Sunday, March 10, 2013

"The 'I Love Garlic Cookbook" & "(Avon) The Active Woman's Cookbook" - Spiced Cheese Hamburgers and Deli Cole Slaw

Date I made these recipes:  March 9, 2013

The ‘I Love Garlic’ Cookbook by William I. Kaufman
Published by:  Doubleday & Company, Inc.
© 1967
Recipe:  Spiced Cheese Hamburgers – p. 83

(Avon’s) The Active Woman’s Cookbook by Avon Products, Inc.
Published by:  Ideals Publishing Corp. and Avon Products, Inc.
© 1980
Recipe:  Deli Cole Slaw – p. 15

Folks, today’s blog post is an example of the snowball effect where one idea leads to another that leads to another and so on and so on until before you know it, you have multiple dining themes going on.  Sadly, this is how my brain works these days which is to say in a permanent distracted state!

So let’s start with how and why I decided to make something from the garlic cookbook and how it snowballed from there.  For the past week or so, I felt like I was fighting a cold that would just not clear up (I now believe it was seasonal allergies) and after going to my front porch to pick up the mail, I spotted the garlic book on my bookshelf.  And this made me think of my dad, Mr. Wildlife Biologist, who constantly touted the amazing properties of garlic by saying “It’ll cure what ails you, including (intestinal) parasites.”

Now I imagine that many of you just had a nose-wrinkling experience on reading that in a food blog, but you have to understand how practical and just plain scientific my father was.  Although he could have, but did not, throw (scientific) Latin words around like candy in a parade, neither did he sugarcoat anything.  But let me also assure you that no child of Rose Marie Verme ever got within 10,000 miles of picking up an intestinal parasite except for the couple years my brother lived in Africa while in the Peace Corps.  That said, he was well-trained by both parents on how to conquer this beast and live to tell about it!

So anyway, I saw the garlic book and thought of dad and decided to try to kill off this “cold” (and/or critters) by making something from this book.  And then I remembered that today is the second anniversary of my dad’s passing and so what better way to pay homage than to make something from this book, specifically the burger recipe.

But I couldn’t just make something for dad without also honoring my mother who died five years ago on March 2nd.  (March is not a good month).  And just like that, I remembered my (Avon) The Active Woman’s Cookbook and right there, just a few pages in was a recipe my mom would have liked – Deli Cole Slaw – and that worked perfectly with “dad’s burgers.”  Although I didn’t start out to tie all these things together, I must say I am quite chuffed at how this all ended.

So first, let’s talk about the burgers.  Although my dad had quite the educated palate, he loved beef and the rarer, the better.  And he loved cheese and so I hit the jackpot with these blue-cheese stuffed “Spiced Cheese” burgers.  But rare beef (and by “rare” I mean “blue”) and my mother did not go together and so every time we had steak or burgers, the “battles” began and always ended the same:  my mother would “send” her burgers back to have my dad cook them longer and my dad would grumble that she was ruining the meat.  He, of course, saved his own piece for last, maybe broiling the top for 30 seconds, maybe not.  Nothing but nothing frustrated my father more than overcooked beef and going with him to a restaurant was always kind of a hoot:  “Are you sure you can cook it rare?  And I do mean rare because if you can’t do rare, then I don’t want it.”  And so many a server would go off and come back with what they or the chef thought was a rare piece of meat but not anywhere close to what my father had in mind and so there it was.  Being a good sport, he ate it anyway but then again, when you are raised during the Depression, you eat what’s in front of you, period.

The food battles though, did not stop with the beef and as the years went by, my dad often “accused” my mother of over-cooking the chicken which is to say drying it out because if my mom thought raw beef was bad, raw chicken was ten-times worse.  And I do have to agree with my mother on that point but there did come a time when she went a little too far and we ended up with a piece of chicken that just stuck in the throat it was so dry.  That said, nobody ever got sick in our house from parasites or other and that was because of my mother’s almost religious attention to cross-contamination details.  No cutting board was safe until my mother scrubbed the hell out of it with Comet and then washed it to death with dish soap and then rinsed it with scalding water.  My mother really should have been a rabbi ensuring that kosher kitchens were kept kosher but alas, her Catholicism got in the way of that endeavor.

Now I will tell you up front that my dad would not have been happy with the burgers we made in his honor but only because we cooked them a little longer than he would have to ensure that we got the cheese consistency that we wanted.  Sorry about that, dad.  And as to the garlic, the thing that surprised me most about this book was how little garlic was used in most of the recipes.  Many of the recipes called for just 1 clove of garlic which is fine except I was expecting at the bare minimum, a recipe for the now-famous chicken with 40 cloves of garlic recipe. Alas, I think most recipes had a three-clove maximum.  Do keep in mind though, that this book was written in 1967, well before we all got nutty in the kitchen with the 40-clove chicken recipes.

So that’s the saga of how I came to cook these burgers (“overcooked” or not, they were so good) for my dad.  Next up, I needed to find something for my mother and not only did I find just the right cookbook for her but the Deli Cole Slaw recipe was the perfect accompaniment to these burgers.  When we were growing up, my mother made cole slaw all the time but used Miracle Whip.  Yes, I know many you are shuddering as we speak but as I’ve said in this blog many times before, Miracle Whip was the thing to use in the 60’s and 70’s.  We were not mayonnaise people and even if we were, the fact that my mother discovered her family had high cholesterol meant that product would have been out on its ears in a heartbeat.  As it is, she likely would not have eaten “dad’s” blue cheese burger because cheese was evil.  (For the record, it is not but we’re talking about a woman who eventually eschewed all salad dressings in favor of cholesterol-free lemon wedges. Zzzzzzzzz…)

Given her cholesterol history and her German heritage, you would think that my mother would have made the classic deli oil and vinegar cole slaw like I’ve made today except you would be wrong.  I cannot recall a time – ever – when we ate this type of cole slaw and yet I prefer this recipe over anything with mayo or Miracle Whip.

If Miracle Whip was kind of a kitchen staple in the 60’s and 70’s so, kids, was the presence of the “Avon lady.”  I am willing to bet that most of us who grew up during these eras knew of at least one person who sold Avon products door to door.  My mother had several friends who were Avon ladies, and I tell you what, I could not wait for their visits.  They came to the door bearing this big black box full of little miniature products like mini lipsticks and little tubes of lotions to try out and oh my, did we try them out!  My home town had a few department stores but none of them carried makeup and so when the Avon lady came calling, that was it - that was your chance to get on the makeup bandwagon or suffer going without.  (By the way, remember the Avon commercials from the 70’s?   A woman rang the doorbell and the catchphrase was [Ding, Dong] “Avon calling!”)

Over the years, Avon got creative with products and so we had candles and jewelry and of course, the oh-so-famous “Skin So Soft” which my mother loved and which she bought by the boatloads, gifting relatives far and wide.  (It keeps away mosquitoes).  But I had no idea until just recently that Avon published a cookbook; don’t know how this escaped my attention but it did.  And I have to tell you that although I found this book at Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores for all of $.99 and it was sold hermetically sealed in plastic, the book smells of…an Avon product.  I don’t know how they did that but I’ve had to air it out on my front porch.

So there we go – my mother was a fan of Avon and my mother was an “active woman” making this cookbook a good fit to honor her memory.  But I didn’t always see my mother as an active woman.  Mom was stay-at-home mom of two kids with (to me) so much time on her hands that for the life of me, I could not figure out why she was always so tired.  In fact, I was not alone in asking my mother “Just what did you do all day?” after coming home from school.  You can chalk that question up to the times as well:  the women’s movement picked up speed in the 70’s causing many a young girl like me to question just why a mom with kids in school with (according to us) nothing to do all day could be so tired.  We were silly and uninformed and let’s just leave it at that.

So let me fill you in - in addition to all the household chores my mother did, she was very active in our lives and so I submit to you just a small list of my mother’s activities:  She was a Brownie, Girl Scout and Cub Scout troop leader for many years.  She served two terms as president of the Women’s Hospital Auxiliary and many more years as a board member.  She was very active in St. Bridget’s Circle (part of St. Anthony’s Guild) at our local Catholic church and my dad used to tease her endlessly about all the work she and her buddies did getting ready for the annual church (“bizarre” as dad called it) bazaar.  She went door to door to collect money for every nonprofit on the planet and after being diagnosed with breast cancer, went all in to try to fundraise for that group; she also did one-on-one counseling with other breast cancer survivors.  This was all in addition to driving me and my brother to endless appointments and after-school activities.  And yet, sad to say, it took me years into adulthood before I appreciated that my mother was one “active” woman. 

And so—I married (pun intended) dad’s burgers with mom’s active woman cole slaw and all was well with the world.  Following in my mother’s footsteps, I prepped all the food but then had my husband, Andy, substitute for my dad in the kitchen to make the burgers.  It’s not that I couldn’t do it, I just chose, for one brief moment, to honor a very traditional married couple by taking on traditional kitchen roles.  I think my parents would have laughed although for sure dad would have said that the burgers were overcooked and mom would have said they were just perfect.  And they were a bit of both but we didn’t care.  Enjoy!

Spiced Cheese Hamburgers – Yield:  6 servings
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef (chuck)
¾ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Roquefort cheese (crumbled or sliced)
6 hamburger buns

Combined first six ingredients.  Shape into 12 thin patties, 4 inches in diameter.  Place 1 ½ teaspoons crumbled (or sliced) Roquefort cheese in the center of six of the patties.  Cover with remaining patties, pressing edges together well to keep cheese in place. 

Brown on both sides in a hot, greased heavy skillet or over a slow-burning charcoal fire.  Serve between warm, split buttered hamburger buns.

Deli Cole Slaw – serves 8 to 10 (Ann’s Note:  I bought a 10-ounce bag of shredded cabbage and then adjusted the seasonings accordingly.  That yield should serve 4 people.)
3 pounds cabbage, shredded
2 onions, chopped
1 green pepper chopped or sliced
1 cup vinegar
1 cup safflower oil (Ann’s Note:  you can substitute corn or canola oil)
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar

In a saucepan, combined vinegar, oil, celery seed and salt; bring to a boil.  Stir in the sugar. (Ann’s Note:  the recipe doesn’t say but you should remove the mixture once it boils, then add the sugar and keep it off the stove – it’s done!).  Combined cabbage, onion and green pepper in a bowl.  Pour dressing over and refrigerate up to 3 weeks if necessary.  Serves 8 to 10.

No comments: