Tag Archives: Cookbook

Retro Food For Modern Times: Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen – Roberta Ashley (1967) – Franks, Mince and A Saucer of Milk!

Whilst I love all old cookbooks, there is a special place in my heart for the celebrity cookbook and finding Roberta Ashley’s “Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen” was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 


“The Scene Makers Cookbook Dozens of Nutty Turned On Easy-To-Prepare Recipes From The Grooviest Gourmets Happening” 

Singers and Swingers is a collection of recipes from The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Leonard Nimoy, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minelli and other icons of the ’60’s  “that will keep you grooving with the greatest.”

Life really does not get much better than this!

Front Cover - Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen

Front Cover – Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen

Back Cover - Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen

Back Cover – Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen

As teenage columnist for This Week Magazine, Ms Ashley often asked bright young things of the day what their favourite foods were.  She advises that many of these dishes were:

“Worked out while they were quietly starving or working in a “pass-the-basket” coffee-house.  That means that most of these dishes can be cooked on allowance type money…or very little bread as they say”

Which just makes me love it more…star studded AND thrifty is one of my favourite combinations!

And for those readers who may be new to the kitchen, or hesitant cooks, Ms Ashley offers the following words of encouragement.

“Give it a try, the recipes are mostly easy ones and remember a year ago, Barbra Streisand couldn’t cook at all”


The recipes in the book are mostly solid, with only the occasional piece of  WTFery  thrown in.  If there is a real problem with the book it is that there is a certain degree of repetition in the recipes.  Of the 68 main recipes in the book, minced meat features in 11.  These include:

3 recipes for Chilli:

  • Chili by Paul Revere
  • Chili Esperanza by The Mamas and The Papas.  They liked to eat this with scrambled eggs…the thought of that makes me gag a little. (Then again, maybe they should have stuck to softer types of foods like chili and scrambled eggs and avoided the types of food that can get stuck in your throat like sandwiches.)
  • Chili for Chums.  This is not name checked but to my mind is actually the best of the lot.

Paul Revere was the lead singer of a band called Paul Revere and the Raiders who liked to dress up in period costume and presumably precede all of their gigs by repeatedly shouting “The British are coming, the British are coming”.

Paul Revere 1967

Paul Revere 1967

Ah, those crazy days of the ’60’s.  I bet he feels a little silly about wearing that costume now….

Then again, maybe not.

Paul Revere 2007

Paul Revere 2007

Returning to the prevalence of ground mince, there are also 3 recipes for Sloppy Joe Type Creations:

  • Sloppy Joe A La Sam The Sham
  • A Jones Delight by Jack Jones
  • Snick Snack Hamburgers by Lesly Gore. Lesly Gore was famous for her song “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To”. She must have self catered because these sound repulsive.
Lesly Gore's Snick Snack Hamburgers

Lesly Gore’s Snick Snack Hamburgers

There is an equally revolting concoction called Robb Stew made by one of the three Robb brothers from the band called….you guessed it…The Robbs…They appeared to operate on the principle that if you can’t be original, be consistently unoriginal.   Surprisingly, all members of this band were not wiped out by food poisoning in 1968 but 3 of them went on to have illustrious careers in the music industry by founding Robb…I mean…Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles.  This studio has produced artists such as The Gogo’s, Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Devo, Public Enemy and Jane’s Addiction to name but a few!  Quite possibly this is truly a case of what doesn’t kill you making you stronger.

Robb Stew

Robb Stew

There are also 4 instances of minced meat with pasta:

  • Carol Lawrence’s Lasagne
  • Noel Harrison’s Bolognese Sauce
  • Paul Anka’s Party Spaghetti
  • The Buckinghams‘ Spaghetti and Meatballs

Whilst their recipe does sound delicious, some of those Buckinghams look a little druggy around the eyes if you ask me!

The Buckinghams

The Buckinghams

Not like these clean living young men from groovy London town!

Rolling Stones 1967

Rolling Stones 1967

Wow! Look at the young Keith Richards in 1967 (middle row on the right).  And look at him now:

Keith Richards 2012

Keith Richards 2012

If you ever needed a reason not to take a bucket load of drugs look no further!

 The Stone’s recipe is one of the six that contain frankfurters as one of the key ingredients.

  • Chili Dog Chili by the aforementioned Paul Revere.  That man sure did love his chilli!
  • Golden Joys
  • Hurry up Casserole
  • Frankfurter Casserole
  • Hot Dogs on The Rocks by the Rolling Stones
  • Frank Pops by The Cyrkle.  I have no idea who The Cyrkle were.  And  if this recipe is anything to go by, I’m not surprised that they have faded into obscurity. Placing battered franks on a stick doesn’t make them more fun, it only adds insult to injury!
The Cyrkle's Frank Pops

The Cyrkle’s Frank Pops

Mind you, the recipe from The Rolling Stones is not up to much either…although…with the right sausage, a proper gourmet one, and proper mash, this could be a perfectly acceptable meal!  It can, can’t it?  Or have I just been married to an Englishman for too many years?

Hot Dogs on The Rocks

Hot Dogs on The Rocks

I love a recipe that comes with its own warning! In case you were wondering

“Mick Jagger invented the potatoes and franks; Charlie Watts added the beans”

There is a tone to some of the entries that suggests there may not have been much love lost between Ms Ashley and some of the celebrities. Here is Ashley’s introduction to Liza Minelli’s recipe for Crepes Suzette:

“Liza Minelli is a little girl who’s come a long way despite a terrible handicap”

The part of me that craves gossip and scandal read on with an overly avid “Wow, really?  What’s she got?”

The so-called terrible handicap?

Famous parents.

Unless they had different meanings for both the word “terrible” and the word “handicap” back in the late ‘60’s that is a nasty thing to say about someone! Poor old Liza doesn’t even get a proper photo, just a teeny thing on the cover!

Carol Lawrence also gets short shrift (even if she does get a very glamorous photo).

Carol Lawrence 001

We are told that Carol is:

“Making a rather nice name for herself in Hollywood; not as a star but as a lasagne-maker”


Not really how a Tony Award Winning Actor would want to be known!  Mind you, she did go on to write a best-selling cookbook about Italian Cooking so maybe Ashley’s comment is more prescient than catty. 

 You may have noticed whilst reading this that there have been no pictures of food.  That’s because the book doesn’t contain any. This, as with most celebrity cookbooks, is long on celebrity, short on food.  That some of the recipes sound super is a bonus.  That some of them sound absolutely vile will be the subject of the next post.

In the meantime, put some flowers in your hair, light some incense and groove out to some fabulous sounds of the sixties. It’s what I’ll be doing!

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Bring on The Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer – The Hot Weather Cookbook – Kim MacDonald (1971)

Summer has arrived in the Southern Hemisphere.  As I write this it is nudging 40° outside. So, as it is too damn hot to do anything else, I thought I would seek some cooking inspiration from the Hot Weather Cookbook. The book promises:

“Cool easy to prepare meals, featuring luscious fruits, crisp salads, refreshing appetisers, barbecues, light desserts and long, icy drinks”

 Bring it on.  As I sit here sweltering, I could do with some of those, particularly the long icy drinks!  The back blurb further advises that the author Kim MacDonald

“fully understands the problems and potentials of summer food preparation”

As she should, given she has written a book about it.  I would expect nothing less.  However, the blurb significantly does not claim that Ms MacDonald fully understands the problems and potentials of attention to detail or the problems and potential of colour coordination because there are some shockers in here.

Cover - Hot Weather Cookbook 001

It starts off really well with this lovely artwork.  This is not only very pretty but it also has a “Where’s Wally” / hidden object game feel to it. I’ve amused myself for a considerable amount of time locating a garlic crusher, a trident style fork, the ever-present pineapple, a cocktail with an olive in it etc.  I’m easily amused.  Or possibly  delirious.  Did I mention how hot it is? 

Hot Weather Cookbook 001

Sadly, the pleasure brought on by that picture doesn’t last long – 14 pages to be exact because that’s when this photo appears. 

Florida Cocktail 001

Did no one involved in this think to take those oranges out of their plastic netting?  At first I thought that maybe they couldn’t fully understand the problems of how to photograph a round object without it rolling all over the place.   However, other pictures in the book demonstrate that some bright spark realised that oranges can be prevented from rolling by being stacked on top of each other:

Tomato Salad with Orange Segments

Tomato Salad with Orange Segments

Or by being placed in a more appropriate receptacle:

Orange souffle 001

I can only conclude that someone from the art department thought that leaving the oranges in their netting was a creative, citrussy version of fish nets hanging from the ceilings in seafood restaurants.  It’s not.  It just looks like someone left their shopping on the table. 

The styling in this book is BONKERS.

I’ll start with one of the milder examples.  I don’t understand why anyone thought this table-cloth would look good with this collection of icy drinks.  It clashes with everything else on the page, particularly that purple drink.  Although, there’s probably not many places where that drink would fit in.  Maybe a circus. One where the clowns kill people. 

Cocktails 001a

The next one scares me. There is a distinct “beware of what’s lurking in the dark” vibe.  That ivy has a very creepy Evil Dead / Day of The Triffids aura, not to mention the menacing looming shadows.  I honestly believe that if you  tried to help yourself to some of the Banana Rum Mousse that ivy would wrap itself around your wrist and drag you up the wall kicking and screaming before you could even wonder why the mousse is being served in such inappropriate  glasses.   And, surely, the only reason for the existence of that tablecloth must be that those colours and swirls do a really good job of hiding the bloodstains left behind by the victims of the evil ivy. 

Banana Rum Mousse 001

The next photo has an equally hideous tablecloth but there is some  internal logic to it.  Curry is tropical.  Batik is tropical.  (But then, to paraphrase  my man Martin Lampen, so is dengue fever).  You can have too much of a good thing.  Which could explain why they chose jonquils for the vase instead of a tropical flower.  Personally, I would have gone with a frangipani and a less leery table-cloth but I probably don’t fully understand the problems and potential of theming  table coverings and floral arrangements. It’s a good thing Ms MacDonald and team do.

beef curry 001

I recently listened to a very entertaining and informative podcast on Stuff To Blow Your Mind about Stendahl Syndrome which is a reaction some people have to great works of art.  They can faint, become intensely anxious, or even hallucinate – in short they are utterly overcome by the sheer beauty and magnificence of the works around them.  If you want to know more about this fascinating disorder, you can link through to that podcast here:


The reason I mention this is because I had a similar reaction, for the absolute opposite reason, with these next two pictures.  Similar in that I started to feel dizzy, headachey and slightly nauseous.  Opposite because my reactions were in response to sheer unadulterated ugliness.  I honestly felt like these pictures were screaming at me. They not only made my eyes hurt, they made my ears hurt!

I haven’t been able to find existing references to an Anti-Stendahl Syndrome.  So, I may have just invented a disorder.  Fryer’s Syndrome – what happens when people have an intense physical reaction to something really ugly.

Gazpacho 001

I can’t tell you what appalls me most about this picture of gazpacho.  The hideous green tablecloth? The sieved egg yolks that look like maggots? The the ice-cube sitting on the egg?  I suspect all of the above.  I can tell you it inspired an acute attack of Fryer’s Syndrome.  It was however, nothing to the bout of Fryer’s syndrome caused by this:

Greek Salad 001

Oh boy, I don’t even know where to start with this one.  I don’t think I can.  Being rendered entirely gobsmacked in the face of the fugly must be a symptom of Fryer’s Syndrome.

Ok, I’m now going to try to convince my family that having their previously good name associated with people wanting to throw up in the sight of really ugly stuff is actually a good thing.

As soon as the cool change comes.

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