Sunday, July 26, 2009
In 1953 our old friends the Culinary Institute of Chicago published a little pamphlet intended to free the housewife from the arduous task of menu-planning. It was modestly titled Menus for Every Day of the Year and each dish was indexed against a recipe in one of the Institute’s other cookbooks. One had only to turn to, say, the first dinner menu for March to find therein a recommendation of Consommé Madrilene (Book #6) followed by Roast Chicken with Mushroom Stuffing and Hominy Grits (both in Book #4), and Buttered Peas (Book #11). For dessert, Book #12 provided instructions on how to serve Vanilla Ice Cream with Butterscotch Sauce.
All the dinner menus are on the stodgy side. Even those specifically assigned to summer months, when any intelligent cook starts looking for ways to lighten things up, are traditional, starchy, heavy and hot. Editor Ruth Berolzeimer and the merry crew of sadists who thought up the menus for the month of July ought to have been made to prepare and eat them in the average early 1950’s un-air-conditioned home. Here is the first week:
July 1st: Pineapple Juice Cocktail, Baked Pickerel with Shoestring Potatoes, Pea Soufflé, Lettuce Salad with Thousand Island Dressing, Honeydew Melon Rings with Melon Balls, Iced Tea
July 2nd - Stuffed Lamb Shoulder with Franconia Potatoes, Summer Squash Tomato Casserole, Carrot Raisin Salad, Maple Nut Pudding
July 3rd - Filled Beets, Planked Ham Loaf with Duchess Potatoes, Baked Onions and Tomatoes, Royal Salad, Brazil-nut Marshmallow Cream
Fourth of July Dinner – Jellied Sherry Consommé, Broiled Half Chicken Rolled in Bread Crumbs and Parsley, Corn on the Cob, Asparagus Tips in Tomato Cups, Mashed Potatoes, Small Hot Rolls, Summer Salad Bowl (Cucumbers, Radishes, Spring Onions with Watercress and French Dressing), Strawberry Ice Cream Tarts
July 5th - Apricot Juice, Rump Roast of Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Kohlrabi, Lettuce with French Dressing, Red Raspberry Sundae
July 6th – Pineapple Appetizer Salad, Baked Chicken with Sage Stuffing, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Buttered Broccoli, Peppermint Stick Parfait with Chocolate Sauce, Coffee, Milk
July 7th – Sweetbreads with Mushrooms, Broiled Tomato Slices, Buttered Beet Greens, Cottage Cheese Salad with Thousand Island Dressing, Gooseberry Date Pie
I’m going to have to look for Book #5 which contains the recipe for this last-named dessert. That any cook would combine gooseberries and dates in a pie is enough to shake one’s faith in humanity.