Sunday, March 15, 2015

"The American Girl [Girl Scout] Cookbook" - Turkey Bake to celebrate the Girl Scout's 103rd birthday!

Date I made this recipe:  March 12, 2013 – Girl Scout Birthday!

The American Girl Cookbook (Girl Scouts) by the Editors of The American Girl Magazine (not to be confused with American Girl dolls.  Totally different!)
Published by:  Random House
© 1966; original copyright 1960
Purchased from Etsy – blueskylaneshop
Recipe:  Turkey Bake – p. 35

"I've got something in my pocket, it belongs across my face
I keep it very close to me in a most familiar place
I'm sure you couldn't guess it if you guessed a long, long while
So I'll take it out and put it on, it's a great big Brownie smile!"

This is one of the Brownie (first tier Girl Scout) songs that I learned eons ago and danged if I didn't remember the entire thing as I was preparing this recipe!  I am that good.

Yesterday, March 12, 2015, marked the 103rd birthday of the Girl Scouts.  The group was started in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia (I've toured her house) and its inaugural membership of 18 girls has now grown to over 60 million. Hooray Girl Scouts!

I'll have you know that I rose to the ranks of a Senior Scout, one level above Cadet and two levels above Brownies.  My Senior Scout troop's project was to work in a nursing home and boy, do I have entertaining adventures from that stint.  But that alone could take all day and we don't have all day.

My favorite memories as a Brownie center around making sit-upons.  To make a sit-upon back then, you cut out two squares of vinyl or shelf paper, punched holes with a hole puncher all the way around the squares, put a magazine in between and then used yarn to seal the thing up.  Mine, of course, was outstanding.  We used this sit-upons for story time around the campfire.  I also remember making an art project using a paper plate that we painted with Artex paints (a very big deal back then).  This project was not so amazing but my mother saved it for me anyway, bless her heart.

Then there was my long stint as a Girl Scout and those were the really, really...really fun years.  As a Girl Scout, we got to go to Day Camp, held at an elementary school just down the hill from my house that was situated on the shores of Lake Superior.  When I got older, I and some of my friends, assisted the swimming instructor, "Kewpie" Cage, with the younger kids.  We roped off a swim area with empty Clorox bottles and rope and I recall doing so one time when it was really rainy and cold.  My grandmother was visiting from the east coast at the time and when I came home with purple lips, she was convinced I was bound to die from pneumonia.  "But grandma, it's not that bad once you get in!!!"  She told me in Sicilian what she thought of that excuse!

At Day Camp, we also raised and lowered the flag every day and it is not every gal who can tell you how to properly fold a flag, no sir!  Plus, I got to learn Taps which we sang as the flag was lowered.  I remember Mrs. Shaffstall, a friend of my mother, was Camp Director for several years.  My mother was also a troop leader as were several other women in town, all whose signatures appear in my Girl Scout manuals, signing off on my badge completion.  You should know that I was on a mission to acquire as many badges as I could (for the sash, don't you know) and many of them are for outdoor or nature activities.  This was clearly before I decided that my life's motto was "Nature is NOT your friend."  I jest not.

No Day Camp would be complete without learning to build a fire and then make S'mores.  And "Hobo Stew" – ground beef, onions, carrots, potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil then baked in a camp fire until everything was cooked.

Eventually, a handful of us became Cadets and I don't think it's a stretch to say that we were likely the most misbehaved Cadets ever!  We constantly got into trouble, most notably during a stint at Girl Scout camp.

Naturally, as these things go, the camp I was set to attend – Timber Trail – closed just before my troop was to attend. I so wanted to go to Timber Trail because they had bunk houses.  But no.  Instead, we went to Camp Naubinway, out in the woods, where we had to pitch a tent.  Hated it.  And then we had to build our fire daily and that would not have been a bad thing but my gawd, was I bad with a hatchet (and saws and hammers), or what?  And so were some fellow campers.  Collectively, we kept the camp nurse busy. So long story short, the camp director (who absolutely hated the "Munising girls," Munising being my home town), took away our hatchet and our saws and whatnot, prompting me to write a letter to my parents along the lines of "We are starving.  We are starving because we can't cook our food.  We can't cook our food because we can't cut any wood for the fire.  We can't cut any wood because we don't have our hatchet.  We don't have our hatchet because..."

My parents cracked up laughing and saved that letter that is now somewhere in my house.  Unfortunately, it didn't sway the camp director our way and she only gave back our tools at the bitter, bitter end of camp. 

This was not our only sin though.  For some reason, instead of our regular troop leader accompanying us to camp, we got Nora, the substitute G.S. leader.  Nora was just a tad older than we were.  Nora was fun.  Nora let us skip out on activities like tree pruning.  My group of Girl Scouts?  We didn't do tree pruning.  Ever.  So Nora took us to get ice cream.  And when we got back, we all got busted by our Camp Director who had absolutely no. sense. of. humor.  And for our penance (she should have been a nun), she made us go refill the water jugs (5 pounds each) from the pump down the road.

Not. A. Problem.  We piled in Nora's car and went down to fill up the water bottles, dropping them off at each separate campsite.  But when we got back to our own site, there was the Camp Director looking all pissy and everything and she made us dump out the water and then WALK back to the pump and then WALK back carrying two five-pound jugs each.  To this day, I'm convinced my arms stretched during this process.

And those were just the camp highlights!  Post-camp, we had another run-in with the Camp Director while attending a Cadet conference in a nearby town.  This required us to stay at a hotel where we were told most explicitly not to take the elevator up further than our floors because a) the bar was at the top floor and b) (visiting) hockey players were on the floors above us, staying overnight before their game against a local semi-pro team.

So let's review:  you have hormonally-charged high school girls staying at a hotel with a bar and hockey players?  Is this not a "recipe" for disaster? Yes, Virginia, it was.

And so of course we rode the elevator to the forbidden floors and thought we were doing so well until we go to the Crow's Nest bar on the top floor.  The elevator opened and of course, standing there was the (former) Camp Director.

There is no God.

And for this infraction we were – and I am not kidding – put on "house arrest" for the rest of the weekend, with various and assorted Girl Scout directors taking turns staying outside our doors.  I'm laughing as I write this....

Given our infractions, you'd think that the Girl Scouts would deny us the "promotion" to Senior Scouts but we must have slipped through the cracks.  Six of us volunteered at a nursing home, feeding patients and just keeping them company and that turned out to be a fun and rewarding project...although not without stories that I'd best keep to myself since I'm not sure various statutes have run on our minor infractions (such as doing wheelies in the hallways with the bed trays).  I think we were done with Senior Scouts around 10th or 11th grade or so – maybe earlier – and then my time as a Girl Scout came to an end.  Sad, really.  I loved being a scout.

During the time I was a Girl Scout, I received The American Girl Magazine and recall reading it cover to cover although I had long forgotten that this was a Girl Scout publication.  Still, when I saw this cookbook on Etsy, I knew I had to have it. 

As you might imagine, the dishes here are simple recipes that any young girl or boy (or adult) can make and the recipes are pretty representative of the times, using basic ingredients and not a lot of spices.  For whatever reason, the Girl Scouts seem to have a thing for green peppers, found in many a recipe (maybe it's to match the uniforms?) but I am not as fond of a green pepper as I am for red/yellow/orange peppers so I substituted.

 I should not have been surprised – and yet was – that a Girl Scout cookbook contained a few recipes for "aspic" (basically a savory Jell-O mold) such as "Tuna Surprise" – p. 30 ("Surprise?" No kidding!) and "Chicken in the Mold" – p. 31.  These dishes seem very adult...and not very tasty at that.

Not surprising though, were recipes that used potato chips or chow mein noodles as those two ingredients were extremely popular with all ages.  Plus, this was a 60's cookbook after all when chips and chow mein noodles were practically required ingredients, especially the chow mein noodles for those "Chinese dishes" everybody made.  Yeah, right.

Sadly, the Outdoor Cookery section did not contain my Hobo Stew or S'mores.  And they call themselves a Girl Scout magazine.  Sheesh.

At any rate, after careful perusal of the book, I decided on the very easy yet tasty Turkey [Noodle] Bake.  This is my type of food as noodles + anything = really the way to go.  A quick stop at the grocery store netted me a couple thick slices of deli turkey breast which I then diced and added to the other ingredients.  And it contained a can of cream of mushroom soup which, although not a Girl Scout go-to ingredient, still warms my heart as any decent casserole is made with cream of "X" soup.  I do believe that is a law here in Minnesota.  Best to check...

So Happy 103rd Birthday, Girl Scouts from your very proud - if not a little bit of a miscreant -alumni!

Turkey Bake – makes about 4 servings
¼ cup chopped green pepper (Ann's Note:  I used red)
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
½ cup sour cream
1 (10 1/2 –ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cooked noodles
1 cup diced cooked turkey
½ teaspoon paprika

Ann's Note:  I just chuckled at the mention of paprika, used here as a spice.  When I was growing up, paprika was sprinkled over cottage cheese (and sometimes peaches) to give it a little color and that was all it was used for.

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