My 70s Flashback

I mooched a book from “Bookmooch”. You should really check it out, if you like books at all. But anyway, the title caught my eye. Menus for a Whole Year of Dinners. I just knew this book was going to solve all of my cooking dilemmas. Anyway, I was delighted when it came in the mail. It smells of libraries or musty old lady living rooms. It smells wonderful. The pictures are godawful though. Grainy, aged, not really very appetizing. But the names of the meals are hysterical. You may remember my post about naming your food. This book is ALL ABOUT naming the meals. Tomato aspic, toast points, Fruited Lamb Riblets, Macaroni-Meat Bake. Oh My Goodness. This book is a flashback to when Jello was, like, newly invented. And Avocados were TRENDY. So I’ve had a lot of fun with this. Last week some of our dinners were: Country Dinner, Gourmet Franks and Kielbasa and Lentils. These meals crack me up. The Country Dinner consisted of cabbage wedges, instant mashed potatoes and Vienna Sausages. Yes, Vienna Sausages. Here is a line from the recipe: “Stick sausages into potatoes.” Guffaw. That was fun.

I had to give my family a break though, because really, you can only eat so much processed meat. The gourmet franks? It was hot dogs simmered in onions and mushrooms and a little chicken broth. Ahem. So we had my good old fashioned double bean burritos. That was yummy, and the family breathed a collective sigh of relief. They complain about my overuse of some Mexican food standbys: tortillas, ground beef, cheese, and enchilada sauce. But I think my recipes from the Good Housekeeping book circa 1972 are worse. Oh, I’m not done with it. I’ve got two cans of luncheon meat in the pantry just waiting for the Macaroni-Meat Bake, and a five pound Duck in the freezer for Hunter-Style Duckling. I know, you’re smacking your lips.

Clean Correlation

I find that the cleaner my kitchen is, the more enthusiastic I am about cooking in it. There are four stages of cleanliness. Stage Four is bad enough that I refuse to serve dinner in it, and everyone must fend for themselves, or they have to clean off the table so that we can eat take-out. Stage Three  involves some clutter on the table and countertops, and dishes in the sink, but the floor is swept. Stage Two is that the dishes are in the dishwasher, and the table is wiped off; there are just a couple of cereal boxes to be put away, and the counter is only ten minutes away from decluttered and cleaned. Stage One is a tablecloth on the table with a centerpiece, counters all cleared and disinfected, dishes done and the ‘messy counter’ (seriously, that is the name of this particular two square foot counter) has been tidied up and everything is in a nice neat pile. I love cooking in a Stage One kitchen, and I even clean up after myself as I cook, in order to keep it that way longer. Sadly, my kitchen hovers somewhere between Stage Three and Stage Two  ninety percent of the time. I’ve noticed that the messier the kitchen, the less complicated dinner is. I don’t want to add to an already overburdened workspace or overstuffed dishwasher. So here is a record of some recent meals and their correlating kitchen Stage.

Friday Supper: Stage Two: Homemade Beef Stroganoff and I toddled off to supper with friends and scapbooking. (Chipotle Beef Burrito!)

Saturday Breakfast: Stage Four: Hostess donuts and milk

Saturday Lunch: Stage Two: Grocery shopping, Ramen noodles

Saturday Supper: Stage Three: Beef and Noodles with carrots and dip (opened a can of beef and stirred into hot cooked noodles. Salt and Pepper to taste.)

Sunday Breakfast: Stage Two: Breakfast Burritos

Sunday Lunch: Stage Three: We ate cheese and crackers and grapes in the living room.

Sunday Supper: Stage Three: “Mouse Ears” The boys don’t mind cooking in a Stage Three kitchen. Of course, once they were done with the meal, it was a Stage Four.

Monday Breakfast: Stage Three: Bowls of cereal all around.

Monday Lunch: Stage Two approaching Stage One: frozen pizza (Jeno’s Crisp and Tasty!) As I approach Stage One, I will be canning apple slices this afternoon. Supper will probably be broiled salmon. If I get the kitchen back to Stage One after canning, then I will also make Alfredo noodles to go along with the broiled salmon. Otherwise, it will be salmon and bagged salad.

Here’s hoping I can get my kitchen up to scratch, so I can start cooking from scratch.