Monday, June 12, 2006

Retro Recipe Challenge #1 Round-Up

I am filled with gratitude toward our Retro Recipe Challenge contributors. They threw on their decorative aprons, all-purpose pearls, and 2-1/2 inch heels, headed into their kitchens, and whipped up a little something for Wally and the Beave.

Because it would be wrong -- and dare I say, unfeminine -- to let the tykes suffer with a Swanson TV dinner. Madge Jenkins down the street does that, but that's only since her divorce. The poor thing.

But, really; she should have known better. Wearing pants and flat shoes when her husband was around. I mean, really! It's not surprising he ran off with his secretary. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Still, it's a shame and I feel terrible for her. Maybe I'll bring Madgie some wine jello. That'll soothe her nerves.

Oh, fine. No more episodes of the Middle Class and the Restless.

Sadly, no gents were able to shellack their heads in Bryl Creme for this go-round, but I'm hopeful that they'll be in top condition for the next one.

On to the entries:

The first one comes from Emily at

Appetitive Behavior. Her (East-Coast) California Casserole was the 1956 Pillbury Bake-off winner and created by Mrs. Hildreth H. Hatheway of Santa Barbara, CA.

Emily explains the recipe:

With the exception of diner food, nothing screams 1950s to me more than casserole. And this casserole, in particular, seemed like a straight-from-a-sitcom dinner table classic. It photographs like mystery meat, it contains condensed soup, and made by the original recipe a serving accounts for 46% RDA fat, 25% RDA cholesterol, and 44% RDA sodium. Now that is a casserole.

Send that over to Madge's house, Emily. Tommy and Bobby haven't eaten a home-cooked meal in ages. But don't expect to get your casserole dish back anytime soon -- Madge can't keep track of things like that these days.

Ilva at Lucullian Delights whipped up an elegant Potage Au Lait D'amndes (Almond Soup). Ilva puts the American housewives to shame as she not only hails from Tuscany but created a French dish. We're burning with jealousy, Ilva, what with your Italian countrysides, and your Italian Maseratis, and your young Italian men glistening in the hot, Tuscan sun...

Where was I? Oh, yes; the recipe comes from the 10th ed. of La Cuisine de Madame, published in 1933.

Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen makes sure we can all squeeze into our dresses for the Kiwanis benefit with her tasty Hamburger Kebabs. The recipe comes from the fabulously titled How to Eat Better for Less Money by James Beard, first published in 1954.

Haalo at Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once took advantage of her local Queensland Tiger Prawns and put together an amazing Prawn Cocktail for 2 -- perfect for those rare evenings when the boys are at your mother's house and you and the Mr. are all alone.

Or when you're trying to impress your date from the key party.

Fran from Fran's Flavors put together some Porcupine Meatballs, assuring us "there is no actual exotic meat in this dish." Hee.

Fran continues:

When I first asked about the curious name, I was told it was because the rice grains resemble little porcupine quills! True? I don't know. It is a good story. I am not sure of the origin of the recipe (there are many variations--most more complicated than mine--one is found in my very retro 1967 edition of The Joy of Cooking-p.430).

The story of the original recipe as I heard it was that it was devised when pressure cookers became popular way back when and the meatballs could be made quickly. Those of you who are older probably remember all of the accompanying horror stories of pressure cookers. When I was growing up every kitchen had one, yet I never (fortunately) witnessed any of the awful accidents told by the cooks of the day. Probably a heartfelt warning to keep children away from the hot stove.

Did you read that bit about protecting the children? Fran is gunning for Mother of the Year.

The lovely Lis at La Mia Cucina baked up a 1960s Betty Crocker Velvet Cream Cake. She speaks of white hot frustration, and calls her frosting job a monstrosity (it's not) but that's only because the Valium hasn't kicked in yet.

Don't worry, dear; when it does, come over and I'll pour you a nice glass of cream sherry.

Alicat from Something So Clever whipped up the very colorful Raisin Gumdrop Bread. It hails from the Farm Journal - Freezing and Canning Cookbook, Popular Edition published in 1963, which she "stole from [her] mother in law."

Crime doesn't pay, Ali. Do you want to end up like one of those women in prison?

Maltese Parakeet from Peanut Butter Etouffee pulled out her mom's (Mooncrazy) Betty Crocker Cooky Book and baked up some French Lace Cookies . "I thought it looked totally Jackie Kennedy," writes the 'keet.

Angelika from Flying Apple concocted a delicious Old-Fashioned Chocolate pudding . She explains:

I found this recipe lately in an Austrian cooking magazine ("Gusto") featuring an interview with the first violonist of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (the one which plays, among many others, the world-famous New Year's Concert), Martin Kubik. He is not only a great musician, but also a wine collector and private cook. Asked about his favourite dish to prepare he divulged this chocolate pudding recipe which goes back to his grandma (her name was Franziska Ludmilla Krautstofl - what name ! It sounds definitely like good, old Vienna...)
A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. Of course, the hips can be hidden under a giant crinoline, covered with a skirt festooned with a poodle, so it doesn't really matter.

Last, but not least, JulieBean from the thematically appropo Suburban Apron Company gives us Lemon Cracker Pudding. "I sampled the questionable dessert with reckless abandon," she writes. "'Odd,' was my initial reaction. The second forkful was, 'better.' And when I had finished the serving, this dessert had proven itself not only edible, but, actually, 'not too bad.'"

Mmm-mmm. Just like Mommy's first experience with hard liquor.

And that's the whole shebang. If there's anyone I missed, please email me ASAP so I can correct my mistake. Thank you again to all the wonderful participants for their contributions and their tolerance (I hope) for my Gladys Kravitz-esque joking.

Stay tuned: the next RRC will be announced tomorrow.

Catch you on the flip side, daddy-o.


For your viewing pleasure, click the photo above to screen the educational film, "Date With Your Family." Commentary by Joel Robinson, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot.


Lis said...

Thank you for such a fun challenge, Laura Rebecca! The round up was hysterical, I love all of the 50's references, you did a most excellent job! The entries looked fabulous as well! Great job everyone :D

Laura Rebecca said...

I'm so glad you liked it, Lis! Thank you for your submitting your cake -- it's the most!

Kalyn Denny said...

Very fun!! You are really a good writer; very witty. I can't wait for the next one.

Ziz said...

Awesome! Best roundup I've seen in a really long time. Way to go girlie! :D

Ilva said...

Thanks for an excellent roundup! You make me wish that my life really was the way you describe it! I'm really looking forward to the next challenge!

Acme Instant Food said...

That was really neato Laura Rebecca! My homeroom teacher, Mrs. Bunderbuilt, brought those groovy jello cubes to class today. I'll miss her--the substitute doesn't look like much fun.

Acme Instant Food said...

That was really neato Laura Rebecca. My homeroom teacher, Mrs. Bunderbuilt, brought those cool jello cubes to class. I'll miss her--the substitute doesn't look like much fun.

Fran said...

Cool round-up! As one who DID remember the fifties, you did them justice!

Haalo said...

Way too funny! Fantastic round-up, just loved it!

Anonymous said...

I actually had hte porcupine meatballs in my youth (yes, I am a baby boomer and it is incredibly weird to experience one's own life as retro -- its everywhere!) and the explanation of hte name -- the rice -- is what we were told at the time. . . .

Laura Rebecca said...

Thank you all so much, but I really couldn't have done anything without your fabulous contributions. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you "bring to the table" for the next round!

constance said...

The Flying Apple - you seem to have put a bad link for Angelika. It wants a password. Do not have...
Can you help get access to that blog, please?

Laura Rebecca said...

Hmm, perhaps Angelika changed the access to her site? You might want to contact her through her other website ( and ask her to send you the recipe.
Good luck! :)