Magic Silver Mushrooms

IMG silver mushrooms Crocker Dinner Parties 1974

I’m posting this because it just stuck in my head – I saw the photo and I just kept thinking, I ought to post this, it is so weird and yet kind of retro and clever – and silver! I like silver jewelry and silver shoes (although the only silver shoes I ever wore were really painful fancy sandals that I will never wear again, but I just can’t get rid of them they are too lovely). So why not silver mushrooms?

These are from my dear pal Betty Crocker in her Betty Crocker’s Dinner Parties (1974), in the chapter entitled “Today’s Sit-Down Dinners.” Well, I don’t know how many sit-down dinners you are planning to have today, but you can make this centerpiece for one of them.

You have to start this yesterday though, if you want it today (if you know what I mean). Or today for tomorrow, of course.

Anyway – the day before you need this thing, insert 3″ pieces of wire in about 10-15 mushrooms (fresh, white button mushrooms that is). It looks nice if they are different sizes. Spray with silver spray paint and then let them dry over night (Betty says that they will shrink a little but will keep their shape – I guess she should know).

Take a wicker basket (you could spray paint this silver or a contrasting color like blue or pink - or use white like they do here) and put  in a “needle frog” with a bit of florist’s clay under it to make it stick. Here is a picture of needle frogs. They are support things that go under the  styrofoam that you will put in next. It should come up to the top of the basket, but not quite. Stick on some moss and little flowers, and stick the mushrooms in too, via the wires you stuck in them yesterday.

And that’s that!

I will definitely be posting again today, if for no other reason than that it is National Macaroon Day!

A Salad Matinée: The Green Goddess

IMG_0001 green goddess

Green Goddess salad dressing was created by the chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in honor of George Arliss, the stage actor who was staying there during the run of William Archer’s play of that name. 

It also capitalized on the release of the silent movie version of the play in that year (the movie was remade as a talkie in 1930). As far as I can tell, it is sort of a 1920s version of the Beatles’ Help! (1965), complete with politically incorrect South Asian stereotyping and the possibility that the British characters will be sacrificed to appease an angry goddess. Well, OK, otherwise it is different. The George Arliss production doesn’t have all those Lennon-McCartney songs, for one thing.

Anyhow, here is more information, including contemporary reviews and stills, about The Green Goddess on film. And here is more information about the original creation of the salad dressing.

A few other things were named for Archer’s play, including the beautiful 1927 locomotive on the Romney, Dymchurch & Hythe steam railway at Tentenden, Kent, England.

I also have some recipes for Green Goddess dressing that will appease anyone at your dinner table – just in case you happen to have an angry goddess on the guest list. There was a commercially bottled version made by Seven Seas in the early 1970s. I remember seeing that. My mother never got it. I thought that it had something to do with the fondness for avocado green in decorating, actually.


1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tb finely chopped anchoveis or anchovy paste
3 Tb finely chopped chives or green onions
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup thick sour cream
1 Tb lemon juice
1 Tb tarragon vinegar
dash of salt, dash of finely ground pepper

[Combine, presumably. Marye did not say, but we can all figure this out!]

–from Marye Dahnke’s Salad Book (New York: Pocket Books, 1954, reprinted 1965), p. 41

And from the Red Lion Room at the Holiday Inn at Bismarck, North Dakota (circa 1972) – whose “continental cuisine is outstanding” -


1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
3 to 4 onion tops, minced
2 Tb cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups mayonnaise
8 oz. sour cream
1 dash green food coloring

Mix all ingredients together and let stand in refrigerator for a short time before serving. Makes approximately 3 cups.

–from the Holiday Inn International Cook and Travel Book, ed. Ruth Malone (Holiday Inns, Inc. 7th ed. 1972), p. 230.

Yum, green food coloring! Actually, this sounds great, if you use fresh garlic (or roasted garlic maybe), cut down on the mayo, and leave out the, um, food coloring. The hungry goddesses at your table will thank you, and come back for seconds.

Serve them a good dessert as well, and they will be too content (and full) to be angry!

Image is from the theatre program I mentioned in the last post, from the Booth Theater in New York. My grandparents saw the play there in April 1921. Note snazzy Egyptian cigarette ad at the bottom of the page.

“The Wiener The World Awaited!”

IMG_0002 wieners in can 1950s LHJ

I’m not sure that the world realized this. All the other issues at hand in the 1950s: the Cold War, the postwar economy, trying to fit into pencil skirts…all solved, nay “revolutionized,” by all the (gulp) “quickie meals” that would arise from Oscar Meyer Wieners in a Can. And also the Sack o’ Sauce. Can’t forget the Sack o’ Sauce, can we now?

Also: it is not a plus when a food (especially food in a can, or emanating from a sack) is “so different it’s patented!” It’s different, all right.

A decade after this ad, they had that commercial where the kids sing that they wanted to be Oscar Meyer Wieners, remember that? I do, it was on into the 1970s. I never actually knew any kid who expressed that desire; nor did I really want to be a hotdog. Supposedly the deal was that if you were one of those things, everyone would “be in love with you” – an idea that I don’t want to deconstruct right now (or ever, thanks) but…I think that it’s a more likely proposition that IF you are a hotdog, people will EAT you for dinner. Not be in love with you!

And if you are a hotdog in a can…oh, ugh. Never mind. Moving right along…

Here’s a recipe to go with this entrancing product. From Recipes For Young Adults (1973), here is a grown-up “After-The-Game Snack”:


8 frankfurters
8 slices sandwich bread
1/2 cup grated cheese
3 Tb chopped onion
3 Tb prepared mustard
8 stuffed olives

1. Cover frankfurters with boiling water; let stand 8 minutes; drain.
2. Butter bread (remove crusts if desired).
3. Combine chopped onion and mustard.
4. Dip buttered side of bread in grated cheese and spread onion mixture on unbuttered side. Place a frankfurter diagonally across each slice on onion-mustard side.
5. Fasten two opposite corners of slice with toothpick.
6. Place bread side down on broiler pan 3 inches from heat. Broil 2-3 minutes on each side to toast.
7. Perch stuffed olives on toothpicks.

Aw, the olives are perched on the toothpicks, how cute. I didn’t know they could do tricks. But now that wieners come in a can I guess anything is possible.

Note that if we make this recipe we will have a leftover Sack o’ Sauce. I can’t imagine what we’re going to do with that.

Still Life With Bundt Cake and Brooding 1970s Waiter

IMG_0001 strange bundt waiter pic

This is a nice recipe, but the photo is strange. If you want to see gorgeous photos of the best Bundt cakes ever, I refer you to the incomparable T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types.

The weird waiter is in several photos in this book, jealously guarding a Bundt cake in a dark, moody setting. I don’t know who he is or why he is so obsessed.


2 cups finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup bourbon
3 q/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
8 eggs
2 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup bourbon

In small bowl, combine walnuts and 1/2 cup bourbon, mix well. Let stand. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside. In small bowl, beat eggs until they are thick and light. In large bowl, cream butter with sugar until light; beat in vanilla. Add beaten eggs, beating at low speed, then at high speed until mixture is thick ad fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture just until combined. Stir in bourbon-walnut mixture. Turn batter into greased and floured 12-cup Bundt Pan; spread with rubber scraper s that batter is slightly higher at side and against tube. Place a 12″ square of brown paper over pan. Bake 55-60 minutes at 350. Cool in pan 10-15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to complete cooling. Soak 18-inch square of cheesecloth in 1/2 cup bourbon. Wrap cake completely in cheesecloth then in foil. Store several days in an airtight container. Just before serving glaze with Coffee Glaze and garnish with nuts or sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.


2 tsp instant coffee
scant 3 Tb hot milk
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 Tb soft butter

Dissolve instant coffee in hot milk. In small bowl, combine sugar and butter. Gradually add milk to achieve desired consistency and stir until smooth.\

This recipe is from Over 300 Ways To Use Your Bundt Pans(1973) brought to you by the Nordic Ware Kitchen/Northland Aluminum Products folks in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Donut Muffins

Rogers Sugar 1973

I hesitated a little bit over this one, because the book is called Recipes For Young Adults. It was put out by the B.C. Sugar Refining Company in 1973 and – well, they specifically say young adults – not mid-forties adults who have been trying to wrestle meals onto the table for lo these many years.

But this is what I’ve got so far, so I’m going to press on anyway. Even though I am not sure how much refined sugar those young adults really ought to be taking on board. There is also a good dollop of household hints (how to get Rogers’ Pancake Syrup off the counter), and party suggestions (eat more sugar!) and a chapter on “Stain Removal” (because the spilling of the Rogers’ Golden Syrup is inevitable).

Actually this book covers the waterfront – all sorts of recipes. Though naturally they are rather keen on the sugary stuff.

And on edible conundrums. Here is the Donut Muffin. Is it a doughnut? Yes, sort of. But it is in a muffin tin and therefore…a muffin. But not really.


Oven 400 degrees, yield: 18 small; 20 minutes [baking time]

2 cups Master Mix
2 Tb sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. Stir sugar into Mix.
2. Combine milk, egg and Mix until well blended.
3. Bake in small muffin tins.
4. Dip one at a time into melted butter.
5. Remove quickly and shake in a bag containing sugar and cinnamon.


1. Sift 3 times: 9 cups flour, 1/3 cup baking powder, 1 Tb salt, 1 tsp cream of tartar, 1/4 cup sugar.
2. Cut in 2 cups shortening until mixture resembles cornmeal.
3. Store in covered containers at room temperature.
4. To measure pile lightly in cup and level with spatula.

These look like a good idea to me because I don’t like deep-frying things. It isn’t all that healthy, plus also the fear of burning myself (never mind the actual event) is also not healthy. I would make these, probably. Once in awhile. Usually I make vegetarian/vegan stuff in real life, much though I love retro recipes and baking – and desserts, and candy. Not that you can’t have healthy veggie-ish desserts, but – oh, you know what I mean.

Anyway. This book is full of useful things, not just sugar. Like how to make Wiener Winks (a hotdog appetizer) and advice on how full to fill the water glasses (three-quarters, you young’uns, not a drop more) and only “just before announcing the meal.” Come and get your Wiener Winks and Donut Muffins! Just what young adults like to eat while they’re – being young and youthful. And buying Rogers’ sugar.

Ice Cream Innovation

This is a handy tip if you want leftovers: make sure your guests won’t be able to get all the dessert out of the bowl! That’ll impress them plenty. Another nugget of wisdom from McCalls’ Show-Off Cookbook (1972 edition of the 1965 classic).

Serve the ice cream in brandy snifters, but that’s just the beginning. here’s another amazing tip : “Notice we say ice creams (plural) meaning, of course, that you depart from the norm and serve a variety of ice creams…”  More than one flavor! That’ll blow some minds. It’ll be just like Howard johnson’s!

The picture seems to show three strawberry and three vanilla ice cream snifters. That’s some variety!

I like this sauce they have on the next page though:

Cinnamon-Chocolate Sauce

3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 6 oz can evaporated milk, undiluted
1 tsp vanilla extract

In small saucepan, combine chocolate, 1/4 cup water, sugar, corn syrup, salt, cinnamon, and evaporated milk. Cook, stirring, over low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is thickened – about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, mixing until well-blended and smooth. Serve warm or cold, over peppermint ice cream. Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

It would be good on coffee or vanilla ice cream, too. 

Frisky Sours and Cocktail Soup

IMG McCalls' Cocktail-Time cookbook

Dear 1965 McCall’s Cocktail-Time Cookbook,

I realize that it is possible that the author of the strangeness within is in fact the pineapple made out of Cheez Whiz and olive slices pictured on the front cover. It appears to be drinking white wine. That is always a good choice at cocktail-time.

But you know what else is a good choice? Cocktails, with alcohol in them, that’s what. Like whisky sours or vodka and tonic, honestly, you don’t need to get fancy.

I would really like to know who thought up the idea of Frisky Sours. Beef bouillon put into a cocktail shaker with crushed ice, ice water and lemon juice,  which is then shaken “until slightly foamy” (ugh) and put into an Old-Fashioned glass. This is not a pleasant pre-dinner drink. This is just too much like a nice glass of Lake Ontario, not that I know what it tastes like. The saltiness and the foam though – the foam disturbs me. A lot.

Next time you have an Old-Fashioned glass around, you might want to put – oh, I don’t know – an Old-Fashioned in it.  Jimmy (formerly of Ciro’s London) has a good recipe: soak one lump of sugar with Angostura bitters, add a lump of ice, fill the glass with rye and squeeze a lemon peel on top.

And then there’s the whole concept of the Cocktail Soup. Please, why the obsession in this book with soup and broth? Soup is soup. That is why they call it the soup course. But you suggest that I serve “a cup of conviviality” – i.e. a mug of soup – in my living room “as you might a cocktail before dinner.” To be “sipped slowly, interspersed with pleasant talk.” But if I hand around mugs full of Hawaiian Holiday Cup (which involves both tomato soup and pineapple) the talk will not be so pleasant. And as for the South Sea Soup (green pea soup and orange juice, garnished with popcorn) – believe me, after seeing that soggy popcorn floating on top, no one will feel convivial.

May I suggest a little something from the Bahamas Tropical Drink Mixers Guide (1978) by Herbert Z. Burrows, Master Mixologist. Mr. Burrows is just the sort of person we need! Here you go, this ought to do nicely:

Maynard Banana

1 oz. Dark Rum
1 oz. Southern Comfort
1/2 oz. Creme de Banane
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Blend with crushed ice. Serve in 12 oz. Collins glass. Garnish with orange slice and cherry.

And with the help of David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1961), we can make some real whisky sours:

Whisky Sour

1 part Sugar Syrup
2 parts lemon juice
8 parts rye or bourbon

Just mix ‘em up, pretty much. You can add a bit of Angostura Bitters, which Embury calls “a pleasing addition,” or substitute lime juice for lemon.

Finally, you might want to think about having the Cheez Whiz Pineapple be in charge of something else besides the drinks. Perhaps it could entertain those Wheat Thins that are gathering ominously on the plate.

It is just as easy to serve a glass of wine or sherry before a meal. (Or sherry after, that’s very nice). And soup is part of the meal, or the whole meal. Like in the Seinfeld episode “The Soup” – the soup is the meal!

Here’s mud in your eye,


What Every Candymaker Wants To Know

IMG_0001 1971 culinary arts

Well, where the sugar is, for one thing. Only that is not what the Culinary Arts Encyclopedic Cookbook (1971) means, precisely. They mean that you want to know how to jazz up your boring old candy with food colorings, nuts, coconut (yay, coconut work!), glacé syrup all over it. And also “making fascinating designs with pulled sugar or gossamer nests of spun sugar [which] lift a candymaker from the mediocre class.”

What if you made boring designs with the pulled sugar, or your spun-sugar nests were a little – twiggy looking? You’ll be held back to repeat the medoicre class, that’s what. But to tell you the truth, the Skuse’s Complete Confectioner from yesterday is really for the professionals. I was going to give you some more of those recipes, but you sort of need a starch machine and a Cream or Bonbon Warmer and, well, all sorts of things. And even though a Bonbon Warmer sounds fun, I don’t think I can get one at Wal-Mart or even Williams-Sonoma.

So today we will be making some candy with Ruth Berolzheimer & Co. I love the photo above, by the way. I’ll bet “the results are a joy forever” – if you like cleaning your kitchen again and again and never quite getting all the sugar off. Or if you plan to keep the spun sugar under glass on the mantelpiece.

Jam Sandwiches

Cut fondant into small squares, putting two squares together with a little strawberry or raspberry jam. Dip in melted chocolate.

Baked Fruit Fudge

2 Tbs butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 squares chocolate, melted
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup dates, raisins, figs, candied pineapple or cherries, chopped

Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the beaten egg yolks, melted chocolate, and extracts; beat well. Thoroughly bend in the flour and fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites Pour over the fruit arranged in a buttered baking pan and bake for avbout 30 minutes in a  slow oven (300 degrees). When cool, cut in squares.

I can’t resist this final recipe, since I always like recipes with strange names. I understand why it is called this, technically (sort of like the Krunchy Goo – it’s crunchy and it’s gooey) – it will stick to your teeth and by inference, to your jaw. But why would you put the lockjaw imagery into people’s minds in the first place?


3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups brown sugar
6 Tbs glucose
4 cups water
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups shredded coconut

Place the sugars, glucose and water in a large saucepan and cook to 312 degrees. Add the extracts and coconut. Pour into an oiled platter and when cold, cut into squares.

This actually sounds rather good – I would rename it if I was passing a plate of it around. Coconut Praline Fudge would be a good name.

Ultimately what every candymaker wants to know is: why can’t we just buy some candy for once. It’s hot and sticky in there with the pots and the sugar and the candy thermometer. Believe me, I know about all that. Stick-Jaw nothing, how about Stick-Fingers, Stick-Pots and Stick-Countertops!

The Bundt Cake Paradox

IMG_0001 bundt 1973

There are apparently 300 ways to use Bundt pans – at least they were up to 300 in 1973, when this strange little book came out. It is a little later in time than most of the cookbooks I collect, but I couldn’t resist this one. And I don’t think that the copyright was renewed (I just checked, and I was right). This was a one-off, and this recipe will help explain why. There are some mighty odd things these people wanted to put in their Bundt pans. I was very nearly going to present the Bean Bread (which involves hot roll mix and a can of pork and beans) but then I saw the following and knew I had my subject for today.

Sausage Cake

1 cup raisins
1 lb. pork sausage
1 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. soda
1 cup strong coffee
3 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts

Pour boiling water over raisins and let stand 5 minutes; drain well and dry raisins on paper towelling. In large bowls, combine meat and sugars; mix well. Add eggs and beat. Stir soda into coffee. Sift together dry ingredients and add to meat mixture alternatively with coffee. Beat well. Fold in raisins and walnut. Bake in greased and floured Mini-Bundt Pan or Fiesta Party Pan at 350 for 1 1/2 hours or until cake tests done. Cool in pan 10-15 minutes; turn out on wire rack or serving plate to complete cooling. Top with thin Vanilla Glaze and decorate with whole almonds.

The cookbook says “you won’t believe how fast this cake will go!” I’ll bet I will though. And I think I know where it is going. Right down the garbage disposal, that’s where. Or to the pig trough, if you happen to be baking this on a farm. I think they might like it all right.

“The combination of flavors is spicy rich!” I suppose it is definitely spicy. And with all the fat from the sausage, it will definitely be rich. Doesn’t it sound like the Essex Meat Packers have a hand in this though? The ambiguously-worded,  manically cheery commentary. And of course the meat – the meat! What is meat doing in a cake?! Never ever do I want to read the directions “combine meat and sugars” in a recipe - not just one sugar but two sugars. The meat must be well sugared! The meat is spicy and rich and no one will ever forget this cake.  No matter how far they – or the cake – go, or how quickly. Though they might want to.