Sunday, June 23, 2013

8/28 Cooking Challenge - What's Cooking In Scotland

For my birthday last month, a friend of mine - we'll call her "La Bicycliste" - gave me one of those gifts which result in "Where did you... How did you... Wha...?" questions when you unwrap it on the sidewalk outside your work. She had, apparently, been at an antique show/sale in Iowa, and had come across the following from 1987:

I think I've mentioned, in the past, that I am originally from a small town in South Dakota named Scotland, right? And, yes, the school colors are orange and black, with a Scottie dog as one of our mascots. But - even better - I know both of the women who put this cookbook together. (In a town of 1,100 people, it shouldn't surprise anyone that I also went to school with their kids - and still hear about them on a fairly regular basis - either through my parents or through social networking.)

So... I flipped through the cookbook and got a little excited. There are recipes for baked goods and desserts that I grew up with - but that we never had at home. You see, my mom is not from South Dakota, so while we had amazing food when I was growing up, we didn't often have kolaches (p17) and kuchen (which we only had when we were with my dad's side of the family) (p18) or Malted Milk Bars (p31) or Salted Nut Roll Bars (with mini-marshmallows and Rice Krispies) (p34).

On the other hand, we also didn't have a lot of "salads" that had no vegetables. And black pepper was just something on the table with the salt, it wasn't considered "too hot to put into food." (Mom made salsa from scratch, since when I was a kid you really couldn't get it in a small town grocery store. You never knew how hot it was going to be, so eating it was kind of a culinary Hispano-Russian roulette.)

Although I was originally worried about it, earlier this week I got kind of excited about the prospect of taking a stab with my 8/28 rule. With only 10 columns of Index, I thought my odds were pretty good at getting one of those cool desserts from the back half of the alphabet. And then I realized the Index is broken out by course. The eighth column fell squarely into "Salads" and although I could have landed on Butter Mint Jello Salad (p93) or Cream Cheese Dressing for Fresh Fruit (p106). I landed on Confetti Salad.

I debated the "one up or one down" option, but those would have given me Calypso Coleslaw or Mexicorn Salad, so I just stayed with what I got. And I immediately warned Christopher that he wouldn't want to eat what I was making.

From page 101
Unlike last time, when the ingredients were all easy to find - we just didn't have any of them in the house, this time we didn't have any of the ingredients in the house AND I had a little trouble finding one of them. (Have I mentioned that we don't eat a lot of fresh vegetables?)

I was ready for the fact that this cookbook wouldn't really have amounts in it (what size is "1 bottle" of dressing? how much onion is a small onion?) but I totally hadn't thought about the fact that some ingredients might not exist any more. I completely couldn't find any "creamy cucumber" dressing. So - consulting my mom via phonecall while standing in Cub - I opted for the Kraft Cucumber Ranch. It was only available in a huge bottle, though, so I simply measured out 10 ounces, hoping for the best. 

Also, I don't like green pepper, so I went with yellow.
Next came the assembly. Lots of chopping and slicing and guessing what to do with things. You know, like deciding that I probably shouldn't put the pepper and tomatoes in without chopping them, first, even though the recipe ignored that step. 

This is what happens when the radishes get irradiated.
(Or when they reflect the flash... one of the two.)
Usually I'm a "break it into florets for dipping" guy with cauliflower.
But I have to admit that it looks kind of cool when you chop it. 

As I might have mentioned, I couldn't find a "normal-sized" bottle of the Cucumber Ranch dressing, so I measured it out and mixed it all in a measuring cup.  

Honestly, I thought I'd have trouble finding the "Italian Dressing Mix" -
but it was right on the shelf next to the dressings. 
After it looking so pretty and colorful with the first set of things in the bowl, the cauliflower and mushrooms - and dressing - started to make it look like a bowl of off-white ick.
Gotta admit that, at this point, I was really pretty worried. 
I admit that I only put in one large tomato, instead of the "three ripe tomatoes" requested. Why? Because... well... I was looking at the second tomato I had bought (the first one was definitely big enough to have counted for two) and thought "Hmm... Tomato and Egg on Toast would be lovely for dinner tomorrow night..." and put it back off to the side. 

Okay, so it doesn't look too bad once it's all stirred up. 
If you notice any small, pimiento-looking flecks in there, it's because the olives I used were, technically, "salad olives" instead of just regular jarred pimiento-stuffed green olives. What's the difference? The salad olives are kind of the "seconds" - they ain't as purty. And, well, they don't all have their own pimientos in them. Luckily for us, I had those leftover ones from last week... (By the way - who knew there were so many pimiento fans? I think those got more comments than anything else I've ever posted about!)

It chilled in the fridge while the chicken with Greek Seasoning was baking (in a foil pouch) in the toaster oven. I plated it up and realized that the salad kind of looks like brains when you photograph it. I tried multiple shots - with and without flash - but this was as good as it got. 
Healthy Chicken Breast with Semi-Healthy Confetti Salad
Here's the strange thing: It was actually pretty good. Yes, more tomato probably would have helped. Yes, the celery which I left out (not buying a whole thing of celery for just two ribs of it, sorry) might have added some nice crunch. Yes, it would have killed Christopher if he'd tried it (not just because of his disdain for cauliflower, but also because he's allergic to mushrooms). But I actually kind of liked it.

Or, maybe I just liked it because it's doused in a kind of Ranch dressing, which I never let myself eat. I suspect I'll find out whether or not I actually like it over the course of the next few days while I try to eat through the 3 quarts of leftovers...

(Thanks, again, to La Bicycliste for making this possible. I haven't dug around to see what the next cookbook is going to be. Fingers crossed that I get to bake something, soon, or at least work with some ingredients I actually have in the house...)


irishred said...

Oh Robert...I now know to be on the lookout for every old Scotland Church Cookbook I can find as I scour the Yankton County Library used book sales and various auctions and garage sales.
I would totally have shared the salad with you.


Glenda in CO said...

So, complete the story - where was your mom from? What else did you eat as a child that was not so Midwestern? This is great, thanks so much for posting!