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Sunday, July 22, 2012

For two..berm chicka wow wow

One thing I am able to grasp from my ever growing collection of mid century cookbooks is the pressure put on women back then on how to be perceived as perfect. The food had to look good (impossible), the table had to be set just right (not happening with small kids), and it had to be done sometimes several times a day (good luck with that). The Betty Crocker books seemed to be the worst culprit at setting the standards by which a housewife took care of her family. 

What Betty says must be word! Doublespeak and chrysanthemums. Salt shakers and silver. Candles and gravy bowls. Perfect table settings and creepy centerpieces.

Now we go into the New Dinner for Two. I've made this cooking for two a topic when I first started this blog. The book used came from Better Homes and Gardens. It was simple. Betty is the queen of overdoing things a bit. This doesn't look like date food. It looks like empty nest meals. Good luck trying to impress a date with this! 

Betty Crocker's New Dinner for Two, 1964. Believe it or not, there were several more editions of this book. One is sufficient for me though.

Something about this font makes me think I need to read slow. Who would have thought that doubling a recipe would be the answer to cooking more? What if I do not meet the above criteria? Do I not get the privilege of continuing this book? Too bad, Betty. I'm not your friend and I'm going to turn the page!

Dammit. Now I know what my big problem is in the kitchen. I have been guilty of putting round or long shaped pieces of food on a plate. I don't fill the gaps with parsley. Unless you are a guinea pig, parsley is not equally good to eat by itself.

If the butter doesn't melt, then the peas are cold. If the peas are cold then there is probably a membrane on the gravy. If there's a membrane on the gravy, then you are a failure. All the pink chrysanthemums and strawberry shortcake in the background will not redeem your shortcomings.

The uncomfortable silence permeated the air thicker than the smell of pork chops. The guests looked at each other wondering how they would get the pork chops onto their plate with the serving fork. Would it be bad etiquette to pierce the tomato? Should they take some parsley too or would that seem uncouth?

Good milk comes from happy cows. Excellent beef comes from cows that can juggle.
When you run out of ideas, just use the same picture of green peppers stuffed with dog food. Add a bunch of chrysanthemums (I'm having a hard time with this word) and nobody will even know this has been in several other Betty Crocker cookbooks. Come to think of it, nobody really pays attention to Betty Crocker cookbooks from long ago. Just a small handful of us. 

This is taking the act of garnishing to another dimension. Lettuce on top of chicken with peach halves stuffed with red glop. Broccoli banded with cheese bond. And when all else fails, keep some salt and pepper shakers in front to serve as a distraction. All it needs are some chrysanthemums. I heart spell check!
This slab of meat is so important one could almost miss the tiny perfection salad in the background or the chrysanthemums in the foreground.
Unidentifiable stroganoff, chrysanthemums, orange segments with cockroaches crawling on them. That will impress anybody. The yum factor is undetectable.
In a perfect world, everybody gets a ham loaf.

Right. That's why Hindu gods and goddesses have multiple arms. To hold all of the food. Stupid, Betty. Very stupid.
Hours were spent preparing a special lobster meal for her husband. Her heart sank as she stared at the "An Anniversary Wish" card and red chrysanthemums (I still can't spell that right). This is what her life had become. 
If you need to rehash a Mother Goose nursery rhyme then you have far bigger issues than planning, marketing, and cooking to fit a busy schedule.
I better follow the recipes and marketing tips in this book so I don't have a leftover. I'll never look at a leftover as a blessing in disguise. Why is it a leftover in one sentence and a "leftover" in another? Betty is trying a bit of doublespeak suggesting we call them "planovers". How does one meet extra food? Simply call them leftovers, throw them in some containers, and watch with horror while your husband eats them cold in front of you. However, with proper recipe following and marketing tips, I won't have a leftover.
I'm pretty sure a meatloaf with flair on my prettiest platter is a good sign I'm being thrifty. A few pinches of chopped parsley in a dressing is also not a good blueprint of my financial status.
You can arrange hot dogs in a circle all you want but it's still just hot dogs in a circle. I'm not a financial expert, but doesn't parsley get expensive? Especially since it's not going to be eaten.
No matter how much time and effort go into being thrifty or cooking for two, three pimento olive slices can make a meal look cheap and like it stinks up your house for three days.
No matter how many times I see this in a cookbook, it still does not look appetizing. If this is served and there are leftovers, do people fight over the leftovers? What kind "planned overs" can this make?
Yes, I showed this to my son. No, he did not kindly request that I stop showing him nasty food pictures that look like "tuhds". He was rather adamant that I stop. As long as there are nasty food pictures that look like "tuhds", I will continue to show them to him. I can't help it!

I didn't get anything significant out of this book about cooking for two. But it was still entertaining!

Until next time!


  1. Thank you for a very entertaining page. I was looking for retro foods (I was a fifties child) I came to you through Google. I was laughing so much about the Chrysanthemums.and funnily enough that food was in those days quite tasty but then we hadn't tasted fast food apart from fish and chips. Lovely blog, well written and I enjoyed reading.

  2. Orange segments w cockroaches....yum yum I have this cookbook! Love this post. Consider me one of the handful.