I’ve been subscribing to Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine for a year now and am surprised at how much I’m enjoying it. Cooking has become something of a mini-hobby with me (especially soup, which I do in a big pot and eat over the following 3-4 weeks). The appealing, seasonal, intriguing but not too exotic stuff found in Everyday Food is perfect for my experience level. Usually upon receiving an issue, after drooling over the photography and layouts, I wind up trying one or two recipes a month. I’ve had the June issue for barely a few weeks and have already done four recipes. Yeah, I’m Martha’s kitchen bitch!
The first recipe I did was a Pizza Bianca with hand-rolled dough, a white sauce of ricotta and olive oil, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. I also added some fresh chopped oregano and rosemary. After it’s cooked, you top with arugula for some bitter crunch. I forgot to add the parmesan before baking, so it got sprinkled atop the arugula. This was just as good cold as piping hot – yum!
Each Everyday Food has a section of recipes that use veggies or fruits currently in season — the June issue spotlights cucumbers, which I love. I did this cold cucumber and buttermilk soup with olive oil drizzled on top. It tastes like liquid cucumber, really delicious! With the rest of the buttermilk, I made my own ranch dressing (a huge improvement over store bought) from a recipe elsewhere in the issue.
Another cucumber recipe I tried was this side salad with English cucumbers, celery, tuna and poppy seeds, tossed in a rice vinegar and olive oil mixture. We’re bringing this to a Memorial Day weekend lunch with some friends. If it’s as good as the other stuff I’ve made, it should be a hit.
General Foods’ Home Meal Planner from 1961 was a booklet that Christopher found on the Free pile at his workplace. It outlines how to plan your meals smartly and efficiently — involving lots of General Foods products, of course. Amongst the tips and recipes are some wonderful typography and illustrations depicting a perfect housewife preparing meals for her nuclear family. For dealing with something as mundane as meal planning, the whole thing is incredibly elegant and Betty Draperish. Several images from the booklet were scanned and posted in my Cool Vintage Illustration flickr set.
Speaking of Betty Draper, we’re finally getting into Mad Men. Seemingly everyone I know was raving about the show when it first premiered, and I subsequently checked out an episode. It was … just okay. Beautifully crafted with a committed cast, but also cold, excessively dour and (worst of all) having a smug, revisionist attitude about the ’60s. I decided to give it another try when Amazon had a sale on the DVDs last year. Although the first few episodes still have that annoyingly smug tone, both of us were soon wrapped up in the drama and storylines. There were still a few so-so episodes from that year, but now we’re halfway through the second season DVDs and there’s a noticeable improvement in the acting and plot development. Can’t wait to check out the following two seasons — what an enthralling drama.
Anyhow, let’s indulge in something that Betty Draper would obviously find quite handy (whenever she isn’t fretting about her heel of a hubby):
It’s been a while since I’ve shared some weird ephemera from the past. The illustration below comes from the back cover of Ground Beef Cookbook, published by Favorite Recipes Press in 1967. An enterprising indie band ought to make these two their mascots.
Strolling the soda aisle at the local Safeway, I was delighted to find enticing stacks of Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback on display. You might remember that the Throwback sodas (with cane and beet sugar replacing corn syrup as sweetener) were introduced in a frustratingly short run last Spring. Now they’re back, and with more authentic looking packaging, too! BevReview.com has posted a review of the new Pepsi Throwback, along with somewhat disappointing news that this, too, is a limited run. I bought a 24 pack of the Mountain Dew and am looking forward to its citrussy sweet goodness.
Something else that will brighten up my 2010 — Dr. Pepper Heritage. I’m sure my dentist will love that one.
Fifteen years ago tonight, Christopher and I first met at a theatrical performance of the Gershwin musical Crazy for You. He was there to review the show for our local afternoon paper, and I was the stray person who took his extra comp ticket. I can’t say that we totally clicked that night, but we were friendly enough to arrange a date later that week — and we’ve been talking every day since then. The newspaper he worked for in 1994 is long gone, but the two of us are still together. You could even say that “Our Love is Here to Stay.” Happy 15th, and here’s hoping we’re together for several more anniversaries!
The American President (1994). You know this one: Michael Douglas as the president of the United States, and Annette Bening as the lobbyist who captures his heart. I was attracted to this for Aaron Sorkin’s script, since it came out in between A Few Good Men (which I haven’t seen) and the TV cult favorite Sports Night. Sorkin’s stylized dialogue isn’t in any way realistic to the way people really talk, but it never fails to be spot-on and funny. This was no exception, but the film itself tends toward the formulaic and Bening’s overacting is insufferable (akin to the more recent film where she played a stage actress and inexplicably got an Oscar nomination). Minor quibbles aside, I enjoyed it. Many of the points that Sorkin brings up here were remarkably prescient in light of the Clinton/Lewinsky fracas and the relentless stupidity of the Bush II era.
Old Man Rhythm (1935). A silly RKO musical broadcast during Turner Class Movies’ salute to songwriter Johnny Mercer. This college-set fluff served as a vehicle for long in the tooth silent star Charles “Buddy” Rogers, but it’s now better known for having Mercer in a rare acting role and a young (and incredibly cute) Betty Grable in support. The film’s many songs are actually quite clever, if deficient in the memory retention department. Mostly I recall the fat guy doing an athletic dance during one number. This film is also notable for having not one but two of the great “sissy” character actors in Eric Blore and Donald Meek. People like those two make even the worst time-waster bearable.
Tim Tam chocolate biscuits. A package of these delectable Australian cookies came as a special surprise from Kris, along with the scarf she knitted for me. Chocolate covered wafers of bliss, they are.
Various – Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia. I originally didn’t intend to have this four disc, 71-track monument to the ’70s peak of Philly Soul. But… emusic.com lured me back with 75 bonus songs and this box set seemed to murmur “download me, baby” in Barry White-esque tones. It’s an excellent and classy set, mostly dealing with the unprecedented string of hits legendary songwriting/production team Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff shepherded with Philadelphia International Records. A few side trips with producer Thom Bell and The Spinners epitomize the breezy and upbeat sound that characterized the genre (really, I dare you to hear “I’ll Be Around” or “Then Came You” and not smile). It’s interesting to hear the first pulses of disco in the swinging rhythm of “The Love I Lost” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, then having it culminate in the joyful noise of M.F.S.B.’s Soul Train anthem “T.S.O.P.” Along the way are plenty of dazzling numbers from both lesser lights and the likes of Teddy Pendergrass and The O’Jays. Although the set has its share of draggy ballads and overlong album cuts, it’s amazing the way it documents the rise and fall of a style of music. From the ’67 golden oldie “Expressway to Your Heart” to Patti LaBelle’s polished R&B hit “If Only You Knew” — Gamble and Huff’s last hurrah from 1983 — one can only be wowed.