Sunday, February 21, 2010

WRECKfast of Champions

Dear Bernice,

This morning (oh, let's face it, afternoon) I made your Bacon 'n Egg Luncheon Pie. Though I'm wondering why you didn't just call a spade a spade and name it a quiche, this breakfast meal under any other name would still be a treat. Knowing I had promised my roommate brunch today, I managed to drag myself out of bed at 11am to hit up the grocery store for provisions. I realize when you made this recipe you probably got up at 5am or some such ungodly hour to cook for your family, but trust me, when you're 28 and live in New York City getting out of the house at 11am is quite an accomplishment. On my way to the grocery store, I passed several other young folks out getting breakfast for their loved ones. I must say it filled me with pride to know that I was making a nice home-cooked meal when they were carrying boxes of donuts and bags of bagels (not that those aren't delicious too). What's especially great about this luncheon pie is that it was so incredibly easy to make and I got all the credit of slaving away for hours in the kitchen! I do admit to having made a few changes to your recipe. First off, I didn't use strips of bacon because my sister gifted me with home-cured smoked bacon for my birthday. Store bought bacon is amazing, but homemade bacon really kicks it up a notch. We can't all be so lucky to have a sister with a smoker and a penchant for pork! I also added minced onions that I sauteed briefly in the bacon fat which I think added a nice flavor to the mix. I would also consider reducing the quantities in your recipe as I ended up with too much filling for my pie crust. I cooked the excess in a pie plate, but in the future I will reduce the cream and cheese measurements (and have in my adapted recipe below). I would also recommend experimenting with adding different vegetables like mushrooms or spinach - the great thing about a basic quiche is you really could throw just about anything in the mix. As for a side dish, I served myself some fresh grapefruit, but I think a nice salad of arugula would have complimented everything nicely.

Thanks again for contributing this recipe, which I will certainly be adding to my cooking repertoire.

All the Very Best,

Sam L.

Bacon 'N Egg Luncheon Pie
(Adapted from recipe by Bernice Bammann, Beecher H.S., Beecher, IL in Favorite Recipes of American Home Economics Teachers: MEATS Edition, Copyright 1962)

9 inch deep dish pie crust
10 slices of bacon cooked and drained
5 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup light cream
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup minced onion

Preheat oven to 375. Crumble bacon into pie shell. Saute onions in leftover bacon fat for several minutes until they begin to turn clear and are slightly browned. Beat eggs, cream, salt and pepper together. Mix in Swiss cheese, peas and onions (you may also choose to add other vegetable like mushrooms at this point). Pour into pie shell. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, or until a fork or toothpick comes out clean from the center of the pie.

Today's Outfit:

A 70s polyester house robe that I stole from my mother many moons ago, red plastic beads and a nod to "Julie and Julia" in the form of a vintage lobster pin. I bought the pin on eBay after watching the movie on Netflix. Liked the movie, LOVED the pin.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Don't Hassle the 'Noff...

Dear Mrs. Freeman,

I recently served your recipe for Beef Stroganoff at a dinner party and was entirely pleased with the results (minus the smell that still permeates my kitchen!). Beef Stroganoff has special place in my heart as it was one of my mother's very favorite dishes to cook for our family. She grew up in a German household so I always assumed this was a German dish, and I was surprised to find out recently that this is a dish of Russian origin (I suppose I should have realized this from its name...), but I've also come to realize this was a widely popular dish amongst all Americans for a few decades. Clearly there are many variations on this dish, presumably from its diaspora, and I was amazed to find upwards of a dozen variations in this cookbook alone... which leads me to admit that I experimented with your recipe a bit. Many of the other Home Economics teachers recommended rubbing the meat with garlic before flouring and also suggested adding a dash of paprika - which in my opinion is never a bad idea. You were one of only a few that included green pepper in your dish, but I also never think more veggies are a bad idea, so I went ahead and added them (though I don't believe they are an ingredient in traditional Stroganoff). You suggested serving the dish over spaghetti, a Chinese omelet, or steamed rice. Do you have a favorite? I'm sure all of these would be delicious choices, but in tribute to my mother, I couldn't imagine serving Stroganoff over anything but buttered egg noodles. In addition, I recall my mother's Stroganoff having a dash of Dijon mustard, and I do believe this would add a nice kick to your recipe. You may want to consider experimenting with this addition in the future.

The Stroganoff was very well received by my guests and I truly appreciate you reminding me what a wonderful comfort food this could be on a cold winter's evening. I will never let myself forget Stroganoff in the future!

All the Very Best,

Sam L.

Beef Stroganoff
(Adapted from recipe by Hazel R. Freeman, West Valley H.S., Yakima, WA in Favorite Recipes of American Home Economics Teachers: MEATS Edition, Copyright 1962)

1 pound round steak (cut into strips)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 oz. canned chopped mushrooms (stems and bits)
1/2 cup green pepper
1 clove garlic
1 cup sour cream
1 can tomato soup
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp Tabasco

Rub meat strips with garlic.

Mix flour in large plastic bag with salt and pepper and then flour meat in the bag (shake until nicely coated).

Melt the butter in a large saucepan (or, unlike me, if you have a Le Creuset, use that) and brown the meat in that.

Add onions, mushrooms and crushed clove of garlic.

Combine the sour cream, tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and Paprika and pour over meat. Stir to blend and then stir in chopped green pepper.

Cover skillet and cook until steaming, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve over buttered egg noodles.

They Call Me Mellow Jello...

Dear Mrs. Hutchison,

Yesterday I made your recipe for "Lime-Pineapple Salad" and was pleasantly surprised. I must admit, I was skeptical of combining cheese with Jello and I don't normally consume chartreuse foods, but I swallowed my pride (and some salad) and found it to be a delicious side dish, as well as a perfect palate cleanser. My dinner guests likened the flavor to sherbet, which I would say is quite a compliment. One dinner guest was allergic to nuts, so I served the chopped pecans as an optional garnish, but I did take your advice to add a bit of fresh lemon juice and I believe that added a nice tang. I also used Reddi Wip instead of whipping my own cream from scratch to save time (I do hope that doesn't disappoint you!). I still think the texture combinations leave a bit to be desired, but overall, you've really opened my eyes and changed my opinions of Jello salads, so BRAVO!

All the Very Best,

Sam L.

Lime Pineapple Salad
(Adapted from recipe by Mrs. Doris Hutchinson, Burkburnett High School, Burkburnett TX in Favorite Recipes of American Home Economics Teachers: MEATS Edition)

1 can crushed pineapple (about 2 cups)
1 package lime Jello
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup whipped cream
1 cup grated cheddar (or American) cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans (can be served separately)

Heat canned pineapple to boiling point in sauce pan, stirring to ensure all the pineapple is heated.

Pour in packet of lime Jello and remove from stove.

Stir until Jello is dissolved and stir in lemon juice.

Pour into bowl and let chill in fridge until partially set.

Fold in whipped cream and grated cheese. If you would like, you may also fold in the nuts at this time.

Pour into a serving bowl and chill for a few hours (or overnight) in the fridge before serving.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Meat this blog.

A few years ago, my sister moved to Portland, Oregon. This move brought her the joys of Voodoo Donuts, Stumptown Coffee and most importantly in terms of this blog, it brought her to the doorstep of world famous used bookstore Powell's. One day while browsing through used cookbooks, a title caught my sister's eye: Favorite Recipes of American Home Economics Teachers: MEATS edition(copyright 1962). If there's one thing my sister knows I love, it's meat, so she purchased the book and gave it to me a few months later as a gift. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.

I started pouring over the pages and was amazed, astounded and sometimes baffled by the recipes inside.

"40 different meatloaf recipes?!"
"What the heck is Swiss Steak?!"
"Why oh why would anyone make a recipe called 'Congealed Chicken Salad'?!"

Like most things in my life, I obsessed over it for a couple days then promptly shelved it only to forget about it for the next three years.

Which brings us to this past Sunday. Sitting with my roommate watching "American Eats" on the History Channel, a segment came on about the history of Jello. The announcer explained that when Jello first came out they marketed it by handing out free recipe booklets to housewives - recipe booklets that included things like "Congealed Chicken Salad." As I gagged over b-roll of ladies serving up gelatinous meat, I was suddenly reminded I owned an entire book of such recipes. One thing led to another, and - Blammo! - here we are, I have decided to write a blog dedicated to the favorite recipes of American home ec. teachers circa 1962. Something like "Julie and Julia" except these recipes would make Julia Child want to stab someone with her Size 11 heels.

I figure many, if not all, of them will be pretty disgusting (hence the title "Home Wreck") but I'm willing to give it a shot. Hell, if it was good enough for my mom, it should be good enough for me. Hopefully this experience will give me (and any readers) a better understanding of where the heck all those recipes our mothers made came from (besides the back of a Campbell's soup can). Consider it applied food archaeology.

So, here goes nothing. I'm hosting my first Home Wreck dinner party on Monday (consider it Home Wreck 101) and I'll be starting with a beef dish. If it's inedible we'll order pizza, laugh, and use my roommate's slingshot to launch the nasty grub into oblivion.