Relic Tray

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's autumn, pack up your jug of soup

Posted By on Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Forty years later, soup still rules.
Although the first official day of autumn was last Wednesday, it was easy to ignore the so-called change of seasons until the noticeable chill in the weather over the weekend.

We saw men and women at the UnPlaza Art Fair on Sunday in shorts and flip-flops, still pretending it was summer. They seemed to regret their impulsive fashion decision. Local artist and entrepreneur Paula Winchester did a brisk business offering free samples of hot tea from her Twelve Winds Tea Company.

The scrappy UnPlaza Art Fair held a used book sale again this year, and I stumbled upon a culinary classic from the year 1970: Cooking with Soup, published by the Campbell's Soup Company.


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Friday, June 25, 2010

Relic Tray: What Cooks in Suburbia

Posted By on Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 11:30 AM

​When E.P Dutton & Company published Lila Perl's What Cooks in Suburbia, in 1961, suburbia was part of the American dream: a brand-new house with all-modern appliances that was close enough to the hustle-and-bustle of big city life to enjoy the culture of the metropolis without actually having to put up with the noise, the crime, the pollution and less-desirable qualities of city living. Perl dedicated her book to "The Modern Suburban Homemaker." You know her, don't you?

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Relic Tray: Big Boy Barbecue Book

Posted By on Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Plan your teen party now!
Everyone needs a vintage barbecue cookbook during the summer months. The art of grilling outdoor evokes those happy days when good ol' Dad -- not my dad, but I'm talking metaphorically here -- put on an apron and oven mitts and a chef's toque just like the good ol' Dad on the cover of the spiral-bound Big Boy Barbecue Book, published in 1956 by the Big Boy Manufacturing Company (maker of barbecue grills) and Kingsford Chemical (producer of those easy-light charcoal briquets).

The cover is somewhat confusing: Dad has his sleeves rolled up and two young girls are wearing summer outfits as they watch him cooking steaks -- at least three inches thick, so that you know this is the 1950s. But in the background are autumn mums and a festive display of pumpkins and gourds. At any rate, the book sold for $1 in 1956, back when a gallon of gas was 23 cents.

The book includes tips for throwing a Teen Age Party that will "keep kids in their own back yard" and instead of, presumably, off somewhere being juvenile delinquents. Among the cool refreshments: "Mugs of milk are welcome!"

For dessert? Get the teens together to make barbecued spiced bananas!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Go ahead, taste John Davidson's "Thing"

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Davidson "Thing" requires a large celery stalk
Actor-singer John Davidson, currently appearing in a play at Overland Park's New Theatre Restaurant, has had a long and interesting career: Sears catalog underwear model, wholesome Disney leading man, TV game show host, Tonight Show fill-in host, nightclub and Broadway performer, murderous drag queen (a cult favorite 1974 episode of Streets of San Francisco) and nearly-nude Cosmopolitan magazine centerfold.

Davidson, who turns 69 in December, is also a cook. His recipe for a pasta dish called "The Thing" appeared in a softcover cookbook, A Taste of Class, produced by Century 21 Real Estate back in the early 1980s. This cookbook, discovered in a used bookstore in Mission, also features recipes for Loni Anderson's fettucine and the late Sammy Davis, Jr.'s version of spaghetti and meatballs.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Joys of Jell-O

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 2:02 PM


Now that Overland Park's Piccadilly Cafeteria is closed, what local restaurant still offers glistening, jiggling cubes of gelatin dessert as a light, refreshing way to end a heavy meal? Well, the Calypso Buffet at the Isle of Capri Casino keeps the tradition going, thank goodness. Other than the occasional buffet restaurant, however, it's nearly impossible to find Jell-O on a modern dessert menu.

Hey, I'm not saying I would order a Jell-O dessert even if it was on a dessert tray -- but I like knowing that some retro restaurant still serves it.

Though it's considered lowbrow by modern culinary standards, Jell-O has never lost its fan base among home cooks, who have been making the powdered product since it was introduced in 1897. It's an inexpensive dessert and can be molded, mixed with fruit, blended into a pie or a summer salad -- even cole slaw!

This snazzy soft-cover cookbook was available for just 25 cents "and any six fruit illustrations from Jell-O packages" in the early 1970s. Not all of the recipes sound so good (Avocado Pie, Ring-Around-the-Tuna), but the classic recipes are represented, including a couple of variations on the Waldorf Salad, orange-glazed duck (who knew?), and Frozen Ambrosia.

If you happen to have some leftover angel food cake around the house, here's a fun and easy way to use it up in a festive format: Pink Party Dessert!


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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Relic Tray: The New Unity Inn Cookbook

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 2:00 PM


The oldest vegetarian restaurant in Kansas City would now be 104 years old -- if it was still all-vegetarian. Operated by the Unity Temple, the Unity Inn was in occupied an old frame house at 913 Tracy in downtown Kansas City. The vegetarian dining room was so successful that by 1920, the vegetarian founders of Unity, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, had built a beautiful cafeteria at the corner of Ninth and Tracy (the building is still standing but not, alas, serving meatless fare -- or any other kind of food). That restaurant was moved out to Unity Village in Lee's Summit in 1949 and later added meat dishes.

When this spiral-bound cookbook was published in 1966, the Unity Inn still held to its meatless roots and offered only recipes for meat-free dishes, including a recipe for Unity Stew requiring one 14-ounce can of a product called Soyameat and a stuffed bell pepper recipe featuring one cup of "vegeburger."

The Unity Inn was famous for its salads; here's the recipe for its Unity Cider and Apple Salad.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Relic Tray: Confessions of a Sneaky Organic Cook

Posted By on Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Back in 1971, a cook had to be "sneaky" to cook for friends in some healthy fashion, since the words organic and vegetarian had none of the cachet that they have now. In fact, if a cartoon of the early 1970s depicted "vegetarians," they was all too frequently a lanky, bearded, sandal-wearing hippie and his long-haired girlfriend who wore granny glasses and no make-up. Earthy types, you see. In other words: Squares.

Jane Kinderleher, the author of this 1971 Signet paperback, Confessions of a Sneaky Organic Cook, explains in Chapter 1 why she has to be sneaky: "Anything that smacks of 'health' is considered square, for the birds, or when they get sophisticated, 'faddist.'

Jane was definitely ahead of her time. She wouldn't cook with aluminum or Teflon ("because at high temperatures, Teflon releases a deadly gas"). She also bemoans the fact that certain healthy items are "not yet available in supermarkets." Items like raw honey, raw sugar, whole-wheat flour, soy, sesame oil, sea salt, wheat-germ oil. Yes, a lot has changed in 39 years.

Not all of Jane's recipes sound very enticing. Brain fritters, for example. And I'd be interested in what modern physicians might say to her advice about Vitamin E as a way to overcome "bedroom fatigue" for men who just aren't sexually satisfying their women. Another helpful suggestion she makes for these tired-out lovers is wheat germ oil in a glass of tomato juice spiked with a generous dash of kelp.

"With this kind of cocktail," Kinderleher advises, "you won't need candlelight and wine."


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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Relic Tray: Tricks and Treats in Cooking with ICE

Posted By on Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Full of gay cooking ideas!
​Cooking with ice -- how totally 20th-century! This super-groovy, full-color pamphlet published in the 1960s by Servel ("Makers of the famous Automatic Ice-Maker Refrigerator") was probably included with the purchase of one of those state-of-the-art iceboxes. I've never actually seen a Servel fridge, but vintage advertisements make it look pretty alluring.

One doesn't actually cook with ice, of course, but this booklet is loaded with ideas for relish trays, finger foods ("Keep 'em gay, keep 'em cool ... on ice!"), salads and beverages, including Iced Mexican Chocolate.

The recipe follows the jump.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Relic Tray: Saucepans & the Single Girl

Posted By on Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Swinging '60s chicks with recipes!
In 1962, Helen Gurley Brown made publishing history with Sex & the Single Girl -- an advice book that encouraged single women to be independent, make their own money and experience pre-marital sex. It sold two million copies in three weeks. Three years later, a copycat cookbook hit the bookstands. This book, Saucepans & the Single Girl, was written by two married women, Jinx Kragan and Judy Perry. But they explained that they had been single, you see, before snagging those mates. And one of the ways they lured those men into marital bliss was with their skills in the kitchen, not the bedroom! The flyleaf explains it all:

"Guaranteed to do more for the bachelor girl's social life than long-lash mascara or a new discotheque dress, Saucepans & the Single Girl tells how to handle the menu and the man when a Lover with a Leica comes to dinner or A Man with a Million drops in for an evening ... Here is the ideal kitchen guide for the gal who wants to make the leap from the filing cabinet to the flambe."

The filing cabinet? Well, remember, back in the early 1960s, most bachelor girls with careers were schoolteachers, nurses or secretaries (like Helen Gurley Brown before striking it rich with her first book). It took some clever scheming to go from making coffee for the office staff -- one of the complaints about having a "career" in this book -- to finding Mr. Right. And a man's heart is through his tummy, right? 


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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Relic Tray: Singers & Swingers in the Kitchen

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 1:42 PM

​If you were a pop star in the late 1960s, man, it wasn't groovy enough for you to simply soar to the top of the Billboard charts or appear on Hullabaloo or American Bandstand. You needed to cook too! In 1967, all hottest stars of TV, movies and the jukebox were featured in the 96-page paperback cookbook called Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen (Parallax, $1). This "Scene-Makers Cookbook" features "dozens of nutty, turned-on, easy-to-prepare recipes from the grooviest gourmets happening."

I don't know whether gourmet is the right word, since a lot of the stars provide pretty low-brow recipes. Paul Revere (of the Raiders) offers his chili dog chili recipe. Lesley Gore -- of "It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To" fame -- reveals her fave recipe for "Snick Snack Hamburgers" (tomato soup is the secret ingredient). And Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy has a yen for "Cold Soup Nimoy" made with sour cream and two cans of cream of celery soup. The Rolling Stones submitted "Hot Dogs on the Rocks," which requires only three ingredients: hot dogs, mashed potatoes and canned baked beans.

The book also features Egyptian-born Omar Sharif's fried chicken recipe (who would have guessed?), Sally Field's cheesecake, Jane Fonda's "Curried Chicken a la Kiki" and Sonny and Cher's "Perfect Pork Chops." Each member of The Monkees submitted his own recipe, including Peter Tork's "Mad Mandarin Salad" which the book describes as "a great no-cook dish that everyone flips over."

The recipe's after the jump.


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