hostess cookbook cover

Hostess Helps and Recipes

Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook
General Mills
1973

I know that COVID-19 puts a damper on any kind of entertaining, but just in case you are preparing for that day when we are all healthy, Betty Crocker has you covered. This book truly has some retro recipes I am sure you can’t wait to get started. A couple of my favorites: Olive Surprise Roast, Jellied Watercress Soup, Tomato Aspic Mold, the list just goes on and on.
Bonus! Just in time for Valentine’s Day, you can feast on all things pink. Your loved one will surely appreciate the effort.

athlete's cookbook cover

Dull Food for the Athlete

The Athlete’s Cookbook
Easy Recipes and Nutritional Guidelines for Active People
Peterson and Martinsen
1980

This is one of the most boring cookbooks out there. The recipes include such delights as: garden salad (it has an avocado!), two different recipes for tuna casserole (one recipe uses curry powder and the other has black olives), meat loaf, peanut butter sandwich, and wheat germ pancakes. I actually want to meet the person that needs a recipe for a peanut butter sandwich.

after work cook book

Break out the can opener

After Work Cook Book
Better Homes and Gardens
1975

All your 1970s favorites are here for your after work cooking needs. Your Sweet and Sour Chicken Mold will obviously be a family favorite. The yellow/greenish color should brighten up any table. As I look at the recipe I am curious about the sour cream sauce mix. I don’t remember any kind of item like that. Any of my fellow old folks have any idea what this is? The only thing I can think of is a sour cream/onion dip mix. Since it is the first ingredient listed, I would hate to mess up this recipe.

cookie craft book cover

Decorative Eats

Cookie Craft
No-Bake Designs for Edible Party Decorations and Favors
Williams and Williams
1977

I am not a big fan of when food looks like something that isn’t food. I can appreciate some of the artistry, but no for a snack. This book is more about using common store bought cookies or crackers to be some of the foundations. Not a bad idea. In fact, I had a pastry chef do a cupcake decorating programs for some teens and the ideas were similar. The kids started with a plain cupcake and used candy, fruit roll-ups, and other products to make some really cute cupcakes. The teens loved the class.

This book probably does a pretty decent job for what was available in the 1970s. The black and white pictures and cookie/cracker choice don’t sound that appetizing. The chef I had do the class was miles ahead of this book, because the creations were actually delicious. Yes, the “art” is edible, but I don’t think that was the point. This was more about food as decoration rather than for eating.

stews and casseroles cover

Casseroles and Stew with 70s Style

Wonderful way to prepare
Stews and Casseroles
Shirley
1978

I know it is summer so a hearty stew is probably not your first choice for cooking. As a Midwesterner you know that casseroles (or hotdish to my Minnesota friends) are year round fare. Generally speaking, casseroles include some kind of cheap meat or tuna, some kind of noodle/macaroni or tater tots, and some kind of cream of something soup. You will be happy to know that this book does fulfill some of the the basic Midwestern casserole requirements. The shocker for me was the lamb curry  and the tuna curry recipe. Pretty darn wild for a my central Illinois roots. I am not sure that curry can save some of these recipes.

culinary crafting

Food Craft

Culinary Crafting
The Art of Garnishing and Decorating Food
1976

For the foodies out there here is a nice book on how to decorate your food. The illustrations aren’t much to look at, and hardly make the food look appetizing. Photographs would be a better choice, even in the 1970s. Beyond the book design, the recipes are just okay and nothing particularly impressive. The decorations range from a watermelon bowl to a piece of pineapple on top of a ham. You can even go wild and add a maraschino cherry. It’s all very underwhelming.

Mary

microwave cookbook

Futuristic Cooking with a Microwave

The New Revised
General Electric
Microwave Guide & Cookbook
1977

My family jumped into the crazy cutting edge world of microwaves around the time this book was published. The pitch was always about how you could defrost or prepare food in just seconds, sometimes minutes. I personally remember microwaving hot dogs to watch them completely curl up.

Nothing my mother or myself were able to make anything that resembled the pictures in microwave cookbooks. I am convinced these were all faked. The meat in particular always had a lovely grey color. The texture was also just awful. It should have been nicknamed Soylent Green.

Mary