Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Mackinaw Peach

Let's take a break from the disgusting food of yesteryear and talk about something that tastes good. In honor of the arrival of The Chosen One (my new food processor) and in honor of Leah's birthday, I baked a peach pie to take with me to Maryland.
Here are the ingredients for the crust, so nicely put together by The Chosen One. One and a quarter cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a stick of frozen butter, and three tablespoons of ice water.

While the crust was chilling in the refrigerator, I put the peaches into boiling water for about 2 minutes:

Then, I plunged them into ice water to stop the cooking:

This made peeling the skin off very easy:

I used a recipe from my go-to cookbook for all basic recipes, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, for "Fresh Peach Pie:"

1 c. sugar
4 tbsp. flour
4 c. peeled and sliced fresh peaches
1 tbsp. lemon juice (I also used the zest)

Here is the filling in the shell, waiting for the top crust:

Note: I used a slotted spoon to put the peaches into the shell to reduce the amount of liquid in the final pie. My peaches were very juicy, so if you make this, be careful not to put everything into the shell if you have a lot of liquid.

Here's the pie with a lattice top:

I baked this at 425 degrees for ten minutes, then at 350 degrees for another 40-45 minutes, watching to make sure that the crust didn't brown too much.

You'll have to wait to find out if it was good or not until I get down to Maryland and let the birthday girl cut it.

I also made French bread to take with me because I wanted to try my new French bread pan that I got for my birthday (I may have snuck a few cloves of crushed garlic into the dough). Again, I used the recipe for "Crusty French Bread" in the Fannie Farmer cookbook. The ingredients and the process are fairly lengthy, so if you want the whole recipe, just leave a comment. Otherwise, here are some photos:

Finally, I baked a roll of icebox cookies that I had in the freezer and I also made some granola for Father of Ken. Since some people have expressed their interest in the recipe, here it is (roughly):

2 c. oats (I use old fashioned)
3/4 c. sliced almonds
3/4 c. sweetened shredded coconut
1/4-1/3 c. canola oil
1/4 c. honey

Mix everything together in a bowl, taste to make sure that it is sweet enough, sprinkle with a little bit of kosher salt (1/4 tsp. or so), and then spread into a single layer on a baking sheet:

Bake at 350 degrees at 5 minute intervals. Every five minutes, stir the granola and spread into an even layer again. Mine took 15 minutes total today, but some days, it takes 10. Keep an eye on it and take it out when it is golden brown:

Once it is cool, store in an airtight container.

Kenna, all of the food, and I are headed to Maryland this afternoon. This reminds me of when Brother of Ken and I used to go to Kansas City with our Grambi and Papaw in their old Ford Fairmont with a car full of food. We usually got to share the backseat with a ham or a turkey that we took to our relatives in the big city. Those were the days... Maybe I'll pick up a side of beef to take with me on my way out of town.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Reminiscing: Shortcut Cooking

Let me just say this: if this is what quickly prepared food looks like, put me down for hours in the kitchen every day. All the way from 1969, I bring you Shortcut Cooking:

One lesson that I have learned from reading all of these cookbooks is that titles really must be carefully considered. Here is another fine example of a poor choice of words: "Tuna Jackstraw Casserole." What is a jackstraw? This recipe uses shoestring potatoes, so why not call it "Tuna Shoestring Casserole?" It would make more sense. Then, I thought that maybe the recipe used Monterrey Jack cheese and that's why they used the word "jackstraw." No, no Jack cheese. Every. Single. Ingredient. In. This. Dish. Is. Canned. Or. Frozen. I think that when "time's a-flying" and my family is "starving," I'll serve tomato soup and grilled cheese. It is faster, healthier, and better tasting than this crap. Remember that you can click on the images to enlarge them.

Here, the authors of this cookbook have challenged themselves to make an entire menu out of items from the freezer:
There have clearly been some major advances in food photography since these cookbooks were published. Did people sit around trying to think of ways to make the food look worse than it tasted? I can just imagine these conferences:

Suit #1: Fake wood, lots of fake wood.

Suit #2: Yes! And let's try to slip a voodoo doll into the top left corner and see if anyone notices.

Suit #3: Um, guys? I think we're getting a little off track...

Suit #1: No, no--this is great! Let's carry the yellow of the hard cooked egg yolk throughout the table--get salt and pepper shakers in mustard yellow, also a few plates.

Suit #2: Yes! And be sure that you include something in the shape of a ring. We are under strict orders to include as many "ring" dishes as possible.

Suit #3: (Finally getting into the spirit) Yeah! Throw some maraschino cherries on the platter with the pork chops!

Again, recipe titles are important. "Corned-beef Bunwiches?" Put the corned beef and the rest of the filling in a bun and then freeze the whole thing? Why, for the love of God, if you wanted to eat corned beef, wouldn't you just make the filling and freeze it and then put it on fresh buns when you were ready to eat the corned beef? Also, "High-Hat Meat Loaves?" I love food that is assembled to look like a hat, especially when part of the dish involves instant mashed potatoes (because mashed potatoes take so long to make from scratch).

Need I comment on the first recipe? It is difficult to make a recipe title racist and sexist at the same time. That takes talent...

Chicken pot pie. Using canned chicken in gravy. Ew.

Nothing says tasty like a "Bean Banquet." I love that you can use any kind of luncheon meat, as long as it is canned, in addition to the tiny pieces of "pork" (i.e. fat) in the canned pork and beans. "Bologna Bake:" another use for giant hunks of bologna, hard cooked eggs, mayonnaise, and the potato chips at the bottom of the bag. "Sausage-Noodle Treat"--the word "treat" in a recipe title falls into the same category as "surprise" and "delight." For these recipes, all one need do is close one's eyes, open one's pantry, pull out four to six items at random, and combine all of the ingredients with rice or noodles. I can't even write about "Soup-kettle Supper" without retching. Then, the icing on the cake is the recipe for "Chicken Livers Stroganoff" at the bottom of the page.

What a delicious looking feast!

I'll let this one speak for itself (be sure to read the caption):

Leah, I know it isn't Rosy Perfection Salad, but I thought you'd like this anyway:

It includes sauerkraut and you have the option of serving it with horseradish mayonnaise.

Lemon mayonnaise? Ew... One time, Grandmother of Ken made a fruit salad that had Father of Ken salivating. She insisted that it have some kind of dressing and before anyone could stop her, she dumped oil and vinegar all over it. We always wondered where she got the idea, but I think it might have come from one of these cookbooks. I cannot understand why there are so many recipes for fruit salads with dressing, especially ones that involve mayonnaise.

Note: As I write this with the cookbook next to me on the couch, McKenna is licking the cookbook. Perhaps some residual Vienna sausage joos?

I don't know what to say about these recipes:

Here, they have kindly provided a list of substitutions. Some of them make sense. One of them does not. If you do not have one whole egg, you can substitute two egg yolks, according to this chart. How, exactly, would you have two yolks and not have a whole egg? I suppose they could be referring to yolks that you had saved, but is that something that a lot of people always have around in case of an emergency? How about if you're out of an ingredient, you nicely inform Father of Ken and tell him that if he can make a quick trip to the store to get what you need, you'll let him lick the beaters and the bowl?

That's all, gentle readers, until I dig up some more musty cookbooks from the days of yore. I hope you have enjoyed these installments of "Reminiscing."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reminiscing: So Easy Recipes

Ladies and gentlemen...from the fine folks at the National Canners Association in Washington, D.C. circa 1953, I present So Easy Recipes. I don't get the title at all. Yes, the recipes are easy because they only require a can opener and an open mind, but what's with the "so easy" part?

I think I must be missing something, because the idea of pieces of canned seafood floating in canned chilled consomme on a piece of lettuce shoved into a cocktail glass and then garnished with lemon and cocktail sauce does not sound appealing in the least. I guess I can be grateful that this recipe calls for chilled consomme rather than jellied consomme. I didn't even know you could get canned lobster--that has to be awful. And the picture of the "Five O'clock Fete" looks disgusting.

Here, I would like to point out an idea for a refreshing summer treat--vanilla ice cream mixed with grape juice and carbonated water. Even better, try it with prune juice!

Because I know that Leah is always looking for "ball" recipes, I give you "Party Tuna Balls:"

The names of these recipes--oh, the humanity!

These two pages are a treasure trove of tasty entrees, including "Dad's Hearty Rarebit," pictured at the top. I know I want to take a big scoop of that and put it on a toast point right now. Again with the "rings"? "Corned Beef Hash Ring" and "Beef Stew in Almond Rice Ring." Much like dishes with the words "delight" or "surprise" in the title, recipes with the word "ring" in the title are sure to contain one or all of the following pantry staples of the 1950s: rice (preferably quick cooking), canned hash, any kind of canned vegetable or canned soup, or any kind of canned protein. The basic idea is to dump the rice and anything else that you can scare up into a mold and bake it until each grain of rice is roughly the size of an almond. Then, dump some other warmed up crap from a can in the middle and plop it on the table for dinner.

I just can't tell you how much my mouth is watering. Here we have "Chili con Carne over Hush Puppies," "Corn Au Gratin in Hash Nest," "Macaroni and Cheese Special," and "Asparagus Normandy with Pork Chops." So many questions. First of all, where does one find canned tamales? Second, where does one find canned macaroni with cheese sauce? Third, why did people in the 1950s have to top everything with sliced hard cooked eggs?

Here, the fine people at the National Canners Association have combined the idea of a loaf with the idea of a ring and the result is this scrumptious "Ham Loaf Ring with Creamed Peas:"

Another loaf and another mold--"Double Decker Salmon Loaf" and "Molded Tomato Salad:"

Nothing says "refreshing" like canned mixed vegetables mixed with fresh onion and celery with a combination of French dressing and mayonnaise slathered on top. But that's not all--here comes the "hearty" part: slivered canned tongue. Mmm... Why so much tongue and why must it be canned?

These salads are just so awful. They get worse. The "Fruit Salad Bowl" includes canned fruit, lettuce, and American cheese with a fruit juice French dressing. The "Stuffed Peach Salad" combines mayonnaise with raisins and nuts to use as filling for canned peach halves which are sprinkled with cheese.

The photograph below illustrates "Canned Beef Stew in Almond Rice Ring." I don't know why it is shown on the next to last page, far from the recipe, but I thought you would enjoy seeing the final product nonetheless.

Next time, I'll bring you more ways to decrease your time in the kitchen and engage your gag reflex with Shortcut Cooking.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reminiscing: Sunday Night Suppers

Mother and Father of Ken generously gifted me with three more cookbooks to add to my collection for my birthday. Since I know that many of you are looking for ways to use up the surplus gelatin in your pantries and new ways to serve tongue, I have scanned some of the pages of these cookbooks for your enjoyment. Today's offering is Sunday Night Suppers:

Click on the image below (or any of the others) to enlarge it so that you can read all about the history of chafing dishes, harking back to the "glittering 90s" (1890s, that is):

First, a new take on chicken livers, this time with pineapple and almonds. I am certain that the photograph does not do justice to this succulent dish:

I love the illustrations on this page--the guy hunting for a rabbit to make into Welsh Rabbit I, Welsh Rabbit II, Welsh Rabbit III, or Glorified Welsh Rabbit. I also love the stereotypical Swiss girl on the next page.

Here, the writers from the Culinary Arts Institute have written some fine words in praise of casseroles as a choice for Sunday night suppers. They also provide great recipes for delicious casseroles such as "Noodle-Frankfurter Casserole." The word "frankfurter" always makes me laugh because it makes me think of the children's book Zag: A Search Through the Alphabet and the three furious frankfurters in the frying pan. I do like a good frankfurter, but not in a casserole, just in a bun.

The idea of a 3 lb. roll of bologna is disgusting to me. The idea of surrounding it with scrambled eggs (one of the few foods that I absolutely refuse to eat unless I am forced to do so) is even worse:

The "Quick Cheese Loaf" on the right unappetizing. Process Swiss cheese, poppy seeds, lemon juice, MSG...ew.

The one color picture in the whole book really puts these recipes in a positive light. From the top left, we have avocado tomato cups, then make-it-yourself sundaes on the right, creamed ham in potato cups on the bottom right, and "Savory Roast Ham" on the bottom left. It looks like that ham has been cooked to death. Can you imagine trying to hack through the layer of hardened caramel? I hope they had an electric knife.

I love the introduction to the "Sky-High Braunschweiger Towers": "Here's a way to make that modest old stand-by, liver sausage, into an impressive hot supper dish. It's handsome, it's delicious, it's easy!" Remind me not to try this. And "Summertime Supper Spread with Spicy Minted Prunes"?

Check out the amount of time you are supposed to cook these green beans--15 to 20 minutes! I know I love a good plate of gray beans with the texture of baby food. I am also intrigued by the recipe for "Broccoli with Fluffy Sauce." "Fluffy sauce" is made from mayonnaise, pickle relish, pimento, lemon juice, celery salt, cayenne pepper, and beaten egg whites. Ugh.

The photograph below illustrates the recipe for club salad with jellied consomme. Why did people like jiggly textures in the 1950s? There is also a recipe for "Creamy Lemon Mayonnaise" at the bottom of the page that includes sweetened whipped cream.

The choice of words here is just unfortunate: "Molded Ham Salad" and "Tuna Delight Salad Mold." I really don't think that "mold" should be in any recipe title. Also, the word "delight" or "surprise" in a recipe title is a clear indication that the dish will include one or all of the following pantry staples of the 1950s: gelatin (any flavor), canned soup (any flavor), processed meat and/or cheese, mayonnaise, evaporated milk, or canned pineapple.

In what world do cherries, blue cheese, olives, and mayonnaise go together?

I guess the gentleman in the lower right corner really enjoyed the "Grapefruit Cake" that his new bride baked for him.

If you can stomach it, gentle readers, the next installment will be So Easy Recipes (And So Good, Too).