Thursday, November 29, 2007

Yuletide Cakes

According to the retailers, the holidays are upon us, and, as you read this, houses are probably filling with the aroma of baking cookies and other sweet things. Cakes in the shape of holiday icons are a staple in many homes during the winter, and hopefully Baker's Cut-Up Cake Party Book from 1973 will get you in the mood for a little holiday cheer.

You could make this handsome Christmas tree cake.

This handy guide illustrates how to slice up a regular sheet cake into seven chunks, construct those chunks into a treelike shape, and decorate it using various confectionery.

Caroling is fast becoming a relic of the past. These noseless singers and their snowman chum should convince anyone that this quaint tradition must be revived! Luckily, the book has a few pointers on the subject.

That's a pretty campy Santa.

Apparently Santa isn't the bowl full of jelly we were once told he was. In fact, Santa is mostly made up of licorice and coconut. Considering the location of Santa's home, licorice makes sense, but coconut is a bit of a surprise!

James Lileks' Gastroanomalies

James Lileks, patron saint of hideous foods, author of such indispensible tracts as The Gallery of Regrettable Food and Interior Desecrations: Hideous Homes from the Horrible '70s, and Curly Wurly's main inspiration (besides the ghastly cookbooks themselves), has a new book that is destined to be a must-have classic. Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery has been getting an unreal amount of rave reviews. You can tickle your funny bone and put Gastroanomalies at the top of the best seller lists by ordering your copy today!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fast and Fancy

Today's treasure is 1969's June Roth's Fast and Fancy Cookbook, which promises 'glamourous gourmet dishes from inexpensive quick-fix foods'. Now, on first glance, that merely sounds like every other book from the era, but June Roth really did have a pantry and freezer filled with those 'quick-fixes' and intended to use them, as you'll soon see!

Front cover

This colorful, festive page shows the menu for a great cocktail party. Clockwise from top left: Pantry Paella, Kernal Corn Bread, Fiesta Chili, Calypso Kabobs, Polka Dot Peppers. A note on the Pantry Paella: Paella is an exotic Spanish delicacy. But, as with all fancy foreign dishes, there is often the dilemma of locating those rare ingredients. What do you do when you want sophisticated cuisine but can't track down such unheard-of ingredients as chicken and shrimp? Well, June Roth's Pantry Paella to the rescue! It's a melange of all the fruits of the pantry: canned corn beef and the dollar store favorite, Vienna sausages!

It's Game Night and you're feeling lucky with the complex Ham 'N Cheese Logs and delectable 'Tater Bean Salad (featuring frozen french fries and hard-cooked eggs)! The highlight of the page isn't the sticks of vegetables spiking out of the orange, but the adorable egg and olive penguin!

Beans! Beans! Beans! Would you rather try the North Star Bean Bake or the Beefed-Up Beans?

The frightening Spinach Ring, filled with (and swimming in) creamed eggs

June Roth really has a way with hard-cooked eggs. Behold the Flip-Top Deviled Eggs!

She has less of a way with frozen potato products. But, boy, does she love them! Clockwise from top left: Baked Seafood Salad (with a ring of tater tots), Crab a la Parmentiere (crinkle cut fry dippers!), Broccoli Crab Divan, and Curried Quiche (with a decorative sunburst of crinkle cut fries - she bought a big bag of 'em!). Hey, we all have different definitions of fancy!...

...And, she certainly does! The tomato topped chops, chicken, and meatloaf aren't the classiest part of this scene. It's the novel tomato candles! If only we could ask June what store she found them in because they're just darling!

Finally, if June were serious about compiling a recipe book with 'quick-fix foods,' she really couldn't ignore the classics: hotdogs and processed cheese food. First, we've got the wiener-studded Casserole Jardiniere. Towards the back, on the fancy pom-pom runner, is the Corn Medley Supper.