Monday, June 22, 2009

Best of Better Homes - August '54

Today's post is a medley of articles from the August 1954 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

First up is the latest in the regular 'Famous foods from famous places' feature covering the restaurant Daven Haven in the Pines, located in Grand Lake, Colorado. Look at these humdingers! First, there's the regional Denver Sandwich lunch complete with an Ice-cream-cone Clown. Also, hobo picnics! Each hobo sack was stuffed with two sandwiches (chicken and cheese spreads), fruit, a lollipop and a personalized cookie. Now that's a lunch I'd leave my home for!

Daven Haven was just as admired for its elaborate breakfasts and buffets. A typical Daven Haven breakfast might have included Rocky Ford cantaloupe, Blueberry Pancakes with Orange Whipped Butter, and Frizzled Ham. But, it was their buffets that were gold standard; the centerpiece of the table here is the Ham Loaf with Horse-radish Sauce (food stylists take note!) served in a hollowed-out zucchini and Individual Spoon Breads.

'Come On -- It's a porch picnic!' Well, who would argue with that? Especially when you catch a glimpse of the ruby red gelatin salad cradling a yellowy dressing (Barbecue Salad?). And the tartlets awaiting their anointment of cream (Peach-blush Tarts?). By the time you tear your eyes up to see the fried chicken, it's starting to resemble normal picnic food.

It's not quite August (soon, too soon), but Myrna Johnston reminds us that it's never too soon to prepare with this menu of frosty-fresh fare. Quick party pleasers include the 'gelatin beauty', the Summer Chicken Salad, cute garnishes, and Sugar-frosted Grapes. Or have a full-blown Fruit Bonanza with Pink Jewel Molds, a marriage of cream cheese balls and sparkling gelatin.

More tutti-frutti favorites and towers of vegetable delights. And when you're looking to eat out on the terrace, make sure you have your bologna and deviled egg cornucopias and at least one Tomato Aspic mold!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Bummer

Summer, the bane of my existence, is back. Now, I realize that most normal people adore these sweaty summer months and insist on spending as much time as possible outdoors with the sun beating down on them. Apparently, this is not a new phenomenon. Better Homes and Gardens published a Summer Cook Book by Myrna Johnston in their July 1954 issue for just this sort of summer-loving person. From little vittles of the meat, cheese, and crudité variety to full-blown sandwiches and desserts, Myrna Johnston compiled a menu ideal for any summer get-together, be it a picnic, cook-out, or block party. (Remember, you can always click on these thumbnails for bigger pictures -- in every post!)

On those sweltering evenings when I hear neighbors enjoying their grilled cook-outs, I'll be imaging everyone is really noshing on these two menu items. The Summer Sandwich Loaf takes the perennial favorite one step further and gives it an unexpected seasonal twist (an olive-daisy trim). From the description: 'The pink filling's ham; the other, egg salad. "Frosting" is cream cheese. Men will applaud.' That explains the cheering people I hear at neighborhood get-togethers! This year, when you hear jubilant merrymakers and fireworks in the distance, you can rest assured that they just can't control their excitement for their Summer Sandwich Loaf. Better still is the bulls-eye-inspired Rye-pie Sandwich. This duo is really the only acceptable way to sneak ham, egg, and salmon salads into one menu.

For a spread as modern as your furniture: alternate deviled ham and tomato fillings in a crusty bread (Ham Line-up Loaf), skip the meaty burgers from the grill and heap baked beans in buns (Beanwiches), and set sail with egg salad and black olive boats (Black-eyed Susans). Serve as much as possible in foil cozies. This menu is incredibly versatile: it will go with either your Miles Davis or your Martin Denny album.

Small summer appetites can easily be sated with Ham 'n Eggs, Summer Style (that's rolled ham slices and deviled eggs to you!). As an expert, I have deemed this an impeccable presentation for the Deviled Eggs. Finally, create a platter of fanned-out finger foods, including cheese, cucumbers, beans wrapped in your favored canned smoked luncheon meat, and crunchy vegetable garnishes. These relishes are the epitome of pertness!

Even if you're far from any coast, you can conjure up a beachy scene with starfishesque platters of Ham Mousse, and don't forget to put out some Barbecued Franks with Macaroni-and-Cheese Salad and a plate of your brand smoked luncheon meat (Treet, Prem, etc.)! Looking to create the ultimate summer memory? Golden Liverwurst Balls! Unfortunately, I thought they were marshmallows with toasted coconut. How wrong I was!

Room for dessert? Certainly! You'll make room once you get a look at that Raspberry Sno-Cap Pie, a gelatin pie covered with symmetrical spume and banana slices that seem to evoke the water choreography of Esther Williams.

Even more desserts to whet your appetite! Get a look at the Rainbow Meringue Sundaes, meringues topped with whimsical pastel ices! They're like fairytale crowns or, at least, a carnival on your plate! The Moonlight Cake is far less romantic than its name suggests. '"Moons" are gumdrop candies.' What is the purpose of the comb (or is it a rake?) next to the cake?