I was trying to figure out what cookbook to start with. After all, I'm trying to randomize this to some degree, so I didn't want to simply pull my most-used cookbook off the shelf and go from there. So I looked around and decided to go with the cookbook that has been in my collection the longest. This is not the oldest cookbook in the collection (which would be the 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook), but the one that has travelled with me from home to home and is still in the collection. And, as near as I can figure that is Jiffy Cooking from the Better Homes and Gardens collection.
Now, I feel a pang of guilt, here, because I know that I had cookbooks that were given to me prior to this, such as the Pooh Cook Book, but I don't have that with me. (Note to self: Bring that back from my parents' house the next time I go home.) But when I opened Jiffy Cooking, I was greeted by an inscription from my brother-in-law's parents - written by my brother-in-law's mom (I recognize the handwriting) - dated May 29, 1977 (so, before he was actually even my brother-in-law). Yep. I've had the cookbook for over 36 years. (Which is odd, since I'm sure I'm only 25, now...)
Thumbing through the book, the one recipe that actually jumped out at me as something I definitely had made in the past was "Stuffed Burger Bundles" - packaged stuffing mix surrounded by hamburger, browned, and then served in a "pepped up canned soup" gravy. Kinda like a Juicy Lucy, but stuffed with stuffing instead of cheese.
The book is amazing. Along with sections of basic themes (dessert, main dish, etc.), it has recipes set out in "servable" sections like "family dinner," "company brunch," and "teen-age party." For the purposes of the 8/28 Cooking Challenge, my finger landed on "Turkey Amandine on Toast" - which happens to be in the "Luncheon" section. This is the recipe (and, yes, it's supposed to be served at Luncheon with the Cranberry Relish Squares, French-style Green Beans, Celery Sticks, Coffee or Tea, and EITHER Lazy Day Grasshopper Pie OR Easy Apricot Souffle - no choosing two desserts, please):
So... I printed out the recipe and headed for the grocery store because... although you may be surprised... we don't often have cans of chicken gravy or pimentos on hand. We also don't have leftover chicken or turkey (we cook for two - that usually means... well... cooking for two), nor do we have sour cream, slivered almonds, or poultry seasoning on hand. I did have bread, so I was good to go on the toast points. (phew)
In case you're wondering, this is what a jar of diced pimientos (which I did not realize had an "i" in it) looks like. Sort of the color of maraschino cherries, but with the texture of over-cooked roasted red peppers - which might have made a good 21st-century swap.
After some last-minute prepping this morning, I set about to make my luncheon. (Okay. I admit it: I didn't have much faith in this, so one of my errands was to pick up a quick snack/lunch from Wendy's for Christopher and me before coming home. Just in case this was a total flop.)
Since it's Jiffy cooking, there aren't really a lot of steps to show you. Here are the ingredients and the cookbook (on the left-hand page is a picture of "Deviled Ham Pie" with asparagus spears on top):
Yeah... I didn't take any pictures of me throwing it all in a pan and waiting for it to heat through. Nor did I take any pictures of the bread toasting. (I'm learning about this food blogging thing as I go.)
Since I don't have poultry seasoning in the house, I went with even parts oregano, rosemary, and tarragon, then added some garlic powder and red pepper flakes because... well... the only other spice in this was going to be the "flavored with sage and black pepper" gravy. Which, as with most Campbell's products, smelled amazing, but was blander than I could ever hope to describe.
After getting a slight eye-roll from Christopher as I explained that this needed to be served on some china, I plated it up. It came out looking like this:
The pimientos added basically no flavor, but they did make it look nice.
Now, Jiffy Cooking is kind of like an early "semi-homemade" thing. Lots of canned ingredients. Lots of quick-and-easy cooking for people who are either beginning (as I was at age 10... err... negative-10?), or were dealing with trying to plan and execute meals in a hurry. After all, this was the late-70s, when fewer moms were stay-at-home, so there wasn't time to cook for 8 hours for dinner.
I'm guessing that the same meal, today, would take at least twice as long to prepare. We'd be roasting our own red peppers. Toasting the almonds. Growing the parsley and free-range chickens, and making our own gluten-free whole-grain ethically yeasty bread.
But I have to admit that I kind of liked the results. In fact, I think I'm going to make some rice and take it to work for lunch this week. It would probably also make a good starter base for something like a pot pie or a "chicken and dumplings" recipe.
Tune in next time, when the recipe is going to come from the cookbook I was given most recently - which does *not* mean it's a recent cookbook. This promises to be interesting... (Christopher - you may want to order pizza for the next one. We'll see.)