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.