Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fast Car

My check engine light came on last Sunday, which is never a good sign. So, I took it to the Chevy dealership this morning to have them fix the bum spark plug wires that I had received a recall notice for and to have them tell me why the check engine light was on. I was told that I needed a new catalytic converter and that it would cost me around $700 to replace, so I made an appointment to take it in on Thursday morning.

Since the catalytic converter was replaced in 2006 under warranty and I later discovered a recall notice in the glove compartment that had to do with the catalytic converter, I was having a hard time understanding why I had to pay to replace this part. When I told Father of Ken how much they wanted to charge me, he told me to make some phone calls and see if I could find a better deal. On a whim, I Googled "2002 Chevy Impala catalytic converter" and found out that there is more to the story than the dealership wanted to tell me.

I had asked them why I would need to replace a catalytic converter that is less than 3 years old and they told me that they couldn't find my records because the dealership has changed owners. The guy told me that it wasn't covered under warranty anyway and dismissed me, which was annoying.

Apparently, you just have to ask a few questions of the right people. GM has a "campaign" for catalytic converters--not a recall or an extended warranty. Basically, they know that the catalytic converters they put into some 2001-2002 model Chevrolets suck and they have extended the "free replacement period" to 10 years or 120,000 miles. In order to find out if you qualify, you have to call the GM Customer Assistance Center, give them your VIN and keep asking if you qualify for the "campaign" until they relent. The woman that I spoke to tried to tell me that I didn't qualify for a free replacement because the car is no longer under warranty. I kept telling her that I thought I qualified for the campaign and finally she put me on hold for about five minutes and came back to tell me that indeed, I do.

So, I just have to take my service request number to the dealership on Thursday when I take the car and they will replace it for free. Oh, and I'm at 119, 755 miles right now, so I'm getting in right under the wire.

The moral of the story is to keep asking questions and doing research if you think that you're right about something like this. It took some time, but it saved me a lot of money.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wild Thing: The June 2009 Edition

In the continuing tales of the animal life near my house, I bring you the newest addition to the neighborhood, a baby deer (click on the photos to enlarge them):

Just a cool picture of the creek after a shower last week:

More baby deer:

Learning to navigate the difficult terrain:

We also had another visitor this week. I present to you McKenna's new nemesis, Greg the Groundhog:

He's a little hard to see, but he's there, sticking his head up above the bank of the creek. He teased McKenna for an entire day--she sat on the porch waiting for him, he would pop his head up, she would bark like crazy, he would quickly return to his hole, she would wait again, and on and on it went.

Now, if Kenna could only catch that groundhog, I'll bet one of my new cookbooks from Aunt and Uncle of Ken would have a good recipe for groundhog pie...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reminiscing: Ozark "Vittles" -- Original Hillfolk Recipes

You thought I was joking, right? Well, this is proof that there really is a cookbook called Ozark "Vittles."

I grew up in southeast Kansas, not far from the Ozarks. Please do not let this cookbook stand as your only representation of the Ozarks if you have never visited. It really is a great place. I have never heard food referred to as "vittles" in the Ozarks. Frankly, I would advise against the use of that term in reference to any kind of decent food. Fortunately, nothing in this cookbook is what I would call "decent food," so I suppose that "vittles" is an apt description.

As always, click on the images to enlarge them.

When one opens the book, one is greeted by this photograph of the author:
Holy cow, Bobsie! Looking at this photo reminds me of the scene in A League of Their Own when they are introducing all of the Rockford Peaches and they get to Marla Hooch. They pan way out and the announcer says, "Marla Hooch........what a hitter!" If you've never seen the movie, you should see it immediately.

No photos in this cookbook other than the one of Bobsie, unfortunately. No, gentle readers, this time around it is the recipes themselves that shine--the titles are particularly well written and don't forget to read the words of Ozark wisdom at the bottom of each page.

Geronimo's Hog Jowl and Black-Eyed Peas:

Pioneer Squirrel Pie:

Hunters Stuffed Peppers and Old-Fashioned Turnip Greens and Pot Likker:

And no, I don't know what "pot likker" is...

Preacher Pie:

I certainly hope that you have enjoyed this foray into the cuisine of the Ozarks as much as I have. I'm off to bake up some squirrel pie and make some pot likker.

Reminiscing: Waring Cook Book for the 14 Speed Blendor

I haven't run out of crazy cookbooks yet, gentle readers. Here's the next in the series:

I really think that it would have been a good idea for the suits at Waring to spring for some color photography. The only photos in the book are at the beginning of each section and, as you will see, some of these pictures would benefit from a little more detail to distinguish the food made in the Waring "blendor" from poo.

The first example is the photo that begins the section on baby food:

This one isn't much better--it's just a different consistency:

This is almost too horrible for words. The photo below goes along with the recipe on the next page for a "Chicken Ring." And what do you think holds all of this together? If you guessed gelatin, you would be right. Seriously, how many disgusting recipes involving gelatin were invented in the 1960s?

What IS that crap in the white bowl? For that matter, what IS that crap in the red bowl?
That's it for this one--as I said, the Waring people were cheap and didn't include much photography.

Next up: Ozark 'Vittles.' I can't believe I just typed that...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Reminiscing: Prize Dairy Dishes

And now, gentle readers, I present to you Prize Dairy Dishes:

I have never understood why for cow illustrations and cow Halloween costumes, people feel the need to include udders. It isn't like you would be confused about what kind of animal it is and it would be more tasteful without them.

The illustrations in this book are fantastic--click on the pictures to enlarge them.

I love the first paragraph on page three about husbands and cream sauces. I also love the sentence in the last paragraph about using butter: "Use butter, the fat of milk, generously, too."

In this family, I guess everyone has to wear a bib to eat soup:

The dinner suggestion at the bottom of page six sounds fabulous: grilled frankfurters with macaroni and cheese.

It took me a while to figure out that the illustration on the far left goes with the recipe for deviled shrimp. And that recipe for creamed dried beef in celery shells sure sounds elegant, classy, and tasty.

This is my absolute favorite illustration in the entire book--that potato is awesome with the gun in his belt and the eye patch! And look at the ear of corn! Sailing in a saucepan! With a special foodie pirate flag! And the potato is rowing with a spoon! Look at that lazy spinach and cabbage just riding along without helping the potato and the corn!

I have several questions about this page. First of all, why is this woman wearing a mortar board? Also, why are there so many recipes from the 1940s and 1950s that incorporate tongue (diced tongue is an option for the meat in the Swiss salad) and gelatin (in the cottage cheese ring salad)? And cottage cheese mixed in with gelatin? Ew.

The man at the North Pole is winking at us!

Again with the cottage cheese? How about tongue cake--isn't there a recipe for that? I don't quite understand the magician breaking an egg into his hat and the bunnies bouncing around. Am I missing something? Also, if that bunny on at the top is supposed to be a bunny chef, I would prefer that he not only wear an apron, but also a shirt if he is going to be baking for me.

I think this cow has had a little too much egg nog and check out that guy's mutant right hand... The woman's skirt looks suspiciously like the ear of corn several pages before.

These cheese and bacon double deckers sound really good to me, but I think that little kid on the top of the right hand page is trying to sneak away with my share.

Next Up: The Waring Cookbook for the 14 Speed Blendor.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reminiscing: The Presto Cooker Recipe Book

After the delicious sounding recipes from Gebhardt's, I thought that I would follow up with some from the Presto Cooker Recipe Book, which was published in 1947.

Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them if you want a closer look.

This book begins with a photo of the ultra modern National Pressure Cooker Company kitchen:

The illustrations in this book are what really sells it for me. Doesn't this look like a tasty dinner? Also, you can read about the "scientific saucepan" on this page.

One of my favorite features of this book is the table decor in the color photos. Often, they match the food (as you will see), but sometimes it is completely random. Here is a giraffe sitting next to a bowl of hot cereal. What exactly is the connection here?

How about a tasty bowl of soup? I love the salt and pepper shakers in the bottom right corner:

Here we are. Everyone knows that when you eat meat, the most appropriate table decoration is a miniature ceramic figurine of the animal from which the meat came. Ham? Roast? Stew? Pig. Cow. Cow. This reminds me of Mary and Larry's wedding reception when another member of the wedding party came back from the buffet and said "Pork, chicken, beef--three dead animals on one plate!"

I chose a few recipes from this section of the book to include here. How about some stuffed beef heart? What kind of table decoration goes with that? A cow figurine and one of those heart-shaped stress relievers from the American Heart Association?

This book not only offers a recipe for fresh tongue, but it also offers a recipe for smoked tongue! I noticed that there were no pictures to go with these recipes.

As for table decor, perhaps some of these would be appropriate?

Here again, the table decorations are so thoughtful and creative. A fishing net-like table cloth and a ceramic figurine of some guy with a cart, which is filled with fresh shrimp.

If you're having chicken, you have to have a set of chicken salt and pepper shakers.

And this one is for Larry--I thought he'd like to have this as a special Father's Day treat:


What a festive holiday table! A couple of candles and a sprig of obviously fake greenery. Don't go too crazy Presto people...

I can't even tell what some of this is supposed to be:

Just in case you haven't learned enough from the Presto people about table setting and decoration, they have provided two more pages of invaluable advice at the end of the book.

I think my favorite part is the sage advice at the bottom of the second page: "The secret of good service is serving foods appetizingly, thoughtfully, and cheerfully." Really? I'm not sure they succeeded based on the photos they included in the cookbook.

The end. Next up: Prize Dairy Dishes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reminiscing: Mexican Cookery for American Homes

Hola, gentle readers! Courtesy of Aunt and Uncle of Ken, I have been gifted with an array of old cookbooks that are nothing short of hilarious to read. I do not know how they obtained these gems, but I am grateful for the joy they have brought to my life.

Today's offering is Mexican Cookery for American Homes from Gebhardt's in San Antonio, Texas. There is no exact publication date, but one of the advertisements has a copyright date of 1943.
This cookbook has a few fantastic color illustrations. Keep an eye out for the salt and pepper shakers that appear on the "tablescapes." Above, you will see small cacti, I think.

As for recipes, I scanned a few that I thought you would especially enjoy. On page seven of this book, right at the top, there is a recipe for "Mexican Style Tongue." Mmmmm...

For those of you who prefer lighter fare, perhaps you would be interested in this recipe for "Gebhardt's Bean Salad:"

The picture really sells it for me.

Those of you with more adventurous palettes might be interested in this recipe for "Deviled Eggs in Aspic:"

Doesn't it look tasty? Father of Ken has been an aficionado of tomato aspic since Grandmother of Ken (she of the Ranch Jell-O fame) made some for him in the seventies.

I just can't tell you how good this looks.

Here's the rest of the tomato aspic recipe and a recipe for "Sombrero Salad"--isn't it cute? I also love the table decorations:

That's not all, gentle readers. The next section of the book covers main dishes such as "Boiled Spaghetti" (top photo) and "Chili with Eggs" (bottom photo):

I think this might be my absolute favorite part of the whole book. There is just something so appetizing about this photograph of appetizers. It reminds me of the part of Bridget Jones where Mark Darcy remarks, "If you ask me, there's not enough blue food."

Seriously, what is up with the blue stuff on the edge? And the presentation of the whole thing is just...there are no words.

That's it for Mexican Cookery--I hope you enjoyed it. Next up: the cookbook that came with the Presto Pressure Cooker in the 1950s.