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Category Archives: Food

Terrapin Stew and Black Bottom Pie


One often finds neat things in used books. Prepping for an upcoming LitKids print, I ended up buying an old copy of that kitchen standby, The Joy of Cooking. This particular book was perfect, a 1952 edition with the cover no longer attached yet complete, relatively pristine pages inside. The pages will look excellent behind this print’s artwork – a saucy, lip-smackin’ cupcake.

Aside from providing great background for my print, there’s a lot more to this Joy of Cooking that reveals the attitudes of the ’50s. First off, the little illustrations that accompany the recipes are brilliant – stylized yet simple enough to convey what the instructions can’t. They remind me of Andy Warhol’s early stuff, although it’s not his (Warhol did illustrate a cookbook, once). The recipes themselves are pretty intriguing, as well, heavily reliant on fatty/rich ingredients and dishes that are meant to impress guests (including every kind of hors d’oeuvres imaginable). One fascinating part – probably not in the current edition – details how to prepare a live turtle for stew meat!

As with every other pre-owned book that I come by, I ponder the previous owner(s). Did they read and enjoy the book, or did it sit in a box, unloved for years and decades? Other than a few penciled-in notations and random stains in the dessert section (the part I needed!), there was little to indicate who had this Joy of Cooking. Somewhere along the line, however, a home cook decided to slip some intriguing bits of paper within — a couple of newspaper clippings and a handwritten list of ingredients. Not much to go on, right? But I love the little story these bits of paper tell. In 1985, somebody used this older copy of Joy of Cooking to help prepare a Thanksgiving dinner. The research included the “Better Living” section from a Rhode Island newspaper, The Bay Window, and a separate newspaper clipping with a Roast Stuffed Turkey recipe (by the way, the Window‘s ’80s food editor Lynda Rego is apparently still in Rhode Island, writing a genealogy column for a different newspaper). The book also has a hand-written list of ingredients on pink paper, for some kind of sugary dessert. Those bits of ephemera, and a few choice bits from the book, are pictured below. Bon appetit!

Carving a turkey, illustrations by Ginnie Hoffman and Beverly Warner.

Carving a turkey, illustrations by Ginnie Hoffman and Beverly Warner.

Ephemera from a 1952 edition of The Joy of Cooking.

Ephemera from a 1952 edition of The Joy of Cooking.


Preparing a turtle for stew (yuck!); cutting pea pods.

Preparing a turtle for stew (yuck!); cutting lima bean pods.

Apple custard recipe.

Apple custard recipe page with stains.

Preparing macaroons from The Joy of Cooking (1952 ed.), illustration by Ginnie Hoffman and Beverly Warner.

Preparing macaroons from The Joy of Cooking (1952 ed.), illustration by Ginnie Hoffman and Beverly Warner.

Test print for "Tempting Cupcake" LitKids print.

Test print for “Tempting Cupcake” LitKids print.

Lunch with Martha

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.


What Shall We Eat?


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):






C Is for Cookie

Taken off Cartoon Brew, let’s take a moment to enjoy the playful music video “Chocolate” by Mexican pop duo Jesse & Joy. Those are animated cookies, folks. I hate to quote Rachael Ray here, but yummers.

Creepy Cookbook Kids

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.


Retro Refreshing

soda_throwbacksStrolling 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! 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.