Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Happy Hour: Ward 8

We won't lie to you about this one: we really struggled with the Ward 8. Truly. There was practically a brawl at the editorial board meeting when this week's Friday Happy Hour post came up. Let's put it this way: not everyone agreed that we should go ahead with this post. Why? Well, not because the Ward 8 isn't a classic cocktail, and not because it isn't an old favorite of many. The problem was that some of us think the drink (put bluntly) sucks. Someone mumbled something about it being a "whiskey mai tai." Well! We ended up getting a green light from our Editor in Chief to run the story, so let's get started. Here's a recipe from Fleishmann's to begin with:

Maybe not a Mai Tai, but it does look a little fruity. It's kind of like a sour, maybe. Compare this with a recipe from Oscar Haimo:

A little more whiskey, a little less lemon and grenadine (that's about a teaspoon, there). A little more tart. He adds some soda. Here's another version from Old Crow:

Well, maybe now we are kind of getting into Carmen Miranda territory on this one. It's almost a fruit basket upset. This might be the drink to get your Cosmo-sipping gal pal introduced to whiskey. Maybe. Here's something along the same lines:

Obviously, no one completely agrees with the ingredients. Some include orange juice, others don't, and that makes a pretty big difference in the drink. As far as proportions go, it's all over the map. So, you can tart it up as much as you want -- and slop as much sugar as you want. One point where they're all agreed is that this a drink served on the rocks. Oh, and go ahead and garnish with your fruit basket.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday's Food Section: muffins and coffee cake and more

In case you didn't already know, Bisquick is one of the best things ever invented for baking. Today's post proves it! Taken from the 1959 edition of "133 Quicker Ways to Homemade with Bisquick," we'll see how -- with only a little Bisquick and ordinary household staples -- we can plan a whole day of meals!

As you can see, the basic recipe is easy. To boot, you can dress up your muffins to make them savory to go with your main dishes! For instance, consider this meal option:

This will bring you cheers and appreciation! For dessert or for breakfast, how about one (or both) of these coffee cakes:

Just shows you how you can feed your small army with Bisquick! Bon appetit!

Monday, January 24, 2011

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Happy Hour: Jack Rose

Today, we're turning to a drink that's a little more obscure, with a main ingredient that's a little obscure, too. And, like our more obscure drinks, there are some variations on how this one is made. But, it's important that we feature the Jack Rose. The base spirit for this drink is an apple brandy. The most common version used is applejack, which is not to be confused in any way with the children's breakfast cereal. Applejack is kind of a rustic American apple brandy that hearkens back to the old frontier days of hard cider, except distilled. It has a fancy French cousin, calvados. Calvados is a high-toned apple brandy, that's smoother than it's rough American cousin. Let's look at some of the recipes. This one is from Oscar Haimo's Cocktail and Wine Digest, circa 1946:

First off, and not to digress, but it's frustrating when the first ingredient is listed as "1/2 lemon." What is that? 1 ounce? 1/2 ounce? 3/4? Depends on how fresh the lemon is? Let's ignore that for a moment. The 4 dashes of grenadine is 4/6 of a teaspoon. Then, obviously, 2 ounces of applejack. With these proportions, maybe we should say about 1/2 ounce of lemon juice, depending on how tart you might want it. here's a recipe from "Famous New Orleans Drinks (and how to mix 'em)":

Again with the catch-as-catch-can measurement of the lemon juice. They call for about twice the amount of grenadine, but less of the applejack (1.5 ounces). Plus some Peychaud bitters, since this coming from New Orleans, after all. The proportions of spirit to citrus to grenadine can be toyed with, to suit your taste. Without taste-testing it first, maybe we'll recommend something like this: 2 oz of applejack, 1/2 oz lemon juice, and a couple of teaspoons of grenadine (because we like it sweet). Try it for yourself and see what you think.
Sometimes these old and more obscure drinks can trigger some interesting stories. We don't have any of our own to share, but we can share one we read in the New York Times not long ago. It so happens that they did a feature on calvados, and the next week someone wrote a letter to the editor about the article. It turns out that her father had served in France during WWII and came home with a taste for calvados. All his life, the Jack Rose was his drink of choice -- but it had to be made with calvados, not applejack. At every family gathering, Dad was mixing and pouring his calvados Jack Roses. Unfortunately for the daughter, it was a stiffer drink than she liked, and she had to find a way to dispose of it in a potted plant or the bathroom sink. What a shame. But, it was part of loving her Dad. The article of about calvados must have brought it all back to her -- enough for her to take the time to write a letter to the editor to share the memory. Now, we share it with you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday's Food Section: Holiday Meatballs

Perhaps we have been over emphasizing meat dishes in recent Food Section posts, but these hearty dishes are so comforting in the cold, wintry season! Plus, maybe we miss the fellowship we enjoyed throughout the recent holiday season, and we'd like some simple ideas for dishes we can share with friends and family? We can get behind that! This week's recipe comes from the 1969 edition of "A Modern Almanac of Date Recipes" from the Bordo company. And, it's "date" as in the fruit, not as in a romantic rendezvous. In the book, they give us a recipe for each month, so we'll be coming back to them throughout 2011, month by month. Here's how to make this delicious dish:

This versatile dish will make you the hit of your household! Bon appetit!

Monday, January 17, 2011

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Happy Hour: Vermouth

Before ordering our drink today, let's talk about a common ingredient: vermouth. This charming 60s-era advertisement from Martini & Rossi calls to mind several drinks made with vermouth. What is vermouth, exactly? Here's a short explanation from Playboy's Host & Bar Book:
Okay. Maybe you're familiar with the difference between sweet vermouth and dry vermouth. Basically, one is clear(ish) and one is dark red/brownish. In Martini & Rossi's advertisement above, they feature 6 different options: an Americano, a Negroni, sweet vermouth on the rocks, dry vermouth on the rocks, a Martini, and a Manhattan. Before we get to the recipes for these drinks, let's consider for a moment the idea of vermouth on the rocks. Whether dry or sweet, would you consider it for a drink order? It's an aperitif -- and it's definitely an acquired taste, one which RPR doesn't have. Still, some old ladies might still order a vermouth on the rocks. Good for them. With some courage, they might also work their way up to an Americano:

This is a little light, a little sparkly! How about a Negroni:

A little more substantial. On to a Manhattan:

And the granddaddy of all cocktails:

So, vermouth (both sweet and dry) makes a lot of great drinks possible. It marries very well with spirits. Vermouth by itself, though -- well, give it a try and see if it's for you. But, the real point of drink mastery is best illustrated (again) by Playboy's Host & Bar Book:

Suddenly, it seems like the vermouth is merely incidental. Cheers!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday's Food Section: Miniature Meat Loaves

This is perfect for a nice family dinner, or even for a dinner party (especially when dressed up with peach halves!). This recipe comes from the circa-early 60s recipe book, "My 40 Favorite Recipes" from the Quaker Oats Company. Here's how to make them:
Pretty easy, and they look great! Plus, it's adaptable for hors d'oeuvres and meat balls! Go ahead and dress it up with the peach halves, too -- it lends a touch of authenticity. Bon appetit!

Monday, January 10, 2011

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Happy Hour: An Intimate (and relaxed) Supper

Aren't we all breathing a sigh of relief now that the hectic holiday season is over? But, still, don't we miss some of the warmth and togetherness we had? Maybe we'd like a little of it, but not as much of ... well, everything. Here's the solution, brought to us by our friends at Wolfschmidt Vodka:

As you can see, your guests are flocking to you eagerly! And all you had to do is throw together a few simple dishes. Here are two other easy dishes to round out the menu:

And, of course, we can't forget the specialty drinks we have lined up for our little, no-muss, no-fuss soiree:

A nice variation on this otherwise familiar drink! And:

Interesting! (Actually, this is really a wet vodka martini)


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday's Food Section: Tomato Beef Stew

This dish is perfect for these wintery evenings! We bring you this recipe from Campbell Soup's recipe book entitled, "Cooking With Condensed Soups," circa late 50s to early 60s. Here's how:

This is what we call "semi-homemade" nowadays. Maybe you remember Mom making something like this for the family dinner. Hits the spot!

Saturday, January 1, 2011