Monthly Archives: December 2011

Cookbook Tuesdays: Mirro Challenge!

Mirro All-Purpose Cook Book, ©1954

Once upon a time (April of 2011), I invited my readers to prepare a 1956 dessert recipe that used, as a main ingredient no less, ketchup.

I had no takers.

The recipe, while unusual, didn’t actually sound awful. I’m still curious about it, and I’ll very likely make that dessert this week while I’m thinking of it.

This time, I’m not so brave. This week I’m featuring a recipe from my 1954 copy of the Mirro All-Purpose Cook Book, which I bought specifically for the chapter on pressure cooking (my Mirro-Matic pressure cooker is also, coincidentally, from 1954). The introduction says that the book “has been written for the average American homemaker who insists upon serving food at its best.” It also claims that each recipe in the book has been tested and approved for taste and appearance.

I don’t think so.

You see, there’s one recipe in here which I have decided must have been placed by a practical joker of an editor, and nobody ever caught it. Until now. Because there is no way, in spite of changing tastes, home economics, food availability, no NOTHING that would ever make this recipe seem like a good idea.

I give you: Banana Tuna Salad.

A recipe that did not stand the test of time. Any time. Ever.

For those of you who might enjoy stumbling upon this post via keyword searching, I’ll type out the recipe.

1 cup (1 or 2) ripe bananas, sliced or diced
1/2 cup canned or fresh pineapple, diced
1 10-oz. can flaked tuna
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 tablespoons stuffed olives, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

  1. Combine bananas and pineapple.
  2. Add tuna, celery, olives and salt.
  3. Mix together mustard and mayonnaise and add to salad ingredients. Mix lightly.
  4. Serve with crisp lettuce or other salad greens.
  5. Garnish with additional mayonnaise and lemon slices, if desired

 Serves 4.

Or 400, as soon as people hear what it’s made with. Go ahead. I dare you to try it. No, really! Post a personal review (or link to same) in these here comments, and be ready to provide photographic evidence if asked. I’ll give you two whole weeks to prepare! On January 11th I’ll choose a random reviewer from the comments to receive a copy of Magical Desserts with Whip’n Chill, published in 1965. This 44-page recipe booklet is worthy of a post of its own, to showcase these gorgeous, fluffy creations made with a product I’d never heard of, but which it turns out is still in production, although apparently only in food-service sizes. I imagine any instant mousse mix would work in place of the home-use-size packets of Whip’n Chill called for in the recipes.

Prize! Approximate $7 value!

View an interesting 1967 Whip’n Chill TV ad here.

(as usual, enclick any image to enlarge)

NOTE: You do NOT need to be a U.S. resident to enter!

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Take a Look-See: Party Chef by Cory


LIFE magazine, May 26, 1947

Perhaps best know for vacuum coffee pots and the patented “Cory coffee rod,” the Cory Corporation is also responsible for the flying saucer shaped gem that is the Party Chef electric skillet, patented in 1956. Behold, its brushed aluminum space-age greatness (click on any picture to enlarge):

The Florence (Alabama) Times, July 11, 1961

The Gadsden (Alabama) Times, January 28, 1968

Image from Carmen and Ginger

So, how happy am I that my Christmas present to myself arrived today? Many thanks to Carmen and Ginger for creating the perfect shipping box! This gorgeous specimen appears to be unused, but I won’t let that stop me. Bring on the fried cereal!

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Venting: Fun with Health Insurance

Illustration from iStockPhoto

I’m self-employed. Therefore, I’m self-insured.

I’m pretty healthy, thankfully. I visit a GP once a year for a “wellness” exam, and while I should see a dermatologist every 6 months, I go less frequently than that. I’m pretty adept at avoiding colds, but landed a nasty bronchial bug last winter that included a trip to the doctor’s office for some super-strength cough medicine. My blood pressure is fine, as are my cholesterol levels and whatnot. I carry insurance as, well, insurance. Against the possibility of an Unusual and Drastic Scenario.*

When I started buying my own insurance, back in 2008, my monthly premium was $144, with a rather ridiculous $2000 deductible. Each year, the premium and deductible crept higher. The price of doing business. I wasn’t happy about it, but it was understandable. In November of this year, I noticed that my premium had skyrocketed to $246, so I called to find out what was going on. Surely, I thought, this was some clerical error.

“Ah yes, I see here that we sent you the paperwork regarding new plans, but it was returned. We must have an incorrect address for you.” Well that’s funny, seeing as how my address hasn’t changed the entire time I’ve been doing business with you. I find out that the plan I’m on is no longer “current” and my high premium is a result of being “grandfathered” in to an outdated plan. The rep will transfer me to a Plan Expert who can help me choose a new plan. The helpful Expert and I discuss a few plans, a few prices quotes, and I decide on the $157/month plan for a $4000 deductible. He emails the appropriate Plan Change Request Form, with the instruction to check one particular box, sign, date, and return. And I do, that very afternoon.

A few days later, I receive a voicemail that some information is missing from the Plan Change Request Form. I am to refer to the mailed paperwork (that I never received, if you recall) and call back with the information. I call back, only to get their own voicemail system, telling me that all Experts are in a staff meeting. I leave a message with two phone numbers at which I can be reached, and wait for a return call.

More days go by, and now I receive a letter in the mail (oh look! my address is correct!) that they “have been unable to” reach me, and the missing information is still missing. I call again, speaking this time with a very nice woman who, it turns out, is in a different department. She attempts to connect me through but…all Experts are in a staff meeting. She promises to make a personal plea on my behalf, and I leave another voicemail.

In the meantime, another billing cycle has gone by, and another $246 premium is billed.

Woo, I get a call back! Actually, three in one day. Apparently, their log system doesn’t indicate that anyone has already spoken to me. Or the helpful woman I last spoke with left personal notes on a few desks. Anyway, I explain my story to a new Expert, she explains the missing information, quotes me a slightly higher premium than the previous Expert, and sends me to a web page for more information. The web page spits back at me the same $157 quote as the first Expert, so I fill out the confounded missing information, and return the form. Again. All is well, right?

Today, I received an email with the official “offer” for my new plan. This time, for an outrageous $315.50 per month. There’s something on the documentation about a claim processed for cervicalgia, which seems to be the culprit behind the price hike. Once again, I call.

I explain that I’ve been trying to change my plan since late November. I have lost all patience. I explain that I don’t have cervicalgia, I don’t know what cervicalgia is, and will they please re-review the documents and get. this. straightened. out. Well, they tell me, cervicalgia is quite serious, and it’s right there on my medical records that I was seen for it back in July. July? Why yes, I did see a doctor in July. I pulled a muscle and Advil wasn’t doing the trick. The folks in the office where I was working were very concerned, and had me in a panic with their horror stories of spinal injuries. I saw a doctor, who told me it was nothing serious; to apply heat, rest, and to take a prescribed muscle relaxer for a few days. I don’t think I took it for more than a night or two. “It sounds like it’s probably a coding error,” the insurance people say. I’ll need to request a copy of my medical records from my doctor, and send them in along with my own statement of what took place, and wait for re-evaluation.

Jiminy Christmas!

I call the Records department at my doctor’s office. I get a recording. It suggests I try another phone number, which I do. I get a recording. I look up “cervicalgia” and find out it’s medicalese for “neck pain.” Nothing drastic or serious about it. WebMD doesn’t even bother with a listing for it, and Wikipedia says that 2/3 of adults have it. My insurance company, however, is deeming it serious enough to warrant doubling my insurance premium, so I know that I’m going to need to speak with my doctor one-on-one.

I call the main desk at the doctor’s office, and get a recording. This time, I eventually am transferred to a human being. She tells me that the staff is at lunch, and doesn’t accept messages. I have to call back after 2pm.

::head desk:: ::head desk:: ::head desk::

_____________________________

*Back  in 2003, I was on the receiving end of a nasty car accident. My medical bills were in the thousands, and while the other person’s insurance eventually covered it, they legally have three years to pay out. If my own employer-subsidized health insurance hadn’t covered me in the interim, I’d have been financially destroyed in no time at all.

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Take a Look-See: WD, Nov 1968

Not much time to write any back-story for you today, but I can tell you that the following advertisements are all from the November, 1968 issue of Women’s Day. Click on images to enlarge.

KiNDNESSâ„¢ Instant Hairsetters by Clairol

Shimmering Chandelier would still look nice today!

Sterling Silver Charm Bracelet and Brooch. I have my grandmother's, although it predates this one by nearly two decades.

Win Schiaparelli furs…from Wyler's! I always think "jaguar coat" when I'm mixing up a cup of instant bouillon, don't you?

"High-fashion beauties for a low-fashion budget." Heck, it's 43 years later and I still can't afford some of these!

 

 

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Take A Look-See: Oh So Tasty Edition

Here’s a quick post for you tonight. From the July, 1950 edition of National Geographic, this ad is (rather obviously) for Hormel ham. Click image for inflating.

Hormel Ham, 1950

Deviled and chopped versions aside, doesn’t it actually look oh, so tasty? Tender, pink, rimmed in that moisture-trapping layer of fat glazed with brown sugar and studded with cloves. As far as I know, and as best as I can tell from the Hormel website (and the FDA as well), canned ham is really the same product as bone-in ham, without the mess of the bone. Who needs spiral slicing machines when your own kitchen knife can glide right through? Why have canned hams fallen out of favor? I think I’ll buy one next time I’m grocery shopping. Let’s bring back the canned ham!

Oh, and that little violator banner in the lower left? The one that mentions The Hormel Girls? Click here to hear them share a few words.

Mmmm, hammmm.

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Cookbook Tuesdays: Pastry Cook Book

Thought I forgot today, eh?

I did. A little. That is, I remembered a few times, when I was otherwise busy. And then I remembered when I wasn’t. Whew!

Pastry Cook Book, 1954

Today’s randomly selected feature (this one happened to be on the coffee table tonight) is titled Pastry Cook Book, and is book number 237 in the series of Fawcett Books. We even get a photograph of our author, the lovely and Cordan [sic] Bleu-trained Mrs. Hyla Nelson O’Connor. Who looks as if she just might whack you with a rolling pin if you mess with her kitchen.

Mrs. Hyla Nelson O'Connor

I’d like to take a moment to deviate from the cookbook portion of this post, and focus for just a minute on Mrs. O’Connor’s manicures, as seen in the many How To photos scattered within the book. I’ve merged two examples here. (As usual, clicking on the images in this post will biggerate them).

A chef's manicures, circa 1954

On the top, we have a classic “moon” manicure with a tidy and efficient nail length. Below it, a more glamourous length and polish shade, this time covering the entire nail. Note the pointed almond shape. This is the nail shape I try to achieve, but my tiny, Jelly Belly nail beds don’t wear it very well. Still, I persist.

Okay, back to the cooking part of this book. Because posts like this are supposed to contain some humor regarding mid-century cooking, I’ll share with you my favorite cake decorating technique held within the pages. Given the publication date, you’d think this design would have rung a bell pretty quickly with the art director.

Danger! This banana cream torte is radioactive!

But how about some actual recipes? I haven’t (yet) cooked a single thing out of this book. The contents are a curious combination of complicated recipes containing 17 or so ingredients (Pfeffernuesse) and recipes that use boxed cake mix (Sherry-Cream Filled Angel Food Cake, for instance). However, I’ve selected a couple to share with you, based on their real ingredients, relative simplicity, and that they had photos. I hope to try them soon, and to hear from you if you try them as well!

First up, Danish Pancakes. I’ll bet the cardamom is a nice touch! If you like, I’d say you could skip the fruity bits, top them with lingonberry jam, and give Ikea’s Swedish Pancakes a run for their money.

Danish Pancakes

 

Next up, Apple Ring Fritters. I suspect that if you actually served them “piping hot” as suggested, you’d blister the roof of your mouth on the first bite.

Apple Ring Fritters. In today's terminology, "Stuffed Crust Donuts."

 

Finally, Petits Fours. Because petits fours are not just tiny cakes. When made properly, they have a flavor and texture all their own. Mmmm!

Petits Fours and Frosting

 

I’ll leave you with one last scan, of the back cover. And you’d better believe that I’m now on the hunt for Today’s Woman Pie Cook Book and especially Build Your Own Modern Furniture!

Pastry Cook Book, back cover

Bon appétit!

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