Monday, June 26, 2017

Meatloaf... its what's for dinner!

Though I grew up a vegetarian, my mom always cooked meat things for my dad, and meatloaf was one of the dishes I loved. It’s tasty, filling and approachable, especially for someone who isn’t used to a lot of meat, because there is no clue as to what animal it was. It’s just a loaf. Of goodness. It’s fun to mix up with your hands, it’s delicious right out of the oven, and also nice cold on a sandwich. It is an all-purpose food and modelling material!

today's fridge finds = tonight's dinner!

Carrie wrote this, age 10

I have indeed sampled and experimented with other loaves, like the Super Hippie mushroom-lentil loaf so popular in Berkeley and other communal living hot spots, and if nicely spiced (and if there is some fat content), some are actually not bad. I’ve also made the quintessential mid-century style meatloaf (see 1959 General Foods Cookbook) which derives its flavor from a packet of dry soup or dressing mix, and might be topped with freeze-dried onions! My mom’s recipe (see my hand-copied notes, written at age 10, above) was a somewhat gourmet mix of several meats and traditional Italian spices. If done thoughtfully, one can create a loaf out of just about anything, meat or otherwise. I’ve begun, lately, to treat meatloaf a bit the way I treat quiche: I believe I can throw just about anything in, and it will be good. That thinking has given rise to my general weekday meal-planning strategy: my favorite formats being 1) quiche 2) salad 3) soup and 4) meatloaf. I pretty much rotate those 4 and use whatever is fresh, leftover, given to me by neighbors or otherwise discovered  in my fridge, to create one-dish suppers that I will also enjoy the day after for lunch.

Love this cookbook, thank you GKG!

A very traditional version from the 50s

Carrie’s Theory of Meatloaf: Basically, mix up some ground meat, chopped veg, some kind of binding agent (bread crumbs or oatmeal are typical), and a liquid like egg, cottage cheese or milk. Add a member of the Allium family (onion, leek, scallion, garlic), add a little spice (oregano, basil, Worcestershire sauce), form into a loaf, and bake. This can be topped with tomato paste, basted with wine or chicken stock, or can be left plain to firm into shape in a medium oven (350-375) for somewhere between 45-60 min and then fill er up! For serving, you can try something fancy like a drizzle of tomato sauce (aka catsup) or a sprig of mint, but don’t try too hard – it’s meatloaf : not pretty, but pretty darn tasty.

meatloaf version 2.0

mix it up!

Loaf + tomato paste = yum

Going in

Today’s loaf is a turkey and veg creation, based loosely on a modern recipe:

1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ chopped green bell pepper
½ chopped onion
Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
Tomato paste to top; Red wine to baste

Bake as suggested above (350-375 for 45-60 min)

and enjoy with a glass of the red wine you used to baste. #nom

Have a slice!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Unicorn Frappuccino Hack #pinterestfail

The Unicorn Frappuccino. Business analysts call the drink's creation "stunt marketing" but Starbucks calls it "flavor-changing, color-changing, totally not made-up" and describes the flavor as "magical" starting off "sweet and fruity transforming to pleasantly sour." Meanwhile, lovable culinary snark Anthony Bourdain called it the "perfect nexus of awfulness" but unless you've been under a rock the past month, you've seen or heard about it. Perhaps you even tried one, like I did with a mico-sample at my local crack dealer's Starbucks:

Sample Size. A good place to stop. 

And what does it taste like? SUGAR. Sugar-flavored sugar that tastes vaguely of mango, in fun colors that was available for a short time only, is 100% Instagram-worthy, and will give you street cred with middle schoolers. So, basically, a win for Starbucks and "diabetes in a cup" according to health experts, parents and sane people everywhere. Clearly I lost my sanity when I tried it: they say that the taste of sugar induces our brains to seek more sugar, so I decided to make my own at home. Yeah... because if I made it, it would somehow not be a bucket of cold iced shiny sugar mess? Well, not if I made it exclusively with ingredients available at my favorite health food store, San Francisco's venerable Rainbow Grocery! 

Yes, I took my tween daughter to get one and Instagrammed it, what. 

Semi-healthy ingredients mostly from the health food store. I should point out that my cost was significantly higher than the cost of the actual drinks, though due to their scarcity, it was my only option as the drinks were discontinued the day before. According to my calculations, two drinks made at home cost approximately $38, while the drink retailed for just under $5. Hmmmm...


For the "Frappuccino" I blended frozen mango, Greek yogurt, a bit of vanilla ice cream, and coconut water. I tried using grenadine to color it pink, but that had seemingly no effect, so I resorted to red (natural! No red #5 thankyouverymuch) food color, and had to use the whole package ($2) to get even a slight pink. BUT IT WAS PINK! I skipped the cranberries, worrying about texture, and let the yogurt provide the slight tartness we tasted in the original. I added agave syrup to sweeten it, but I am sure mine was nowhere NEAR as sweet as the original (59 g of sugar).

The procedure was rather messy, and required numerous elements of my "Ninja Mega Kitchen System" (OK I just like to say that aloud in my best NASCAR voice! Don't you do that too?) and I pulled several things out of the fridge that were not planned. This was truly an experiment, not a tested recipe. So, I might need to do it again...

You'll note in the original, there is a blue drizzle around the inside of the cup... I tried to recreate this with blended blueberries. They didn't get blue enough or thick enough, so I added a bit of vanilla ice cream, as well as blue food coloring. 

AND OMG here it is! In fact the most disappointing element was the Soy Whip, which did not set up the way conventional whipped-cream-in-a-can does, so the top of the cup is sadly empty, but we did sprinkle it with blue sugar crystals in an effort to recreate the neon blue "fairy powder" of the original.... After laughing for about 5 minutes straight, and referring to the hilarious Instagram account @pinterest_fails we tried it, and you know what? It was GOOD! 

OK maybe not quite as good, colorful or thick as the original...

But I did it! 


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cranberry Apple Crumble Pie

Just out of the oven, smells amazing!

When I started this blog, my idea was to *exactly* replicate vintage recipes from my vast (if I do say so myself) collection of cook books from 1920-1990, but along the way I realized that if I actually intend to EAT the results (and enjoy them), that I might modify them... so here is a modified recipe based on a pie from 1959 edition of The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook which was a gift from my brother-from-another-mother, Grant K Gibson:

Thank you, Grant! xo

For dinner at a friend's I needed something a little special, and I wanted it to scream "Fall" so I asked 1959 what to do and she told me to see page 352 for a recipe for Cranberry Apple Pie - perfect! Except I had to go and change almost all of it. I left out tapioca, added lemon and cinnamon, and instead of the top crust, I looked above at the peach crumb pie and went with a crumb topping, but modified that as well, adding oatmeal. Whew, that's a lot of changes... but the result was delicious! 

Inspiration recipe


So because I changed the recipe so much, I will give you my steps here. Thank you 1959 for the inspiration :)

Apple Cranberry Pie: 

1 pie crust (see my 3 min no-roll, no fail recipe here) blind baked

Mixing the pie filling


4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin (gala work especially well)
6 oz fresh or frozen (not thawed) cranberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

* combine all ingredients for filling BUT BUTTER in a bowl
* dump into pie shell and top with dabs of unsalted butter (approx 2 Tbsp)
* cover with foil and bake at 425 for 30 min

Filled pie before butter and before topping


1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 Tbsp softened butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup oatmeal (any kind but instant)

* blend with pastry cutter or fork till crumbles are the size of peas
* after first 30 min, top pie with crumble and lower heat to 375 and bake 45min to 1 hour till fruit is bubbling over and topping is browned and you smell cinnamon
* cool completely, up to 2 hours

where is my durn pastry cutter? Ah well, fork it ;)

Make a mini treat with any leftover filling in a Pyrex single serve cup or dish! 
Prepare, bake and top same as pie :)

Topping the pie

Enjoy for with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or cold with coffee for breakfast because: PIE!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

California Burgundy Refresher


I’m not sure when we started drinking proper Sangria in California, but I've read that it was introduced to the US at the 1964 World's Fair. Clearly, by 1968, we were mixing up versions of this delightful Spanish beverage with wine, fruit and sometimes juice. This recipe comes from the adorably earnest 1968 publication: “Gourmet Wine Cooking The Easy Way” which was put together by the Wine Advisory Board in San Francisco and is something close to sangria, called a “refresher”. Proper sangria also includes cut up fruit and often brandy or another strong liquor, and sits overnight so the flavors really mix, but this fast version is delicious too. It’s a little more of a punch, which was big for 100 years prior, but begins to use uncomplicated local ingredients and you can see it’s a step towards the Gourmet Food movement of the 1970s.

Gourmet, the easy way...

I love spritzers and sangrias in hot weather, and rarely consult a recipe for them but often just mix up wine, alcohol and fruit, whatever I have around. To serve, I usually add ice and sparkling water to dilute it, but juice is nice as well. In this case, I used pomegranate juice rather than cranberry-apple “drink” (PS I don’t buy anything called “drink”!) and I also garnished my glass with a lemon as well as the called-for mint. It’s yummy but next time, I will mix up a big pitcher-full and add light rum or brandy, and sparkling water. Also, crushed ice - giggle! How 50s!

A note on drinking sangria and punch in general: Since you usually don’t pay close attention to the quantity you’re drinking like you do with cocktails, make sure you dilute with sparkling water or juice, and try to count the times you refill your glass… you’ll thank me later, when you can still stand after guzzling the deceptive concoction all day long in the sun!

Crushed Ice
2 cups California Burgundy
2 cups cranberry-apple drink
Mint sprigs for garnish

The board doesn't seem to exist any longer, but you can rent office space in this building, built in 1907 and which has been LEED certified. Hello, California!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Real 1950s Cherry Pie

For Memorial Day, I felt like doing something TOTALLY American and 50s: baking a cherry pie! In addition to being politically active, that is the kind of thing that makes me feel patriotic. Well, I also happened to have a huge bag of cherries, so….

Keepin it real since 1955...

Cherry pie. It screams summer, but of course you can use canned or frozen cherries and make it any time of year – and to be SO mid-century, frozen would make sense. In the 50s, consumers were told that canned foods were clean, healthy and engineered to be more nutritious than dirty old things you grew yourself. After the war, when people had to grow food in “victory gardens” to eat, you can see why processed foods were "modern" and appealing… but I digress. I used fresh cherries this time but I DID use shortening in my pastry because that’s good and retro. Yuck! But… yum.

This is all you need! No excuses. 

So pie is basically a crust (or two) and a filling, a very simple and stunningly delicious treat that isn’t hard to master and is most certainly worth the effort. For this pie, I chose a recipe from my 1955 Duncan Hines “Dessert Book” which came from the Stagecoach Inn in Manitou Springs, CO (You guys, this place has been around since 1881! Don’t you love it when a recipe has a pedigree like that? I wonder if they still make this pie… HELLO, ROAD TRIP!!!). What I love most about this recipe, and many pie recipes you will find in old cook-books, is that there are limited directions. Implying, dear reader, that you ought already to know how to make pie, so you are presented with the ingredients for this specific one, and a brief sketch of technique. You say you can’t bake a pie? What are you, un-American?

rolling the bottom crust

my helper making the lattice top

Another reason I chose this recipe is that the filling isn’t thickened with tapioca or otherwise (not that there is anything wrong with that, but when you have fresh fruit, you can go very simple and let the fruit be the star). This filling is flavored with sugar (I cut it to just under  1 cup) and a drop of almond extract, which is a fabulous note to add to cherries. I did make a lattice top, simply because I wanted to teach my daughter how to do that (so she doesn’t need to watch a Youtube video, for god’s sake!) but we didn’t get fancy with lemon zest or an egg wash or fancy bird-shaped pie vents. But we should have used a deep dish pan to prevent over-flow... next time. Must go make another right away, this a matter of National Importance. 


Monday, January 25, 2016

Sausage and Kale Soup

Here is a really great winter soup recipe that I had copied from a friend and have no idea of the source, but I can say for sure it was over 20 years ago so we are calling it fair game for “vintage gourmet” and anyway, it’s cold and YOU NEED SOUP!

Nothing easier – put stuff in a pot, heat, eat. I like to warm up fresh sour dough bread in the oven to serve with soup, but plain old crackers or cheese straws work nicely too.

One trick: buy nice quality sausage from the deli and squeeze it out of the casing, then brown like ground beef – it tastes much nicer than slicing a sausage and leaving the casing on. Also, if you think you don’t like kale, try this. 100% better than raw kale in a salad, let me tell you, but don’t forget to cut away the tough stems first!

Now get a big pot out and cook up some soup! This works nicely doubled.

  • ·         Saute 4 ounces crumbled sweet sausage until crisp. Pour off fat.
  • ·         Add 8 oz chicken broth, 1 cup water, 2 Tbsp tomato paste and stir.
  • ·         Add ½ tsp fennel seed and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Salt as to taste.
  • ·         Add 2 cups rinsed, torn kale and cook till kale is tender. Serve

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Original Swiss Chocolate Fondue

Things are about to get fancy...

Though I have hundreds of fondue cookbooks, I have always loved this one for its extra groovy cover art, and the name: “The Fabulous Fondue Cookbook”!  Straight out of 1970, yo. The recipes here are by William I. Kaufman, and the very stimulating intro to each section (“But then we got to dessert. I dipped a fresh strawberry into the softly simmering chocolate fondue, and offered it to him. That did it! He proposed. Chocolate fondue is so sexy.” AND I QUOTE) were penned by Ms. Carmel B. Reingold. Nice work, you swinging cats!

Groovy, baby!

If you seek a proposal (or, in my case, just a tasty dessert), here is a fondue you can whip up in a flash that will melt anyone’s heart. (Melt, get it? Haw) The fact that Toblerone is a complex chocolate bar makes it seem like you spent way more time on it than you did, and fortunately chocolate fondue isn’t terribly messy. It also makes ANYTHING taste like heaven. Heck, it’s fabulous.
cheers to fondue!

Just a couple notes: Once you’ve made the fondue in the double boiler, you pour it into a ceramic bowl which is kept warm (and melted) over candle flame. This, however, is hard to regulate, so you may find it bubbling, in which case BLOW OUT THE CANDLE or your fondue will scorch. Then light it again in a few minutes. Yes, you have to work for it, but you’ll be glad you did. Also, dipping bananas into the chocolate tastes GREAT, but is really hard. You may lose one (or more) but the ones you get will be deeeeeelish. Other things to dip are: cubes of pound cake, mandarin orange segments, mini pancakes. And if (yeah right) you end up with fondue left over, serve it as sauce for waffles! Enjoy.

Original Swiss Chocolate Fondue

4 bars (3 oz each) Toblerone chocolate
1 1/3 cups heavy cream (to taste – pour in by the tablespoon)
2 Tbsp kirsch (I use Cointreau)
Whole fresh strawberries
Apple slices
·         Break chocolate into pieces. Over hot water, combine chocolate, cream and kirsch.
·         Stir until mixture is smooth.
·         Serve with strawberries and apples for dipping

I'm MELTING.......