28 May 2010

The 50s Housewife Sort of Hosts a Bridge Luncheon

Guess who was a hostess yesterday during Day 11 of the 50s Housewife Experiment?

On Wednesday, my friend Colleen Carlisle wondered aloud on my Facebook page whether a 50s housewife was allowed to go out for lunch. I figured my 50s housewife would, but it was probably more likely that ladies would go to each others' homes for mid-day socializing (more economical, you see). I then had it in my head that I should host an ever-popular-at-the-time bridge luncheon.

I called Colleen (no e-mailing allowed!) and the only day she was free was the following day (yesterday), so I made a decision on the spot to make it so and call a couple other gals who might be available to complete our bridge foursome (the other ladies are both on mat leave - I actually don't personally know a single person who is a full-time homemaker. Funny how it was so common in the 50s - only about 30% of women worked outside the home then - but practically extinct now).

In the end, Mrs. Dave Carlisle (Colleen), Mrs. Patrick Dell (Siobhan) and Miss Charlotte Dell (baby) were in attendance. Unfortunately our fourth, Mrs. Dave Cyr (Jacquelyn) had to cancel the day-of as something work-related came up (ugh, career girls!). It seems that I will only be friends with people who marry Patricks or Daves.(Sorry for the blurriness, Colleen! It would be remiss not to mention, gentle reader, that if you like the necklace Colleen is wearing, she sells them! Also - once you get past / passed the cuteness of baby Charlotte - literally - take a look at how shiny my fridge is in the background.* My cleaning rules!)

*It's probably a dick move to tell people to stop looking at a baby and to put their attentions toward my appliances, right? That was definitely a 50s Housewife etiquette fail.

Since we were down our fourth (no offense, Charlotte), bridge was unfortunately out - which was fine as none of us had any clue on how to play and never really had any intention of doing anything but eat, drink and gossip anyway.

In any case, my last-minute commitment to playing hostess meant that I had to get cracking straight away on the menu. I looked to my Good Housekeeping Appetizers Cook Book, my Good Housekeeping 10 P.M. Cook Book and my Searchlight Recipe Book for a medley of food options. I also took some time to get the presentation just 50s-right. Who knew a candle could be so versatile?And here's the rest (clicking will expand the picture):
I thought it impossible, but I somehow managed to make 50s food look even worse.

So, what exactly are you looking at? That's what my guests wanted to know, too.

Within that cornucopia of absurdity is Cheese and Vegetable Salad (a mini mold of lime jello, cabbage and process cheese slices placed on a lettuce leaf with mayonnaise), Frosted Party Sandwiches (sort of a little sister to the All-in-one Sandwich Loaf - a layer of egg salad, a layer of salmon salad, all coated in cream cheese), Hawaii Kabobs (hot dog, grilled pineapple and a Ritz cracker held together by a mini plastic sword - a traditional Polynesian delicacy!), Meatball with Tomato Hats, Bacon Scallop Crispies (bacon-wrapped scallop on a potato chip with a dollop of sour cream), and various incarnations of pickle / olive / onion / capers / tomato / meatball / salami / egg salad / salmon salad / bread / crackers / cheese held together with a toothpick or sword. I also served veggies and chips with onion dip (the classic sour cream with onion soup mix). All made from scratch, people! The drink of the day was one of my favourites - Pimm's (in this case, with 7, but I much prefer it with Schweppes Lemonade, which is hard to come by in Canada).

Let's focus on the thing that would probably glow in the dark, the Cheese and Vegetable Salad. So far, it is my best-shaped gelatin mold, but still not perfect. The processed cheese ended up floating to the bottom (which, when presented, was the top), but it held on as best it could. Unfortunately, one collapsed somewhat and engulfed the appetizers near it, much like Frank Slide but more horrifying.

I can't quite decide if the Cheese and Vegetable Salad looks more like the mad scientist of jellyfishes - all super-brainy compared to its regular jellyfish minions - or if it's more like Slimer from Ghostbusters. What's amazing, is that if you were to watch this scene from Ghostbusters and replace the image of Slimer with my Cheese and Vegetable Salad, the dialogue still works (squint your eyes if you must to picture it):

The main difference between Ghostbusters and my bridge luncheon offering, storyline-wise, is that I don't need a proton pack and ghost trap to get rid of my slimer - just a working toilet.

The girls very kindly tried the mold. It was unanimous that the process cheese part was revolting, but both Siobhan and Colleen actually enjoyed the jello that contained cabbage. I told them that they didn't have to pretend they were in the 50s and suffer fake politeness, but they insisted they really didn't mind, so I'll take it as a small, surprising victory [for both myself and my Aunt Janice].

The rest was nibbled. We decided the best tasting offering was the Frosted Party Sandwiches and the remainder of the goodies were alright but their strengths lied in being conversation pieces rather than palate pleasers.

Dessert, however, went over smashingly. It included Peg's Devil Food Cake with Custard - a recipe I took from Good Housekeeping's Who's Who Cooks - a book filled with "favourites from famous people." The Peg who contributed this cake recipe was Peg Lynch, the writer and star of Ethyl and Albert. That drew a blank for me too. At least it gives me hope that one day a generation of people are going to hear the words "the famous Paris Hilton" and will have no idea who that is.
The cake was served with something I found truly adorable - Rainbow Snowballs. It's basically vanilla ice cream rolled into balls and then rolled into various tinted coconut shavings. It was my first time tinting coconut - but it was easy and I'm just giddy with the girly-girl outcome of these. If ever I host a shower for someone, these little babies - or something else amiable to tinted coconut - will be making an appearance (in the girl of honour's favourite colour, of course!). Utterly delightful!

Wow. Ok. I just realized I said that with complete earnestness. Clearly the 50s Housewife Experiment is starting to sink in and interrupt my regularly scheduled program of cynicism and sarcasm. Eee?

Well, once the food was eaten and / or mocked and gossip was had and 50s magazines were fawned over, my lovely guests left. My kitchen was a sad disaster, so I did what every 50s housewife would do: I cleaned poured myself an extra big glass of Pimm's, laid on the couch in my slip and eventually took a nap.

My slumber was interrupted only by two things: Horrendous acid reflux and Patrick calling me to remind me that he had soccer that night, so he wouldn't be home 'til late. Papa Smurf was clearly looking out for me as I had totally spaced on his dinner. The idea of going into the kitchen and cleaning everything and then preparing more mess / food was beyond not appealing, so I attempted to manipulate the situation and suggest Patrick have a boy's night out after soccer. I implied that he deserved some man-time and to have fun and not to worry about not coming straight home. He liked that idea so I high-fived myself in the face and went back to sleep.

Fast-forward several hours later and I get another call:

"Hey - we won soccer," he said.

"Great," said his groggy, zoned-out wife.

"I'm so tired. And so starving," he says.

"Um, so ... you're coming home?" she asks.

"Yah, I don't feel like going out. I just want to eat and sleep. I'm on the Broadview bus right now, so I should be home in about 15 minutes," said he.


I hadn't done anything since his first call besides send Slimer to his new home in the Toronto sewage system and polish off the Pimm's.

"Alrighty. I'll fix you up something, it just won't be fancy," I said.

"It's ok. I can just get Subway if you want. I know you didn't plan to make dinner," he offered.

No. No. No. There would be no Subway or anything take-away as long as this damn experiment was on.

So, what can a girl make in 15 minutes that somehow fits the 50s nutritional guidelines?
A salami sandwich with cheese and tomato, potato chips (to complete that one-potato-a-day thing so that he doesn't acquire a debilitating starch deficiency) and carrots and celery with onion dip. I tried to toss in Mr. Meatball there (or maybe I should call him Kaiser Pickelhaube - seeing as he's made of a pickle and has that oh-so-German pointy hat) but Patrick doesn't like to eat anything that smiles back at him. For dessert, he enjoyed some cake, but refused to put a Rainbow Snowball in his mouth [insert obvious gay joke here, father-in-law].

And that pretty much sums up that day, albeit, rather verbosely.

Onward and upward!

Image Source: Good Housekeeping's 10 P.M. Cook Book


Stephanie B.,  10:20 am, May 28, 2010  

I think this is my favourite post so far. So funny!

Julianne Ward Lawrence 10:30 am, May 28, 2010  

What about Mrs. Matt's??? I'm stir crazy and love processed cheese jello molds. Okay, that last part was a lie, but my family really is known for their bizarre love of jellied salad (ask Matt), so I'm already part-way there...

Pinky oh Pinky 11:20 am, May 28, 2010  

I had to flip back and forth between your description and the picture. It was a big game of Mix'n'match. Funsies!

Unknown 11:21 am, May 28, 2010  

This was my favourite part: "both Siobhan and Colleen actually enjoyed the jello that contained cabbage." I am not alone. And Juli too, possibly, would like coleslaw jello as she is from a jellied salad family. WOW!!(p.s. I have to use word verification, the word of the day: "lolfu")

Jen 12:06 pm, May 28, 2010  

LMAO at the candle! OMG... the olives and the toothpicks are just too much for me! Hahahahaha... Although, the meatball on the pickle is kinda cute. Um, that's what she said!

Teresa 2:44 pm, May 28, 2010  

So the bacon thing wasn't good? I think that little gem pretty much contained all my favorite things!

You must have spent HOURS shopping/cooking.

Loving it Jen. Hope you have something else in the hopper that will keep us entertained

Colleen 4:18 pm, May 28, 2010  

Thanks for a fantastic time! I loved every minute of it (well, except the cheese in the Jello-O). Thanks for the link, too. It was unnecessary but nice. Where's that adorable picture of you serving?

Foxy Renard 7:06 pm, May 28, 2010  

I can't believe this career girl missed yesterday, but I am glad to have made up for it today - though I'll never forgive myself for missing out on jellied salad! Hah.

Jen 3:14 pm, May 29, 2010  

Aww, thanks, everyone!

Mrs. Matt - check your voicemail, would ya? :) There is a rambling and awkward message from Mrs. Byck (I hate voicemail! This is why e-mail was invented!).

Janice: I edited the post just for you!

Teresa: The Bacon Scallop Crispie was actually alright (probably a runner-up to the cream cheese sandwich thing) but after a while, the chip got a bit soggy. Maybe worth a try, though?

Colleen: Was glad to have you and happy to plug my peeps.

Foxy: You missed out. You really need to learn that when it comes to running your own successful marketing agency vs. eating jello salad, the priority should be the gelatin-based one.

Anonymous,  8:39 am, January 12, 2011  

Can you post the Ranbow Snowball recipe? I'd like to give this a try.

Jen 4:41 pm, January 12, 2011  

Hi frodelicious - it's beyond easy!

To tint the coconut get a plastic bag (like a ziplock) and drop a couple drops of food colouring inside it. Then take some shredded coconut (the kind you find in the baking aisle) and pop it into the bag. How much coconut you need depends on how much you want. I suggest starting with a large handful. You then toss and roll the coconut around in the bag (sort of as if you were using Shake n' Bake). Once your coconut is tinted, dump it onto a small plate.

For the balls themselves, it just requires ice cream. It's easy, but it's best to work fast - and your hands will definitely get cold!

Ideally, use an ice cream scoop to get a ball of ice cream. If necessary, use your hands to form it into something more ball-like. Then roll the ice cream in your plate of tinted coconut until it's covered. Place that tinted ball on a separate plate and continue making the rest of your balls. If you take too long, your carton of ice cream will become too soft - so try to be speedy.

Put the plate of Rainbow Snowballs in the freezer to set even more - but you might want to take them out for a couple minutes before serving - they get very hard!

Good luck!

Jen 4:45 pm, January 12, 2011  

Re: Rainbow Snowballs - I should add that I used shaved coconut for mine in that picture (the pieces are larger and wider than flaked or shredded coconut). It doesn't really make a huge difference!

Anonymous,  8:11 am, January 13, 2011  


Thanks! I'll give this a try this weekend. Sounds easy enough.



Anonymous,  7:37 am, February 02, 2011  


This was in my local paper this morning. Apparently those foods are making a comeback!



amber 8:49 pm, May 11, 2011  

This hilarious, I'm loving your blog! The Bacon Scallop thingies sound like an edible version of Angels on Horseback, yummy!

However, I refuse to believe that the candle decoration/monstrosity was ever considered tasteful. I don't think my faith in humanity could stand it.

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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