Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Betcha Can't Eat Just One...

Dear Mrs. Long,

I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that a recipe consisting solely of potato chips, garlic, butter and chicken tastes like heaven, but boy was I glad my suspicions were verified when I made your "Oven Fried Chicken" the other night. It was a real crowd pleaser. The crisp, salty, buttery crust couldn't have tasted more like actual fried chicken. I'm sure it's not exactly a healthy alternative to the real thing, but it sure as heck was a lot easier to make. The "Perfection Salad" I made that same night didn't remotely live up to its name, but I'd suggest you give serious thought to renaming this recipe "Perfection Chicken" - if anything, you'd be selling it short!

Many thanks and congratulations on an outstanding recipe!


Sam L.

Oven Fried Chicken
(Adapted from recipe by Mrs. Dorsey Long, Laverne H.S., Laverne, OK in Favorite Recipes of American Home Economics Teachers: MEATS Edition, Copyright 1962)

1 whole chicken cut into pieces
1 clove garlic
1/4 lb butter
1 package plain potato chips

Soften butter. Crush garlic in butter. Roll chicken in butter and garlic then in crushed chips. For an easy and even way to coat the chicken with the crushed chips, put them in freezer bag and shake, shake, shake! Once coated with chips, place on a flat pan or in a baking dish and bake in oven for 45 minutes at 350. To get an extra crispy crust, move up to the top rack of the oven for the last ten minutes or put under broiler briefly until desired crispiness is achieved.

PS - Don't worry, I serve veggies too... with Hidden Valley Ranch, of course! The tray is vintage from my mom's collection. I always coveted it and finally got her to turn it over to me a couple years ago.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Simply the Best

Dear Ms. Forrester,

Thank you for sharing your recipe for "Chicken Simplicity." The name couldn't be more apt. Preparation of the dish took me under five minutes, but enjoying the meal lasted well over an hour. I had some friends over for dinner and everyone seemed to enjoy this chicken quite a bit. My roommate particularly loved the sauce, which I feared was a bit too salty from the onion soup mix. My one complaint with the recipe was that the rice didn't cook properly and remained fairly crunchy when the chicken was finished cooking. I used a wild rice blend. Is there a particular type of rice you normally use that cooks better? Maybe I will try a "minute rice" blend next time.

I hope this note finds you well and look forward to trying more of your recipes in the future.

Many Thanks and All the Best,

Sam L.

Chicken Simplicity
(Adapted from recipe by Lucile Forrester, Kelso H.S., Kelso, WA in Favorite Recipes of American Home Economics Teachers: MEATS Edition, Copyright 1962)

1 uncooked chicken cut into pieces
1/2 package of dry onion soup mix
1 cup uncooked brown or white rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Sprinkle onion soup mix on bottom of baking pan. Over this sprinkle the rice. Place chicken on top and pour diluted soup over the chicken. Cover. Bake at 325 for 1 hour 15 minutes or until done.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home Wreck 102 Look Book

I have a large collection of vintage dresses. Sadly, many of them would be really weird to wear out in public, so it gives me great joy to have a new reason to rock out with my frock out.

For Sunday's Home Wreck 102 dinner party I brought out a real winner I like to call "Uncle Sam":

I wear the matching blazer out with jeans a lot, but the whole suit/dress combo always seemed a little much... because it is.

Apparently I look sexy in this dress as it got rave reviews and I was told I "should find a wedding dress in this cut" because it made my butt look good. Um, yeah, when I find myself a future husband I'll be sure to do that. But, hell, if I wear this out sometime maybe I'll have a husband sooner than I think.

I Don't Think You're Ready for this Jelly

I could hardly host a Home Wreck themed dinner party without sticking to the theme in every last detail. Hell, as you've seen, I even dress the part. This has been a little bit of a problem when it comes to preparing a full meal. Since my cookbook is specifically about meats, I've had to look elsewhere for vintage side dish recipes. Luckily, in a decidedly non-1960s twist, the Internet is chock-full of archived recipes. With a little quick searching I came across a recipe from the December 1960 issue of Better Homes and Gardens titled "Perfection Salad." How could anything with that name not be good?

Easily. You know how they say "Don't mess with perfection"? Yeah, I think they're referring to this salad. It consists of shredded cabbage, chopped celery, green pepper and pimiento, all cleverly presented in a mold of clear gelatin. Oh, and it looks a little something like this:


Essentially the gelatin takes the place of a traditional vinegar-based dressing, but who really wants their dressing to slimily slide down their tongue? The answer amongst my friends was no one.

I have to say, I understand the appeal of making gelatin molds, because they are like a weird science/art project, and I was really proud to show my work to my friends, but I won't be making "Perfection Salad" ever again.

Though I discovered there's a reason why this recipe is dead, I'm glad I chose it. After some more fancy shmancy Internet research, I've discovered that "Perfection Salad" is a pretty important recipe in the history of American housewife cooking. As it turns out, there's a book and even a blog titled "Perfection Salad." According to "Better Homes and Gardens:

"Once upon a time, in 1904 to be exact, a recipe called Perfection Salad won third prize, a $100 sewing machine, for Mrs. John E. Cook of New Castle, Pennsylvania.

Among the judges was Fannie Farmer of cooking school fame, crusader for level measures. The first and second prize entries in the “receipt” contest are forgotten, but the runner-up is here to stay.

Perfection Salad has been a winner at the dinner table for generations. It was originally published in a gelatin advertisement the year following that contest of long ago and was described as a “delicious accompaniment to cold sliced chicken or veal.” Mrs. Cook herself said it was “especially fine with fried oysters” and wrote in her entry that she planned to have it at her next church supper.

So excellent was Mrs. Cook’s recipe that today’s version is amazingly like hers. Through the years, we have printed popular Perfection Salad many times."

So, there you have it: "Perfection Salad" is hardly perfection, but it is a perfect example of classic 60s cooking.

Perfection Salad

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens recipe published December 1960

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 large green olives stuffed with pimientos sliced into halves or thirds
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped pimiento
1/2 cup chopped green pepper

Mix gelatin, sugar, and salt. Add boiling water and stir until gelatin dissolves. Add cold water, vinegar, lemon juice and chill until partly set. Pour 1/2 cup in a ring mold (I actually used a greased bunt pan because I don't own real Jello molds) and arrange slices of olives in mold. Chill until set. Mix the remaining gelatin with the cabbage, green pepper, pimiento, celery, and green pepper. Pour over gelatin in mold and chill until set.

To easily turn it out on a platter, put the platter on top of the mold and then flip it and let it sit until it slides out of the mold on its own. If need be, you may help this along by rubbing a hot rag on the outside of the mold.

Once you've turned it out on the platter, you can play with the presentation by filling the center with baby carrots (the Better Homes recipe calls for cooked can carrots marinated in Italian dressing) and surrounding it with cabbage leaves (a special shout out to Erica who helped with this part of things).