Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Crock Pot Refried Bean Dip

Yes, I love my crock pot! And so I was delighted to find this 1975 Best-seller: Crockery Cookery by Mable Hoffman. See her pictured above with two of her (one can only assume) MANY crock pots! I hope that someday I can be as cool as Mable. And I might be, because later that VERY DAY, I received in the mail a valentines gift from a dear pal: a new, yet similar, cookbook, entitled “Not your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook”. (I gather the more PC term is Slow Cooker – wouldn’t want to offend anyone – or any electrical appliances - now would I?)

I will certainly be trying many of the recipes in the new book – they call for Fresh Produce and Cuts of Meat I have Actually Heard of! Still, I have The Weakness for the Vintage, so I began with a simple recipe from Mabel.

Having missed out on a Superbowl party this year because of travel, I was still craving dip, and was reminded of the time when a friend from the UK asked me what Americans do at Superbowl patries and I gleefully explained to her that, why, we eat DIP! Then I had to tell her what that is. Ah, the English – I love that we are mutually foreign. Anyhow, the bean dip was great with restaurant-style tortilla chips, but would have been tasty with Fritos as well, I think. It tasted remarkably familiar to some of us, and we later identified the mysterious flavor: Taco Bell Bean Burrito!

The thing with the crock pot is that, despite Mable and others assuring us that nearly ANYTHING can be made in them, I have found that some things work better than others. Luckily, refried bean dip is one that works quite well! And again, is sooooo easy to make that you feel like you aren’t ACTUALLY cooking. Because, haha, you’re not! You’re just tossing a few things into a glorified bucket and walking away for several hours.


1 (20 oz) can refried beans
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped green onions
¼ tsp. salt
2 tsp. bottled taco sauce (I used hot sauce)
Tortilla chips

In slow-cooking pot, combine beans with cheese, onions, salt, and taco sauce. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 2 ½ hours. Serve hot from the pot. Dip tortilla chips into mixture.

* OK I didn’t serve it from the pot because my crock pot is the HUGE one, and this was a LITTLE amount of dip and it would have looked SILLY! Also I did add a cilantro garnish. I mean, I was taking this to a party, after all!

Oatmeal Muffins

The recipe comes from the cookbook that we worked with in my first cooking class, in 1979: “Recipes for Young Cooks” by Carole Fitzgerald. Honestly, I have made this recipe so many times since then that I know by it heart, and I also know by heart that it is on page 42 of the book I saved all this time. I think it is the only thing I still make from that book, but once you taste them, you will see why I am still making them on a regular basis! Not too sweet, just the right weight; they are heavenly. Kids tend to like them, and are also able to make them from the simple recipe, which is drawn out as a pictogram rather than as a traditional recipe. My daughter, who is 5, can do almost every step (with supervision of course!) and they come out perfectly. Better, I must add, than the one time I made them using peanut oil when my mom was out of vegetable oil and I didn’t yet know the difference and could not figure out why they tasted “off”… (OK I can only have been about 8 at the time, and I do consider baking a much better hobby for latch-key kids than mere TV watching.)

I usually make this (since I am nearly a middle-aged adult!) with half whole-wheat flour and half white, but being out of whole-wheat today, I made it strictly according to the recipe. And what a can’t-fail treat! I have no idea how many times I have passed this recipe on to friends, and am delighted to do so here as well. Whip up a batch today (really, it is quick and doesn’t even require a mixer) and enjoy the brown sugar-laced, high fiber goodness of these muffins that I have enjoyed steadily for 30 years.


1 cup oatmeal
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup oil
1 egg
½ cup brown sugar

• mix the oatmeal and milk in a big bowl, let soak
• sift the dry ingredients together in a smaller bowl
• add egg, oil and brown sugar to the oatmeal mix
• add the flour mix to the oatmeal mix; stir. Batter will be lumpy
• grease cupcake tray or use paper fillers; fill each ½ way with batter
• bake at 350 degrees for 25 min
• cool and serve warm

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Vomit Bowl

I really hate to use this word on a food blog, but as this bowl was so-named, I had better explain because this is NOT a bowl to store anything gross like one might think from the name. I don’t really collect Texas Ware, though I do collect other vintage Melamine, to be discussed at another time. However, I have always liked the mottled, speckled, multi-colored plastic bowls and I think I have one in my camping gear, and one small one in my kitchen that I use almost exclusively for beating eggs. I have seen this color described as “mocha” when listed for sale (Texas Ware, as with everything else cool in the Universe, has suddenly become expensive on eBay – when it was used for so many years at cabins and as camping gear! Sheesh!) but apparently, not everyone appreciates all of it. My daughter has called it the most beautiful bowl she has ever seen! My boyfriend, however, christened it the Vomit Bowl. (!!) I would have been mad at him, I suppose, but this was coming from someone who has about 25 Texas Ware bowls, most in the (more collectible, and, some would say, more attractive) colors of red or green. So after I made a fuss and a huge Harrumph, I decided it was hilarious and now I, myself, also call it The Vomit Bowl. So long as it never CONTAINS said substance, I think it is OK and I still chuckle to myself every time I pull it out. Gosh, thanks!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Harvey Wallbanger Cake

I must say, it feels funny to pour vodka into cake mix, but the result is something else!

I had been wanting to make this cake since the time a few years back when I had it at a Christmas pot luck and everyone there was exclaiming about it being THE 70s cake. Since I am now on my “70s kick” I just, well, had to! Plus, it was delicious, and, I was told, easy.

The problem is, I really like to work from vintage cook books and photos but, for the life of me, I could not find this recipe in print anywhere! None of my own recipe books, nor any of my boyfriend’s (but he DID have a Galliano pamphlet with drink recipes and an offer to buy a Party Kit with T shirts for just $2.00!) had the recipe, so I cheated and printed out the recipe from an online site about the history of different cocktails. ( For this and so many other reasons, do I love the Internet.

From the (oracle) Internet, I enjoyed learning about Harvey, the surfer who drank too many Galiano screw-drivers and walked into the wall, thus the creation of the drink’s name. I admit, I giggled the whole time I mixed up the cake, which is almost cheating in itself, as it is merely a doctored mix with pudding and booze! Never mind, the batter alone was heavenly, and a lovely yellow-orange sunset color as well. I wondered whether I was getting drunk licking the spoon!

And easy cake, done in a bundt pan with the easiest of all toppings, a glaze (made with powdered sugar and more of the Harvey Wallbanger drink) that you dump over it and no matter how sloppy, it manages to look perfect.

This was made as a surprise cake for a friend’s birthday for a small group of about 12, and wow was it a hit! There was but one tiny sliver left at the end of the night, and my boyfriend and I fought over even that! AND everyone at the party requested the recipe.

AND so I say: LONG LIVE THE 70s!!!

Harvey Wallbanger Cake:

• 1 box yellow cake mix
• 1 small box instant vanilla pudding
• ½ cup oil
• 4 eggs
• ¼ cup vodka
• ¼ cup Galliano
• ¾ cup orange juice

Mix cake mix, pudding, oil, eggs, vodka, Galliano and orange juice, and beat for 4 minutes. Pour batter into a greased and floured tube (bundt) pan. Bake at 350 for 45 min, or until the cake tests as done.

Serve dusted with powdered sugar, or use a glaze made of 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1 tablespoon vodka, and 1 tablespoon Galliano.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Menu Planning Pads

OK OK I know these are not vintage, but honestly, if you actually cook, and like to plan your meals in advance, or have kids and need to figure out what to cook what day of the week, or for any reason are particularly anal, you will WANT THESE PADS! (And, OK, some of them even have vintage-inspired graphics.) Basically it is a weekly sheet where you can list what you will cook each day, with a shopping list section next to it. Simple! And yet, deadly. Deadly useful, that is! I am a list kind of gal, and when I saw these at various places last year (Michael’s, Target $1.00 bin) I FLIPPED and bought about 6 pads. Which means I am set for about 6 years, perhaps even more! And now, at the beginning of each week, I plan out what meals I will be cooking, comparing these to the calendar of meals from my daughter’s school, factoring in trips to the Farmer’s Market, (where we often go on a Saturday but never know what will look good enough to bring home), and list out what items I need to shop for. NOW if only my planning system could assist me to find the ONE market that stocks everything I need…

Monday, February 1, 2010


I love pizza. Did I mention I LOVE pizza? In fact, I was actually married to someone who owns a pizza restaurant, is how much I love pizza! But… There is pizza, and then there is pizza.

In New York, for example, I had So Much delicious pizza, whether the shop was The First one, or whether that was the place down the street, I was happy with all of it. Even late at night (or perhaps because it was late) I was so in love with the pizza that I was motivated to take a photo of the pizza maker as he handed me my slice! That thin, old-fashioned style without too much going on except flavor is my favorite. Is it the water? Is it the secret recipe for sauce? We don’t know but we love it.

I even have a pizza cook book, and a hilarious one at that! Goldberg’s Pizza Book (1971 – and SO of the times, he even has a chapter telling you what kind of pizza to eat based on your astrological sign!) has a decent, bake-it-yourself dough recipe that works just fine in a home oven not hotter than 500 degrees (though most commercial pizza ovens are set to more like 800 degrees) and he also offers good sauces and toppings. I just don’t do pizza at home much because my daughter’s dad feeds it to her a lot, and I have to admit, it is way better than any I can cook at home.

But what is NOT better, and something I am ashamed to admit to even consuming, is the pizza from Chuck E Cheese’s. And that is ALL THEY DO! So why is it so terrible? Perhaps because kids don’t care! We were just there for a birthday, and buckets of the stuff got eaten, despite its being about as tasty as the box. When mixed with soda, candy, chocolate cake and the flashing lights and sirens of said venue, perhaps it is just fine. I don’t know, you tell me – here is a photo. Mmmmmmmmm!