Monday, August 4, 2014

Culture and the Kitchen: A Taste of Cooking Past


Sunday August 10 at 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Please join Suzanne DeWitt at the opening reception for her exhibit at the Buttonwoods Museum. As the museum's first guest curator, Suzanne has created a nostalgic collection inspired by gastronomic ephemera from the 1920s to the 1960.

Cookbooks are time capsules and anthropological windows into life and culture. The making of a Sunday dinner in 1895 was very different from it's making in 1954, and another thing entirely in 2014. The procurement process for a chicken alone is vastly different, as are the styles of meal taking, our calorie requirements, and many other things. Suzanne's personal collection of cookbooks inspired this exhibit, featuring things like the "new mechanical iceboxes", war-time meals which accommodate rationing, entertaining without servants, psychedelic Jell-O preparations, and how to achieve better living through the use of the best brand of shortening. Each book is a snapshot into an era and a way of life that we have left behind. Each one illustrates the concerns and limitations of the day, while focusing on the vast improvements in ease of preparation and quality which arrive with each new generation.

Suzanne's exhibit presents a pivotal shift for each decade from the 1920s through the 1960s to highlight how the culture impacted the American kitchen.

Materials presented include period recipe collections, cookware, product advertisements, aprons, and many other items.

Come prepared to reminisce and maybe even giggle a little.

Buttonwoods Museum / Haverhill Historical Society
240 Water St,
Haverhill, Massachusetts 01830

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Betty Crocker's Ways with Hamburger

"Just imagine a whole collection of ground beef recipes in one little book!"

I love this book. It's small; a 5" hardcover square in the style of a children's book, which makes sense given that it was published by Golden Press in 1969.

I can't figure out to whom the book is targeted. From the style and illustrations (by Roland Rodegast) you'd think it was for Little Golden Book readers. Take this snowman for instance:

Some of the recipes are things I would expect an adult to use. Others are like this one:

After all, how many of you actually pull out a cookbook to make a simple burger? Sure Rachel Ray helped keep her book business alive by inventing burger variations of all flavors and protein types, but you and I generally know how to get a hamburger together. By memory.

So I can't quite figure it out, this little book.

Since the burger picture above isn't really a recipe, here's something that actually does qualify. Make it, and it won't be the milkshake that brings the boys to your yard.

Hungry Boy's Casserole

1 pound ground beef
1 cup sliced celery
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (1 pound) pork and beans
1 can (1 pound) lima beans
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste

In large skillet, cook and stir ground beef, celery, onion, green pepper, garlic and salt until meat is brown and onion is tender. drain off fat.

Stir in pork and beans, lima beans (with liquid) and tomato paste. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes. 4 to 6 servings.
That old lima bean juice is sure to keep them coming back for more!

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Spring Haul!

I just got a new batch of cookbooks!

The local library held their twice yearly Big Book Sale and when I go, I always head straight to the cookery section. This time I waited until clearance hour, when prices drop to $2.00 a bag.

What a collection!

Check it out:

It may not look like much from this shot, but trust me, it's a treasure trove.

Stay tuned for a taste of the first one shortly.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Win an Apron... and Bragging Rights!

Tuttorosso Tomatoes is hosting another giveaway and recipe contest on its Facebook page (

Between Jan. 14 and Feb. 8, Tuttorosso will send an apron to the first 4,000 people who 'like' Tuttorosso and submit their favorite Italian recipe.

(Have I mentioned that I love aprons, and have a vintage apron collection?)

But it's not just a free apron. Four recipes will be highlighted on Tuttorosso's Facebook page and website, and will also be printed on future Tuttorosso cans!

How cool is that?

One grand prize winner will even receive a $500 gift card for!

You can submit an original Italian recipe for anything OTHER THAN TOMATO SAUCE. Soups, casseroles, main dishes, cocktails, you name it. Just not sauce.

Here are the basic rules:

The recipe must include a minimum of one Tuttorosso product. It must be original. It must list ingredients in order of use, and in standard U.S. measurements.

You also have to include a photo of the finished product.

Here's a direct link to the contest:

Good luck, and happy cooking!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I'm a Convert: Tuttorosso had Me at Hello

I recieved a sample package of tomatoes recently from Tuttorosso, and here's what I found inside:

The box included three kinds of tomatoes, a cleverly designed ergonomic pot holder, several recipe cards, a refrigerator magnet imprinted with useful kitchen information, and a drink koozie.

Why a drink koozie, you may ask?

I don't know. I would think a collapsible wine glass would be more apropos, but perhaps that's just my drink preference talking.

I decided that I'd use the first can for my Tuscan Tomato Soup.

While I chopped an onion, I could hear the green olive oil start to bubble in my favorite vintage enameled pot.

It made a good, hot sound.

I tasted the tomatoes straight out of the can, which I don't usually do. I tend to wait until all the ingredients are in before taking my first sample. Often the tomatoes are tinny or tart, and I worry about how the soup will come out. I've found that the off flavor cooks out with some time. In this case however, the tomatoes were amazing right from the container; fresh, and sweet, the basil florally apparent.

I would have been happy to carry the can to the couch along with a hunk of good bread, and just have at it.

I managed to practice a bit of restraint however, and dumped the can into the kettle, then added the few remaining ingredients. It is a simple concoction of onions, tomatoes, basil, and black pepper. Sometimes I add red wine, but not tonight. Sometimes I add red pepper. Sometimes I finish it with cream.

Once it was all in, I left it on a low simmer and went off to play with one of my Christmas presents. An hour or two later, after a quick whirl with my immersion blender and the addition of more basil, we ate the soup along with a few satisfyingly garlic cheesy cheddar biscuits.

The soup was delicious. It usually is, but as I said, it normally takes time. I'm guessing that with the Tuttorosso tomatoes, it would have been wonderful if I'd merely heated it before whizzing it up.

I still have the can of the sauce, and the can of whole plum tomatoes left. I'm now wishing I'd used the sauce for the soup, and saved the crushed for some sort of tomato and bread concoction. I'm envisioning a cross between panzanella and tomato pudding. Yum!

So yes, I'm a convert. Thanks for the sample pack Tuttorosso! I'll be buying more soon!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Hot Dr. Pepper!

Today I was reminded about the (to me) strange idea of serving Dr. Pepper hot. (Click here to read my previous post on the subject.)

The film and sound quality for this video is terrible, but still. It's worth the watch for those of you who remain skeptical about whether or not to heat up a batch.

Perfect for wrapping up your holidays. There's still time; it's not midnight yet!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Latest Love, In all it's Psychedelic Glory!

Check out this fabulous find from a recent library book sale:

It's a far out promotional piece which Cool Whip published in 1969. And just to make it that much hipper, check this out:

That's right. It stands up! 

Here's a close up of Miss Psychedelic Cupcake Girl:

Something tells me her name might be Lucy.

This is just the beginning of the awesomeness. Stay tuned for more love to come from this special book.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Moxie. Wicked Good Stuff

I'm drinking my first Moxie, even as I type.

It is reputedly the oldest soft drink in America, having been brewed since 1884. I haven't done the research to either confirm or deny this factlet.

All I know is that it definitely is different. No doubt about that. Just take it from this guy:

Moxie. Try it if you can find it in your neck of the woods.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Get 'em while you still can...

Oh, the days of prepackaged chocolatey goodness are numbered!

No matter if you call them King Dons, Big Wheels, or Ding Dongs, they soon will be no more. Hostess is apparently going out of business.

Run, don't walk, to your corner store.

Fill your freezer.

Stock up while you still can.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I'm not done with Bacon! Curried Macaroni, at your service

Might as well cook it while you can afford it!

In case you're tired of the same old BLTs, rashers and eggs, and angels on horseback, here's a recipe just for you.

Curried Macaroni

Cook 1 package (8 ounces) elbow macaroni or macaroni shells according to package directions. Prepare 2 cups Medium White Sauce. Add 1 tablespoon minced onion and 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder. Add macaroni; heat thoroughly. Garnish with bacon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cook of the Month! That's Me!

I'm Cook of the Month here in (not so) sunny Newburyport! The Daily News featured me in today's newspaper: Inspired to become a Foodie


I'm very happy with the article, but hope that my Mom won't be offended by the few lines mentioned about the cooking I remember from childhood. Loyal readers of this blog know that she is a beloved guest blogger who has posted several recipes here.

(She also gave me the pig plate shown holding braised pork in the picture above.)

As you'll see if you take a read, I focused on cranberry recipes, because tis almost the season. Also because I love them.

It was great to spend time with Features Editor Katie Lovett, and photographer extraordinaire Jim Vaiknoras. They made me feel very relaxed, as if I was merely having a few friends over for dinner.

Thanks Daily News! You made my Wednesday!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Broiled Fish with Bacon-Grease-Slathered Bananas

Continuing with the bacon thing, here's a recipe sure to please seafood lovers, bacon lovers, and lovers of all things sunny and fruity. It comes from a 1958 Cookindex recipe card, published by Tested Recipe Institute, Inc.

Shad Tropicana

Select a shad weighing about 4 pounds. Have the fish dealer split and bone it. Wash fish thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Place the split, boned shad on a well-greased broiler pan. Brush the fish with melted butter or margarine and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil fish, 3 to 5 inches from the heat, without turning, 8 to 10minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Halve 3 slices of bacon. Fry bacon strips in a skillet until crisp. Drain bacon well on paper towel; keep warm. Peel and slice 2 medium-size bananas; dip slices in bacon fat. About 2 minutes before removing shad from broiler, arrange banana slices in a row on top of fish. Finish broiling fish. Remove fish carefully with a broad spatula or pancake turner to a hot platter. Garnish with bacon, lemon wedges and parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

For the Love of Bacon

In honor of what we may soon pay a fortune to indulge in, I offer the following.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

All Hail, the Shortage of Bacon

As if the election hubub weren't enough, the panic mill is screeching about a potential bacon shortage. Or at the very least, skyrocketing prices.

My advice: buy now, thaw later. And while doing both, please sing this song.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Goodness How Delicious

A few years ago in Florida, while driving from Jacksonville to the center of the state to visit my mom, I came across an entirely new culinary masterpiece. A southern tradition:

Yep, that's right: boiled peanuts.

They were sold off the tail gate of a pickup truck in a dusty spot on the side of the road.

I liked them. A LOT. They are salty, oddly meaty, slightly strange, and weirdly delicious.

They are also very easy to make if you can find raw peanuts in your neck of the woods. All you do is take 4-5 pounds of peanuts in the shell, cover them with 6 quarts of water, add a cup of salt, and boil them for 2-4 hours (or longer if you like them sooooooofffftttt.)

But don't take my word for it. Just listen to Burl and Johnny:

Goodness how delicious!

More Food Holidays! Pshew.

I hunted through nearly all my vintage cookbooks and couldn't find a single entry for Grasshopper Pie. Thought that would be a shoe in for Creme de Menthe day, but no luck. Must be a newer invention than I'd thought!

Turns out that there are multiple national food holiday calendars, and thank goodness, I found two additional days for this week!

Luckily for me I found out that today is National Peanut Day. Peanuts should be easy. Plus Saturday is National Linguine Day.

With these new entries, I'll head back to my cookbooks and post something later today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hot Cross Buns and Other Treats of the Week

 This week's national food holidays include:
  • September 11 National Hot Cross Bun Day 
  • September 12 National Chocolate Milkshake Day 
  • September 14 National Cream-Filled Donut Day 
  • September 15 National Creme de Menthe Day
Check back soon for a celebratory recipe. Which food item do you think I'll pick?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

National Cheese Pizza Day Take 2

All right, so I'm not quite over National Cheese Pizza Day. I'm declaring it a week right here from my little corner of Massachusetts.

Today's version doesn't include hot dogs, which may relieve you. It comes from Betty Crocker's 1967 New Outdoor Cookbook (reprinted in 1973.)

Here's the title page, which includes an illustration of a groovy patio that I'd like to own some day.

And here's a photo of the finished result.

It looks pretty amazing, doesn't it? Reminds me of the grilled pizza fad from the last few years. Plus it looks like simple, classic, "real Italian" pizza, the kind I imagine enjoying in an osteria in Naples.

Sadly, looks can be deceiving. Take a peek at the recipe and you'll see what I mean.

Yep, you read it right. Catsup. Or Ketchup, if you prefer.

And bisquit mix. Again.

The page itself is bumpy and dimpled from some sort of exposure to water. Perhaps it was left open on a picnic table in the rain, while Mom fried bacon for Squaw Corn. Or perhaps they are the marks of tears, shed from a heart that yearns for cheese pizza.

Real cheese pizza.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

National Cheese Pizza Day! (Plus Hotdogs)

Today is National Cheese Pizza Day! Yippee!

In honor of this day of all days, I offer you the following recipe for Polka Dot Pizzas.

OK, so it's technically NOT cheese pizza. But it is pizza, sort of. And it does have cheese on it, as you can see by the picture.

It comes from Betty Crocker's 1975 Cookbook for Boys & Girls. You can see these very chillins below, enjoying the fruits of their labors.

I like this early example of multiculturalism. And that the guy on the left wears an apron adorned with strange farm animals. And that the blond girl in the middle sports a half eaten banana.

Here is the recipe, so that you can make it at home!

Be sure to notice the use of "baking mix", aka, Bisquick.

In case this part is confusing, they've included a close up of Frankfurter positioning:

Now bake it, let it cool a tiny bit, and voila! Biscuit dough, cheddar, hot dog pizza, ready to eat!

Please to enjoy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apron Shopping Would be Necessary

I realized something tonight.

If I lived in a a nudist colony, I'd definitely need larger aprons.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Butter (or Parkay) Never Looked so Good

Check out my new butter dish:

Exquisite, no?

And the price tag: 2 American dollars.

I soooo love thrift stores. They supply me with wonderful old cookbooks and gorgeous mid-century gems like this one.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Time is Barbecue Time!

I would so love to meet Frank Marcello, the illustrator who created this fabulous image from a 1960's Cutco cookbook. No Ozzie and Harriet idyll for him; nope, kids are about to kill themselves and each other, pets create havoc, and one dad sleeps through it all.

He's a funny one old Frank. Click here for more examples of his work.

Now I'm off to find a pair of those sexy lace up shoes...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cold or Hot, it's what's for Lunch!

If you've got guests coming, you know what to serve! Spam goes great with a pile of shredded iceberg. And when you add a side of pretzels, you can dip them in the cottage cheese and say that it's  the appetizer.

Don't forget; it's pure pork. Not sure what parts of the pig are included, but be assured that there no beef tongues are included.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ooh la la!

Is it weird that I'm fascinated by the evolution of French Dressing?

I think it might be. Especially after seeing this vintage Holt Howard salad dressing cruet:

But I think I'm going to write an article about it.

After reading all these old cookbooks, I'm seeing some interesting trends. It used to refer to a simple vinagrette, but evolved throughout the 20th century.

Here are a few pages from the 1942 New American Cookbook which includes recipes for a number of varieties.

Wikipedia says that the phrase means different things in different countries. Apparently so, for example, when looking for vintage images, one of the top hits was this picture:

Turns out French Dressing is sexy! Kraft couldn't even deny it. Look what they did in the 1960s:

For me, the sexiness is just a bonus. The story of how the vinaigrette became such a mid-century staple is what I find interesting. It stars in all sorts of dishes, in all sorts of ways.

So stay tuned. You may be hearing more about French Dressing. Might want to get yourself a lettuce hat and some silk stockings.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fun Facts About Champagne!

I just stumbled across this informational sheet on champagne from, and while I haven't done a lot of posts on booze, I thought it was kind of a cool summary. For example, I never knew that champagne started out as an accident, and that the bubbles were viewed as a quality problem.

I love this sort of foodolution (evolution in the food world). Happy accidents turning into great new dishes. Or a lack of ingredients leading to amazing culinary breakthroughs.

I wonder if the monk who "invented" champagne chats with the Earl of Sandwich in heaven, comparing notes about who's invention is the greatest?

Have a look. Interesting stuff.