Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Good Housekeeping's Ten PM Cook Book (1958)

It's 10 o'clock at night! You have guests! They have appetites! What will you do?

Thank goodness for Good Housekeeping's Ten PM Cookbook (1958)! A wealth of information on last minute tidbits and nibblets is at your disposal thanks to this slim, handy little volume. I have a whole set of these GH-penned recipe books (I'll have to share with you the appetizers edition some time, which features a cheese ball with toothpick antennae that looks a little like Sputnik) and the clever little things just CAN'T BE BEAT for MCM illustrations. Some of these drawings are so much like the ones you'll see for contemporary, retro-minded items (example: Dyna Moe's excellent Mad Men: the Illustrated World) that you would almost mistake the source material for the reproduction, but let me assure you, these are real-deal, 100%, gen-u-ine article 1958 artwork. And doesn't it just make your heart skip a beat!

"We are hors d'oeurves! We're hors d'oeurves! We're hors d'oeuvres!"

I'm planning a little get together this weekend at my house in honor of the Vincentennial (didn't know it's what would have been Vincent Price's 100th birthday this weekend? Well, now you do...) and while I have my serving dishes all laid out, I'm still quizzing myself a little over the state of the larder versus the participatory level of cooking I want do versus who all is coming.

Ideally, my basic set up would look a little like the above, with oddly tinged dip (Green Dragon dip, recipe below) and crackers, mock rumaki (though the above is very real rumaki, I can never accustom myself to the idea of livers as party food), and some kind of pineapple-ham toothpick combo. The ham and biscuits seem a little over kill, but according to the caption they're just brown and serve rolls browned with deli meat inside. I'm probably going to do a bowl of chips and salsa, and another of chips and dip, but more of the need to showcase my two vintage chip and dip sets than out of menu necessity. These brief party appearances almost make up for the ridiculous amount of kitchen storage taken up by items, like the chip and dips, specific to special occasions (stainless steel icebuckets with penguins on them, punch bowls, sets of fancy crockery, oversized platters, etc). Almost.

After a disasterous encounter darkened avocado bits in the past, using them in little kabobs sounds delicious but risky. Tidbit kabobs in general can be wildly time consuming... I can remember two parties ago, I spent a good half hour mindlessly threadings bits of fruit and cheese and ham to multi-colored toothpicks. The effect was lovely, but I don't know that I'll invest that much effort into snackables again. I am, however, totally on-board with this pineapple-salad mold. The only pertinent decision not yet made is which mold to use... I have one shaped like a pineapple (appropriate enough), but I think it's too large. And doubling the recipe to fit the mold means double the Jello... sometimes our contemporary fellows have a weird aversion to Jello molds. I've been suckered into using them just about every time by the vintage aura about them and the fact that you can make them any kind of crazy bright color and shape you want.

Were mixed nuts drastically less expensive in the 60's? Every time I try to make a 60's recipe, I find myself shell-shocked (no pun intended) by the 55-cents-an-ounce-and-up walnut/pecan/etc prices. Not all of us are the kind of Rockefellers it would take to make a prodigious showing of "nut bits" in a snack platter arrangement. I could always go the Planter's route and tell the rest to go to the devil, but it's simply not fancy enough. What's the point of doing a sixties' party spread if things aren't don't look fancy? P-R-E-S-E-N-T-A-T-I-O-N is the word of the day.

And speaking of, aren't the above photos just a SONG of what a pretty party table should look like? I really like the use of goblets (wine glasses would work) for chi-chi, single item servlets. I was worried that the items at the lower right in the midst of the grapes were hot dogs slathered in peanut butter (anyone who's into these 60's cookbooks KNOWS how crazy ingredient lists can get) but it turns out they're buttercream frosted eclairs (MUCH. MORE. PALATABLE). I'm pretty sure the beans-and-franks photo at the upper right was on Lileks. I love that man.

These recipes? Perfect solutions to the quandry: "What shall I serve at my Gala?"

More illustrations! Yes! Yes!

White sports-coated new years. When hearts were all a-flitter. Also, I will wear that crazy boater the girl in the middle sports any old time.

Icebox cake! And are those the ever-recipe-present olives in the lower left hand corner of your refrigerator, Madame? Or possible chilled gumballs?

One of the cutest illustrations in the whole book. Give me that sweeping collar, stranded pearl choker, that curled bob, and those earrings and see what kind of trouble I can't get into. I want hair like this so badly! I know I wouldn't put enough effort into it to make it look this cute, however! It's a sad, self-awareness that I carry with me.

Faceless, unexpected guests at twenty paces!! Most of the recipes in this section require you to make food up to a month in advance, freeze it, and then thaw and cook it in the twenty stalling minutes you can manage before these beastly, unmannered friends of yours demand vittles and libations. I guess this section really has more to do with friends just dropping by on the way to or from something, and me, I'm glad to see anyone drop by as in the days of yore, but I still get a great kick out the idea of "dealing" with unexpected guests, as if they were a hostile force indeed.

Some varied recipes from this section and the one before it:

One funny section of the cookbook, just about at the midway mark, partitioned the remaining pages off into three categories: "Especially for the Girls", "When It's Strictly Stag", and "Teenage Triumphs". The first group, natch, was my favorite.

"All the different cute hair-do's you could do, if only you would commit, Lisa..." they seem to be whispering to me. Dig the frames on Bachelorette #3! I want some frames that are pretty much like a hood ornament for my face. I would so wear my glasses more often if I had them!

"Dishes" (oh...see what I did there... AND she's looking at dishes in the illustration...) in this section include the bafflingly titled "Ham Rabbit" (which is ham rarebit, but the use of the word rabbit there is just hilarious), avocado club salad (always and again avocado), crunchy prune cream (you can make your own joke), and profiterole ambrosia (a cream puff item mixed with your traditional ladies-lunch favorite).

Look upon of the best illustrations in this or any book. Her hauteur! Her garnished drink! Secretly, if I can't be Aunt Mame when I'm fifty, I hope I can be a little bit like character actress Jane Darwell (Mrs. Merriweather in GWTW; frivolously frumpy, continually-incensed-at-breaches-in- etiquette society woman in a dozen other pictures). This is so her!

Look. At. the. WAISTS. In. This. Picture. No wonder I'm unable to find a vintage wedding dress with anywhere near a normal waist circumference! In all seriousness, people were very, very small back then.

At right, Mr. Barksdale's choice in sportscoats literally blinds his friends and associates.

Watch a boxing match! I love how figural both fighters and spectators seem. I would reproduce some of the recipes from this section but the suggestions weren't very helpful-- most were cold cut selections with some mildly novel twist. You get the idea. Men like manly sandwiches! So feed 'em to 'em!

Hang a fish! Or a very small shark. Smoke a pipe! Look a little like Mr. Cunningham from Happy Days! Yes!

Bow in my hair...bow at my neck... bliss?

Teenage recipes in MCM cookbooks are always kind of a fun section-- I love the idea of Mrs. Homemaker letting Johnny or Jane play junior host or hostess... trusting them enough to make the menus, but not necessarily enough to work anything more complicated than the broiler setting.

Dancing at teenage parties. I've heard of teens dancing in stories from the 50's up until the 70's, when I guess teens abruptly stopped dancing and started loafing, sullenly, at parties. That's my recollection of most of the ones I attended throughout the 90's and early 00's. You couldn't have put a gun to my head and made me dance in full view of my contemporaries. I'm much looser now, but I place that blame? Praise? Squarely on the part of social drinking.

Two teen recipe selections and one of the weirdest cookbook illustrations. Teens like music, so let's do a staff of musical notes, but instead of notes, let's do...brownies, check, milkshake, check, entire turkey? It's food, but I don't quite catch on there, Good Housekeeping.

Cuuuute. All the ladies in this book are just adorable.

And some easy sweets recipes to tide the teens over:

At any rate, I'll have to tell you guys about my selections and how they fared sometime next week. On the agenda for this afternoon? DEEP. CLEANING. And maybe some practice Jello molding. Any recipes grab your attention? Have any surefire party tips? You know I'd love to hear from you. Have a happy Vincent-Price's-100th-birthday and I'll see you on the other side!


  1. No way am I feeding people who show up at 10--then they won't go home!!!

    In all seriousness, though, I'm seriously envious of your ownership of this book. The illustrations are great!

  2. I dont know why but I just love the art from back then!

  3. These are so fun! I want some Cube Crunchies! YUM!

  4. @Lauren: I know, I'd be much less likely to think "Guests at 10! What do I feed them?" than "What are you guys doing at my house at 10 o'clock at night? You know I have work in the morning!" Squaresville. :)

    @Zombie: I just can't get enough of 50's/60's illustrations. Every single page in this book had just the funniest, cutest little scribbles. Being an illustrator back then must have been so much more whimsical.

    @TrophyBoutique: The guy in the picture above the recipe sure seems to be enjoying them. Can you imagine him parked in front of the hors d'oeuvres tray, just chowing down? A testament to the tastiness of my tidbit food selection!

  5. Love those illustrations! How awesome! You should frame some of them!

  6. @Maggie: Thanks!! I should!

  7. very Nice Presentation ! It is quite cheerful, Thanks For Posting !
    3m command & Dip Sets

  8. quiet sultry saturday ... cooling my heels at the computer, going over some of your older posts and enjoying them so much. Thank you for being you!

  9. I collect these old cookbooks. There are hundreds of them of various types from the 50s and 60s, all with similar illustrations (which I too love!)



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