Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Heidi & Betty

And you thought baked beans and sausage weren't the least bit French? Betty & I have paired up to prove you wrong.

Behold Betty Crocker's Baked Bean & Sausage Casserole aka Middle Income French Cooking!

This casserole is, per Betty, an "...appetizing adaptation of the French 'cassoulet.'"

Put that in your Pyrex, Julie & Julia!

I did. It was savory and satisfying. And looked pretty haute and hearty in my fave dish.

Baked Bean & Sausage Casserole
Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book (c) 1961

1pkg [10 oz] frozen Lima beans - oooooh, Peruvian legumes!
3 cans [16oz] baked beans
2 cans [20oz] kidney beans, drained
1 lb Italian link sausage or pork link sausage
1/2 lb smoked ham cut into 1/2" cubes
1 T salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t mustard
1 can [8oz] tomato sauce
1/2 c catsup
1/4 c brown sugar [packed]
1 medium onion, chopped
Cook Lima beans 10 minutes. Drain; mix with baked beans and kidney beans. Place sausage in skillet; add small amount of water. Cover and simmer 5 min. Drain; pan fry until brown. Don't prick [how dare you!]. Cut each sausage into 2 or 3 pieces. Heat oven to 400 degrees [mod. hot]. Mix sausage, ham and beans. Combine seasonings, tomato sauce, catsup, brown sugar and onion; add to beans. Pour into 3qt baking dish. Bake uncovered 1 hr. [10-12 servings]

Hmmm...I halved this recipe. Mostly because the exotic Lima beans make my innards quiver. Blech. And because I just wasn't convinced that 10-12 servings of this "cassoulet" would fit into my adorable Pyrex. I also squeezed the sausage links from the meat counter out of the casings before I cooked 'em - hoping to release more flavor into the dish. I think it worked. One more thing, I roasted a few rubbery carrots from my veggie drawer and added them to the mix. With a better than 50% chance that my kids will lose their 20/20 vision soon, we can always use the extra beta carotene.

And if you were wondering - this dish was better than good. A perfect Pyrex cassoulet for a crisp, clear fall day.

I [heart] Betty. And that's not a crock.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Camper

Crisp weather, crazy friends and weenies on a stick.
Life was damn dandy this weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hard Knox

Well, now that you mention it - after trailing this skinny dame for blocks, I suppose I could stand to lose a few f*&#@*g pounds. Thanks.

Paging through one of my retro books a few weeks back, this dandy fell in my lap. Maybe it was a sign. I did enjoy one [way] too many brews on the deck with my gent this summer. It was worth a look, right?

Was it ever. The good people at Knox Gelatine had a plan. And it went a little something like this:
Drink a "sneak snack" 3 times daily!

Cold: Empty 1 envelope of Knox Gelatine in 1/2 cup of orange juice, other fruit or vegetable juices or water, not iced. Stir briskly. Drink quickly. [...because your intestine does not double as a jello mold]

Hot: Sprinkle 1 envelope of Knox Gelatine on 1/4 cup cold water to soften. Add 1 bouillon cube and 3/4 cup boiling water. Stir until gelatine and bouilon cube are thoroughtly dissolved. 3/4 cup of any very hot broth or coffee may be used in place of bouillon. [...take that, starbucks]

The "Protein Booster": Use instant nonfat milk and mix 1 envelope Knox Gelatine with 1/3 cup milk powder. Fill with cold water. Stir briskly until milk is dissolved. Drink quickly. [Remember those cement mixer shots in college? A kin to the "Protein Booster," no doubt]

Oh, and one more thing. If you really want to lose weight, per Knox, you're going to have to exercize.Don't fret. Knox's personal trainer has illustrated all the right moves to make your abs, thighs, arms, legs and back feel the burn and tighen up what the gelatine might have missed.

I prefer to watch my wiggle, thankyouverymuch.

Say what?


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dishing on Pyrex!

I was never a fan of leftovers growing up. Every time my mom pulled a Pyrex dish from the fridge my brother and I groaned. The clink of the cover unveiling last night's chicken and rice - or any casserole - sent our eyes rolling.

Now, when I hear that familiar glass-on-glass clatter, I get a little excited. Notsomuch about the leftovers, I still have a bit of a fresh fettish, but the dish.

Last Christmas I unwrapped a cheery, daisy-yellow covered Pyrex dish. A gift from my mom. The woman who presented us with leftovers had picked a perfect present for her kitschy daughter [she has remarkable retro taste herself]. I love it. So much I was at first afraid to use it. But since glass kicks Glad resealable containers' asses around the block, it was a golden opportunity to go green in the fridge [eco-style, not moldy].

Last Sunday I found a commrade for my casserole dish. This summery blue-sky divided Pyrex dish with a trivet-ish carrier was on sale for halfsies at my favorite flea market mall. You can't often put a price on kitsch, but for $3.25 I was not going to let this find find itself left over in booth 54.

I smell a casserole recipe. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pillsbury's Best?!

I think I might do it. I just might be beating my friend Meghan's due date with a cookie delivery this week. Tonight I baked [with warm baby thoughts, and between Emmy awards for best supporting actor & actress in a comedy] a batch of Pillsbury's Best cookies from their 4th Annual Grand National Bake-Off. Circa 1953. Hey. That makes this the 50th anni of the bake-off!

Sans the flour sifting [I am not a purist when it comes to directions], I baked Mrs. John L. Parisot [oh, to be void of a first name and settle for the identity of a Mrs.] from Marseilles, Illinois' senior-category-winning recipe for...

Chocolate Pixie Cookies*

Per Pillsbury, these dandies "...taste like black walnut brownie bars and look like old-time molasses cookies with 'cracked' tops. Mrs. Parisot outlines the cracks by rolling the cookies in confectioner's sugar before baking."

I love it when a recipe calls for "confectioner's sugar" - it makes me feel a little like Willie Wonka [I do have sunglasses like the Burton-inspired, dazzingly-Depp character]. It takes a real artist to be a confectioner, right? Then dust me in it and call me madame artist! An 88cent bag of powdered sugar can really charge your kitchen ego.

On to the missus' award-winning recipe for Chocolate Pixies:
Sift together
2 c Pillsbury's Best Enriched Flour
2 t Calumet Baking Powder [there they are again. baking powder pimps]
1/2 t salt
1/4 c butter or margarine and
4 oz chocolate in saucepan over low heat - remove from heat and cool slightly
Blend in
2 c sugar
4 eggs, one at a time, beat for 1 minute
1/2 c black walnuts or English walnuts, chopped, and the dry ingredients. Mix well. Chill at least 15 minutes [or an entire episode of Mad Men]
into balls using 1 T of dough for each. Roll in confectioner's sugar. Place on greased baking sheets [crap. I forgot the greased sheet part. you shouldn't]
Bake in slow oven [huh? is that politically correct?] at 300 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
*be warned - you will have intent to lick the bowl

The cookie dough resembled brownie batter. Really resembled it. So much that I chilled it for an additional 15 minutes and stuck the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl in the fridge in between balling. I also liberally [damn near socialist-ly] dusted my fingers with confectioner's sugar before rolling the sticky, chocolatey dough into lopsided, funky shapes that loosely resembled spheres. Once they had their 18-20 minutes of hatha baking, they were perfectly perfect. Round, crinkly, chocolatey, and walnut-y.

Meghan, may this batch of Pixies ease your labor pains and celebrate your baby joys!

Junket - Debunked

Lidian - you threw me into a fit of gaffaws with your definition! No surprise there. Yay for jell-o and all things suspended and molded within it!

I'm guessing everyone else was defining it in their head. No need to hold back next time! Let it out. There is an anonymous button on the blog - don't be afraid to use it!

Alrighty. I'm poised to share Betty, defined. Junket is described in the New Picture Cook Book, and I quote, as -
"A milk dessert coagulated by rennet; sweetened and flavored."

Take into consideration rennet is essentially a cluster of au natural enzymes from the stomach of a mammal. It makes cheese, people. But it doesn't make cheese sound good. Not on a cracker. Not anywhere.

Such is the high-def of junket. Chosen purely by me for it's fab descriptors: coagulated and rennet. Mmm. You might want to skip the dairy course of your Sunday dinner.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kitschen Feast Balderdash

Quick! Let's play a game. Our favorite fam game of questionable definitions is Balderdash. Familiar? Define [in your own wild, witty words] the following retro cooking vocab word:


I'll give up the real definition tonight. One hint: Ewww.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Ode to Meal Planning & Table Service

Something soft and something crisp,
Should always go together,
And something hot with something cold,
No matter what the weather;
Serve bland foods with tangy sauce,
And garnish them with green,
If you will use these simple rules,
You'll be your family's queen!

-Betty Crocker's NEW PICTURE Cook Book (c)1961

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Friend Meghan...

...has a baby in her belly. A boy baby. And it's been said that his meet and greet is scheduled for 9/21. As a sweet treat to Meghan I offered up a baker's dozen cookies of her choice from the 1953 Pillsbury 4th Grand National Prize-Winning Recipe Cook Book. Gee, that bake-off is swell. I can imagine those women in pearls, heels and aprons tripping over each other to transfer their original recipe to the dandy new oven ranges. Here were her choices:

Peanut Butter Apple Cookies
Apricot Thins
Almond Coconut Twinkles
Chocolate Pixies

Being a fan of the Renaissance Festival, [and a bit of a Renaissance woman herself] Meghan opted for Chocolate Pixies. Yay for pixies. Yay for me! I get to lick the bowl.

So we're on for the great race: Due Date v. Delivery Date

Damn. My follow-through is not so good. But like the boy baby in her belly, this delivery is a promise I must keep.

Will I deliver the Chocolate Pixies circa '53 to Meghan's doorstep BEFORE baby is due? The race for this win-win-win [win 1: cookies guilt-free pre-baby; win 2: cookies to celebrate post-baby; win 3: did I mention I get to gorge myself on Chocolate Pixie batter?] is ON!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kitschen Know-How

Behold the busy gal's all-around kitschy kitchen know-how. And how.

Neighbor Brad brought his mom's beaut of a Betty Crocker cookbook - Betty Crocker's NEW PICTURE Cook Book circa '61 to be exact - by tonight for me to borrow and it's begging me to share its secrets. It's best that we revel in this retro bible in bites.

Tonight? Take note, happy homemakers, as I spin for you VERBATIM my favorite tips of Betty's tabbed...

  • If you have a freezer, make several cakes, pies, cookies, main dishes or sandwiches at a time and freeze some for future use.
  • Plan and organize daily work while working with hands [peeling potatoes, sweeping floor, etc.]
  • Every morning before breakfast comb hair, apply makeup and a dash of cologne. Does wonders for your morale and your family's too!
  • Think pleasant thoughts while working and a chore will become a "labor of love."
  • Have a hobby. Garden, paint pictures, look through magazines for home planting ideas, read a good book or attend club meetings. Be interested - and you'll always be interesting!
  • If you have a spare moment, sit down, close your eyes and just relax.
  • Alternate sitting-down tasks and standing-up tasks. Don't be on your feet too long.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and easy-fitting clothes while working.
  • Stand erect. Good posture prevents fatigue.
  • Have sink, work table, counter tops at a height that is comfortable to eliminate strain. If dishpan is too low, set it on a box.
  • Use a dust mop and long-handled dust pan. Use self-wringing mop to prevent stooping.*
*Repeat after me: I will not stoop. I will prevent fatigue. I will perform housework like a pearl and polyester-wearing robot.

This is just the tip of the tabbed advice from Betty. JUST THE TIP!

And by the way ladies, Brad's a single gent who could culinary convert you - or so he claims. Your call.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Frankly, I'm stuffed.

Sick of the wiener jokes? Oh well.

We did it. Friday we filled franks with three fixings you voted for. And they weren't too funky.

I split the dogs down the middle and unmercifully stuffed them with:
  • applesauce & grated cheese
  • pineapple [bah! my pimento was MIA]
  • mac 'n cheese [Kraft - lucky for us the blue box was on special at the market!]

The kids couldn't wait to get a forkful of ALL 3 flavors. Like Peter Brady, fan of porkchops & applesauce, Ben & Marge finished their pineapple-stuffed dogs. And went back for the mac 'n cheese and applesauce variations. Kids might turn their noses up at filet, but they go hog wild [groan] for mystery pig parts!

In hindsight of these hind end meats, I would have anted up for a bigger wiener [who wouldn't?]. A Ballpark frank, or even one from the butcher's counter [Fritz's comes to mind - mmmm!] to ensure more stuffing per serving.

I must admit, I did get a little satisfaction slitting them down the middle. So if you have some angst waiting in the wings, take it out on an 8pack of franks, not the loved ones under your roof.

The cookbook had some funkier options, and I'd be apt to adopt them next time, so should you:
  • ripe-olive spread
  • bananas & paprika
  • chopped prunes
  • sour cream & chives
  • spanish rice
  • cranberry sauce
  • sauerkraut & barbecue sauce
  • chunky-style peanut butter

Come on! What's the wurst that could happen?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vote for Frank!

Okay. I've got Stuffed Franks on the menu for Friday night. But, being fickle - and frank, I am looking to you & yours to vote for a filling. Cast one [or more] from this list of ILLogical possibilities from Good Housekeeping's hamburger & hotdog book:

  • chive, pimento & pineapple
  • prepared mincemeat
  • applesauce w/grated cheese
  • bananas & paprika
  • chopped prunes
  • potato salad
  • chunky-style peanut butter
  • baked beans
  • macaroni & cheese
  • orange marmalade
  • chopped canned mushrooms, sherry, bacon bits & parsley
Remember. I will [unfortunately?] be serving this to my children.

Okay. Cast a gut-busting vote for change, already.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Frank-ly Speaking...

Hot dog! I'm planning on a frank feast later this week. My inspiration? GH's hamburger & hot dog book [novel uses for America's favorite meats] and a pack of franks in the fridge. I am jonesing for some questionable, encased parts. You, too? Wa-hoo!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tag Sale - You're It!

Wow. I have been to the Holy Grail of tag sales & back again. Anyone who gets a hint of happy from scoring a fun, fabulous find at the flea market must make plans to pilgrimage to Sparks, Kansas every May & September for their amazing swap meet. It is not to be missed. Plan your life around it.

I tagged along [har] with my friends Mandy, Sarah & her mama Cathy for the first time this weekend [they've road tripped down K7 many times for this mega-event and I was happy to have them as my trash/treasure tour guides]. And I bought this stack of stuff for under $20!

In addition to the 100s of vendors & their dusty bounty we spied a walking hot dog, clown and Mexican bandit in full costume. There were no explanations. And that's okay.

I was so happy, I forgot about my allergies, my toothache, and my jeep. It was bliss.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blowing Smoke!

FYI - so you don't flake out, fam & friends. I have not started hitting the sticks. Those smokes are simply a retro prop too on target to ignore. I did not inhale. More than once.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cocktails & Carbs a Go-Go!

The gals came over last night and we all got our hands on some finger food.
Good Housekeeping's After 10 PM
book inspired these carb and mystery-meat laden eats:
Cube Crunchies
Toasted Olive Rolls*
& Party Ham Rolls
[the broiled tomatoes were a tasty add from Nicole: salt, pepper, parmesan topped on tomato halves & boiled for a few minutes in the oven range]
*if you want the recipes, post a note.

Olives prove to be a popular filler when it comes to 50s finger-foods. Perhaps they lend an exotic air, I'm sure it was a thrill for the lady of the house to find a little pitted piece of Italy canned and shelved at the local grocery. I know Amy, Nicole & I savored the salty slices infused in our deviled ham sandwiches and processed cheese pinwheels.

The daintiest appetizers were the "Cube Crunchies" - cubes of slightly under-ripe [my bad] avocado bathed in lime juice & French dressing before they shagged the potato chip crumbs and were speared by a frilly party pick. A poor man's nacho bite. A really, really poor man who dumpster dives.

After giving our taste buds a tour-de-carb we had to reach for a drink. Or two. Our cocktail of choice was "The Bennett". Presumably named after the crooner himself: a little boozy 1 1/2oz gin], schmoozy [the juice of 1/2 lime], bitter [3 shakes of bitters] and sweet [1 tsp powdered sugar].

After 10 PM - I pulled the piece-de-resistance from the icebox. And went after it with the back of a dinner knife. I'll admit, I feared its jelled release.

But soon enough, lo & behold THE MOLD!

The Orange-Ginger-Ale Ring wiggled its way onto our plates and into our recipe boxes. Granted, few molded salads are this refreshing, most are gag reflex-inducing, so I was glad to find something palatable to put on my friends' plates.

2 env unflavored gelatine [I opted for oranged flavored. Cheater.]
1/2 c fresh, frozen or canned lemon juice
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 c orange juice
2 c ginger ale
2 c orange sections [I used a lg can of mandarin oranges, drained.]
2/3 c chopped pecans
Cottage cheese
Crisp greens [I opted out. It was too late in the eve for lettuce.

Soften gelatine in lemon juice in glass measuring cup; set cup in pan of boiling water, stirring occasionally, til gelatine dissolved [yes, I did it old school, too]. Combine with sugar, salt, orange juice and ginger ale, stirring well. Refrigerate, stirring often til consistency of unbeaten egg white [yuk on that visual]. Fold in orange sections and nuts, pour into 1 1/4 qt ring mold. Refrigerate until firm. Unmold; fill center with cottage cheese, garnish with crisp greens.

At the end of the evening, it became obvious to Amy, Nicole & I over Bennetts and jello rings that the pre-diva ladies had the recipe for a good life: friends, cocktails and carbs.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A girl + her cookbooks

Simply me. Passing the time in a selfish way while I wait to coat the avocado cubes in French dressing and potato chip crumbs. And chat with my lady friends.

You would do the same thing.

Ladies Kitsch & Dish!

Anybody got a light?!

I can't wait - tonight's the night I'm treating a couple of classy, kitschy friends to a sampling of appetizers, gin & lime-laden cocktails a [gasp] molded salad and some skinny cigarettes!

My shopping list was pretty flaky. It included some standard ingredients and a few retro tried-and-true items. My favorite combo of grocery items? Avocado, French dressing, potato chips and lime. Soon I'll be cubing, rolling, dredging and toothpicking them together!

I'll keep you posted on what can happen after Ten P.M.!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kitschen by the Crapload!

I've been biting the thrifty bullet, but today I was packing heat. I took careful aim at the antique malls & markets in my eclectic [snazzy word for 'hood] corner of the city and hit the target.

Damn have I got some dinner planning to do.

My kitschen library has grown by 9 [& a snappy sewing case-turned-tote]! Feast your eyes on these varied volumes:
  • Better Homes & Gardens: Barbecues And Picnics [the newest in barbecuing!]
  • Better Homes & Gardens: Meat Cook Book
  • Better Homes & Gardens: Casserole Cook Book
  • Good Housekeeping's Hamburger & Hot Dog Book [novel uses for America's favorite meats]
  • Good Housekeeping's Around The World Cook Book [specialty recipes with a foreign flavor]
  • Good Housekeeping's Book of Breads & Sandwiches [dainty or hearty - for picnic and party]
  • Good Housekeeping's Book of Ice Creams & Cool Drinks [ideal refreshments for any time of year]
  • Culinary Arts Institute: Quick Dishes for the Woman in a Hurry
  • Culinary Arts Institute: The French Cookbook
Holy hell!! Where do I start?!?! HELP ME! I mean, after my next molded masterpiece, where do I go?!?

I asked Marge. But she just wanted to pose for a pic. Let's humor her:

Now, if it's not too much trouble [why in the hell haven't you people been commenting in droves?!] would you suggest a starting point for my bounty of books? I can't wait to ravish a new recipe that you'll relish [bad food humor]. So screw shy, let me know where you want me to go [within reason]! In the meantime, I'll be marveling at these vivid visions and their witty wordplay. Yay!