Monday, June 30, 2014

California Special Green Salad, Good Housekeeping July 1950

Tonight we had one of our favorite summer dinners- hamburgers on the grill, corn on the cob, salad, and watermelon.  (Yes, after much anticipation watermelon season is upon us!)  For our salad I made the "California Special" from my July 1950 issue of Good Housekeeping.

The California Special is what I'd consider a typical 1950's salad in that the dressing is made on the salad in the kitchen then served family style at the table..  It's a communal salad- not a "pick your own dressing" modern salad with 2-3 bottles of dressing cluttering the table and a bowl of optional croutons.  It's another example of how cooking in the past was sometimes easier, despite the lack of convenience foods and the microwave.  This was before we Americans adopted a "restaurant" mentality at home.  Back in the day everyone ate the same meal.  (And you liked it...or you went hungry.)  Much easier on the cook.  Even with today's "heat and eat" meals it takes a long time to get dinner on the table if one must make different meals for each family member.

Despite the convenience of a communal salad I don't like dressing served on a salad.  It makes the lettuce wilt and the leftovers soggy.  I suppose I'm spoiled by all the times I asked for "dressing on the side".  I think that movie "When Harry Met Sally" made it ok.  Seriously, has anyone in the past 20 years gotten flack from waitstaff for "dressing on the side"?

Onto our recipe!  Here's the original.

 Here's what I did:

1 Head of lettuce (any type you like or a box of mixed greens)
1/2C Green onions, chopped
1/3C Radishes, sliced
1/4C Fresh parsley, chopped
1 Chopped tomato
1/2C Olive oil
2T Red wine vinegar
1 Clove of garlic, chopped very small
1/2t Salt
1/4t Pepper
1/2t Savory  (or more- I added another dash)
2T Shredded parmesan cheese

Mix the lettuce and veggies in a serving bowl.  Put the oil, vinegar, garlic, herbs, spices, and cheese in a measuring cup or serving bowl.  Mix well.  Let guests/family members serve themselves being careful to give the dressing a good stir before topping their salad.

Here's the result:

The original recipe it says to rub a wooden salad bowl with garlic.  I suppose this is to give the salad a subtle garlic flavor.  I've tried it before and it's just not enough so I say just go ahead and use the garlic.  If you make the dressing ahead of time or have leftovers you'll notice the garlic flavor mellows a bit too.  

Hubby and I really liked the salad although hubby picked out the radishes.  None of the kids liked it which surprised me as they usually happily eat salads.  The parsley threw off my son and the girls thought it had too much vinegar.  Odd because I wanted more vinegar.  I'm thinking they didn't mix the dressing enough before putting it on their salad.

This is a good basic dressing recipe to be used on any greens and veggies.  You could use different cheese or herbs too.  With all the options at the farmers market (My son and I went this weekend for the first time this summer.  So many choices!)  I know I'll have fun changing it up with what I find.  I hope this inspires you to experiment and enjoy all the veggies that summer has to offer!


Monday, June 23, 2014

My Menu Plan for the week of June 23

I usually don't make a formal menu plan, opting to wing it when I go to the grocery store (which works surprisingly well), but after posting about Mrs. Greene's menu planning I've had a hankering to put something on paper.  Also my kids are out of school (YAY!!) and I need to make real lunches as well as real dinners.  Hopefully my menu plans will add more variety to our meals.

So here's my week:

Lunch- Chicken salad sandwiches (Made from Thursday night's chicken.) , cut carrots, peppers, and celery
Dinner- Leftover steak (From Sunday nights steak.)'s green salad, fruit

Lunch- Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, cut veggies
Dinner- Beef and Noodle Medley, green salad or cooked carrots

Lunch- Chicken noodle soup (Homemade today, Monday, from Thursday's chicken bones.), cut veggies
Dinner- Breakfast burritos, fruit salad

Lunch- Leftovers or PB&J, hopefully watermelon (It's a little too early and I haven't gotten a good one yet this summer!  The produce guy at my store said they'd get some by Thursday.)
Dinner- Make your own pizza (I'll start the dough in my bread machine in the afternoon.)

Lunch-Leftover pizza
Dinner- Chicken Marengo, rice, green salad

Lunch- sandwiches or leftovers
Dinner- Go out

Lunch- We usually eat a late breakfast and just have fruit, yogurt, or cheese and crackers on Sundays
Dinner- Looking for a recipe to try for the blog!

What are you making this week?  Feel free to share in the comments!


Upadte:  A reader from Facebook, Stacy, jokingly asked what are the "joys"of menu planning, as in the Facebook description of this post.

For me the biggest joy is not having to think about what to make for dinner or lunch for an entire week.  Second is when one of my family members whines, "What's for dinner…" I point them to the calendar.  There is sometimes more whining but I pretend I don't hear it.  I'm too busy cooking.  ;)  Another benefit of menu planning is getting the grocery shopping done in one fell swoop.  Once I write out the menu I make a shopping list and I'm good to go.  I also feel that our meals are more nutritionally balanced when I plan them ahead of time.  It's easy to see when we're eating too much of one thing when it's all on paper.

Stacy, and others who were wondering, this is why I like to plan menus.  It takes work but it's so worth it!  I hope this encourages you to try it if you haven't already.  :)

Post shared on Meal Planning Mondays at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Strawberry- Rhubarb Jam, Women's Day July 1950

Just look at this adorable Cover!

The girls are sisters, according to the magazine.  The picture looks like a family snapshot, not a photo shoot.  I love when I see sisters in matching outfits, probably because I don't have any sisters.  It's so '50s-'60s.  I often see twins, adults and children, in vintage ads wearing matching clothes.  I tried matching dresses for my girls when they were little but now at 16 and 13 if they accidentally wear a similar outfit there's a big discussion about                  who has to change.  Ah teenage girls!  What fun.

On to our recipe.  Despite watching my mother making strawberry jelly and even helping her as a kid I was intimidated at the idea of making it myself.  Not sure why.  It only has 4 ingredients.  The process takes a bit of time (Be prepared for a good bit of clean up too.)  but it's not that hard.  Maybe I just think of it as "advanced" because my mom did it.  I used rhubarb because my CSA had it in the box this week.  I've never had it or cooked with it before which added to the excitement of trying something new.  (If I only had a bucket list with making jam and trying rhubarb I'd get to cross 2 things off.  LOL.  I'm not into making bucket lists.  Chores are to be crossed off, not life's experiences.)

What you'll need:

The jars, pectin, and wax were available at my local hardware store.

Here's the recipe.  I didn't change much except I couldn't find Certo.  Bummer as the recipe is from Certo.

3C Washed and cut strawberries, organic if possible
1C Washed and chopped rhubarb (Do not peel.)
7C Sugar (Yes, 7!  WOW.)
1/2 Bottle of Certo or 1-3oz packet of liquid pectin, any brand

6-8 Washed jelly jars, 6-8 oz each
2 bricks of Paraffin wax, melted

Wash the jars, lids, and rings and heat the paraffin wax before starting.  If you want to sterilize your jars do so.  I read mixed information about the necessity of sterilizing jars so I just gave them a good scrubbing in hot water.  For extra safety I'll store the jelly in the fridge.

Put the strawberries and rhubarb in a large saucepan.  Add all that sugar.  Mix well and heat on high.  Use a potato masher if you have one to crush the fruit.  Bring fruit and sugar to a full boil.  Stir for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in pectin.  Stir for 5 minutes and skim off the foam.  What is foam???

The pink bubbly stuff on top is foam.
 Ladle the hot jam into the jars one at a time, leaving about 3/4 of an inch at the top for the wax.  My jars, made by the Ball company, have a little decorative lip around the outside of the jars at the right spot.  (See pic below.) Then immediately pour about 1/8 inch of hot paraffin over the jam.  (My old Le Creuset pot with a spout is perfect for this task.)  Continue with the rest of the jars.  Cool completely (This takes a few hours.) and pour another 1/8 inch of paraffin over the first layer in each jar, carefully turning the jar at a slight angle to create a seal on the sides.  Allow the wax to start to harden then screw on the lids and rings while it's still warm so that suction forms as the wax cools.  Store in a cool dry place (3-6 months to be safe- some people keep it longer though.) or in the refrigerator for 6 months or more.

See the lip?  It's at 3/4 of an inch!

To remove the wax seal simply run a knife along the inner edge of the jar.  Press on one side to tilt the wax up and grasp the other side to lift it out of the jar.  Toss the wax and use the lid and ring to cover the jam.  Once the wax seal is broken the jam must be kept in the refrigerator and used within a few weeks.

The finished jam, complete with instructions for removing the wax.

Some people feel that wax sealing of jams and jellies is an outdated method and shouldn't be used for safety reasons.  If you're concerned use the hot bath method.  The Ball website has lots of helpful info and appliances you can buy if you want to become a canning queen or king.

So what did my family think?  I loved it on my toasted speedy artesian bread.  One of my daughters didn't believe jam could be made at home and thought the idea was weird.  (Eye-roll included.)  Once she got over that whole thing she said she liked the flavor but thought the texture was too thick.  (I agree.  I got sidetracked by my chatty plumber and let it cook a bit too long I think.)  My son said it tasted like strawberry ice cream, his favorite flavor.  My oldest prefers grape jelly but said this was pretty good for strawberry.  I didn't even mention the rhubarb!  So what does rhubarb taste like?  It gives the strawberries a different flavor.  Not exactly tart but more depth.  I can't put my finger on it.

Over all I'm glad I tried this and feel quite victorious, like I could save my family from a zombie apocalypse by bartering the jam for everything we needed.  I hope it doesn't come to that.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Meal Planning and interesting ads from Family Circle, June 1950

I love this color-filled cover probably because I had a tri-colored collie growing up.  This pooch actually looks a bit like my beloved dog Howard.  The model looks relaxed, like she was just out with her dog picking flowers.  (Who wouldn't want to live that fantasy?  Ok, well maybe those who are dog- averse would prefer to go on a solo flower picking walk but everyone else...)   The pictures and articles inside are just as delightful.

On page 58 is an article about Mrs. Greene's meal planning advice to her daughter, Anne.  It doesn't say Anne's age but she appears to be in her last years of high school or her early 20's.  (Teens and young adults always look older in vintage pictures.  They're so well put together with their coiffed hair and lipstick.  Much nicer than an over made-up girl in low-cut yoga pants and a sheer t-shirt making fish lips at her iPhone camera.)  The idea is to teach young would-be brides home management.  (Something I doubt fish lips wouldn't care to learn.   Oops, I'm being b*tchy, aren't I?)  I just love articles like these.  The domestic arts, including home management, has been lost thru the years.  You could argue that home management isn't really an "art" but art is in the eye of the beholder, right?  And when a home isn't managed it sure isn't pretty!  

Here's a peek at the article.  Click the image to make it larger.

I love that Mrs. Greene starts with a "basic menu plan", which is a list of the foods needed for complete nutritional health, according to science of 1950 when this article was published.  It looks to be based on the Basic 7 which was developed during WWII to standardize Americans' nutritional needs during food rationing.  The Basic 7 was later condensed to the Basic 4 in the mid 50's.  When I menu plan I start with what is on sale and what my family likes.  Not a bad way to choose meals but probably not as nutritionally solid as Mrs. Greene's menus.  I also like how she incorporates her basic menu plan into only three meals- no snacks.  Seems like we Americans graze all day and the snacks we choose are more often treats and junk food than real food.  Just last week my high school sophomore was asked to bring snacks in for two of her classes.  One class requested Goldfish crackers and the other Smartpop popcorn.  Neither is horrible but the nutritional value is pretty low compared to what one would eat at the table.  I also have to ask why 16-17 year olds need a snack.  I understand it's the end of the school year and it's fun to celebrate but why is food necessary?  And in the case of the Goldfish why preschool food?  I don't think Mrs. Greene is giving her daughter Anne Goldfish in little single serve packages!

As you can see in the spread Mrs. Greene plans breakfast and lunch in addition to dinner.  I prefer to keep my meal planning flexible and serve leftovers for lunch but I kind of want to try planning breakfast menus.  We tend to get in a rut.  I make my two older daughters' breakfast when I'm just out of bed and half asleep so they get something simple- cereal, toast, or a pb and j with fruit.  I sometimes prepare these quick breakfasts only to find that one (or both!) of my girls isn't in the mood for it.  I make something else under duress not wanting to send the finicky eater(s) to school on an empty stomach.  My son gets up at 8am with quite a manly appetite often requesting leftover dinner for breakfast or eggs and toast.  So you may be thinking, "Poor Sarah sounds like a short order cook!"  That's what I'm thinking too.  I bet Mrs. Greene never felt like that.

Another page that caught my eye in this issue of Family Circle was the Libby's ad for fruit cocktail with a recipe for Creme Brûlée.  I love Creme Brûlée.  And I love fruit cocktail- in a nostalgic way.  But together it sounds like inedible.

A "cinch for any bride"!  Lol.

And on the back cover...SPAM!!  How 50's is that??  Did I ever tell you about the time my hubby had a craving for Spam at Costco?  (Do you know how many cans of Spam are in the warehouse size Spam package?!?)

In other news we have two new pets.  A mosquito fish named Kristen that my son's class used for their ecosystem project and her friend Monsieur Snail who serves as her maid.  (Son's word- not mine.)  I'm hoping to try out a recipe to post this week but with the end of school on Friday I may not make it.

I hope everyone is having a nice beginning to summer!


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chopped Beef Mounds with Noodles Women's Day June 1951 (FAIL!)

The beautiful cover of the June 1951 issue of Woman's Day.  

This should have been a success.  Beef and noodles were in the title.  My girls could live on pasta alone and my men could live on beef.  So what went wrong?  Following are the actual quotes I jotted down as everyone came to the table:

"Wow!  It looks like poooooop!!!!!!!!"

"What's wrong with the pasta?"

"Mom… I just don't think I can do this."

"Why does it smell like meatloaf?"

After a little encouragement begging I got everyone to try it.  And then I got to enjoy this:

"It tastes better than it looks.  I think it nom nom nom…" (The blessed child's mouth was too full to make out the rest.)

"Ok, I tried it.  Now can you make me a pb and j?  Pleeeeeeeeese???"

"Sorry, mom.  I just can't eat anymore."  (This was after one bite followed by what I hope was fake gagging.)

"What kind of meat is this??"  

I got one thumbs up and I liked it so I'm posting the recipe despite it being a "fail".  (It's a "fail" if not everyone likes it.)  Just be forewarned that if you don't like meatloaf you may want to skip it.

Here's the original recipe:

I doubled the recipe so here's what mine looked like:

1 15.5 ounce can of Tomato Sauce
1 LB Ground Beef
1/3C Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs (I'm thinking It could have used more- like 1/2C)
1/2C Hot Water
Dash of Cayenne
1t Garlic Powder
Dash of salt
1 16 ounce package of corkscrew pasta
(I forgot the parsley!)

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix the ground beef with the tomato sauce.  (This is gross.  Use a spoon and just keep mixing it until the beef looks like really thick beanless chili.)  Then measure the hot water in a large measuring cup.  Add bread crumbs and seasonings.  (This will also look gross.  A bit like baby vomit.)  Mix well and add to the beef mixture.  Mix until it's all uniformly together.  It will be loose like… oh never mind.  I'll leave the analogy to you.

Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.  Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop spoon the mixture into 6 or 8 "mounds" on the baking sheet.  Bake in the oven about 30 minutes until done.

Make the pasta according to the package directions.

When "mounds" are done remove and place on a plate.  Tent with foil to keep warm.  Spoon the drained pasta onto the baking sheet and stir to pick up all the yummy drippings and greasy bits.  Keep moving the pasta around on the sheet until it's well coated.

Serve "mounds" on top of pasta.  Top with chopped parsley if you wish.  (I bought fresh and forgot to use it!!  I wonder if it would have made a difference to my table mates?)

Here's the finished product:

Make at your own risk!  ;)