Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Betty Crocker's Coobook for Boys and Girls (1957)

....is what you are. :) And for you, we bake!

Monday being one of two days I have off, let's just rewind back to oh, yesterday morning around 9 am. A picture of rest and repose, this girl. Monday's our Sunday! I greet the sun with an uncharacteristic early morning smile, as it is my day to do with as I wish. A day for rest and relaxation, catching up with the Netflix and maybe hitting a thrift store or two... certainly nothing more taxing than doing the dishes or paging through a book due the upcoming week at the library. However! This Monday is different! Christmas eve is drawing very, very nigh, and there's a planned gift swap between our nearest and dearest this Thursday. And no presents under the pink tinsel Christmas tree on my kitchen table.

After some consideration, I decided to put on my Sunday/Monday best and tramped out into the wide world to remedy the present-less situation. "No way there'll be enormous hordes of people making insane decision en voiture on a MONDAY," I said, blithely, hair whipping behind me as I made my way to the car. "And I've got Christmas presents to buy! Everyone's at work, right? I DO have to drive all over hell and half of Georgia to get these gifts, but I bet I won't run into every other human in Nashville who's forgotten to fill their Santa list! Because it's Monday! Come on!"

Well, it was Monday. That part of the predicition was correct. I did, however, run into every hateful cuss of a parking-spot-warrior in creation during the course of the next FIVE HOURS. Yes, I spent five hours getting from my side of town to the other, and then parking at three or four different locales, and then fighting the crowds INTO the places I was going, and in parting with my much missed folding money after having stood in some epic, epic lines. Cut off inumerable times. Brushed past and bumped into. And this is only going to little shops and stores! God help me if I'd gone to the mall. I managed to snag presents for everyone on my list, but I would say at the great cost of no small amount of my sanity and well being. Serves me right, I guess, for waiting until the last five days.

Alyx, Brian, Kelsey, Lana, Anna, Sus, Ma and Pa...you're so very, very welcome. Also, your presents are extraordinary. As are you guys. I hope you like them.

To cap off the present-a-thon, I think I'm going to try to make and gift some of these face cookies from Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls (1957). Could they get cuter?

This version of the BCCBG is different than the late sixties' one I coveted in the high school library of one of my substituting gigs (little did I know, it was to be discarded the next semester anyway-- missed opportunities!)... for one, we have our teen panel of Crocker-approved teen chefs, who have personally tested every recipe in the book, and appear in tiny, caricatured form to give the reader tips throughout. For two, EVERY. ONE. OF. THESE. RECIPES. IS. ADORABLE. I've seen a lot of material that appears again in both the Stern's canonical Square Meals and my beloved Amy Sedaris's I Like You. This is like one stop shopping for both great 60's children's illustrations and the magical world of "food you can make look like something it is not". Oh, and as far as more food with human characteristics? We totally have that covered. Regardez bien the beautifully up-done Mrs. and Miss Carol Carrot, below left.

Throughout the book you'll find testimonials as the tastiness of many Betty Crocker brand mixes, but what can you expect? I love the idea that twenty, thirty, forty years earlier, no such mixes existed. Imagine being amazed by the convenience of a mix, when you've had to bake from scratch since the beginning of time! In the everyman of today's sped-up sense of what's "quick", these boxes probably don't rate nearly as high as the cheaper, faster, already-cooked-for-you variety you could get at a supermarket bakery or even from a fast food window. But! I do love getting the credit of having "baked" something, when really all I've done is cracked an egg, added some oil, and mixed. So amen, Betty Crocker.

See the "social mixer" vibe coming from the little dancing fruits to the left, and how great Bette Anne and Randee look while cooking. Because, yes, the teen chefs I posted at the top of all this are the actual teens used in the illustrations! I don't think I've ever seen a cook book that took their illustrations so seriously. It's really pretty cool. Check your cheat sheet at the top again and see if you can spot all your favorites throughout the book.

Salad...you don't have to look like Mom food, promise. The bunny salad is killing me with its sweetness, and as for the Raggedy Ann salad, well, heck! Why not?

Directly above and below are different examples of how to punch up your breakfast cereal routine. Cheerios can look anything but on an overcast work day, so how about a crazy face looking back up at you from your breakfast? Wheaties and Kix are the suggested cereals, but it would work with oatmeal, porridge, and any other brand cereal as well, I guess.

On the right, Mssrs. Weenies Sr. and Jr. in a two man tap act tribute to the works of Maurice Chevalier. Above, an oversize, green pig enjoys his time "in blanket". I think the guy on the right is Chris, but it's hard to tell with the chef's hat and in profile.

French toast, egg nog, and a recipe for something called a "Red Rouser", which involves vanilla ice cream and cranberry juice? Yes, please!

Ice cream and cupcakes, plus food shaped like a face-- an unholy, and glorious result of the recipe "Clown Cupcakes".
In seriousness, though, I want to try and make the simple sugar cookies below and do them up with the right cookie cutter and a some egg yolk paint. I vaguely remember having made these once or twice when we were kids, but I want to put waaaaay too much time and effort into NOT making them look like globular, unattractive, green and red messes of tasty sugar cookie goodness. To make the paintbrush cookie equivalent of a Fabergé egg! It is no less my goal!

BEST. ILLUSTRATION. EVER. I want alllll of those kids and their cool paper bag masks at my next party.

Let's give these easyeasyeasy recipes a shot, shall we? I'll have to report back on any cookie failures/triumphs as they occur. Stay in touch! Christmas is almost upon us!
PS: View the entire cookbook, though dimly scanned, HERE at the Internet archive. Happy bake-a-thon.


  1. Oooh -- I have one of these! I love the illustrations and the oddly-coloured photographs... :-| Have fun! :-D

  2. Its hard to pick a favorite picture, but the pig in a blanket has to be my choice. Just look at the expression on his face.

  3. Oh my goodness, I MUST find this book!!!!

  4. That clown cupcake is the stuff of nightmares. I love how calm and organized all the little illustrated folks are. In my (limited) experience, actual cooking is much more messy and involves a lot more scowling.

  5. Hello Lisa!
    You stopped by my blog a week or so ago and left a fun comment on my giveaway post - and I've finally made it over to your blog.

    Love this cookbook post...and your blog! I'll be back soon!

    Merry Christmas!

  6. Thanks all for the kind words! @ Kelsey, I know, right? These are little junior exemplars of culinary composure and poise. And they look so stylish while being so!

  7. Boy, nothing beats those old cookbook illustrations! I'm slowly working my way through your archive Lisa, fab stuff here!



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