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!
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”.
Ah, those crazy days of the ’60’s. I bet he feels a little silly about wearing that costume now….
Then again, maybe not.
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.
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.
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!
Not like these clean living young men from groovy London town!
Wow! Look at the young Keith Richards in 1967 (middle row on the right). And look at him now:
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!
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?
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?
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).
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!