My husband is always looking for new recipes to try, although sometimes they’re old ones.
The other day, he came and sat in front of me. He told me he was cooking a recipe that his mother used to make called Irish Italian Spaghetti. He warned me that the sauce would be spicy and orange, not red.
He knows I’m not too adventurous with my food — I like his tried-and-true dishes like pork tenderloin and turkey burgers with guacamole. His Irish Italian Spaghetti had only onion, red pepper, black pepper, chili powder, Tabasco and one can each of diced tomatoes and cream of mushroom soup. It was good, albeit different. We have no idea what’s Irish about it.
I prefer his mother’s traditional red tomato-based spaghetti sauce, which my Italian friend, Fred, says is the only real sauce.
My husband got out two old Betty Crocker cookbooks that belonged to one of his grandmothers, and he started reading out loud. One was a 1947 edition, the other was from the 1950s. People in those days did not eat like we do in 2018.
Take, for example, the culinary masterpiece Chicken-fried Heart under “Economy Recipe.” It’s actually my kind of recipe — two ingredients. It’s just a 2-pound beef heart, sliced a half-inch thick, and seasoned flour. Funny, I don’t see that on many menus these days.
He found recipes for squab in the Game section. I said, “What’s squab?” Pigeon. Pass.
These old cookbooks had detailed information. Under the “Cheese guide to good eating” was “How to serve Limburger”: “Men like it on dark breads with salty pretzels and coffee.” Apparently, women don’t like it, or they weren’t mentioned because they were the ones serving it.
Under salads, I found “Men’s Favorite Tossed Salad.” The “croutons” were french-fried onions, which I guess were supposed to make it more manly.
Helpful tips are included throughout the book. In the cake section, it explains that if you’re mixing by hand “225 is the average number of strokes in stirring dry and liquid ingredients.”
Sometimes just the ingredients date the recipes. A few called for MSG. On what aisle do you find that in the neighborhood market?
And people in the 1940s apparently didn’t worry about their arteries clogging. Recipes included Pigs in Bacon and sizzling hot dogs are “sooo good” an ad inside declares. About eight out of 10 recipes include butter. Several simply had “fat” listed as an ingredient. An entire section was devoted to “bologna, canned meats, variety meats.” I must admit, I have eaten my share of bologna — fried is best.
One recipes was just “Brains.” It didn’t say what or whose.
Why has my husband never made “a glamorous rice ring?” According to the cookbook, “it’s a snap to make! Pack hot cooked rice — with some snipped parsley if you wish — into a ring mold or custard cups and turn it out on a hot platter.”
Also, “Baked Veal-and-Ham Birds make a dramatic entrance right from the oven!” I can just picture everyone huddled around the oven, gasping as the cook pulls out the dish! The photo with it does not impress me, but I have the Internet, and they had black-and-white television.
I was amused at the suggestions for lunch-box meals. This was back in the days of metal lunchboxes, not insulated ones with handy chill packs, and one page had a photo of the iconic red-plaid lunchbox. The cookbook gives a tip to freeze a week’s worth of sandwiches, and they will be thawed by lunchtime.
Ideas include tuna-salad and egg-salad sandwiches. A friend of mine always brought a scrambled-
egg sandwich to school, and somehow she didn’t die. Other suggestions were bacon-peanut butter sandwiches or liverwurst. How many schoolchildren do you know who would be happy to find liverwurst in their lunchbox?
Tucked into the back of the cookbook was a recipe in his late mother’s handwriting. It was for Chocolate Almond Sauce. I vote for that old recipe anytime.
Last night he made a meatless dish — rotini with spinach and feta. It was great.
No side of squab needed.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.