Float butter, dill, on top.

Good Housekeeping's Fish and Shellfish Book, Good Housekeeping Magazine, 1958

September 24, 2010

Frightening Food Photo Fridays

Vintage cookbooks present such a wealth of scary pictures. The color photos are usually frightening because all the food seems to have a fluorescent glow. The dishes look like the result of a nefarious plot by a rogue USDA lab to test the effects of radiation on unsuspecting American families.  The black-and-white ones seem to show food that is just plain ugly.  So, to share the wealth, I've decided to make Friday 'frightening photo day'. Just to keep it interesting, I'm not going to label the pictures - take your best guess, and check in on Monday to see if you were right. Although your first challenge isn't black-and-white, it definitely falls into the 'plain ugly' category: 

Yummy, yummy, what have we here? I'll tell you on Monday!

September 23, 2010

Nasty Names

The way food is described has a lot to do with how appealing it is.  What was an "All-beef burger with cheese on kaiser" at the diner becomes "100% corn-fed Angus beef, aged to perfection then individually grilled to order, capped with rich, creamy cheese on a fresh-baked roll" at the pricey place uptown - and it just sounds like it would taste better, doesn't it?  The editors of  the Culinary Arts Institute's 200 Dishes for Children (1975) should have leaned a bit more towards that uptown prose to make their recipes more appealing.  They're already laboring uphill, with an allegedly child-oriented cookbook that includes Liver and Tomato Pie, Lima Bean Chowder and Cabbage Cooked in Milk.  A little creative embellishment might make some of these obviously-good-for-you dishes more appealing.  But no, they not only fail to embellish, they've chosen some names that make recipes that might otherwise be appealing sound just as repulsive as their Liver Soup.  For example:

Crunchy Wax Beans - Crisp wax beans? Possibly, though I prefer mine soft.  But Crunchy? No, thanks.
Crusty Franks - Sounds like it's missing 'Old' between the 'Crusty' and the 'Franks'.  It's actually a recipe for corn dogs that doesn't sound half-bad.
Rolled Oat Rocks - In case you thought these cookies would be soft and moist - now you know better! It's actually a recipe for a fairly ordinary oatmeal raisin cookie.
Crunch-Nut Balls  - The cookie that makes men want to cross their legs! It's just a popcorn ball, guys. 

Since the past few posts have included recipes for some really frightening food, I think it's about time to feature a recipe that only sounds scary. It's actually alot like "Cracker Jack" [a registerd trademark of the Frito-Lay Co.] 

"Love me some Cracker Jack.
And those Crunch-Nut Balls, too"


1-1/2 cups light molasses
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 TBS. vegetable shortening
1 cup peanuts
3 cups popped corn

Combine first 5 ingredients in a heavy saucepan; cook slowly, stirring constantly, to 270 degrees F. (or when a small quantity dropped into cold water forms a hard ball). Remove from heat; add extract, shortening and peanuts, stirring only to mix. Pour over corn, stirring constantly.  Grease hands; shape quickly into balls.  Cool. Makes about 28 balls. [Serves 14 men]

September 22, 2010

Brains on the Brain

I was inspired to choose today's frightening food recipe because it brought to mind a childhood experience. The grandfather of one of my friends lived with her family, and every once in a while he would decide to butcher something.  "Why is there a sheep in your backyard?" "It's Grandpa's." "Okey dokey, then." As you might imagine, both farm animals and butchery were pretty rare in our suburban neighborhood. My grandfather kept a sheep in his yard one spring but I'm pretty sure that its life came to an end in some other, less residential, abbatoir.  (Yes, it took me years to connect that sheep to our Easter dinner).  My friend's grandfather was more of a hands-on guy.  Maybe he was a butcher back in the old country, and it reminded him of his days as a skilled worker.  Maybe he just wanted fresh meat.  I found his accent incomprehensible, so for all I know, he explained this in one of those 'conversations' where I just smiled and nodded and pretended I knew what he said but remained none the wiser.

Anyhow, here was the problem: every once in a while, I would be invited to dinner at my friend's house.  Back in the day, you didn't just say, "No thanks"; it was pretty unusual to be invited, and unless you had a good reason not to stay, politeness required that you accept.  And my friend knew perfectly well that I didn't have anywhere to go. So I would be staying for dinner, knowing that when Grandpa butchered something, they ate ALL of it. And knowing that to be polite, I would be eating whatever was served. Between "Thank you, I would love to stay for dinner" and "Dinner's ready!", my mind had just one train of thought - "Please don't let it be liver. Please don't let it be heart. And please, please don't let it be tongue or BRAINS! Please don't let it be liver...."

Well, my friend's grandfather may have been from the old country, but her parents weren't. They knew better than to invite a kid to dinner when they were serving strange organ meats.  Of course, I had no appreciation of adult intelligence at the time, so at every invitation I lived in fear until I saw what was on the table. And it was always something ordinary like spaghetti and meatballs, which I ate with GREAT appreciation, having been spared from BRAINS once again.

So, today's recipe is offered with great thanks that I have never had to eat brains, and with the hope that I never, ever will. This one is for you, Grandpa B!


1 set calf's brains
1-1/2 cups sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 egg
1-1/4 cups milk
Bacon drippings or other fat

Precook brains [see instructions, below, if you have no brain-cooking experience], dry and break into small pieces.  Sift dry ingredients together; combine egg and milk; add to dry ingedients and mix well.  Add brains.  Drop by tablespoons into hot skillet greased with drippings and saute, or drop into hot deep fat (360 degrees F) and fry until brown.  Serves 4

Place brains in cold water for 30 minutes, then remove membranes.  Simmer for 15 minutes in water to which 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar has been added for each quart of water.  Drain and drop into cold water.  Use as desired. [!] Save cooking water to use as stock.

Recipe courtesy of 250 Ways to Prepare Meat, Culinary Arts Insitute, 1940.

September 20, 2010

Playing 'Possum

You see a dead oppossum at the side of the road.  You:
a) don't give it a moment's thought
b) think, "Oh, poor little thing!"
c) think, "What a waste of good meat!"

If you said 'c.', today's frightening food recipe is for you! (If you said 'b.', you may want to stop reading now).

This is another recipe from my friends at the Culinary Arts Institute, from 250 Ways to Prepare MEAT, 1940.  The first sentence in this recipe was enough for me.  If I ever have to "live off the land", I'm pretty sure I'll be doomed to die from lack of protein.  I have copied all the text exactly as in the recipe. (Really. Except for the [comments].) I suspect editor Ruth Berolzheimer is a closet 'b.' who actually wants to discourage 'possum eating.


The oppossum is a very fat animal with a peculiarly flavored meat. [See what I mean about Ruth?] It is dressed much as one would dress a suckling pig, removing the entrails and, if desired, the head and tail. [who among us would not desire to remove the head and tail?] After it has been dressed, wash thoroughly inside and out with hot water.  Cover with cold water to which has been added one cup of salt. In the morning, drain off the salted water and rinse well with clear, boiling water. [Makes you wonder what they are trying to kill with this type of preparation, doesn't it?]  Stuff oppossum with Oppossum Stuffing [bonus recipe, below!]; sew opening or fasten with skewers. Place in roaster, add 2 tablespoons water and roast in a moderate oven (350 degree F) until tender and richly browned, about 1 1/2 hours.  Baste every 15 minutes with drippings. Remove skewers or stitches, and place oppossum on heated platter.  Skim fat from gravy remaining in pan.  Serves 10 [starving souls.]
Bonus Recipe! OPPOSSUM STUFFING      

1 large onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fat
Oppossum liver (optional)
1 cup bread crumbs
Chopped red pepper
Dash Worcestershire sauce
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped fine

Brown onion in fat.  Add finely chopped oppossum liver and cook until liver is tender. ["You test it!" "No, you test it!"] Add crumbs, a little red pepper, Worcestershire sauce, egg, salt and water to moisten.

Looks Like a Strawberry, But Tastes Like...Liver?

My personal abhorance of liver first drew my eye to this recipe as a potential frightening food feature, but reading through the instructions really sold me.  You might wonder what use you would have for food coloring when making tasty Liver Sausage Hors D'Oeuvres.  Prepare to tantalize the tastebuds of your guests with liver adorably disguised as strawberries and kumquats!


3/4 c. liver sausage
1 tsp. minced pickle
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. mayonnaise
Food coloring
1 c. very fine bread crumbs

Mix together first four ingredients.  Color half the crumbs red, and half orange.  Roll part of the sausage mixture into the shape of strawberries and roll in the red crumbs; place a small piece of parsley in the top for the stem.  Shape remaining mixture into "kumquats" and roll in orange crumbs.  Makes 8 "strawberries" and 8 small "kumquats".

Another recipe from 500 Tasty Snacks; Ideas for Entertaining, Culinary Arts Institute, 1949.

September 18, 2010

Aliens Among Us?

The luridly fluorescent colors of the olives and cheese cubes are bad, but the red cabbage that appears to be coated in slime is what really makes this a contender for a frightening food.  I noticed something else about this cover, too.  Turn it upside down.....
 and look a little closer....

...let me just highlight a few things, and .....

IT'S ALIVE!!!!! 

September 14, 2010

Scary Pairs

Some food words are just too mismatched to live together peacefully in one sentence.  For example, I personally believe that 'tasty' and 'liver' should never appear together,  unless perhaps you are writing satire. Still perusing the 1949 Culinary Arts Institute book, 500 Tasty Snacks, Ideas for Entertaining, I've noticed a few recipe names that sound like the word in column A was not correctly matched with the word in column B.  Here are a few recipe names that I definitely wouldn't describe as two great tastes that go great together:

Name:                      What comes to mind:

Chicken Shortcake   Hot chicken slathered in cold whipped cream on a
                                          sponge cake

Balls on Picks           Eeeew!Sounds like something they'd do in Gladiator

Shrimp Wriggle         It needs more cooking if it's still moving

Tongue Mousse        What magic can turn a slab of cow tongue into an airy

Jellied Tuna               Bill Cosby peering with alarm at the contents of his
                                           bowl. Waatch it jiggle....

Hunter Salad             Hunting season not too successful, eh?

Sardine Rarebit         The poor man's Surf and Turf

Chicken Sweetbread Salad   I thought chickens had pea-sized brains? They must be small servings.

September 13, 2010

Twice as Nice

Today's recipe brings together two favorites.  No, not spaghetti and meatballs.  Not peanut butter and chocolate.  Not cake and ice cream.  Give up?  It's liver and anchovies!  This elegant cuisine won't appeal to everyone, but to a select group, it's quite a treat.  Allow me to illustrate:

And not only is this recipe two tasty treats in one, with its 4 egg yolks, it will nicely pump up that cholesterol!


5 cooked chicken livers
3 T. anchovy paste
3 T. butter
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
4 egg yolks
8 slices hot toast
1-1/3 c. cream or evaporated milk

Make a paste of livers and anchovy paste, add butter, pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 egg yolk.  Spread on toast and place under preheated broiler for one minute.  Make a sauce by cooking remaining 3 egg yolks, salt and cream in a double boiler.  Serves 8 [people without taste buds, or 96 with taste buds]

Another delightful recipe from 500 Tasty Snacks, Ideas for Entertaining, Culinary Arts Institute, 1949 

September 10, 2010

Jellied Everything

Leafing through my vintage cookbook collection, I'm struck by how many recipes there are for food presented in aspic, particularly in the 40's. I'm one of those people who makes a lot of dining decisions based on "mouth feel" as much as by flavor.  Love the taste of bananas, hate the slimyness.  The slippery sensation of oysters and the gummy texture of clams give me shivers. All my meat is mercilessly trimmed of fat before it passes my lips.  So, I find the notion of eating any meat, fish or vegetable presented inside a quivering mass of jellied buillion appalling, with some selections (tongue, for example) going right on to nauseating.  And judging by the way aspic has disappeared from current cookbooks and restaurant menus, I don't think I'm alone in finding it repulsive. Here's a sample of some yummy aspic recipes I have in just one book in my collection, 500 Tasty Snacks, Ideas for Entertaining (possibly they meant 'Ideas for Entertaining People You Hope to Discourage from Cadging Meals from You in the Future'). The choices include:

Hard-Cooked Eggs in Jellied Buillion
Chicken Mousse
Jellied Salmon
Ham Mold, New Orleans Style
Jellied Melange (chicken and ham)
Jellied Beet Pickle Salad
Pate de Foie Gras in Aspic
Jellied Tuna
Tongue Mousse
Jellied Calf's Liver
Ham and Cider Jelly Loaf
Liver Sausage in Aspic

and my favorite - not just for the yucky factor, but for the wonderful presentation of hot dogs standing at attention .....

Jellied Buillion with Frankfurters

 Bet you never thought of hot dogs as a glamorous choice! And it's so simple to make:


1 T. unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups hot beef broth
Hard-boiled eggs, sliced
Diced celery

Soften gelatin in cold water.  Dissolve in hot stock. Sprinkle celery in desired mold.  Arrange sliced eggs around the edge. When stock begins to thicken, pour into mold and insert frankfurters in an upright position then chill until firm.  Unmold and garnish with vegetable curls or cups, radish roses, endive or parsley. 
 Photo and recipe from 500 Tasty Snacks, Ideas for Entertaining, Culinary Arts Institute, 1940

September 9, 2010

Attack of the Cupcakes

Raisin Funny-face Cakes?  Or Mad Monster-face Cakes?  With their orange frosting, I think they are supposed to resemble jack-o'-lanterns, but  this looks like an army of angry Mr. Bills to me.

200 Dishes for Children, Culinary Arts Institute, 1964


1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. grated orange rind
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup dark or golden raisins
2 cups sifted flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
Confectioners' sugar frosting
Orange food coloring
Dark raisins for eyes

Cream shortening, sugar and grated rind together; add eggs and beat until fluffy.  Blend in raisins.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.  Add alternately with milk to the creamed mixture, beating until blended after each addition.  Turn batter into greased cupcake pans.  Bake at 425 degrees 15 to 20 minutes.  When cupcakes are cooled, frost with confectioners' sugar frosting, tinted orange.  Make faces on cakes, using dark raisins.  Makes about 15 cupcakes.

September 8, 2010

What Do We Have Here?

I started this blog by featuring the 200 Dishes for Children cookbook, because it's just full of scary (and funny) recipes and photos.  For instance, can you tell what tasty dish is pictured here? I think it looks a little like Punxsatwny Phil and his clones peeking out of his burrow, but this, my dear, is Bunny Salad!  As the accompanying quote in the cookbook says, "You need not wait until Easter to transform pear halves into impish bunnies for the children's delight." 

The same page also features recipes for Pointsetta Salad, Clown Salad, Jack-O'-Lantern Salad and another of my favorites, Duck Salad.  No picture, but I think you can probably conjure your own image of a peach-half body with a marshmallow head, currant eyes and almond beak, floating on a sea of shredded lettuce. My own impish children would have eaten the marshmallow.  Can't wait for Easter to make your own little bunnies? Here's the recipe - the first and only one I've seen that calls for shredding - yes, shredding - Jello. And please don't let anyone eat the cloves!


1 package lime gelatin
2 cups hot water
6 pear halves
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1 T. blanched almonds
24 almonds, blanched, chopped
Whole cloves
Soft pimiento cheese

Dissolve gelatin in hot water.  Pour into an 8x8x2-in. pan; chill until firm. For each salad, fill pear half with cottage cheese mixed with mayonnaise and nuts.  Invert on lettuce leaves on a bed of shredded gelatin by forcing firm lime gelatin through a sieve.  Make bunny's ears, nose and tail out of almonds. Make eyes, using whole cloves.  Shape small carrots from cheese, use parsley for top and place one or two by each bunny.  Serve with mayonnaise.  Makes 6.

200 Dishes for Children, Culinary Arts Institute, 1964