Thursday, April 9, 2009

Casseroles to battle Fascism

As I'm sure I mentioned, I live in an island-bound remote community. There are certain perks to the remoteness and certain downfalls. The perk of today's topic is Garage Sales. Now, there are garage sales everywhere and not all of them are good here. Every once in awhile you'll stumble on one where they're selling yarn, chainsaws, lamps, crab pots and cookbooks from 1943. I am a sucker for kitchy cookbooks from 1943. Especially if they're called Cook it in a Casserole. And especially if the forward explains how we can fight Hitler with hot dish (pronounced haht deesh like they do in Wisconsin). And double extra special if there is more than one recipe using Tongue.

Thank you, Florence Brobeck for writing this tome.

I simply must document this letter to Florence from Hendrick Willem Van Loon on the importance of casserole:

Dear Florence,

I am delighted about your casserole book. People sometimes ask me whether there are absolutely no mitigating circumstances fro Adolf Hitler and i invariably answer, "No, not a single one!" and everyday there is new proof of my contention that for absolute inhumanity, the little Corporal stands alone and is a very bad edition of the unspeakable Gengis Kahn.

But now I am beginning to have my doubts. The Nazi leader, without in the least knowing what he was doing, is bestowing one blessing up on the people of the United States. He is forcing us to return to the oldest and most satisfactory mode of cooking. He has brought us back to revere and respect the casserole--that earthen jar which from now in is to be the mainstay of the American family's intention to live well and feed itself in an interesting and amusing fashion until the scourge of Hitlerism shall once more have been removed from the face of a rejoicing globe. And by then, we as a nation shall have so thoroughly learned the lesson of cooking in the casserole-fashion that we shall never ask for anything else because there is not anything else that is better.

Therefore good luck to your little book--and I have hit upon something composed of beets, mashed potatoes, ham leftovers, celery and spices which I will let you taste the nest time you visit us.

As ever yours,
Hendrick Willem Van Loon
It's easy to make fun of the awful menus, the incredibly dated recipes, or the time saving hints to the women who must work in the war effort. Once the easy jokes are out of the way and you get to read a bit of the book you find a wealth of information from the time before Campbell's cream of mushroom nonsense. Oh, and a time of butter-loveliness.
Let's make fun of a little bit first. Yum! Liver and eggplant casserole. Take the batch of recipes second from the top:
Braised Calf's Liver
Hot Cheese Biscuits and Butter
Artichoke Hearts and Tomato Salad
Berry Loaf and Cream

That's not totally awful, except for the main dish. Liver and other organ meats are a big no-no for me. Also, the berry loaf may be tasty but Loaf foods are approached with caution.

My favorite named dish is Scalloped Oysters and Scallops. And the entry on Curry anything:
It can be found under the chapter on Chafing Dish Cookery. Chafing dishes, at least to me, were always fancy and at wedding buffets. To think that I could Chaf something of my own with some sterno, well, say no more. Except do not let me make Frizzled Beef a la King, no matter how funny it sounds. Oh, you make curry anything by adding 1 tablespoon of curry powder to a white sauce. And, it provides a helpful way to replace Bombay Duck with crackers and anchovy paste. Bombay duck is a lizard fish.

In the interest of the new can-do spirit of America under this new admistration, I think we should fight all totalitarian governments with food. Who's with me?

1 comment:

  1. Awesome. That cookbook is AWESOME. For Christmas last year I got Mike a WWII field cookbook. Most of the dishes are cooked in vats.

    As for me, my favorite is a book of Canadiana from the early 1920's. There are 4 recipes for squirrel, and everytime one of the little 'rascals' knocks over my bird feeder the recipes come swimming into mind.....