Sunday, January 23, 2011

When The Business Couple Entertains

Two-career couples were enough of an anomaly in the 1950’s to prompt the editors of The Good Housekeeping Party Book (first published 1949 – my copy is from 1958) to devote an entire chapter to the problem of entertaining guests when there was no traditional stay-at-home wife to handle all the pesky little details of a dinner party (actually, I want that life back – one of the editors’ helpful comments is to entertain the day that your cleaning lady is going to be there). Here are some of the suggested menus, all chosen from dishes that could be made in advance, bought at the supermarket or deli, or quickly prepared at the last minute.

Note: recipes are not provided. For those, the editors recommend you buy the Good Housekeeping Cook Book.

Couples’ Club Get-Together

Old English Hot Spiced Cider
Big Meatballs in Sour Cream Gravy
Tomato-Aspic Ring with Vegetable Salad in the Center
Toasted Celery Rolls
Roasted Mixed Nuts in Shell
Cheese Tray
Hot Coffee (Instant)

Why instant? They had percolators back then. I have dim memories of sitting on the kitchen floor and spinning the basket and stem from ours like a top.

Very Swish

Veal Paprika on Parsley-Almod Rice
Buttered Peas
Salad Bowl of Boston Lettuce, Scallions and Radishes
Hot Cheese Biscuits
Strawbery Ice Cream with Bing-Cherry Sauce

Doesn’t Mind Waiting

Chicken Tetrazzini
Platter of Chilled Asparagus and Peas with Garlic French Dressing
Strawberry Tarts
Iced Tea or Coffee

A Man’s Meal

Oxtail Ragout on Caraway Seed Noodles
Tossed Green Salad with Chives and Dill
Hard Rolls, Sweet Butter
Coffee Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate Sauce
Fresh Orange Cookies
Hot Coffee or Glasses of Milk

Most of the men I know are Mid-Westerners, and I have to say I can’t think of too many of them who would eat ox-tail ragout. Of course they're all in the emergency preparedness/response racket and, almost to a man, retired military, so it's safe to say they've eaten wierder stuff. As long as I gave them enough beer, I might get away with it.


selinde2 said...

Oxtail may sound weird, but is a truly delicious casserole - the meat is very tender. My mother always cooked it twice, letting it stand to cool between so she could remove the fat.

Shay said...

I've had oxtail soup (and liked it). But oxtails aren't in much demand in this part of the State.

Packrat said...

Ox tails make the best broth. A good substitute are beef ribs. YUM

I have the 1955 (copyrighted) Good Housekeeping Cook Book, so I just spent the last several minutes trying to find these recipes. Some I didn't find. As to the Tomato Aspic ring: Oh, how I hated it. Just thinking about it makes me cringe.

The ox tail ragout is just stew with noodles instead of potatoes.

I don't get the instant coffee, either. None of my (older) family members or friends would drink instant coffee. Coffee was serious stuff.

The electric percolator was perfect, because it would perk for a set amount of time, stop, and then keep the coffee warm until it was served. The stove top percolator worked great as long one watched to make sure it didn't perk too long and/or boil dry. (I still have both, but don't use them any more.)

Love the "entertain on the day that your cleaning lady is going to be there." My mother (and one grandmother) worked outside the home. They did their own cleaning, cooking, laundry, ironing. I can remember doing marathon cleaning days before a dinner party.

Jana said...

Husband would be all over that like almonds on rice.