One of my birthday presents this year was a truly enthralling item: The Sunday News Family Cook Book. It was published in 1962 by the New York News, and includes “favorite recipes” from readers as well as recipes from the paper itself. Many of the dishes in it sound just fine, although instructions are occasionally a little vague. Others, however, are mind-numbingly weird, and the food photography is…um…fascinating. Have you seen James Lileks’ book The Gallery of Regrettable Food? This book is right up that guy’s alley.
Some highlights (you can vote for your favorite at the end):
Hamburger Bean Medley. This includes baked beans, kidney beans, lima beans, and chow mein noodles, and makes my eyeballs ache. And just think of what it might do to your digestion.
A very fine selection of molded circular foods, including jelled chicken salad with a cranberry jello topping…
…a corn custard ring with fried tomatoes and a whole bag of lima beans (I believe those are bacon curls on top)…
…and a spinach ring filled with creamed chicken, fish or eggs.
I was struck by the Chiffon Chicken Pie, which is sort of a whipped chicken jello in a cracker crust, lightly garnished with peas and chilled.
Also the Norway sardine egg strudel, which doesn’t sound bad but is one of the ugliest dishes I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why you’re supposed to bend it into a hot-dog shape that way.
A “food from other lands” chapter resides in the back, beginning with “Canadian Chutney” and moving on to some highly dubious Chinese recipes that consist of cream of celery soup and overcooked bean sprouts.
An interesting interpretation of pizza (also in the “foreign food” section).
And some unusual recipes for mac and cheese casseroles. This one has little curls of anchovy carefully laid on top, and the cheese is a mixture of Cheddar and Swiss which sounds a bit odd to me. Other versions include chopped cucumber or whole sardines.
This one is just peaches doused in Sauternes, but the picture gives me hysterics. The recipe specifies “triangular wafers” for just this effect.
Also worth noting:
- Cottage cheese and bacon sandwiches
- A casserole of dried beef, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, and chow mein noodles
- Unhelpful measurements such as one can (No. 303) tomatoes
- A number of recipes calling for Ac’cent or Zest seasoning (anyone heard of these?)
- Stuffed beef heart
- Mock chicken legs, made by shaping ground veal and pork into chicken leg shapes, breading them in cornflakes and frying them, then simmering them in water (I cannot imagine what this would be like).
- Ham Pineapple Yams, which seem to consist of a ham patty topped with a pineapple ring, then topped with a sweet potato patty and baked.
- Floating Chicken, which seems to be a Toad in the Hole with fried chicken instead of sausages.
- Spaghetti-bologna casserole, which includes two cans of corn
- Bohemian Stew: beans, hominy, stuffed olives and frankfurters
- Frogs’ Legs Supreme, which uses cream of celery soup (and reminds you to remove the rubber bands from the frog legs)
- Clam and Eggplant Casserole, which just sounds plain disgusting
- Tuna Terrific!
- Curried Tuna Chowder
- Jellied Sauerkraut Consomme
- Lime Ham Salad, with sweet pickles and lime jello
- Lamb Chops Indian Style: cream style corn and curry powder
And a listing of The Uncommon Vegetables, which includes Chinese cabbage, horseradish, butternut squash, finocchi, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke, and zucchini. This makes me very happy that we’re not living in the sixties any more.
So if you’ve made it through all of that, I have a question for you. If I were to make one recipe out of this book, what should it be? Vote and let me know (feel free to write in your favorite if I haven’t picked it for the multiple choice), and I promise I will make the winning recipe and blog about it. I may even eat it, but let’s not get carried away. The polls will be open for one week!