24 May 2010

Putting Friendships to the Test

The long weekend presented a great opportunity for the 50s housewife to get out of the kitchen and into the wilds of the rooftop patio for a BBQ with friends.

It also let me explore the 1958 Good Housekeeping's Summertime Cook Book - a collection of recipes that are "easy on the cook" but not exactly easy on the eyes.

That gorgeous "cover mold" surrounded by truly Satanic deviled eggs is Shrimp-Salad Jambalaya. Of all the things you thought that mold could be made of, I'm guessing shrimp wasn't one of them. As my husband is allergic to seafood and since I have a weird thing about not liking to throw up in public, I skipped that experience.

Thankfully, Good Housekeeping gave us plenty of other options - and some of them were even recognizable as food (I highly suggest clicking on the image to get a better look):


Ok, I admit - I had no freaking idea what most of those things were, save for the celery in a cup, that hunk of watermelon, and the cob of corn in a bun (huh?). Some of the lowlights in this picture include:

  • Molded Potato Salad on Tomato Aspic (Near the top on the left) If you enjoy the skin that forms on tomato soup after it cools (and who doesn't!), you're going to love ketchup jello.
  • All-in-one Sandwich Loaf (Top, near the left corner) What constitutes as "all"? Layers of each between bread: chicken salad, egg salad and processed cheese spread with chunks of tomato, olives and pickle throughout. The entire thing is then covered with cream cheese spread and garnished with bologna. I wish I was making that up.
  • Sour-Cream Slaw in Cabbage Bowl (Bottom right) Because everything's better in a cabbage bowl!
  • Chicken Liver Kabob with Pimento Olives (Bottom left toward centre of page) Here's a recipe for instant job creation: Street meat vendors start serving these to post-bar patrons = need for more city street cleaners. Thanks, chicken livers!
The rest is really various incarnations of mismatched meats, cheeses and tropical fruit. Mmm, right? I bet you're really salivating from looking at that picture - but not because you want to eat it, but because your body is preparing your mouth for a sudden influx of bile.

In the end, I decided a spread of minted iced tea, hamburgers (from a recipe that called for MSG. Darn, fresh out of it.) and hot dogs with all the fixings, "Best Ever" potato salad and something called Coleslaw Soufflé Salad - a refreshing molded vegetable side that brought together that classic duo, lemon jello and mayonnaise.

Our BBQ mates, our good friends Siobhan and Patrick Dell, brought my very favourite thing, a box of wine their darling daughter, Charlotte. They also came armed with a few alcoholic refreshments and a sense of adventure - both requirements for trying dishes from this cookbook. They were well-aware of my 50s Housewife Experiment and knew something ... interesting ... could be on the menu.

The day marked the first time in a week that Patrick (my Patrick) had to do some cooking. You see, BBQing is "man work." Why? Well, I think Ward Cleaver explains it best:



My favourite part of that Leave it to Beaver clip is when Mr. Cleaver asks for his asbestos gloves. Not because that's the clear joke of the scene, but because they're freaking asbestos.

Not only did I not provide Patrick with asbestos gloves, but I also stupidly didn't arrange for him to wear the classic chef's hat or an apron that says "Chef" on it, as shown in the illustration up top. Why is it that when men cooked then, they needed to get into a full get-up that says "ME COOKING. READ APRON. SEE HAT."? Did they really think it made them look less gay?

The meat turned out just fine, if not a little small. The burgers shrunk quite a bit (I guess that's what happens when you use regular ground beef and not the lean stuff).

The salads were revealed with fanfare that only "rose cut" radishes can draw. Oh, what a fantastic waste of time those were.

My Coleslaw Soufflé Salad (pictured on the left) did not want to come out of its mold so it unfortunately required a bit of scraping to be freed - thus wrecking much of the aesthetic. By Grabthar's hammer, I *will* make a perfect molded object by the time this experiment is over!

Siobhan mercifully ate the coleslaw with a brave face and even offered a lie compliment that once the lemon taste went away, the coleslaw part was nice.

The boys, on the other hand, had a more difficult time disguising how they felt about it:



(Yes, that's my (unmanicured!) hand force-feeding my husband.)

Le sigh.

Dessert went over better, thankfully. I made something called Honeydew Ambrosia (it's actually pictured above in the BBQ spread photo. It's in the top left corner) and atomic rocket popsicles, made with "pure and good" Kool-Aid (... Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid, a five-cent package makes two quarts of ... Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid ...).


At one point, one of the gents suggested that the mint iced tea I made (which was crazy sweet - next time, half the sugar!) would be good with rum. A quick dash downstairs for the bottle later, and yes, it really was quite good with rum ... sort of a Long Island Mojito. It also did wonders to wash away the taste and memory of the coleslaw. Friendship saved!

All in all, a lovely time was had. My kitchen was a total disaster, though. Unlike a 50s housewife, I didn't clean it right away, which means I'll be spending a good part of today doing that. Just how every girl likes to spend a holiday.

Many thanks to Patrick Dell for taking the nicer pictures featured in today's post (the crappy dark ones are, of course, mine)!

Image Source: Good Housekeeping's Summertime Cook Book

12 comments:

Janice 12:42 pm, May 24, 2010  

Geez jen, didn't your dad teach you anything? It is LIME jello that goes with mayo. With lime jello, the coleslaw/jello/mayo is one of my favourites.
How to get a 'perfect' molded jello - Dip the mold into warm water (without getting any into the mold)to melt the outer layer; or wrap a towel soaked in hot water and then squeezed out around the mold. Did the cookbooks omit that?
I just remembered that as well as the 'bundt' type mold, I may still have 4 metal fruit shaped molds. How embarrassing...

Janice 12:44 pm, May 24, 2010  

p.s. If you keep writing about molded coleslaw jello, I'm going to have to get around to making some.

joe 5:26 pm, May 24, 2010  

I never told her but Janice was adopted.

Pay very little attention to her jello induced ramblings...

Jen 9:28 pm, May 24, 2010  

I love ambrosia! Yum!

Dan,  6:02 am, May 25, 2010  

Galaxy Quest reference FTW. Funny blog.

Jen 9:31 am, May 25, 2010  

Thanks for the tips, Janice! I did dip the mold in a bowl of warm water before attempting to free it - no dice though. I'll try your towel method next time!

Jen: It was tasty - reminded me of Orange Julius, actually!

Dan: Ah ha - yes! Galaxy Quest is one of the most underrated movies of all time.

Barb 1:49 pm, May 28, 2010  

Oil the mould first then line with plastic wrap before pouring filling. Filling should unmould and peel wrap off.

Janice, I'm with you on lime jello salads. They were popular in the 70's too!

Jen, enjoying your 50's experiment blogs! (I am one of your Dad's cousins in Calgary.)

Joshua 3:31 pm, May 19, 2011  

Jen,

When making burgers with less lean beef, the burgers still come out fairly lean as a lot of the fat drips away, but the key to preventing the shrinkage is to leave an indent about the size of a quarter in the middle of each burger patty.

Also, what on earth is in the Honeydew Ambrosia?? In the BBQ spread picture, it was the only thing that I was just totally dumbfounded by.

Joshua 3:32 pm, May 19, 2011  

I just realized that I'm leaving my comment a year late. I hope you still read/reply because I'm very curious about what's in this Honeydew Ambrosia.

Also, I'm really enjoying this little blog.

Anonymous,  11:37 pm, August 24, 2011  

Hi Jen!
I have read your blog several times and have never left a comment. I have also introduced others to your fantabulous blog and they love it as much as I do. Anywho... Inspired by you, my love of the 50's, and my grandmothers 1953 Joy of Cooking, I had a 50's BBQ for friends yesterday. I just wanted to agree that yes, everything is better in a cabbage bowl (even though I almost took off a finger trying to make the bowl for my coleslaw). Before this goes further into a longer tangent, I wanted to thank you for writing such a great blog, I love your writing style so much. On another note knowing the day of a 50's woman you have instilled in me a thankfulness for a world where women being employed outside of the house is not an oddity. Knowing a 50's housewife day has also strangely enough encouraged me to be much more neat, and throw kick ass parties. So again... thanks for being awesome.

-Sandra

(sorry for the rant)

Anonymous,  7:17 pm, August 17, 2013  

Cannot stop laughing at the corn on the cob on a bun!!!! What???!!!

Lol how does that even happen?

SkippyMom 12:16 am, September 20, 2014  

I'm finding you and adopting you.

I can't breath from laughing.

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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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