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Saturday, June 30, 2012

More BS, more Betty, and more attempts at inadequacy.

Here's another example of my nemesis Betty Crocker's attempt at making the homemaker of the 1950s feel like a failure. After reading these books, what woman who is trying to keep her family fed and clothed and not doing everything by the book can feel like they are giving their all? I look at these books and I'm thinking there's no way in Hayylll I would have survived as a 1950's housewife. I provide the essentials for my family but in all the years I have done so, my best piece of advice would be DON'T BUY BOOKS ABOUT IT! Seriously. Just go with the flow. If it feels right, chances are it is right. You don't need cookbooks or family books. It either comes naturally or it doesn't but in the end, it all amounts to firsthand experience.

For the record and this has not been brought up, all of the pictures that are listed come from yours truly. I buy the books from ebay, thrift stores, used book stores. I look through them and put a sticky tab on what I want to scan and then I scan them. I straighten and crop, rinse and repeat. 

As you can see, I am going to be a busy woman. I've only just begun!

 Without any further delay, I'm going to do what I do best. 
Betty Crocker's Good and Easy Cookbook, 1954.
Shout out to whomever had the initials "K.R.L." who was either gifted or bought this book on September 6, 1975. I had just hit my first birthday. I love, love, love finding things like this!
Oooh, a handwritten note from the Betster. Who cares that Betty Crocker was not just one individual. She cared enough to write a note. It's not typewritten. It's fer realz. But this woman of the 21st century does not think these thoughts three times a day. I figure that out in the morning over cold cereal or a Pop Tart.
What a fine breakfast feast! Cereal with various fruits, what looks like gruel with a blood clot on top of it. Orange juice served all fancy in a glass, fake fruit in the background and probably fake grapes. Come and git it!
Okay, okay. Maybe Mother doesn't really want to make something easy on her every single day of the year. Maybe Mother doesn't care if the breakfast is a happy treat or just another turd in the butt. Mother will point to the cereal, tell the family where they can find their bowls, spoons, and milk. Mother doesn't really care. I like Mother.
What PRETTY breakfasts! If I am a guest who is about to consume this eye catching delight, I would personally ask the hostess to perhaps cook my eggs. Not asking for much. Just not salmonella. Shirred eggs were the first thing I learned to make in Cooking Class when I was a junior in high school. Not exactly rocket science, no matter the little pan.
I'm not going to make an affront to my clumsy children or husband. I am going to say that if I am "sick-a-bed", the last thing I really want to think about is whether they are going to make it up the stairs without tripping and breaking my fine china. Also, if I am "sick-a-bed" chances are I would really just want a popsicle, tylenol, and the remote control in reach. Thanks for trying though. The effort will not go unnoticed!
Times are a-changing Betty. We know the sodium content of canned soup. It's not that hard to take a few cartons of low sodium broth, vegetables, noodles, and maybe a rotisserie chicken and make a good soup. It doesn't take hours. Maybe an hour at the most. Sometimes the easy route is not the best route.
Canned hamburger. Yum. I have never heard of it and I'm glad. I've bought it in chubs many times. Never canned. It looks like Pink Slime was the way to go in the 1950s too. Buy the scrapings of the hooves! It's juicier! Since I have the cookbook sitting next to me, water or milk flavor extender on page 124 is MSG. So this fine juicy hamburger recipe calls for 1/2 cup MSG. I feel a migraine coming on as I type this. 1/2 cup MSG. Not a sprinkle or a dash. 1/2 cup.
This is a shopping list I found in the book. I hope K.R.L. was able to find everything she needed.
This just looks boring. Sigh. Plain white bread. White stuff with green pepper rings and something else with obligatory overtly green olives. It makes me want to slip into a food coma before I even taste it. Not saying I would because if the soup was truly hot, then that island of chived sour cream would have melted pretty fast.
It is admirable to catch, cook, and eat one's own food. There's a bit of overcrowding here. Those suckers aren't going to brown unless one is removed. Just saying. I know Betty Crocker has published thousands of books over the years. How many have I published about cooking? ZERO.
We don't need no stinkin' grill. We got ourselves a "whilbarrow". We're going to put a rack on it and heat some coals and greeill us some steaks. Don't you pay no attention to that steak on the table. I ent moving the others. What do you mean there's no fire? Of course there is a fire--oh maybe not. Okay "whilbarrow" grill is not a good idea. How convincing to put a few cooked steaks and a raw one on there. Clever, Betty. Very Clever. Let the readers BELIEVE what they see. Who cares about lead poisoning anyway? The fat on those steaks will get you first.
Alright, time to save a few lives here. There are so many bad things being suggested on this page that my head is about to do an Exorcist spin. First off, not a good idea to let sauce sit out overnight. Hello bacteria catcher and who knows what bugs are going to get in it. Unless you are providing food for ants or roaches, have at it and let that sauce fester. Let's get into the food tips shall we? Meat and poultry should be put on the grill upon removal from the refrigerator. If it's cooked right and not sitting out for hours with the overnight settled sauce, then it can be flavorful and have that moist tenderness Betty is touting. Fire tips: Since most men like to grill, what defines "plenty of fuel"? Eyebrow singing? If the meat doesn't taste like lighter fluid then it's not enough? I'm not being sexist, but how many women do you see douse several bottles of lighter fluid on the coals? We dainty ladies like our propane grills. Start the coals an hour ahead? HUH? Betty Crocker, you give BAD advice! But because the name Betty Crocker says it's right, then it must be!
What makes a sponge cake expensive? If I wanted to make this and needed Softasilk Cake Flour, will HEB have it? Will the recipe be null and void without this particular brand? What if I get the expensive kind? If I do it the "expensive" way do I save a whole dollar?
As one of the world's biggest mayophobe, I am going to agree to disagree on mayo being the best choice for anything. Even head lice. I'd sooner pick the nits out of my kids' hair then slob their tresses with a jar of mayonnaise.

Does unusual mean good or does it mean bad? It's hard to tell with these pictures.
Grab your skin suit and some lipstick. We have tuckaway meat loaf. Throw in some Silence of the Lambs and enjoy those barbecued beefies!
Mmmmm cake..Not complaining too much here, but before adding the swirls with light, sweeping strokes, maybe a glob of frosting between the top two layers? Okay, go back to swirling with light, sweeping, strokes.
Taco Bell can suck it! The first Taco Bell franchise was opened in 1964, ten years after this book was published. That's right. Taco Bell did not come up with the Fourth Meal after all.
I accept happily the fact I will never be able to compete with the homemakers of 60 years ago. However, they taught our parents who taught us who will try to teach our children. I can only imagine what they will say about the food they eat now.

Until next time!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

What kid wants to come to this party, Betty?

June is going and with it so is the annual confusion of birthdays. See, I have a bit of a dilemma: I have three kids at home and three of them have June birthdays. Every year it's the same old problem. What do I do? Should I have a birthday party for each of them? Should I lump all of their parties in one event and wait until their day to give them the rest of their presents and cake? I usually start with good intentions and end up with the latter. My son has an end of June birthday so we usually are all "birthday'd out" by the time his comes. 

LUCKILY for me, I just so happen to have this wonderful and classic Betty Crocker Parties for Children on hand! Should I have a party like the ones depicted in this book or no? Should I feel inadequate as a mother because I do not have a party like the ones depicted in this book? What kid would really want to come to a Betty Crocker inspired party from 1964? I'm guessing zero.

If I drank, these parties would be a perfect opportunity to do so.

Betty Crocker Parties for Children, 1964
With June birthdays for three of my children, I ask the same question when June rolls around. WHY? To boost children's social skills and provide a friendly atmosphere? No. To make parents bat guano crazy as they construct a guest list, reservations, presents, decorations? As a parent, that sounds about right. How about to make all children and not just the birthday guests feel special? Speaking of which, why don't I get a present that day? I'm the one who incubated the little parasites and had them cut from my uterus.
The important question!! Hold the party at your house, nobody's going to want to come. Entice them with a bounce house or the Game Truck, there might be a few more kids. Don't say a clown or a magician. Lame! Even better is to put a nonrefundable deposit on kids themed restaurants or other places and have only a couple of kids show up! Yes! Not only is your child hurt, but you just sank a few hundred dollars into nothing but an ego crushing, heartbreaking event. And your child is going to be reeling over why nobody likes him or her.
And what a motley crew of guests that did show up. Did they show up on their own accord or did they come because their parents are like me and make their kids go to every party they are invited to because sometimes they are the only kids to show up. Let's see, we have Karen with the too short dress and itchy crotch, Charles who is a little too "happy", Ed the knicker wearing, football carrying, big eared loser. Selma the nose picker. Fred and Frank who swear they are just best buds, and Gloria and her dog Bruno. Gloria looks like the most normal. Plus I had a dog named Bruno.
I'm looking at this guest and thinking HAYYYLLL NO! 10 guests for a 5-6 year old? 12 and 18 for a 7 and 8 year old? 10 and 15 giggling preteen girls? Shudder to think! If I went by that, I would have potentially 37 kids to entertain.
I'm sure kids are eagerly anticipating being invited to someone's Book Week, Election Day, Back to school, Columbus Day, or any dead President's day parties. Why would a child have an election day party? Are they old enough to vote? Groom 'em to the partisan politics of today while they are still young.
Oh how clever! Write the word "Party" backwards.
"These handwritten cards for the pow wow party and party train are a great idea," said no one ever.
Any kid will tell you it's not the party that matters. The blood, sweat, tears, stress, second mortgage, maxed out credit cards are nothing in the myopic mind of a child. It's the SWAG! If you fill it with dollar store toys and crappy candy, the kid is a loser. If you don't offer one, the kid is a loser and you suck as a parent. They just suck no matter what. Why should I reward kids with SWAG by coming to my kid's party? I invited the little brats. They should be thanking ME! But, the world is not perfect so fill the bags with SWAG but don't put too much thought into it. No kid is going to be content with an Iron Man eraser or fireball candy. The parent is going to be mad that you put little cans of play doh in there. Lose Lose.
Pizza, chips, cake, ice cream, juice boxes or soda. There is no need to go all out like this. Period dot com, end of story.

Game time! Let's teach 6 year olds about murder and pig racing, 9 year olds can roam the neighborhood looking for paper clips or something green (do a head count before they embark on this adventure), Horse Racing and Cotton Ball toss for the 8 year old group, Feel it for the 10 year olds. Feel what? 11 year olds won't be interested in the games either. I am trying to imagine a 10 year old saying they played "Feel It" at a party. Oh how harmless the 1960s were!
One might feel a stab of envy looking at this perfectly coiffed mother with her legs tucked under her while she shares creative little stories for these young minds. I served 12 years in the navy. My stories would get me arrested.
Pin the button on the happy pervie clown! Yay fun! Blindfold kids, turn them around in circles and give them a pointy object and hope they get it on the picture and not in someone's carotid artery.
The first look at this picture, I can breathe a sigh of relief that I need NOTHING to make this game happen. Second glance makes me think that boy is going to leave with a black eye if he pokes the girl. She may have her petticoats and small feet, but I bet she packs a hell of a punch.
Is this what "Feel It!" is supposed to be? The kid looks like he's going get a case of the vapors. Lesson learned. If a boy is wearing a bowtie to a party, don't touch him because he's probably the most uptight of the group. Somebody get this young lad some smelling salts!
It involves nothing because nobody in that age group is going to be interested. Now would be a good idea to 86 these lame games and serve some cake.
Find me a parent who lets their kids switch clothes at a party. That ought to leave memories. Not good ones. "What did you do at the party, Nicky?" "We switched clothes and I got to wear a dress, Mom." This is really a bad idea. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.
Musical chairs. Shit just got real.
Since Betty Crocker is the epitome of all things evil, these pictures somehow do not convey their actual caption. One would think the little girl was sitting there minding her own business while the boy made a feel for her, white knuckled grip on the chair. Really they are playing a game called "Chip Change" where the kids get chips and when someone calls "CHANGE" they drop the chips into the lap of the child on the right. If they have difficulty determining the left and right, they are to raise their flag saluting hand. This game is stupid. I think I like my original thought on the picture better.

I do not finish this blog entry feeling like an insignificant mother who is depriving my children their birthday parties. If anything, I feel glad that I don't go through all of this mess. The more simple the party, the more the kid is going to remember it.

From now on, I better ask more questions about what goes on at these parties.

Betty Crocker, I am not finished with you yet!!! The world will see you for the evil incarnate you are! 

Until next time!! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Men Who Stare At Grills. (Or Barbecues)

I'm going to be honest. I could not come up with a title for this entry. It is about outdoor cooking or grilling, or barbecuing.

Here's a few cliche phrases that just didn't quite settle because they were lame as hell:

  • Grill baby Grill--so cliche it teetered on national embarrassment. I'd probably get sued for copyright infringement.
  • Master and Commander (of the grill) --No, I really didn't mean that. It's groanworthy to the point of humiliating.
  • Insert long and pointless title about grilling.
  • Search the internet and come up with a foreign sounding title that is both quippy and clever.
  • And lastly, grab the first movie that comes to mind and put grill into the title.

Thus, a blog entry is born. I don't know that much about the art of cooking outdoors. I do know that it doesn't look like what is about to be shown. No, men are not the only gender that does the grilling. I know this. However, this is 1965. I can guess women were making their aspics. Pure speculation.
Better Homes and Gardens Barbecue Book, 1965
A picture says a thousand words does it not. Here is a picture perfect family of four. A mom, dad, son daughter. Father has the Brylcreem style parted to one side, the son the opposite. Mother and daughter have identical bobs. The son gets served first, the mother knows this, and the daughter looks none too pleased with her arms crossed defiantly over her chest. The father is not breaking out in a sweat and that grill needs more wheels.
Forget the two inch fat around the red meat. Look at those awesome salt and pepper shakers!! Good grief that's a lot of fat on that meat. Arteries meant nothing back then. They were just tubes that carried oxygenated blood throughout the body. As long as the cells could squeeze through the arterial plaque, no harm done! Let's have some MMMMEAT!
The instructions say the best way to prevent curling is to score the meat. Why not just cut the fat off? That seems a lot more simple that making little scores in a slab of fat and red meat. BS FLAG ALERT!! He's holding a raw piece of meat over a hot grill and still has arm hairs.
In modern world, that would be called "blue". Throw that thick sucker back on the coals for a few more minutes. Yet it's a perfectly rare circle. Food decorating wasn't very advanced. It was photographed as it was and I have to respect that. 
There's a reason burgers have a top bun. The square burger on the white bread with the golden cow poking through it is incredible. Anyone who's ever tried to put a hamburger on a spongy piece of white bread knows the grease and juice is going to absorb into the bread and within seconds, it's stuck like toilet paper on a turd.
The pickle is the star here. Basically it's ground beef and fillers wrapped around a big pickle and topped with catsup (not ketchup). This burger macabre is enough to get someone banned from society.
What health conscious individual came up with this thing? It's like a ground beef stromboli. Two pounds of ground beef, stuffed with "everything" and folded in half. This is one of those just because it can happen does not mean it should happen.
Reason #21,336 why meatloaf should have never been made.
This ought to end the current trend that bacon makes everything better.

There is no definition, no words to describe just how classy it is to hang hot dogs from a wire hanger. Add to it the silverware that looks like it has little hot dogs for handles. It would suck to be the guy with the apron if that hanger buckled under the weight of the wieners. What is up with that coffee percolator? That's the second time I've seen it.
Are we finally putting a face to the apron and forearm guy? The pride in his face, the crinkle of his eyes as he smiles just makes us swoon. 
With his dark hair, dark eyes, defiant jaw, he can rock the oven mitt.
Turkey BDSM. Be firm with your turkey! No gentle rubbing. Take some salt and rub inside that raw wound. Skewer the neck skin to back, insert spit to avoid bone and balance. Hog tie that bird, wash, rinse, repeat. If you don't have the turkey wrist restraints, tie the bird up some more, you kinky little strumpet.
The shish kebobs of all shish kebobs. Pounds of meat, patterns of vegetables, not an olive out of sync. They practically hop out of the book. Someone put a lot of effort into this. Let's see if we can replicate it at home. I know if I tried it, there would be more meat in the coals than on the skewer and by the time I got to the end of the orange one, I would have just lumped the stuff together.
En Garde! Swish swish, clang clang. That thing looks like it would take an eyeball out.
There's no way in the man's world of the 1960s would the weiners point down. It's an affront to all things masculine.
And thus ends the 26th blog entry with probably the stupidest title yet. But it didn't stop you from looking!!

Until next time!