Nutritional Nostalgia

I have had occasional compliments on the culinary imagination shown in this blog, with suggestions that I put together a cookbook. I am not fooled, mint omelet: you’re just after the old family recipe for tapioca meatloaf. I’m not sure I could even pass that along without breaking my promise to the Commander-In-Chief to deploy the recipe only among people known to be hostile to the United States.

Anyway, somebody has already written my cookbook. I am in possession of a Good Housekeeping booklet of party recipes: Ten P.M. Cook Book. I admit that I don’t always understand everything I see in donated books.  But Frosted Ham? How did they come up with that one without reading my blog?

I have read through the Treasure Chest recipe three times to understand it, and I’m not sure I have succeeded. I guess you take out the middle of a big unsliced loaf of bread, slice it, make sandwiches, and then fit the sandwiches back into the cavity you created earlier. The recipe warns you to keep track of the slices as you make the sandwiches, as a gourmet jigsaw like this isn’t done right if you force the pieces together.

The Mock Pink Champagne sounds all right—it’s citrus juices in ginger ale, essentially—but I wish they hadn’t included the color picture which makes it look as if someone blended Tang with Pepto-Bismol. There are right ways and wrong ways to photograph food—we had that Hungarian cookbook last year which made everything look like what you’d eat only during a famine, and then with your eyes closed. This book doesn’t go quite so far, but somebody’s eye for color was off. It may simply be that those bright blue dishes popular in the day throw off my own eye. (Did I mention that this book is roughly my age? Yes, we did have fire in those days, thank you for asking. There’ll be a surcharge on your total, come July.)

The book does include some good recipes. In the section on “When Those Unexpected Guests Drop In”, they suggest Tuna-Olive Bites. Yeah: that’ll teach ‘em. And whoever put the Cheeseburger Stack in the section of food for Teenagers knew something about feeding the pack (though they do claim 1 ½ pounds of ground chuck serves six teenagers.) I’m not quite so sure about the Bacon Pizzas which you make with English muffins and Cheddar. (They insist on capitalizing Cheddar.)

Yes, this treasure will be for sale in July, unless someone at the Newberry wants to keep it for reference when planning next year’s Gala Dinner. I see us opening with the glass of cream of chicken soup with a quarter cup of sherry added, following up with these Frosted Fudgies before moving to the Lazy Susan Frank Buffet, and then going straight to the Chafing-Dish Lobster and Shrimp (another color picture: how DID they create that revolting shade of pink?). For afters, I expect we’ll have several flavors of the Flower Tarts, especially the Nutted Prune and Crunchy Mince. It will either be a grand nostalgia night, or the first Newberry Gala where the guests paid $1,000 a plate to have the plate taken away.

(Oh, all right: the Frosted Ham comes in two varieties, one of which involves mixing curry powder into mayonnaise and frosting the ham liberally with the result. The other, which intrigues me more, has you decorating the ham with green pepper slices and then covering the whole thing with a mixture of liquefied gelatin, brown sugar, and dry mustard. They ask that this ham be “well-chilled” before you pour on the frosting. I should think so.)

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