Monday, July 11, 2016

"June Roth's Indoor/Outdoor Barbecue Cookbook;" "Martha's (Stewart) American Food;" "The Best of Home Economics Teachers Bicentennial Cookbook" - 4th of July food

Date I made these recipes:  July 4, 2016

June Roth's Indoor/Outdoor Barbecue Cookbook by June Roth
Published by:  An Essandess Special Edition
© 1970
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Richfield
Recipe:  Coney Island Hot Dogs – p. 46

Martha's (Stewart) American Food by Martha Stewart
Published by:  Clarkson Potter/Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-307-40508-1; © 2012
Purchased at Barnes and Noble, Roseville, MN
Recipe:  Classic Potato Salad – p. 49

The BEST of Home Economics Teachers BICENTENNIAL Cookbook – 1976 – Favorite Recipes® A Limited Edition
Published by:  Favorite Recipes Press
© 1976
Purchased at BCPA (Bloomington [MN] Crime Prevention Association annual June sale)
Recipe:  Red-White and Blue Salad (Jell-O) p. 39

Every year since I can remember, class reunions are held in my home town of Munising, Michigan, on the 4th of July.  That may seem odd to those who live in a city where reunions are held at various times of the year, but it makes sense for my small hometown as that it often the one time of year when people return home to be with family and friends.

This year was my 40th class reunion – the class of '76.  That year was a big deal as our country celebrated its bicentennial and how nice of it to coincide with my graduation year. ;) There are times when I keep thinking that my graduation and that interloper, the bicentennial, were just yesterday but alas, forty years is not "just yesterday."

As is usual and customary in my home town, there is a parade that is always well attended (my parents were frequent attendees, long after my brother and I left home) and in the early years of my childhood, it was usual and customary for a vast majority of the parade units to be surrounding area drum and bugle corps including our very own Silver Echoes.   Oh how I wanted to be a Silver Echo.  So wanted to be part of that color guard; the color guard was most cool. But alas, I was just a tad too young to join and by the time I got around to being of age, they disbanded and were replaced by the Castle Rangers who were fine but not the Silver Echoes.  Not.

The (Wm. G.) Mather High School band also marched and that was a fun thing.  We may have been a small, Class C school but we had one fantastic school band.  Although I hung out with plenty of band kids, I was never in a marching band, not in high school or college and that's a whole other long story best told over cocktails. ( I can though, play a fine Mickey Mouse March on the chimes!)  So just after I got married, I took adult clarinet and saxophone lessons and at the urging of a good friend of mine (who has since passed away), I joined the same community band that she helped found – the Calhoun-Isles Community Band.  I played with them for 20 years, although we shall use the term "play" very loosely (I played the 3rd clarinet part  which is about all I could handle),"retiring" 2 years ago after serving also as the President of the Board of Directors.  But alas again, this concert band most decidedly did not march anywhere except to and from the parking lot for our Tuesday night rehearsals, especially on cold and dark winter nights ("Double time!")

No parade is complete without floats and the "dignitary" cars although I'm told that there are hardly any floats these days in the Munising parade and that's sad.  I posted some parade pictures my dad had taken in the late 60's/early 70's on Facebook so my classmates and I could reminisce about the good old days.  In previous years, each graduating class had its own parade float but these days, those classmates walk the route handing out candy to the kiddies.

After the big parade, there was usually a pet parade and then in the afternoon, our volunteer fire department held a water fight, the gist of which was to battle each other in a water tug of war before turning the spray on the crowd to cool us off.  Not that it was ever really hot in my home town when I was growing up, but getting sprayed was a big deal.

At dusk, everybody gathered at Bayshore Park to watch the spectacular fireworks that were shot off from the boat dock at Munising Bay into Lake Superior. Those fireworks were always top notch and are honestly better than the ones Minneapolis used this year, go figure.

So there I was, within a month of my reunion and the 4th celebration, when I found The Best of Home Economic Teachers' Bicentennial Cookbook and could not let the opportunity to use it pass me by.  My love of the cooking portion of my Home Ec classes is a big reason why I have this mega book collection, now numbered at 2, 276 cookbooks, and no, I did not plan it so that the '76 in the collection number coordinated with the bicentennial although what timing, right? 

Now when I say that the cooking portion of my Home Ec class was something I loved, I cannot and will not say the same about the sewing portion of our program.  Because, and forgive me this word folks,  when it came to sewing, I "sucked."  (And by the way, while the 7th and 8th grade women took Home Ec, the boys took Shop.  Talk about a sign of the times.)

All 7th and 8th grade females had to take Home Ec where we practiced our kitchen skills and sewing skills—or lack thereof.  I was pretty darned handy dandy in the kitchen, despite the fact that my mom considered that her territory and only her territory, but until that class, I never sewed anything.  Meanwhile, all my other classmates were already quite skilled and everyone but me had sewn before.  I did not think it a good sign when I broke a needle practicing on a paper pattern.  And I managed to mangle more bobbins than "Carter has pills" (and old advertising slogan that only those my age or older will get.)

And so naturally as these things go, instead of sewing easy aprons, pot holders or tea towels like 99.9% of the Home Ec classes across the country, my 7th grade project was to make a sleeveless blouse with interfacing and the 8th grade project was to make a skirt with a zipper and waistband.

All righty then!  Nothing like starting out with the most difficult projects ever.

Worse:  when were finished our projects, we had to wear them to school that day in what I call the Walk of (Sewing) Shame.  All the other gals proudly paraded their outfits as they well should have whereas  I tried to hide in the bathroom.

Reason?  Well, let's might be because I got a D on the blouse as it wouldn't even have qualified as a Project Runway reject.  The interfacing did not flatten out as it should, I had stitches showing everywhere, the fit was off and so the whole thing was bloody was awful.  The only thing saving it was that it was dark navy blue so it hid every single on of the million boo-boos I made. 

The second project – the skirt – looked good on paper but the execution thereafter was most problematic.  Denim was the "it" fabric at the time so I wanted to make a denim skirt but alas, folks, there is denim as in Levi denim and then there is "fake" denim as used by Home Ec students.  Mine was the later.

Still, I was doing okay until this happened:  I put the zipper in (just fine) but the substitute teacher the next day told me it was wrong so I had to take it out.  Then when the regular teacher returned, she told me that was wrong so I had to take it out again.  And when I put it in for the final time, the fabric around the zipper was trashed plus the zipper was about ¼ inch away from the waistband.  And just when things couldn't get any worse, the skirt fabric got bunched up and caught in the sewing machine, causing a huge snag to occur on the back on the skirt and why?  Because it wasn't real denim!

And this is what I wore on the Walk of (Sewing) Shame, Round 2.  And needless to say, both projects ended up in my dad's fire barrel as was right and proper for such abominations. 

But the cooking portion?  Oh my yes – nailed it!  To this day, I still have the recipe cards I wrote for all the food we made those two years.  In seventh grade, we made all breakfast items and in 8th, soups and salads for lunch.  Some were quite good (potato soup) whereas others were just so kitsch – broiled grapefruit with a Maraschino cherry in the middle.  I think I made those at home exactly once and then I was done with that.  (I am not a big grapefruit fan.)

So tying it all together, that cookbook was just perfect for the day, with Martha Stewart and June Roth filling out my 4th of July menu.

As always, the bicentennial book had a lot of good recipes making it hard to choose, but these two were easily and automatically DQ'd (disqualified) from the lineup:  "Creamed Brains in Potato Cases" (I am gagging as we speak) and – and I am not kidding –"Squirrel Jambalaya." Oh. Dear. Lord.

Folks, maybe it's me but really Home Ec teachers?  Really?  THIS is what you have your little darlings in Home Ec class make?  No.  Just say no.

In the end, I settled on the Red, White and Blue (Jell-O) salad because it fits the holiday theme and it's "safe."  You cannot really go wrong with Jell-O although as you will read, making mine was a bit challenging (but only a bit so don't fret).

This year's entree—if hot dogs can be considered an entree – came from June Roth's Indoor/Outdoor Barbecue Cookbook.  Roth has the distinction of writing a cookbook – Let's Have a Brunch - with one of the worst looking covers ever: a two-tired ham-salad "cake" that is frosted with something (mayo?) to make it look like wedding cake, that is then further "decorated" with peas and lemon halves to make it more...festive?  That was a definite "no" for me but happily, the recipe I made for my blog (June 30, 2007) from that cookook, "Cinnamon Raison Brunch Bread," was delicious.

You should know that the recipe for Coney Island Hot Dogs is really a recipe for a Coney Island sauce and not really the hot dog itself.  A Coney Sauce is almost like a chili sauce or a sloppy joe filling  and that is a flavor profile I love. And I love that she gives both an indoor and outdoor option for those who may not have a grill handy.

Finally, there's Martha.  Martha's American Food cookbook features all kinds of recipes from coast to coast and the pictures and recipes are glorious well because of course they are. This is Martha Freaking Stewart after all.  Martha is no slouch when it comes to beautiful and mouth-watering photos.

While every single recipe looked fantastic, I was on a mission for potato salad because you can't really have a bona fide Fourth of July celebration without potato salad, not in my book.  But I am not sure Martha and I see eye-to-eye on what constitutes "classic" potato salad.  My mom used potatoes, onions, celery, salad dressing (yes, I know, but that was what she used) and mustard, but not relish, and the whole thing was topped with hard-boiled eggs and radishes. Delicious.  Mom also garnished with fresh parsley from our garden.

Martha's "classic" involves mayonnaise because of course it would—Martha likely never, ever substituted salad dressing for mayo because she's Martha.  My mother did because her doctor advised her to way back when in order to lower her high cholesterol (which ran in her family.  And by the way, my mother was quite petite and skinny so "who knew?").  As these things go though, salad dressing is almost 10x worse than egg-based mayo but nobody knew that at the time.  At any rate, Martha also adds cornichons instead of pickle relish as well as scallions.   This is so very Martha, is it not? But I'm not sure cornichons is a standard addition to a "classic" potato salad.  Southern cooks, for instance, seem to favor pickle relish in potato and macaroni salads, but sweet pickle relish, not dill or even cornichons.  This recipe was good and it was definitely a "Martha" moment, but if I made it again, I think I'd switch things up and add sweet pickle relish.

So that was the repast and all in all, things worked out except for the following little quibbles:  (Please note, I made half recipes of each one.)
1)     Thank goodness once again for Google.  The Coney sauce did not say which type of pickle relish to add but internet recipes showed that most cooks favored sweet pickle relish so that is what I used in the Coney sauce.
2)     The middle layer of the patriotic Jell-O didn't quite set and I have no idea why.  It might be because I used only one half of the unflavored gelatin since I was making a half recipe.  Some recipes – perhaps this one – don't halve very well.  The entire thing was good but soupy.  Very soupy.  I recommend using a whole packet of the unflavored gelatin.
3)     Potato salad is tricky because you don't want mushy potatoes but you do not want undercooked ones, either.  Martha says to cook for 25 minutes and Martha is probably short by another 15.  The thing is that Martha says to use a medium potato but these days, everything is gargantuan and that's all that you can find unless you grow your own.  Martha may grow her own, but I most certainly do not.  Been there, done that.  If you use a larger potato, plan to add a bit more time to the cooking schedule.

So there you go, everyone.  Some food for the 4th, some food for a bicentennial class reunion and just some good food, period.  Enjoy.

"Oh let us cheer, for Mather High, we want our team to win this game....."

Coney Island Hot Dogs (sauce) – makes 12 servings – from The Best of Home Economics Teachers Bicentennial Cookbook
¼ pound ground beef
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup pickle relish (Ann's Note:  Google "survey sez" sweet pickle relish)
1 tablespoon instant minced onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 dozen frankfurters
1 dozen frankfurter rolls

Outdoors:  Cook ground beef in a medium-size saucepan on the edge of grill, stirring t break up meat into small particles.  Add tomato paste, water, relish, onion, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, chili powder, salt, and sugar.  Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Makes about 2 cups of sauce, enough to spoon over 1 dozen grilled frankfurters on rolls.

Indoors:  Make sauce in saucepan on range.  Cook frankfurters under broiler and warm rolls in the oven.

Classic Potato Salad – serves 10 to 12 from Martha's  American Food (Ann's Note:  Even a half recipe made a lot.)
4 pounds russet potatoes (about 8 medium)
Coarse salt
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 large eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon cvelery seeds
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 celery stalks, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 small onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
10 cornichons, cut into ¼-inch dice
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon sweet paprika

In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with water by several inches.  Bring to a boil, then add 1 tablespoon salt.  Reduce heat and gently boil until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about *25 minutes.  (Ann's Note: *as noted above, most potatoes these days are pretty large and need more time to cook.  Although the potato surface was tender, the middle needed more time.)  Drain.

Peel potatoes while still hot, using paper towels to protect hands; cut into 1-inch pieces.  Transfer potatoes to a bowl and drizzle with vinegar; let cool.

Place eggs in a small saucepan; fill with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil; turn off heat.  Cover; let stand 11 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with cold water; let cool and peel.  Cut 2 eggs into ¼-inch dice.  Slice remaining eggs into ¼-inch-thick rounds; reserve for garnish.

Combined diced eggs, mayonnaise, celery seeds, and dry mustard in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper, and whisky to combine.  Stir in potatoes, celery, onion, cornichons, scallions, and parsley.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.  Just before serving, garnish with paprika and egg rounds.

Red-White and Blue Salad – Yield:  15 servings or one 9 x 13 pan – from The Best of Home Economics Teachers Bicentennial Cookbook
2 packages raspberry gelatin
2 c. boiling water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (Ann's Note:  I halved this recipe and in retrospect, should have probably used the entire package instead of ½ package as the middle layer did not set very well.)
1 c. cold water
1 c. half and half
1 c. sugar
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ c. chopped nuts
1 can blueberries (Ann's Note:  I used fresh blueberries and raspberries and made a simple syrup to substitute for the canned blueberry liquid.)
To make a simple syrup:
1 ½ c sugar
¾ cup water

As noted above, sometimes making a half recipe does not yield the results you are looking for; I think this was one of those instances.

The first layer of this Jell-O set up fine.  The middle layer did not set up as well and I suspect I likely needed to add the entire package of unflavored gelatin.  If you make this, try adding the whole thing.

As to the blueberries, sure, I could have purchased a can of blueberries at about $5 a can, but this is summer and that means fresh fruit.  So instead of using the canned berries and their liquid, I used about an equal amount of fresh berries and then made a simple syrup and added that instead. 

To make the whole recipe, dissolve 1 package raspberry gelatin in boiling water; pour into 9 x 13-inch pan.  Chill until firm. 

Combine unflavored gelatin and cold water; set aside.  (Ann's Note:  even if you are making just a half recipe, try using the entire package instead of a half package like I did.)
Mix half and half and the sugar in saucepan; bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add cream cheese; beat until smooth.  Add vanilla, nuts and unflavored gelatin; stir until gelatin is dissolved.  Cool.  Pour over chilled layer; chill until firm.

Drain blueberries; add enough water to blueberry juice to make 2 cups liquid.  Bring to boiling point.  (Ann's Note:  if using fresh berries, make a simple syrup and use two cups of that instead of the blueberry juice.  The ratio above of 1 ½ cup sugar and ¾ cup water makes plenty of "juice.")

When liquid is on the brink of boiling, add remaining raspberry gelatin; stir until dissolved.  Cool.  Stir in blueberries; pour over cheese layer.  Chill until firm.

Ann's Note:  So because the middle layer didn't really set correctly, the entire dish ended up kind of soupy but the taste was great. 

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