Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reminiscing: Better Homes and Gardens Lunches and Brunches

And now, all the way from 1963, I bring you the Better Homes and Gardens Lunches and Brunches cookbook, with both recipes AND meal plans.  This will change your life.

Lunch is about being feminine and dieting, of course.

The opposite page, showing you a delicious "cooling patio lunch" complete with "Firecracker Plums," which are plums filled with cream cheese and walnuts and served whole, sandwich style.  Can you imagine trying to eat that?  

A perennial favorite is, of course, the mold.  In this case, a "Bing Cherry Mold" that looks like...well, when I first saw it, I thought it was a pig head with Jell-O coming out of the mouth, but on closer inspection, I see that it is actually more like a felt hat with a blob of Jell-O bubbling through the top.  What is more disturbing is the fact that the "Bing cherries" look like cherry pie filling rather than the "fresh Bing cherries" that the recipe specifies

Although this might look like a gelatin creation, it isn't!  This is a "Ginger Fruit Freeze," which is made of cream cheese, kumquats, dates, maraschino cherries, pineapple, and candied ginger, among other things.  I can definitely see how this would be a great compliment to cheese-ham tidbits.  I think my favorite part, though, is the glass with the wooden handle in the background.

I guess my nightly highball drinking isn't a secret anymore with the wonky scan of this page...  Anyway, here we have yet another mold, this one savory and apparently "tangy" as well.  This is a mixture of...wait for it...wait for it...beef bouillon and lemon gelatin!  Also, tarragon vinegar, sour cream, and vegetables!  I think it looks like a brain. 

More molds!  I guess this is what ladies who diet eat.  This is one of Father of Ken's favorites, as I have mentioned previously: tomato aspic.  But this is no ordinary tomato aspic--this one is filled with potato salad!  Those radish garnishes look like the multi-headed beasts that St. Michael kills (yes, I've been immersed in scary, demonic imagery lately).

If none of the previous recipes appealed to you, perhaps you will be tempted by the "Sandwich Luncheon" spread:

I do love a sandwich topped with egg and served with carrots and celery in pencil cups.

So about halfway through, they dispense with the dieting thing completely and suggest this meal, which includes Fritos, "process cheese," and canned green beans.

I make my lunch every day and take it with me to the office.  I get bored with the usual, but not to worry--this book has solved all of my problems.  As I read the list, I would qualify for the "Career Girl" lunch, which includes chilled fruit, cottage cheese, deviled ham finger sandwiches, a fresh pear, a slice of jellyroll, milk, and grapes for a snack.  This reminds me of the scene in Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion in which they are on the road to Tucson and ask for the "Businesswoman Special" at a roadside diner.  They ended up with cheeseburgers, fries, and Diet Coke, which sounds WAY better than deviled ham finger sandwiches.

Read the paragraph at the bottom for even more swell lunch box ideas.

Love the photograph--the grape juice with a straw, the artfully scattered raisins, the giant pickle, and the green Halloween candy in the lunch box (seriously--what IS that?  It looks like one of those toys you throw on a wall that is supposed to stick and then walk itself down the wall while glowing in the dark, not that I know anything about those.).

Oh, good.  We're back to being on a diet again.  However, I fail to see how a "cheese-stuffed frank" is going to help when I'm on a diet.  Since I'm not into that, maybe I can get on board with the "Slim-trim Luncheon."  Except that includes a pan-fried Baby-beef liver and buttermilk to wash it all down.  Maybe I'll just starve...

Salad for lunch!  I'm cool with that.  Until we get to the tuna ring, which looks like human skin.

Are the "Strawberry-Cream Squares" supposed to look like the Christmas Story pink bunny suit kid has hidden within the creamy layers with only his ears sticking out?

Another ring; this time one that appears to be made of sawdust.

Lessons learned from this book:  ladies should eat molds and Jell-O for lunch and "diet" lunch can include everything from cheese stuffed franks to plain beef broth.  Also, the more unnatural the food, the better it is for you.  

I leave you with the back cover:  

Until next time, gentle readers...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good Thing

I just got back from being away for two weeks (one of them in Florida--yay!) and have very little food in the house because I haven't had time to go to the store yet.  Thanks to Mother of Ken, I have a well stocked freezer.  So, tonight I looked in the freezer and found some sliced flank steak and I came up with this: 

I put the steak out on the table in the backyard to defrost while I did my workout and then tried to figure out what to do with it (I didn't have fajita ingredients, which is the obvious choice).  Because it was 97 degrees here today, I didn't want to heat up the kitchen or eat anything very heavy.  The end result of my scavenging in the refrigerator and pantry was sliced Yukon gold potatoes mixed with chopped marinated artichoke hearts, fresh scallions, parsley, and chives, and pieces of steak dressed with olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Really good--you should try this.  You could even make it without the steak as a side dish.

In other experimenting news, I was really hot and thirsty and I had some key lime juice that I decided to make into homemade lime soda.  You should try this one, too ;-) 

I started with a glass of ice and I added about a third of a cup of lime juice.

Then, I put in the same amount of simple syrup:

Top the whole thing off with club soda:

Taste and adjust lime juice and simple syrup as necessary.  I am seriously considering never buying bottled pop (soda for you East Coasters) again.

I'm waiting for my leeks, shallots, garlic, and tomatoes to grow--hopefully I'll be able to keep them alive until they're ready to eat.  Shallots and garlic look like they'll be ready soon, the leeks have a while before they're ready, and the tomatoes probably won't start producing much until sometime in July.  The problem is keeping everything watered in this heat. 

Anyway, make yourself some potato and steak salad and some homemade lime soda and come back soon for a long overdue "Reminiscing" post.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm Alright: Update

McKenna was able to take the cone off today because they took her stitches out. She got a good report and has to go back in a week for another checkup. This also means that she gets to wear the new collar that Aunt Leah sent as a get well gift--it has crabs on it and she is thrilled, even if you can't tell from the photos.

This one shows the leg with the incision. Her fur is growing back and the incision is healing well.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I'm Alright

So, it's been a while since I posted anything--my first year of full time teaching is almost over and, while I won't claim to have that much more free time, I do want to update my blog more often.  The good news for the two of you who still read this is that my life isn't very exciting right now (if it ever was), so you haven't missed much.

After the crazy snow, we had an uneventful rest of February and March with the exception of a wild and crazy spring break spent in Texas and Kansas.  McKenna spent most of the winter like this on my bed:

At the beginning of April, I was in my yard raking up those spiky balls that fall from sweet gum trees when I heard McKenna scream.  When I turned around, she was on the ground crying and a squirrel was running the other direction.  At first, I thought she was chasing the squirrel and ran over one of the sweet gum things and got a sticker in between the pads of her paw.  She couldn't walk, so I picked her up and carried her into the house and figured that I would give her aspirin for the pain and keep her immobile until she got better.  She seemed to get better and then she would start limping again and that went on for about three weeks.  There was never any swelling, I couldn't find anything stuck in her paw, couldn't feel anything broken or out of place, no cuts, etc.  Since she was due for her yearly exam, I took her to the vet and asked them to take a look at her leg.

The vet said that he thought she might have torn her ACL, but they had to sedate her and do some x-rays to really see what was going on.  They told me that they wanted to go ahead with surgery if she did have a torn ACL so that they wouldn't have to sedate her more than once.  So, the next day, she had the surgery, which is apparently a very common surgery for dogs.  I was able to pick her up the following day and they gave me this:


Obviously, she was not pleased by the shaved leg and collar, but she was definitely glad to be home.  She has to wear the collar for two weeks, which means that it will come off on Wednesday when she has her stitches removed.  Here she is today, now that she's a little more used to her new look:

Aunt Leah sent her a new crab collar as a get well gift and she's been saving it for when she gets this plastic collar off this week.  In the meantime, this has been an interesting experience--she had two antibiotics to take along with a pain pill and I think the pain medication made her anxious.  We've had some terrible storms here in the past week and a half, including a night of tornado warnings.  That night, I had to haul her with the collar into the shower in the guest bathroom, which has a doorway that is about 12 inches wide (the collar is about 18 inches wide, so we had to back in), and we had to sit in there for about an hour until the storm subsided.  For the rest of that night and the next, she kept me up almost all night.  She usually doesn't get too scared of thunder, but I think the medication must have made her nervous.  I tried to lift her into bed with me and calm her down, but that just resulted in her plastering herself against me trembling and screaming with the plastic collar smacking me in the face.  We eventually got about two hours of sleep and I was really grateful that I didn't have to teach the next day.

So, she took the last of her medication yesterday and is doing very well.  We see the vet on Wednesday and hopefully she'll get a good report.  The goal is to get her well enough to go to Kansas in two weeks, so wish us luck.  I'll try to post an update on Wednesday after we see the vet.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hazy Shade of Winter: Oklahoma 2011, Part II

So, Kenna and I are still stuck at home and we have our third snow day in a row.  I took this picture in my yard of the snow that has blown around--I thought it looked cool:

Today I tackled the driveway since the high winds died down.  It is still very cold, around 0 with the wind chill, but I managed to shovel/sweep a path from the garage door to the street:

The layer underneath is ice with a little snow stuck to the top.  I tried to shovel early so that I could put a layer of salt down while the sun was out and now I can see patches of pavement.

The official measurement here was 8 inches and thankfully, the wind blew a lot of it off of the driveway yesterday, so I had between 6 and 2 inches to shovel. 

The streets still haven't been plowed and even though they don't look too bad in the photos below, they are very slick:

So, we have another day off of school because most of the roads are not safe to drive on.  Of course, there are idiots who try to get out there in their four wheel drive trucks even though they don't need to be anywhere.  I cannot tell you how many of those morons I have seen sliding around just in my neighborhood.  Stay off of the roads so that they can be plowed and so that you don't get stuck or have an accident!

I really hope that we're able to get out of here by Friday--I'm getting a little sick of being at home.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hazy Shade of Winter: Oklahoma 2011

Well, gentle readers, it seems that even moving to Oklahoma did not keep us from having to deal with major winter weather.  There is far less snow here than we usually had in New York, but under the snow is a layer of the Midwest's winter specialty: ice.  Also, it is extremely windy, so we have very high snow drifts.  This is Kenna this morning, ready to go out for the first time:

She refused to go any further than this:

I made her try again, but she was right back at the door one second later:

I finally got her to go out in the front yard, but she wasn't happy about it.  She hates snow blowing in her face and the winds are very high, so the poor thing was having trouble even walking around outside.  This is our front yard--the street is out there somewhere :

The garage--thankfully, the snow has been blowing in the opposite direction.  I was worried that I would have a wall of snow in front of the garage door, but it isn't too bad.

The driveway that I have to unearth (unsnow?) at some point:

The house:

The drifts are in the back yard, for the most part, and they keep getting taller:

On the right side, that little handle belongs to my Radio Flyer red wagon.  The rest of it is buried for now:

It looks like the snow is over at this point, although the wind is still blowing like crazy.  I haven't seen any snow plows yet; I imagine that they have enough on their hands just trying to keep the main roads clear of blowing snow and it's difficult to treat the layer of ice beneath with winds like this.  The sun is finally out, but it's not even 20 degrees (without wind chill), so I doubt the sun will do much to help the situation.

I really hope I don't have to dig myself out and drive to campus tomorrow--I tried to start shoveling the driveway, but that is useless because the snow just blows right back.  So, I can't really effectively shovel until the wind stops blowing, which won't be until the middle of the night and I would rather not be out there at 5 a.m. shoveling so that I can teach my 8:00 class.  We shall see...