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14 September 2009 @ 08:13 pm
The Things You Find While You're Unpacking Your Life  
So, you know, I don't have time for recs right now. (Soon. Please, soon.) Unpacking has proved to be its own kind of entertaining, though.

We've uncovered a lot of things we just forgot we had - like, I remembered I have a reading cookbook collection. This is in addition to the books I actually cook things from; a reading cookbook is one that I have solely to marvel at, like the stunning A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband, which has characters and a plot, and what amazing characters and plot they are. It's mainly about Bettina and Bob. Bettina is the sort of person who can - does! - invite a group of friends over, insist that they hem all her tea towels and iron her linens, and then reward them with a quarter of a piece of white bread thinly spread with mayonnaise and topped with a single pimiento. You think I am kidding, but actually I'm understating it. She makes an entire chocolate cake with a part of a square of baking chocolate as the only source of chocolate flavor. She's constantly stretching meat by adding twice the volume of it in white sauce, thus making a sort of, say, thick tuna soup, which she then jellies. And serves with a pimiento (she has a weird pimiento fixation). She's lauded as frugal, but she may actually cross the line into crazy. Her husband, Bob, is singularly insipid. Also, BB and I think he's fucking his best friend - we think, in fact, that he married Bettina because of a conversation where his boss said, "Bob, people are - starting to talk. Maybe you should find a wife. Someone who doesn't really understand about sex." My point is: I would never, ever, ever make anything Bettina would. But I love this book. (I haven't even touched on the subplots, like Bettina's friend who can't ever remember to use a potholder. These people are special indeed, is my point.)

During the move, we found, and then the earthling explored, a series of cooking booklets I forgot I had. These were put together in the 1950s by some outfit that apparently didn't like food much. And these people were obsessed with Hungarians - it's not just that the only "ethnic" booklet is about Hungarian cooking (featuring recipes that mostly involve taking some cabbage and boiling it, which are apparently the "151 most flavorful Hungarian recipes," in which case I pity the Hungarians), it's that there are Hungarian recipes in the other booklets, too. Some of them seem to be sly digs at Hungarians. (The "gala" cake that Hungarians have only on festive occasions. But, the text seems to suggest, Americans can have it any time, because we are just that awesome! The 1950s were an interesting decade.) It's fabulous.

As the earthling flipped through the books, we did, too, and Best Beloved found a photo (all the photos in these are singularly unappetizing - like, you would never, ever eat anything that looked like that if there were other people's toenails still available - that kind of thing) that had her absolutely RIVETED. "Wow," she said after a long moment. "It's like Cthulhu could arise from this at any minute."

"Don't be silly," I said, taking the book from her, and then I saw it. A sort of black, gleaming, uneven mass with scattered suckers on it. (The text claims they are sliced olives, but I know better.) "You're right," I said. And I couldn't look away. After a minute, I added, "I've looked into this thing too long. Now it's looking into me." I could feel it drawing my soul out of my body, I tell you. I truly wish I had a scanner, so I could unleash this photo on the internet. We'd be knee-deep in Elder Gods by lunchtime.

But even the non-evil photos are worthy of marvel - like, I have never seen a simple chocolate swirl cake with white frosting rendered so revolting; it's like someone frosted it with peppered mayonnaise - and there are also line drawings, which are their own kind of impressive. Like the one for the "Wellesley Fudge Cake," which is adorned with a picture of a devil. I am not surprised, frankly. Those Massachusetts college girls, with their demonic fudge cakes. I know how it is with them. (No, it isn't a devil's food cake. There's another recipe for that; it has a drawing of a girl being chased by a boy holding a snake. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, cookbook people!)

And the recipes themselves - well, it's very safe to say that I am never going to make any of them, unless of course someone hosts a Horrible Foods of the Twentieth Century potluck, in which case my Hungarian Green Bean Salad and I will be there with bells on. I also have a booklet entitled Creative Ways with Cottage Cheese (and its higher-fat companion, Cooking with Sour Cream and Buttermilk, featuring the most revolting photo of a fish dish I believe I have ever seen). Fear me.

The earthling is particularly fond of the soups booklet, and I'm not sure why. This is a booklet that contains a section called "Jiffy Soups," by which they mean: soup in cans. Seriously. A whole section on mixing cans of soup with other cans of soup. For example, you take a can of tomato soup and mix it with a can of pepper pot soup (Note for people who don't know what this is: you don't want to. Cow stomachs are involved.) and voila! You have tomato pepper pot soup. They suggest, for extra special specialness, that you make your canned soups with milk instead of water. Crazy!

I don't recall my family ever needing a recipe for mixing cans of soups - those nights were "Daddy doesn't feel like cooking, so we're having grilled cheese and soup, and you can mix the kinds if you want to" nights, and everyone rolled her own. (I, myself, do not believe in mixing soups. I was the abstainer in the mixed soups nights. I focused entirely on the grilled cheese, because my father made the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the world.) But apparently the fifties were a time when people didn't feel like they could get wild with canned soup unless they had guidelines.

Of course, this is also the booklet that features a recipe for Citrus Soup that involves taking grapefruit juice, mixing it with orange juice, and (optionally) adding whipped cream on top. In other words, it's a "soup" that is, you know, a beverage. I think they should have called this booklet Remedial Soups.

And I don't want you to think the booklets are my entire reading cookbook collection. No. I have a raw food cookbook that suggests that if we ever need some cruel and unusual punishment in a hurry, switching our prison system to a raw food diet would be the way to go. It features such concepts as "tacos" made entirely of provolone and cucumber. (If you're thinking that you didn't know cheese was allowed in a raw food diet, well, I didn't either. This book also has an entire section of gelatin-based recipes, which is not called Horrible Things in Jelly, for Extra Horror, but should be, so apparently skin and bones cooked in boiling water count as raw.) And a cookbook edited by Anne McCaffrey. And a tofu cookbook that was published back when no one in the US knew exactly what tofu was. (There is a helpful explanation in the introduction. If you read it, it will be some time before you can look directly at a block of tofu.)

If you need frightening recipes, in short, I am here for you. If you need fan fiction recommendations - that's going to be a few weeks.
 
 
 
¿es eso un libro de besos?darthfox on September 15th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
(If you're thinking that you didn't know cheese was allowed in a raw food diet, well, I didn't either. ... apparently skin and bones cooked in boiling water count as raw.)

Oh, dear god, when they say "raw", do they mean "cold"?!
tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 04:57 am (UTC)
I don't know. I mean - okay. At one point, I did some googling for something, and found a raw food website where people were semi-hysterical about Bragg's Liquid Aminos having been processed with CHEMICALS and therefore not truly being RAW, so I had this mental image of a raw food diet as being one that focused exclusively on things fresh from the ground, ideally with the soil still on. (The earthling would probably like this diet. Hmmm.) So this book is a little confusing to me.
nightcamedown: bakersnightcamedown on September 15th, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)
We moved recently as well, and I love seeing all the random things that I obviously thought I needed, but apparently didn't miss for the four years they were in storage, lol.

Old cookbooks are the best, though, especially the ones based almost entirely on making small modifications to pre-packaged foods. I have one from the sixties written especially for teen girls that, despite its cringe-inducing sexual politics, gave me the most ridiculously awesome recipe ever. Essentially it instructs you to buy chocolate cake mix and non-instant chocolate pudding mix, make the pudding, stir in the cake mix, top the whole thing with an entire bag of chocolate chips, and bake it. OMG SO MUCH CHOCOLATE GOODNESS.
Proactively Untwist Octagonal Hippopotamus Pants: ratatouille - tastydramaturgca on September 15th, 2009 04:26 am (UTC)
That is a brilliant recipe. I need to try it.
(no subject) - nightcamedown on September 15th, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 04:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - rosaleendhu on September 15th, 2009 05:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - nightcamedown on September 15th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mtgat on September 15th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - geeky_dani on September 15th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - nightcamedown on September 15th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - illariy on September 15th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Proactively Untwist Octagonal Hippopotamus Pants: ratatouille - tastydramaturgca on September 15th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
Aren't '50s cookbooks horrifying? The pictures are just... *shudders* Much better to stick to Julia Child and Alton Brown and Jacques Pepin.

(Seriously? Can soup mixed with can soup? Why would one do such a thing?)
tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC)
The pictures are indeed something to keep you up late at night, afraid to turn out the light because the Golden Upside-down Cake might come for you.

I assume you start mixing canned soup with other cans when you've eaten enough canned soup that the 3,000 flavors Campbell's offers (not an exact count) are all getting kind of boring.
Abyssisabyssinia4077 on September 15th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)
*shudders*
I worked for a while at a non-profit where people donated books for teachers/schools to come pick up for classrooms.

We once got a book donated from the late 1950's designed for the new bride to learn how to be a proper housewife, complete with a whole chapter on recipes and...the things they did with gelatin (particularly with gelatin AND meat) still give me nightmares.

I recycled that sucker before it could traumatize some poor 5th grader.
tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 05:01 am (UTC)
I am SO SADDENED by that, I can't even tell you. I would love to have that book! I mean, yay you for keeping it away from innocent children, most of whom are not really developmentally ready to face the horrors of our gelatinous past, but - oh, I want that book so very much. *pines*
Set phasers to fabulous!cincodemaygirl on September 15th, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
Am I alone in thinking that a Horrible Foods of the Twentieth Century potluck sounds really hilarious and fun? I have a recipe for a savory jello mold that looks like a mass grave core sample that I could bring!
Jillsjourney: Jensen in MBVjillsjourney on September 15th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC)
I LOLed so hard at "mass grave core sample" jello mold.
(no subject) - thefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 05:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - jenna_thorn on September 15th, 2009 01:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
je suis marxiste, tendance Groucho: weirder things have happenedshinealightonme on September 15th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC)
I am wondering if possibly a very very bad cook - the kind who burns water - could take these recipes and bungle them so badly that they turned out delicious.

Probably the world does not work that way, but I live in hope.
tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 05:41 am (UTC)
Only if the very very bad cook jettisoned the recipe entirely. Because, seriously, it is hard to make a tasty dish if the most flavorful item in your ingredients list is a pimiento. (No, I don't understand the obsession with them way back when. I have never known anyone who actually cooked with pimientos.)

But it would be such justice if it did work that way. I approve of your hopes and dreams!
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tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 05:44 am (UTC)
I have not seen Julie and Julia, but I tell you right now: it would be a cold day in hell before I put a whole fish under aspic and pretended it was FOOD.

And, oh, the cookbooks put together by women's groups! I have one, although it is of a more recent vintage (the women get their own first names, and also cook with, like, Ritz crackers and so on). I would love to have more. They are shiny. (Although usually, tragically, photo-less.)

My own belief is that there was a tragic cinnamon shortage in the 1970s, and people could only approximate the flavor with dissolved RedHots. I am sure it was very sad. Probably you should feel guilty for mocking their cinnamon-less pain.
(no subject) - abbylee on September 15th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - katie_m on September 15th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mtgat on September 15th, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emgeetrek on September 15th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cereta on September 15th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Sometimes You Get Marshmallows: marshmallows (robriki)florahart on September 15th, 2009 05:02 am (UTC)
*needs 1001 ways to please a husband* (for reasons of ridiculous entertainment, obv).

I have just attempted to look it up in Worldcat. It says Did you mean 101 ways to lease a husband?

Oh, well OBVIOUSLY. (if I click that link, I get a single hit, which is an article the description of which begins thusly: This article describes ways that families with a drinking adult attempt to cope with their situation. I interviewed individuals who were at least 10 years' old from 18 families (N = 51). Problem drinkers reported that it is helpful when nondrinking members do not speak about their drinking.)

Heh.

The actual item is apparently not so common (the nearest owning library is 742 miles from me), but does have a second edition called The Bride's Cookbook, which has the following alternate titles: 1001 ways to please a husband.; One thousand one ways to please a husband.; One thousand and one ways to please a husband.

I am glad they cleared up any possible confusion there.

*entertains self endlessly with cookbook I don't own*
tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 05:48 am (UTC)
It is so worth it. I cannot emphasize this enough. I read it out loud to BB, complete and entire, and we enjoyed it immensely. I should note, though, that I made an error in the text - the version with Bob and Bettina is actually A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband. 1001 is the sequel, which, sadly, does not feature characters, just recipes. You want A Thousand Ways. You really, really do.

I found my copy on eBay, rather cheaply - there's one listed there now, but it's much more expensive (although in far, far better condition).
(no subject) - jenna_thorn on September 15th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Lady Moirarosaleendhu on September 15th, 2009 05:04 am (UTC)
Is that Anne McCaffery book the one that's recipes submitted by Sci-fi authors? The one where I'm pretty sure some of the authors thought it was a joke based on what they're credited with?
tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 05:50 am (UTC)
Yes. It's worse than the Alice B. Toklas cookbook, it really is.
you're always running into people's unconscious: marilyn: cake is nom.innocentsmith on September 15th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC)
Relevant links are relevant. (Warning: your dreams may be haunted.)
Carbohydrates! Now in people shapes!juniper200 on September 15th, 2009 05:26 am (UTC)
Dangit. You beat me.
(no subject) - thefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 05:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - innocentsmith on September 15th, 2009 06:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 06:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
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puckling: My cookies!puckling on September 15th, 2009 05:17 am (UTC)
which has characters and a plot, and what amazing characters and plot they are.

Oh wow. Those books just sound like all sorts of special, each and every one.
tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 05:52 am (UTC)
They are extremely special. In that way where you want to go down on your knees and offer thanks you weren't alive and eating food in those decades, oh my god.
Admission to the Burning Ruins — 10¢: Drama Queenlaughingacademy on September 15th, 2009 05:42 am (UTC)
...You’re making that first book up, right? RIGHT?!?
tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 15th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
Indeed I am not. I have a copy and everything. My only mistake was in listing the wrong book - 1001 Ways is the sequel. (Yes, there was a sequel. I am assuming the publishing standards of the time were less rigorous.) The version with Bob and Bettina is called A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband, and I could not recommend it more strongly. It is AMAZING. And not just for the implication that a husband will be way more pleased with jellied tuna in white sauce than with, say, a blow job.
brindelbrindel on September 15th, 2009 05:42 am (UTC)
It was the cottage cheese that did me in...
Did no one else's brain not immediately go here?

As soon as I read the words "Creative Ways with Cottage Cheese", this song is what came to me. The terrible, terrible thing is, I've been to church potlucks *that served this* or it's spiritual cousins at least. And nobody gave it a second thought. *shudders*

'Course it was the DeepSouth in the '80's, so whatcha gonna do? *g*

Lime Jello, Marshmallow, Cottage Cheese Surprise (William Bolcom) - Lesley Pryde/Laura Leon
tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 16th, 2009 01:39 am (UTC)
Re: It was the cottage cheese that did me in...
Oh my god. Wonderful, but I think I have to go lie down now.

(And I am suddenly painfully glad I've never been to a church potluck. Apparently they are the natural home of horrible foods!)
Be glad. Be very, *very* glad.... - brindel on September 16th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
Cherrycherryice on September 15th, 2009 05:50 am (UTC)
... apparently skin and bones cooked in boiling water count as raw.

I have a no-cook cookbook which has two concessions: melting things over heat, and leaving things in boiling water. I'm so glad for this guidance -- without this book, I wouldn't have seen the clear and obvious difference between putting things into boiling water (cooking) and putting boiling water into things (not cooking). I suppose these allowance are necessary to produce its promised 'delectable array of mouthwatering meals' and 'glamorous nibbles.'

It's possible that the turkey-and-fig filled crepe on the front might have been a sign that it was less of a cookbook and more of a guide to putting store-cooked things together (and occasionally boiling them).

I have also inherited or somehow acquired 'Four Ingredient Cooking.' It includes a samosa recipe, and single ingredient such as 'cream cheese with herbs and garlic,' 'generous pinch each of cinnamon, cumin, garam masala, and cloves,' 'lime flavoured olive oil,' and my personal favourite: 'risotto.'

Though I really believe that nothing will ever beat the cookbooks at Value Village. These are the cookbooks no one was willing to pass on to their children, not even for entertainment value. I found a several hundred page microwave cooking one once -- the first fifty or so expounding upon how the conventional oven would be obsolete within the next half decade or so. It was shelved next to the Spam Cookbook, the details of which I am still trying to purge from my mind. I am surprised they have not sued Google for Gmail's spam filter recipes.
Yes, I Have Onesupremegoddess1 on September 15th, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC)
Ugh. My former in-laws got me the Four Ingredient Cooking one. I think I made one thing out of it.
(no subject) - thefourthvine on September 16th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
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tried to eat the safe banana: Foodthefourthvine on September 16th, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
No! But now I really, really want a copy. *off to scour the used book providers of the internet*