Tag Archives: 1970’s Cookbooks

Retro Food For Modern Times – Let’s See How Far We’ve Come – 1971 vs 2013

I have spoken previously about my abhorrence of food made to look like animals. It’s one of the reasons why Easter isn’t my favourite holiday.

Chocolate?  Good.

Chocolate posing as rabbits and chickens? Not so much.

Not to mention the Easter Bilbies…

Easter Bilbies

I have nothing against bilbies, I think they’re kind of sweet when they are found in nature where they belong.  Where they do not belong is in my Easter Basket.

However, given the time of year and the predilection for animal shaped food items I thought I would have a quick look at two recipes, one from the Party Cookbook (1971), the other from a modern book to see how our tastes have changed.

Let’s start with the 1971 recipe for White Mice in Jelly.

White Mice in Jelly 001

I didn’t make this because

a) It’s food made to look like rodents, and

b) I’m not fond of pears.  I find them largely tasteless and a little gritty.

But imagine these sans lettuce leaf and cheese and drowned in a vat of Lucozade and you get the general idea of the White Mice in Jelly.

,

1971 verdict – I guess they’re kind of cute.  If you like eating facsimile vermin and gritty fruit, knock yourself out.

Moving to 2013, I found the following recipe in Luke Nguyen‘s Greater Mekong Cookbook. I assumed his Chargrilled Coconut Mice would be an Asian version of the above, maybe made from a tropical fruit dipped in coconut.  A cutesy way to end the book, like the puppy story at the end of the news.

Then I actually read the recipe and..oh….oh…OH!  For the love of hopscotching Jesus…no!

Chargrilled Coconut Mice 001

Don’t get me wrong Luke,  I like you.  I think you are charming television host and a great chef.  I follow you on social media.  But seriously?   REAL FUCKING MICE? Have you lost your mind?

I didn’t make this one either because

a) It’s food made of rodents and

b) Telling me to not freak out and use quail doesn’t work.  The word mice has already been mentioned. Several times.  I don’t give a crap if they are naturally clean I’m not throwing a few mice on the barbie!

2013 Verdict – Is this really what we’ve come to?  We’ve had the foams and the bacon ice-cream and the molecular gastronomy, we’re now eating vermin? Bring back 1971!

Just in case the recipe wasn’t bad enough you can watch Luke cooking the mice here:

http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/15919/Chargrilled_coconut_mouse_or_quail

Gross.

So…in deference to the ethos of 1971, bring out the bilbies and hand me the rabbits;  this Easter I’m eating vermin.  But only of the chocolate variety!

Chocolate Bunny red ribbon

Happy Easter everyone!

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Retro Food For Modern Times Invites You To The Worst Cocktail Party Ever

I have a bone to pick with Louis Ferguson who wrote the Cocktail Party Section of the The Party Cookbook.

Let’s get one thing clear Louis.  A cocktail party is called a cocktail party for one reason, and one reason only.  And that is the presence of cocktails.  So, by rights, given that your chapter contains absolutely no recipe for, or indeed barely a reference to, these alcoholic delights, it hardly warrants the title.

Whilst I’m on the subject  – for any workplaces that happen to be reading?  Wine and beer are not cocktails.  Stop calling events where these beverages are served cocktail parties.  It’s annoying and pretentious.  Alternatively, keep the name and actually serve cocktails.

That I am even bothering to talking about Louis is because I wanted another chance to use this delight of 1970’s food photography.

Pinapple Prawn and Parsley Pot

Pineapple, Prawn and Parsley Pot

Unfortunately, Louis lets us down here too.  In addition to not having any cocktail recipes he also does not offer any details on how to construct the Zig Zag Pineapple, Prawn and Parsley Pot.

What we are given, ad nauseam are Louis’ instructions for canapés – some of which you can see in the photo.

These include:

  • Spread a slice of toast with softened cream cheese.  Cover the entire surface with drained sweet corn kernels.  Press well onto the cheese.  Cut into diamond shapes and garnish with small diamonds of red capsicum.
  • Spread a slice of toast with softened cream cheese.  Cover with finely chopped red and green capsicum.  Cut into diamonds with a wet knife.
  • Cut buttered toast into rounds with a one inch cutter.  Cut thin slices of salami the same size.  Place onto croûtes and garnish with three peas held in place by a dab of French mustard.
  • Cut buttered toast into rounds with a one inch cutter.  Cut thin slices of beetroot the same size.  Place onto croutes and garnish with halved cocktail onions

I’m sensing some trends here.. Oh, ok, here we go, something different…

  • Cut buttered bread into small crescents.  Cut crescents from slices of mortadella sausage and place them on the croûtes.  Garnish with “zig zags” of creamed butter.

Crescents and zig zags.  Just when you thought the canapé could not get any better Louis gives us crescents and zig zags.  Genius.

However this genius was short-lived.  I suspect that by the bottom of the second page of canapé suggestions, Louis was pretty much phoning it in vis a vis:

  • Spread a slice of toast with mustard butter.  Cut into rectangles and cover with several thin slices of cooked frankfurter sausage,

There’s no love in that suggestion. Cold frankfurters on cold toast is not the offering of a man passionate about his craft.  It’s the offering of a man who has lost the will to live.

Louis also suggests that once you have assembled your bread-in-a-shape + protein + garnish that you then coat the entire combination in either aspic or a mixture of gelatine and chicken stock.  He doesn’t actually explain why.  I suspect it has something to do with making his readers and their cocktail party guests as miserable and life-loathing as himself.

Apparently, no booze, cold frankfurters, peas cemented to salami with mustard and a beetroot and pickled onion combo weren’t bad enough. Chicken-flavoured gelatine also needed be added into the mix. Yecchh!

The lack of cocktails has given me a thirst, I’m off to hunt down a tipple (or two) and work on the party food for next week’s post.

Hint…it contains bacon.  Lots and lots of lovely bacon.

Have a great week!

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Retro Food For Modern Times – The Party Cookbook (1971) – Part 1

We are suffering from a mini heatwave at the moment.  You know it’s hot when your candles melt before you even light them!

Bathroom Candles

It’s far too hot to turn on the stove, the oven, the toaster or even to move to the phone to order a pizza.  So, instead of cooking this week, I thought I might take a little stroll through Anne Marshall and Elizabeth Sewell’s  1971 work “The Party Cookbook.”  And why not?   If there is a hell, I’m already well on my way there, so what’s the harm in setting my dial to mock and taking a few steps closer to the flames….

I don’t even know where to start in this feast of rich pickings.  So I’m just going to let this picture speak for itself…because nothing screams party like this good time gal!

Elah Lowe's Luncheon Party

Elah Lowe’s Luncheon Party

This is Elah Lowe who wrote the Luncheon Party section of the book.  Elah’s menu for lunch consists of Chicken Cacciatore, Noodles, Pears Vinaigrette, Cheese and something called Malakoff which sounds a bit like a tiramisu.

Elah has this to say about her luncheon menu

“The following menu is suitable for a special person one has invited to lunch, for any group with a guest speaker or for a party of friends 1.  The luncheon suggested is light2 and interesting and can be prepared in advance, which is essential for the hostess who can then be with her guests.  She can be relaxed and entertaining, rather than hot and flustered, in the kitchen.3

  1.  So….pretty much any reason to hold a lunch then.
  2. Quiche and salad are light.  Chicken cacciatore and noodles?  Not so much.
  3. Elah might be good on lunches.  She’s not so good on grammar.  My understanding is that if you remove the clause separated by commas the sentence should stand.  So, that last sentence would read,  “She can be relaxed and entertaining in the kitchen”.  Hmm…presumably getting stuck into the cooking sherry and cracking a few gags for the benefit of the vegetables.  Meanwhile the guests in the dining room are trying not to reel from the shock of that wallpaper.  No wonder Elah’s holding out a chair, she’s probably used to people staggering and feeling faint as they walk into the room.  The curtains and matching table-cloth?  Are just putting out the fire with gasoline.

Moving on to another party girl, let’s have a look at the Morning Coffee Party.  This über babe is Enid Wells.

Enid Wells Morning Tea Party

Enid Wells Morning Coffee Party

Enid tells us that the hostess of the Morning Coffee Party needs to:

 “Make sure the coffee is piping hot.  Percolated coffee is preferred by most people.  Instant coffee is preferred by some people because of the short preparation time1.  For a Morning Coffee Party, the hostess should be prepared to serve percolated coffee.”

  1.  The shrunken head of the last person who served me instant coffee is now hanging on my wall along with my bow, my arrows and my machete.  Be afraid.

Enid also advises that:

“The food should be simple, varied in flavour, attractively presented but never elaborately decorated”

You got it there, sister.  Rarely have I seen two more atrociously decorated cakes than the ones in this picture.  What is going on with the cinnamon nut bun in the front?  Did Enid just throw the icing at it?  Also, it’s lopsided to say the least.  The icing on the gingerbread in the mid-ground also leaves a lot to be desired….that’s one wobbly line….I dread to think what the other 3 sides look like if that’s the one they chose to show to the camera.

Wow!  No sooner than the words “atrociously decorated cake” come out of my mouth than I turn the page and….oh boy….

Kangaroo Cake for a Children's Party

Kangaroo Cake for a Children’s Party

I have never really understood the penchant for cakes shaped like animals.

“Here you are Grandma, have a bit of Skippy’s arse on a plate. We saved it specially for you….now, who wants an eyeball?”

Why would anyone choose to do that?  It’s weird and gross.

That’s enough for today, there will be more, I’m only about a third of the way through the book.

I’m going to practice my newly discovered skill of making things happen just by saying them.

Must go, Ryan Gosling’s at the door… and bless him, he’s brought pizza.

Enjoy your week!

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