April 24, 2008

Dinnerware Stands Out in Rice Promotion

Stop reading right now if you're looking for news about rice and whether or not you'll be limited in your purchases of 25-pound bags at Sam's Club or Costco. This post is about American-grown rice, Texas rice in particular. The booklet today was published by the Texas Rice Promotion Association, a rice marketing organization located in Houston.

Although there's no shortage of American-grown or Texas-grown rice, I've noted the increasing disappearance of the rice fields in west Houston as they are being gobbled up by developers and replaced by huge master planned communities.

Put Rice Appeal in Every Meal (undated, 34 pages) was originally priced at fifteen cents and contains 42 recipes as well as easy directions for cooking rice using a technique they called the "1-2-1 Fluff Method." Helen Corbitt is mentioned as one of the collaborators of the booklet.

The photography of the food itself is rather drab, but to me, what stands out about this booklet is the dinnerware used in the photos. The postal code of 6 determines that the booklet was published pre-1963 and I can tell by just looking at the dinnerware the general era it was from. This was the dinnerware you would have found in the department stores in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Unfortunately, my passing knowledge of vintage dinnerware identification has been crowded out by newer information in my brain pertaining to MySql, Php and the like. However, I do remember that these type booklets were once considered great "go-withs" for dinnerware collectors.

Since I can't identify the dinnerware, I'll identify the recipes.

The photo below shows One-Dish Supper Soup at the top which contains half a dozen eggs, cheese and a large can of tomatoes. Below that is Saturday's Soup made with canned tomatoes, ground beef, peas, corn and carrots. And rice, of course, that goes without saying.

The next photo shows Veal Paprika with Rice and some Porcupine Meatballs (in this case made with tomato juice rather than the then-popular version made with canned tomato soup).

This photo shows Pork Chops with Rice Creole (the pork chops are under that red stuff somewhere) on the dinner plate and Texas Hash (made with ground beef and canned tomatoes) in the bowls.

Shrimp Dugan (a pound of shrimp drowned in a quart of barbecue sauce, served over rice) is shown below along with Eggs and Rice Benedict. The traditional English Muffin is replaced by rice and served with a Mustard Hollandaise Sauce.

This page shows Eight Boy Chicken Curry. The booklet notes that the name is taken from the number of condiments served with it. I use the bowls similar to the small ones for my pet food dishes. I like how they match my kitchen paint color.

The top plate below shows Rice Waffles and the bowls hold Cinnamon Rice.


1. Combine 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a 3-quart saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid.

2. Bring to a boil, stiring once or twice as water comes to a boil. Lower heat to simmer. Cover pan and cook about 14 minutes without removing lid or stirring. If rice is not quite tender, replace lid and cook two to six minutes longer. Remove from heat.

For drier rice: Fluff rice lightly with a fork, and let stand in covered pan five to ten minutes to steam dry.

For extra tender rice: Start with 1/3 cup more water and increase the cooking time four or five minutes.

April 21, 2008

Nesco CookRyte Sauce-Pan

Even back in the 1950s, housewives had an abundance of electric kitchen appliances at their disposal. Cooks were looking for shortcuts back then too, and appliances such as these made it easy to prepare large main dishes and all-in-one meals.

This Nesco CookRyte Electric Sauce-Pan Instructions and Recipes for Carefree Cooking (1954, foldout) brochure shows a nice illustration of their unusually-shaped saucepan along with a few recipes.

Nesco was also producing a deep fryer, an electric frying pan and an electric roaster during this same period. Was a stove even necessary with all these handy gadgets?

The brochure tells about several of the sauce-pan's features:

  • Good for stewing, roasting, braising, boiling, baking, browning, warming, steaming and re-heating foods. (See? Who needs a stove?)

  • An 1150-watt unit with a six-foot cord.

  • Silicone surface reduces the risk of sticking or scorching food. Easy cleaning.

  • The One-Dial Temperature Control - allows temperatures settings from 225° to 400° that lights up when correct temperature is reached.

  • Sauce-pan is immersible in water right up to the electric socket in the handle. Cord is detachable.

  • 110-120 Volt AC compatible.

  • Use Indoors or Outdoors
It doesn't say why the shape is square or how that might be advantageous to the cook.

The brochure doesn't specify the size or capacity of the sauce-pan. Looking at the recipes, it appears that it will easily hold a 2 to 2-1/2 pound roast, 2 to 3 pounds of cubed lamb, a pound of beans, and a soup that starts out with a quart of stock.

I found these measurements in an online auction for one of these saucepans and they're a little more specific:

  • Inside cooker is 8 1/2 inches square x 5 3/8 inches high

  • Handle is 9 inches long

  • Overall: 17-inches long with handle x 8 1/2 inches wide x 9 inches high with lid.

  • Weight: Almost 6 pounds

There are instructions and recipes for making Boston Baked Beans, Baked Fish Fillets, Baked Potatoes, Chili con Carne, Pot Roast, a Scallop Casserole, Vegetable Soup and Swiss Steak with Vegetables. You could even make Popcorn with your Nesco CookRyte.

Nancy Nesco is depicted as a cartoon-type character. I've not heard of her before. She's certainly not as famous as Reddy Kilowatt or even Willing Water.

This looks like it would have been a pretty useful appliance to have if you were living in a room without a stove.

April 18, 2008

Texas Shrimp

I've a small pile of recipe cards sitting here next to my computer that I got from the grocery store a few months ago. The store was having a shrimp promotion in the seafood department one Saturday with several recipe samples and all these nice glossy recipe cards scattered about. I couldn't resist bringing home both the cards and several pounds of shrimp.

I think the cards are just beautiful, which is why they're still sitting here. (I couldn't quite capture the goodness of the pictures with my scanner or my camera, so you'll just have to take my word for it.) They were published by the Texas Department of Agriculture for Texas Shrimp, part of the Texas shrimp marketing program.

There are eight 5x7 cards with some very appetizing shrimp dishes featured on the front of each card. The recipes, created by various Texas restaurant chefs, are on the rear side. Only one recipe, Classic Shrimp Remoulade, from Chef Randy Evans at Brennan's of Houston, seems overly long and a little time-consuming (may be easier to pay the price at the restaurant).

Some of the other recipes found on the cards (and their website) are:

  • Chipoltle Texas Shrimp with Tasso Ham and Picco de Gallo
  • Seared Texas Shrimp with Wild Mushrooms
  • Roasted Scallion Citrus Marinade for Texas Shrimp
  • Texas Shrimp Boil
  • Saarin's Shrimp
  • Grilled Texas Shrimp Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
There are also two more brochure-type cards with four recipes from Molly Fowler, the Dining Diva, familiar to those in the Houston area who watch the local television stations.

I like this recipe, probably because it's more on the fattening side of things.

(Chef Toby Joseph, The Remington Restaurant, Houston, TX)

Serves 4

2 T. butter, divided
2 shallots, roughly chopped
4 ounces sundried tomatoes, divided
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped, divided
3 ounces white wine, divided
8 ounces cream
2 ounces chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
3 ounces ceppo pasta
12 Texas shrimp (10-15 count), peeled and deveined
8 shiitake mushrooms, julienne
2 ounces English peas
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium size pot. Sauté shallots and 3 ounces of the sundried tomatoes until fragrant. Add 1/2 garlic clove and deglaze with 2 ounces of white wine. Add cream, stock and reduce by half. Puree and strain, preferably through a china cap strainer, and season with salt and pepper.

Bring a pot of seasoned water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Heat sauté pan and add remaining butter. Sauté shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, remaining sundried tomatoes and garlic. Deglaze with one ounce of white wine. Add English peas, pasta and sauce. Season with salt and white pepper. Top with Parmesan cheese.

I grew up eating shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. It was plentiful and delicious. It came fresh from the boats along the Texas Gulf Coast, or via the local grocery stores from these same boats. Later, I'd sometimes buy it from men on the side of the road, who brought it out to the suburbs and sold it from ice chests in the back of their pick-up trucks. There was no question of where it came from and it was always fresh, never frozen. This bountiful supply of fresh wild shrimp was a staple, always there, and pretty much taken for granted by most of us in the area.

(Not everyone took fresh shrimp for granted. I once had a mother-in-law, then of Princeton, New Jersey, whose main objective, by the time I entered her life, was to retire to Hilton Head where she planned to eat shrimp every day for the rest of her life. Shrimp aside, I could never understand wanting to leave the close proximity to NYC for South Carolina--I envisioned lots of boring vacations in store for me where there would be nothing to do but play golf and eat shrimp.)

Now it's hard to tell where the shrimp comes from. Much of it comes from Thailand and Vietnam and who knows where. I've heard rumors that my grocery store even has their own shrimp farm in Thailand.

It's a headache to buy shrimp now, with all of the scrutinizing of the various selections and the questioning of the men behind the counter to find out exactly what kind of shrimp they're offering for sale that day.

Before happening upon these recipe cards I'd never realized that some of the shrimp from Texas was farm-raised. I had no clue that Texas produces more farm-raised shrimp than any other state in the U.S. (over 80 percent). I probably still wouldn't know if I hadn't investigated the website address found on the cards.

All this thinking about shrimp reminds me of my favorite Guy Clark song, The South Coast of Texas (you can near a little of it at the link), which is about shrimpers, and which never fails to make me feel a little melancholy whenever I listen to it.

April 16, 2008

Recipes for Busy People

I'm not quite sure what to make of this Kraft Food & Family Simple Shortcuts (2008, 34 pages) recipe magazine that I received in the mail last month. This new magazine was sent instead of the regular Food & Family Spring 2008 issue.

It's for "time-challenged" people who want to get "food on the table fast" (using Kraft brands, of course).

The magazine features "easy directions and pictures."

That may be an understatement.

I have all kinds of cookbooks, recipe pamphlets and cooking magazines around here, both old and new, but this one is a first. It really reminds me of the beginning cookbooks for children. Except this is for adults. That's the scary part.

I'm a little short on time myself, but I'm not sure this dumbed down recipe format is the answer.

The standard ingredient lists found in most recipes are absent here; instead, there are pictures of the ingredients along with little plus signs in case we don't know what to do with the ingredients once we've identified them.

I enjoy pictures accompanying recipes when they're presented in a good way, like over at Pioneer Woman Cooks. Her recipe presentations manage not to insult my intelligence and it's rather interesting to see how someone else does things in the kitchen. (I also share her lack of local access to a real grocery store--to this end, I admire her achievement in making lemonade out of lemons. I usually just develop a stomachache when I have to go into my local stores.)

And then there's the matter of the dishes resulting from the recipes in the magazine -- like this one for Speedy Tuna Casserole.

Will anyone actually prepare and eat this?

This magazine is a keeper, for sure. Only not for cooking purposes. All those little pictures of Kraft products are a great example of consumer branding. I'm happy to add that to my collection.

April 10, 2008

Del Monte Asparagus

I've been absent from this blog for a couple of weeks because of the Spring antique show at Round Top. It's over now and I'm glad to be back rummaging through my cookbooks.

On top of the pile this morning was 22 ways to serve Del Monte Asparagus (undated, foldout). I did a post a couple of years ago on a booklet featuring New Jersey asparagus.

Del Monte used California asparagus when this brochure was published. Now, according to their customer service department, it comes from Washington and Peru. (Most of it from Peru, I suspect, although she couldn't/wouldn't say what percentage.) You can see on the individual can labels the origin of the contents of that particular can.

At the time of publishing, the origin of their asparagus was one of their main marketing points:

It is grown, largely in our own beds, in the famous delta lands of the Sacramento River in California-- the richest asparagus producing lands in the world. Every plant is raised from selected thoroughbred stock--cultivated by experts who understand how to developed the finest raw product.

Until ready for harvesting, the delicate spears are prevented from coming in contact with the air by heaped-up earth. Grown takes place under the ground, away from the withering, toughening effect of sun and wind. Each morning the stalks that have reached exactly the right point of development are cut off below the surface and hurried to the modern Del Monte canneries close at hand. There they are cleaned, sorted, packed, sealed and cooked within a few hours.
Today, it's possible to find out more information about the container than the product inside.

The brochure contains 21 recipes that are in a small paragraph format. Here's one for asparagus soup that is similar to the way I sometimes make soup from canned asparagus when fresh isn't available.


Drain 1 large can Del Monte Asparagus, reserving liquid. Cut about 3 inches from the tip end. Set this aside for use in a salad or hot dish the following day. Cut remainder of asparagus stalks in small pieces and simmer 10 minutes, using the asparagus liquid. Strain through a coarse sieve and rub as much of the asparagus through as possible. Melt 2 tablespoons butter or substitute in a large saucepan; add 2 tablespoons flour; mix until smooth; then add 2 cups cold milk and stir until hot. Then add asparagus liquid and puree, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon butter. Serve with croutons.

The only illustration other than that on the cover is on the rear. I vaguely remember those rectangular shaped cans.

DEL MONTE Canned Asparagus is packed in a number of different sizes and styles of containers. The large, square can (known as the No. 2-1/2 square) contains long spears. The smaller cans (No. 1 square ad the "picnic" round can) contain the shorter tips. In each style and size of container, the spears are graded as to thickness or circumference, and each size is designated on the label as
Giant, Colossal, Mammoth, Large, Medium or Small.
Other Del Monte canned vegetables available at that time were peas, tomatoes, spinach, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, chili peppers, beets, sauerkraut, corn, pimientos, string beans and lima beans.

This year I finally started my own asparagus bed out in the backyard. Now I will wait patiently, hoping the gophers don't get the asparagus crowns.