Sunday, July 17, 2011

BHG Snacks and Refreshments (1963)

Oh, Better Homes and Gardens... you do right by me every time. Am I looking to throw another shindig in the not so distant future? Do you have booklets and compendiums for EVERY ONE of my cooking and entertaining needs? A resounding YES! is my answer.

I spy, with my little eye, bright. Green. Frozen. Beverages. on your cover. As if it weren't enough to impress me that you've assembled a sputnik style antipasto tray of shrimp and varied "dunkables", you had to go and make a neon green beverage look much more appetizing than it truly should. I want that drink! BHG'S Snacks and Refreshments, published in the year of our Lord 1963, is a true treat to the eyes. My little head is just swimming with hostess ideas, and menu planning. Wouldn't you like to take a look with me?

"Ribbon Alaska Pie- a dessert dazzler!"... and how. Just look at the names of some of these dishes from the table of contents page: "Grilled Cheese Italiano", "Sombrero Spread with Tostadas", "Grand Glorious Punch". Explaining to your hungry guests that we're not just having grilled cheese, but grilled cheese alla Italia... ah, BHG, you out do yourself.

I keep seeing cheese plate hostess sets at Goodwill but I'm holding out for one like this... simple, possibly Japanese influenced, with peg legs and an extension for kebab storage, and... do you see the warmer/grill to the left! Helllll-o. I haven't had any experience yet with chafing dish recipes at the parties I've had, but I look forward to doing it in the future. I always worry about slightly sauced guests burning either themselves or my treasured goods through unintentional insobriety, but it's worth a shot, right? I'll just keep my guest watch on high alert (roaring "Lemme get that fondue stick for you, pal...!" while advancing at a clipped pace towards the future scene of the accident).

I love these chicken dip holders! The feathered tails must serve as handle. Genius. I like to think of what this picture looks like in color with the painted birds and the green guac.

Remember the olive loaf from my last post on Better Homes and Gardens? The editors of BHG reeeeally favor salty dishes. Here's an olive cheese ball, to continue running with the olive theme. I resisted at first, but cheese balls are possibly (second to devilled eggs, but what isn't) the penultimate in buffet style party menus... I always make two, shape them in the form of hedgehogs, put one out at the beginning of the party and switch it for a replacement one about halfway through...they're killer every time. You wouldn't think something so simple to make would be such a big hit, but it always fares better than its more complicated contemporaries with regard to overall edibleness. Vive the cheese ball!

Speaking of, if you're going to make a cheeseball, you should probably "Know your cheese!" That's an order, soldier!

Piccolo pizzas, adorable moniker aside, sound easy and yummy at that same time. Pretty much "party pizzas" (a staple of mid century teenage cookery) but don't they turn out looking spiffy?

Clam dip... just seems like an invitation towards food poisoning. But your guests won't be able to stop nibbling! I really think this photo would have been more effective in color, BHG.

I'm continually mesmerized by the organization and sheer "wow" factor of the food layouts. While I usually just go for a smattering of paprika on my devilled eggs, next time maybe I'll hit them with a piece of pimento and a sliced olive... makes them look more substantial, somehow. My artichoke hearts always come out slimy, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Do you see how the set here goes together, with three connecting trays? I'm after you, hosting trays. I won't rest til I find THE ONE.

You just shouldn't "sip" a snack. Lots of the recipes in these fifties' and sixties' recipe books call for consommes and aspics as a main course, or "refreshers" whose main ingredient involves bullion. Maybe it's my latter day, millenial upbringing, but it just seems to weird to drink a main course. Have any of you had any good experiences with these beverages in our modern age?

Why, and I repeat, why are people showing up at my house after 10 pm? I am sleeping! I have to get up at 6:15! Remember the Ten PM cookbook? Umbrage? Taken.

It's hard for me to conceptualize a world in which the international cuisine we consider to be de riguer was a new and exciting concept. In my lifetime, there has ALWAYS been a time when, even in sunny Tennessee, you could get a pizza, a taco, or a wonton with the flick of a phonebook. In the sixties', people had just begun to taste foreign food influences on a national level, probably with the proliferation of fast food restaurants...? (I need to consult the books of Jane and Michael Stern about this). Here, BHG makes the assertion that pizza "has become as American as apple pie!" Doesn't it just make you a little misty...

Scramble....essentially Chex Mix. Party food invention of the decade, I'm sure. I like their suggestion at the end of this blurb: "Nice go-with: fudge". With what is fudge not a nice "go-with"? :)

This "homemade doughnuts recipe" reminds me of a time in high school, during the summer, I called my mom at work. The conversation went something like this:

Mom: This is Barbara ________at the American Red Cross, how can I help you?
Lisa: Hey mom, it's Lisa. Sus and I were just doing some cooking and we were wondering if you could tell us how you fry doughnuts.
Mom: ((puzzled)) How you fry what?
Lisa: Doughnuts. We were bored so we were gonna try and make some doughnuts off the back of Bisquick box. ((unsure pause)) I mean, it looks pretty easy. How do you get them to fry, though?
Mom: ((mildly exasperated, and still at work))You don't! Well, you wait until I get home. Or you wait until you get your own home. DO NOT TRY TO FRY DOUGHNUTS UNTIL I GET HOME.

Owing to my having caught a paper plate on fire on my very first day inside our new home, I was on kitchen watch for pretty much the rest of my time living with my parents. I love looking back on the idea of Susan and I trying to MAKE doughnuts, as we had no means by which to get to the store and acquire already made ones. Sometimes, a hankering is so strong...

I want to belong to a club which I will in turn serve! How pretty are these plates and flowers and little cheesecakes?

Really, you had me at "hamwich".

This is a pretty serving idea for cheescake, look how the strawberries make it look like something of which Martha Stewart would approve.

In case you ever need to know, BHG shows you how to properly set a table. I know these rules aren't written in stone, but it's nice to have a playbook from which to work, especially when you're starting from scratch. How pretty it looks.

I want my punch bowl to look EXACTLY like this. I usually add lemon slices and orange slices not just to zest up the favor, but as you can see, to totally up the aesthetics ante. Lovely!

Fancy sandwiches, an old-time favorite of mine at parties. I try and collect tiny cookie cutters to make funny shapes (stars, hearts, dinosaurs, etc). Since I began my carb war, I'm less inclined to serve these, as I can't walk by a strawberry and cream cheese sandwich without just trying one, after all, I did make them, and just one couldn't hurt... but they make for gorgeous presentation.

Frosted sandwich loaf. Up there with the consomme under the category of things I do not understand. People who were around in the sixties who I often quiz on ideas I see in books (my mom, Babu's mom Deb, anyone over the age of forty) swear up and down that this was a thing that was done. Whereas I'm sure if I tried it, I might like it, the look of it...the FROSTINESS of it... just blows my mind in terms of unappetizableness. Which is not a word. But let's run with it. Have any of you had one of these? Are any of us brave enough to attempt the recipe on the left?

Some non alcoholic punch recipes that might be a nice change of pace from the diet ginger ale and berry concentrate I always make:


And last but not least, in a nice big scan, the recipe for the bright green drinks on the cover! Let's try 'em! Let's try 'em! You know you want to.

Anyway, hope you liked looking through these recipes with me. If I ever get onboard with scheduling this blamed party, and inviting people to it, I assure you, it will occur.

Do you have any fail proof sixties' party tips or recipes? If so, lay 'em on me! Your comments totally make my day.

Ciao for now!


  1. You are a woman after my own heart. The year of our Lord 1963 was such a great time for party food. Evidently worrying about preservatives and artificial colors and flavors makes for boring nibbles...

    I actually want a coconut cake donut right now. But I shouldn't be allowed to deep fry alone, either.

  2. the 50s and 60s truly had some disgusting recipes,, didn't they? But lots of good ones too-we had 50s recipes for the food at my shop opening party, i'm really annoyed I forgot to take pics for the blog, the devilled eggs were fab but the prunes in bacon? Bleugh!

  3. Wow, I am speechless at this sheer array of classy dinner party knowledge. I want to make those frozen green drinks too! At first I thought, surely that must be some trickery of weird 1960s magazine photo-shoot lighting, but no, they actually do put green food coloring in it! If you ever want to start a club in which members take turns serving, I will totally join too. I am all about finger sandwiches and ham spread. (Ham spread was a classic recipe of my grandmother's- she was the type of classy broad who would have had a subscription to BH&G and would have made every single dip, spread, and scramble in each issue, all while having perfectly coiffed hair and floral wallpaper and knives that were on the right side of the plates). This make me smile so much- thank you!

    P.S. The deviled eggs with olives on top look like eyeballs- which we can serve at the October meeting of our club!

  4. I would love to throw an afternoon party with any of these recipes! Some look great, other questionable...but I'd be up for sampling any of them. Well, except maybe the bullion drinks. ugh!

  5. You know, I think I have that cookbook in one of my "Vintage Cookbook" bins in my parents' basement....I have so many of those BH&G books from that set and they're tops, both in terms of recipes and of course graphics!
    My mom always puts olive halves on her deviled eggs!...and I always pick them off!!
    I'm loving the green drinks! And the recipe is so fabulously simple...although it could certainly use a bit of Vodka, methinks!
    Since you like green foods, I'll post my mom's fiendishly '60s recipe for the seafoam green 'Just Desert' in the next few days. I've been planning to and just haven't got around to it! It's one of her picnic staples and always goes over well...who can possibly say no to a desert the colour of a '57 Chevy?
    I love the story about the donuts! My mom taught me to make donuts at an early age...from canned biscuit dough. She says it was THE thing when she was a little girl in the '50s and that my Mamaw made them for her all the time. Just take the biscuits out of the can and cut a hole out of the center. Drop them in a pre-heated deep fryer or skillet of oil and turn them once. Then do the same with the 'holes'. Put some powdered sugar in a bag and toss the donuts and holes in. Shake them up and there you have it! Gosh, that's got me hungry. Think I'm off to make some now!

  6. @ Lauren Hairston: I don't know that I'm still kind of a novice on the deep fry skills. My folks can deep fry the fool out of just about any given food item, but something about the sizzling/popping spooks me everytime.

    @Kitty: Prunes! Blech is right! :)

    @Hazel: Your grandma sounds so neat! I aspire to be like that kind of a lady. When I start my hostess club, you can be honorary inductee #1, ma'am.

    @Amber: Bullion drinks, double blech! Why?!

    @Dolly: re: insta-doughnuts: I AM SO DOING THAT. Fear of popping grease be damned, I'm so doing that. Look forward to your just dessert recipe, sounds delicious AND eye-popping (two of my favorites).



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