Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Other blogs: The Vintage Diner

The Vintage Diner is a blog that has compiled some wonderful... and some truly ghastly pictures from cookbooks. Take a look at this post of classic French cookery and this one involving fish pieces. If you want to see something a little cuter, see how you can make an adorable rocket ship out of a banana, cottage cheese, and pineapple or there's the photo above of a man and his collection of head cheese! Unfortunately this great blog hasn't been updated in almost a year, but there are still more than a few pictures to spend your time examining!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Breads and Sandwiches

Spring is here, and it's just as good a time for a sandwich as any. In fact, some might say that spring is the perfect excuse to have a sandwich. The 1951 guide, Good Housekeeping's Book of Breads & Sandwiches ('dainty or hearty -- for picnic or party'), is the book for everyone looking for creative sandwich making solutions. The book has some nice photos of sandwiches in action and many drawings by Mary Kershulis.

Front cover with that all-important Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Well, any cover that has avocado green pea soup in an avocado green casserole and an open-faced hot dog melt gets a Curly Wurly seal of approval (and, that is highly coveted)!

This is the sort of spread that manages to be melancholic and cozy all at once. It's a perfect scene for every sha-la-la-la, every rainy day, and every Monday!

Susan (Dey)'s Party Sandwich Loaf is a veritable work of art.

Don't be ashamed; many a cook has been thrown by the all-in-one meal that we call a 'sandwich' (so named because, at one time, most breads were sandy in color, and it is believed that the first 'wich was conjured at a witches' sabbath). It's true that making a good one is one of the most difficult techniques to master in the kitchen, and it's true that the hardest part of the whole matter is the last step: cutting the sandwich. In a recent study, it was reported that how best to divide the bread and filling while still providing a utilitarian and esthetic portion is the most common thing that keeps people up at night. Mary Kershulis illustrates some basic, and some 'out there', cuts for this portable edible, and Good Housekeeping definitely approves. Personally, I am very much against a cut that doesn't ensure that all pieces are somewhat comparable in size.

If you're movin' on up.. if you've got a deluxe apartment in the sky, celebrate with a Penthouse Burger today (or whenever you move in and unpack the boxes marked 'kitchen')! (Bonus recipe: Corned-Beef Hash au Gratin!)

Club sandwiches are still popular, but don't you feel cheated now that you've learned of the existence of the Frosted Club? 'Frosted' seems to be referring to the melted cheese on the top of the sandwich. Apparently you need a whole lot of milk to wash that down! (As a side note: that looks like a really nice counter or tabletop)

Those healthful Subway hoagies have nothing on this hefty Italian Loaf Sandwich!

The Cannibal Sandwich. This isn't a good idea for many reasons. First of all, the illustration is ridiculous. Second, even if raw beef with onion and dill pickles or chow chow appeals to you, are you really going to find the name 'Cannibal Sandwich' appetizing? (Two bonus recipes in enlargement: Giblet-and-Egg Sandwiches, a wholesome way to use up your catchup and cream, and the popular Chicken Livers, Bacon, and Mushrooms!)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

How To Be Worldly

In 1964, Contadina, a division of the Carnation Company, educated American families who wanted to remain 'stay-at-homes' in the art of international cuisine. How To Be Worldly (without leaving your kitchen) introduced all who sent away for the booklet to the miracle that is canned tomato product. The history of the tomato is fascinating and should be a college major in itself. Sure, we take Contadina's ancient, world-traveled canned tomatoes for granted, but did you know that 'in the 16th century, fierce Aztects plundering for silver and gold found it growing high in the Andes'? They learned, as will you, how canned tomatoes can be used to replicate the national dishes of four culinary regions!

Front cover - The earth, itself like a tomato ripe for plucking, is an amazing amalgamation of nations and people, all of who know the name of Contadina.

Italia is the natural starting point in our tour of pomodoro. Contadina cuts to the core of Italy's identity: Italy is 'the land of song and food.' Yet this elegant still life highlights the importance of art in Italian culture. And Polenta Rings. Here we see the chef gazing on his magnificent creations: Italian Stew with Polenta, Meatballs and Noodles 'Parmegano', and Galetto Marinara.

If Italy is food and music, then what is Mexico? Food and music! Well, maize and mariachi music, to be exact. Only one dish here actually contains maize (Maize con Carne Molida de Cazuela). Otherwise, we've got Green Beans Mexicali and Sopa de Albondigas!

More Mexican dishes, por favor! How about Spanish Eggs and Rice and various meats covered in tomato sauce?

The geneology of Creole cooking is broken down for us by Contadina (I should add that anything in quotes is exactly as it is written on the page. Any quoted typos aren't my typos.): 'It's "mere" was French; it's "padre" was Spanish,' the book explains. No amount of mood lighting can make that Creole Pot Roast look good, though!

Finally, in an American book intended to introduce Americans who only eat Americanized food to the (Americanized versions of) foods of different cultures, here's the page on American food! The America page is worth it just for the text, which can be seen in the larger version of the picture. 'Let's not forget U.S.A. ...the land of breeziness, bounce and the Bar-B-Que. We've been called breezy and boisterous, automated and always in a hurry. We have shiny push-button ranges, convenience foods and short-cuts. Some say we have no traditions in food! They say we're a land of hot dogs, hamburgers and soda pop. They're wrong in many ways, we're just as old-fashioned as home-made apple pie. We think new!' That's some pretty defensive text for a page that shows more hot dogs than any other sort of food! And there's soda pop! Still, there is that old-fashioned home-made apple pie, which is probably filled with that glop from the pot (Contadina Sauce For Back Yard Buns).

Contadina helps with those '36 woman-hours in a 24-hour day' by putting convenience in the kitchen. Convenience in the form of dishes like the Do-Ahead Beef Noodle Bake and Hasty Hash (incidentally, I misread that as 'Nasty Hash' at first).