Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007


It's hard to imagine, but if it weren't for Clarence Birdseye, frosted foods might not be the popular digestible comestible it is today. The pioneering Birdseye sought to improve the sorry state of frozen foods at the turn of the last century by replicating the almost immediate effect Arctic climate had on caribou meat, a technique that he had witnessed on an earlier expedition. His preliminary freezing experiments at his home in Brooklyn were overwhelmingly successful, and he transformed his new method into a successful fish-freezing business in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1924. It was at this time that he developed the characteristic rectangular block o' frozen food, using a machine that simultaneously shaped and flash-froze anything fed into it.

Once Birdseye had perfected his freezing technique, he had yet another obstacle to face: the public. Carolyn Wyman recounts in her brilliant book, Better Than Homemade, 'Consumers had no reason to think his frozen food would be any better than the old kind...[And,] perhaps most critically, Birdseye had overlooked an essential fact: Few grocers and even fewer consumers owned freezers.' But, after receiving backing from the Postum company, Birds Eye brand gradually began to saturate markets in the early 1930s, and, to further boost their sales, their frozen products were sold to schools and hospitals. It wasn't until World War II, when time and resources were limited, that the concept of frozen foods, and Birds Eye in particular, burst into popularity. This advertisement is from 1945. It highlights one of the major selling points of frosted foods: vegetable availability year-round, regardless of seasonality.

Note, also, the advertisement for Birds Eye Open House starring Dinah Shore.

Once again, I highly recommending reading Carolyn Wyman's Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed The Way We Eat.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Good Health 1950, part 2

Here is the promised 'Cook Book' portion of Rawleigh's 1950 Good Health Guide Almanac Cook Book.

1. New, Delicious Frozen Treats - Some great summertime experiments! Just grab some Rawleigh's Compound Lemon Nectar and some fruit flavor, and you're all set! Dietician recommended!

2. New Ways To Cook Potatoes - 1950, the year Pigs In 'Taters was invented, was surely a great year. Also, note the friendly Food With Eyes potatoes in the heading. This looks like the beginning of some sort of Potluck Dinner. Here is a enlargement of those potatoes.

3. The Canapés of the Stars under the Party Spreads And Appetizers category. And Rawleigh's own spice and condiment line.

4. Tommy's allergic to his Cheese Dream sandwich. If only his mother made him the Midnighter's Special: 'This baked bean sandwich is a concoction of favorite flavors.' Sounds delish. Best served with Irish Pipes for dessert.

5. Desserts You Can Make In A Jiffy!

6. 9 Good Ways To Serve Fowl - There might be better ways, but these'll do. Includes Kentucky Fried Chicken.

7. You Will Like These Milk and Cheese Dishes.. and Prune Whip! - Also, the story of the best jelly ever!

8. Back cover - Packaging of Rawleigh's flavorings, spice, condiments, and pudding and pie filling.

Good Health 1950, part 1

For over sixty-one years, Rawleigh's (the W.T. Rawleigh Company) published an annual Good Health Guide Almanac Cook Book. This essential booklet included health and first aid articles, recipes and meal ideas, calendars, and many other valuable tidbits of information. This edition from 1950 is crammed full of the sort of stuff that could make the internet obsolete!

1. Front cover - A George Michael (of Arrested Development) look-alike having a snack of Compound Lemon Nectar and Jelly Bread.

2. One dose of Anti-Pain Oil Internal, Liniment External (use only), Ready Relief, and Pleasant Relief a day keeps the doctor away!

3. Cold sufferer or evil genius laughing over diabolical plan? In either case, the treatment is the same: gargle, clear your head, and get plenty of liquids. In a few days, your cold (or the mirth resulting from your fiendish scheme) will disappear.

4. Sore Shoulders? If you want to prevent 'life-long disfigurement or dangerous complications,' better rub some Liniment External (use only) right into that ache.

5. KILLERS! When you see them, run! Or, better yet, take the law into your own hands. After all, if you call on the police about the atrocities these creatures (especially 'Enemy No. 2,' the Mosquito) have committed, they'll laugh you right out of the station. You can kill them quickly, you can kill them easily, and you can kill them in whatever form you prefer: powder, spray, bottled liquid, syringe. Only these premiere Insecticides to Protect Your Home, Family, Livestock, and Garden will do!

6. After you've slaughtered the killer insects, it's time to beautify! This page is very useful as it instructs you in the proper way to rouge and improve the state of your lips and complexion.

7. The beauty secrets continue with this page that asserts, 'Your Hair Can Be Soft and Lovely' and 'Hands are Important!' The handiest article is on the proper application of your perfume. 'Scatter small amounts [of perfume] about your person,' the guide suggests. Sounds to me like a primer on international smuggling!

8. Finally, here is the back cover with a floral-framed collection of beauty product packaging, including Shooting Star (top left) and La Jaynees (bottom).

Come back tomorrow for the edible portion of the Good Health Guide Almanac Cook Book!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Miss Fluffy Rice

Miss Fluffy's Rice Cook Book manages to achieve the one major goal of all quality cookbooks: to create the perfect blend of irresistibly cute spokescharacter and suspicious dinnertime recipe ideas. This particular set of suspicious recipes was brought to us by the Rice Council and was published in the early 1960s.

Front and back covers - The magical Miss Fluffy and her rice-enhanced tomato and parfait

Plantation Chowder

A mouthwatering platter of Shrimp and Rice Mousse.

Rice Medley, though I'm more interested in the dish filled with the segmented tomato-cheese items.

Taking well-molded foods to another level, this is Rice Indienne. The flower-shaped mold is just a serving suggestion, but the book suggests that it's best enjoyed with a game of cards!

Pink 'n Pretty Parfaits - The prettiest way to end your party!

Friday, July 06, 2007

More 'Surprising Differences'

Welcome back for Part 2 of this very special, very surprising collection of Carnation evaporated milk recipes.

For the wise mortgage-minder, nothing stretches your dollar like the 'saucy goodness' of Carnation evaporated milk! Green Beans and Mushrooms (pictured) and Vegetables Green & Gold keep the family nourished and the budget on target!

According to the book, you should celebrate the five year anniversary of your mortgage with a sizzling skillet Swiss Steak!

To escape some of the mortgage stress, the 'Managing Mother' likes to get away for a family picnic once in a while. Only then can she let the three tykes loose and have her husband whip up his scrumptious Picnic Frank and Bean Broil! The 'Managing Mother' lives for days like these.

'What's A Rainy Day For?,' asks this section. For the hand model featured in this picture, the ideal rainy day is spent gazing out at the rain-soaked garden and maybe grabbing a few No-Bake Maple Cones and some Spiced Coffee.

A romantic dinner for two just isn't right unless your dress matches the candles! (He notices!) And with Cold Cucumber-Celery Soup on the menu, you can ensure you'll match the first course, too.

The obligatory gelatin masterpiece of the book. Inexplicably, the writers don't divulge the exact details of what is suspended in the crown of the salad. Suffice it to say, you can put any fruits, vegetables, and 'et cetera' in one of these things!

This hip party scene is so jam-packed, I don't know where to start! The loner scarfing down hotdogs and the girl enchanted by his antisocial tendencies, the manic dancing (I think that's what's going on) in the center, and, on the other side of the room, the troubling instance of peer pressure interrupting the musical entertainment are a few of the brilliant elements that I could point out! I think this picture speaks for itself, though.

This time, the page's heading is really all you need to know: 'A lesson in In-law engineering,' or What to serve when you hate your In-laws. At least the chafing dish is festive!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cooking With A Surprising Difference

At a book sale earlier this year, I managed to track down a companion cookbook to 1964's Cooking... with a Velvet Touch. Cooking with a Surprising Difference is much the same as its predecessor . This book has gorgeous pictures on every page, so it was difficult to decide which needed to be shared. And, as such, this will have to be a two-part post, I think!

Front cover - 'Mavis, you were right! I just can't believe what a difference a can of Carnation has made to my citrus gelatin salad! It's more velvetized than I ever could have imagined!'

'Lazy Ways For Lazy Days!' - While there are some great shots of the featured foods in the cookbook, the best pictures are of the color-coordinated people and their mod furnishings. The food is just an afterthought. Here, the brash yellows and reds accentuate the lack of 'hustle, bustle, hurry, dash, scamper or scurry' of this weekend scene.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered this page about Day Dreams... because this very set of Saturday Sandwiches figures prominently in most of my Day Dreams!

'Saturday nights ... serve something special!,' is the heading/suggestion for this page. Is the Rice and Mushroom Bake supposed to be 'something special'? Under 'Shortcuts For Easy Weekends,' it is said that, on the weekend, you can 'use your dishwasher. It's a lazy girl's best friend.'

A buffet-style party scene! Not only is this one hip party, but it only cost pennies! The man farthest to the left is really eyeing that pie (It might be Beef and Mushroom)!

This Lemon-Lime Parfait is the most eye-catching dessert you can concoct for bridge night. And if you're running a little late, you can throw together some Last-Minute Cream Shells!

I think the writers of this book are really pushing things thematically with this one. This page is 'Easy ways for cleaning days,' and aims to make it easy for the lady of the house to throw something together for dinner when she's got her hands full in other areas of the house. Unfortunately, this Easy Cole Slaw For Unexpected Callers is the result. And that weird plant that's growing out of the iced tea.

Finally, at the halfway point in the book, here is the Do-Ahead Cheese Spaghetti For 12. Yes, 12! It's made even better with the decorative lattice of shredded process American cheese!

Check back tomorrow for more Surprisingly Different fare!

Monday, July 02, 2007

That Super, Deluxe Osterizer

Jumping forward from the 1940s, here is a volume of Super, Deluxe Osterizer recipes from 1960. Because of conflicting messages, I'm not really sure how one procured this particular book. If you'll look on the front cover, the whopping retail price of $1.00 appears in the right corner. This, of course, suggests that the book was purchased separately from the blender. As far as that goes, this book could be purchased by someone who has an older Osterizer model or even by someone who owns another brand of blending machine! However, if you turn the page to the Forward and Table of Contents (not pictured here), Joan Oster addresses new Osterizer owners. 'Thank you for your purchase of a Super Deluxe Osterizer,' she says. Perhaps the book was given to all new Osterizer owners from the time of publication, and then it was offered for $1.00 to anyone else who wanted one. Since that would be the only fair solution, I can only hope that that was the case.

Front cover - Mother blends some sweet potatoes. She's getting ready to take care of that large bunch of radishes. Then, she'll purée those whole ears of corn.

Nothing pleases me more than Canapés, and I believe the dancing cowboy and girl would agree! This optical illusion of an hors d'oeuvres platter has too many different tidbits to name, but I can never get over the intricacies of the canapé plate! (Note: There is a recipe for Cottage Cheese Glory!)

For Baby: Even babies can benefit from your new investment in the kitchen! Let your Osterizer process all your baby's meats, fruits, and vegetables! Is that 'Good Girl' for your little bundle of joy or your little liquidizer?

Where does the table end and the Holiday Bread begin?

Blurry cakes (including something called 'Hot Water Sponge')

Jarred confectionery and a bit of decorative flora: all can be made using your Osterizer!

This seems to be some kind of snaking queue to your dinner table. The albino ring towards the back is a Curried Rice Ring (contains no radish!), and at the front of the line we see the more respectable Asparagus Au Gratin. That ham can be puréed to make Chicken and Ham Delight or Poor Man's Fruit Cake.

The flame of your love affair with the Osterizer may have long extinguished, but you'll still be able to fill your table with sauce and other condiments.

A sort-of still life showing the Osterizer at his most vulnerable and human. This is art at its finest.

This is some kind of a pie with a dark filling on a beautifully colored background.

That shiny sausage-colored ring is called a Gobbler Salad and is made with turkey, rice, pickle relish, pecans, and commercial sour cream! On a related note, the plant at the front seems to have come down with turkey pox. (That was meant to be a joke, though I now see that turkey pox is an actual viral disease.)

A spirited round of soups (Party Celery, Green Pepper, and Cheese soups - from top, clockwise) certain to warm hearts and enliven parties.