What Cookery Is This? My Great Recipe Cards, 1984

I remember being completely fascinated by my mother’s set of Betty Crocker recipe cards when I was but a wee paisley.  At that point in my life I was in the running for the title of Pickiest Eater: Anything Not a PB&J, but those cards…there was something about them that always drew me in.  I would look through them and reject them on principle.  Onions?  No.  Peppers?  Gross.  Mushrooms?  HA HA!  HA HA!  HA HA!  All I had to learn was that they were a fungus and then?  Profoundly no with an irritated hand flip for good measure.

But those cards…they were shiny and…well, shiny…and they held the promise of exotic meals that I’d never heard of and probably wouldn’t have eaten anyway, often presented curiously.  Who in their right minds would put spinach in a clear glass trifle dish?

Elegance fail.from davidstable.com

Wee me deemed this an elegance fail. Nothing personal, Betty Crocker.
from davidstable.com

Spinach was something that was meant to be hidden away in the darkest recesses of our unholy present, never to be spoken of again.  Betty Crocker people, you so crazy!  And just to be clear, despite my current infatuation with the kitchen,  I didn’t care one bit about cooking at that point in my life.  Who knows why I found them so mesmerizing?  I just did.  I’m not sure if my mother got them in the mail (it could be that someone gave them to her, and it’s not as though she was consulting me on her cooking choices at that point in my life) but I do remember climbing up to the top of the fridge to get my tiny little meat hooks on that plastic box with the clamshell cover.

And so I lust for a set of my own.  The other day, my boyfriend and I were trolling the aisles at our local and amazingly awesome flea market when we stumbled upon an incomplete set of not-Betty-Crocker.  The cards we found were from My Great Recipes, circa 1984-1988 but you know what?  Still craptastically satisfying.  The foodie revolution had not yet begun except, perhaps, for Alice Waters‘s small corner of northern California and so much of the food presented largely originated out of cans and bags.  Food photography has also come a long way since 1984, so there’s a lot of cheesetastic, era-defining food horror contained in a relatively small amount of cards.  And the pack I found was only a–one, singular–dollar.  You can’t go wrong with that.

Thus, without further ado…a completely biased sample of the My Great Recipe card set.  There will be more to come as I work my way through the cards.  Prepare brain bleach.

Mmm, appetizers!

Mmm, appetizers!

Apparently, deep in the confines of this hallucinatory green nugget of Astroturf, there lives some boiled, shredded chicken breasts.  Two things: the only time I’ve willingly eaten boiled chicken breasts is when I was so sick I could only handle a bland diet.  Yeah!  Where do I sign for more memories of the stomach flu?  And, they want you to wilt spinach, then unfurl it.  Which is sort of akin to unfurling wet tissue paper.  It CAN be done, but more likely than not will require a scanning tunneling microscope so you can successfully move the spinach atoms without tearing the leaves.

Remind me not to bring this to a barbecue.

Remind me never to bring this to a barbecue.

Charred forearm of a burn victim, served with broiled fatty tumors.  It’s what’s for dinner.

Aloha, chicken!

Aloha, chicken!

The good people of Hawaii should stage a revolution in response to this…this…”chicken aloha”.  First of all, this recipe is an express ticket to Diabetesville, since it involves pineapple chunks in syrup, yams in syrup, and an unreasonable amount of currant jelly.  Would you like some chicken with your sugar?  And at first I couldn’t figure out the name (no matter how much you try and argue differently, Hawaiian is not made by pineapple alone) until I remembered, “aloha” can mean both “hello” and “goodbye”.  So I think it actually means “goodbye, chicken” and “hello, whole roasted juvenile pelican“.  Because I’m pretty sure that’s what’s in the pan.

Even I'm at a loss for words on this one.

Even I’m at a loss for words on this one.

Hi.  My name is Hannibal Lecter.  For my dinner this evening, I would like to order a half-cup of mayonnaise served on a cross-section of human ass, please.


Thank you.



Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer the slabs of granite left over from your countertop installation, served with soothing river stones and watercress?



Ooh, tempting.  But no, I’ll take the crusted meat that’s been left out to dry for three days, topped with your phlegm and melted plastic reduction.

Savor the flavor.

Savor the flavor.

And for dessert, perhaps some sliced grapes with welts?  Sitting in a pastry crust and covered with slime?  Perfecto!

True story: I was visiting some friends for a long weekend, with a (now-ex) boyfriend.  He was going out to the store and wanted to know if I wanted anything.  I asked him to get me some fruit, I wanted fresh fruit, I needed to at least try and counter some of the effects of a weekend house party with something healthy.  And something like this?  Was what he brought back, only that version had kiwifruit, too.  I’ve been laughing about it for years.

I hear the cries for mercy.  And there’s only so many of these I can look at at one sitting.  So we’ll call this quits for now.  Just remember, there’s more coming!

No more posts.