If you saw Julie & Julia, you probably had the same two thoughts I did as you left the theater: (1) Meryl Streep is amazing, and (2) Goddamn, I'm hungry. I've never been a hardcore cook, but the movie made me want to immediately go home and make love to my kitchen. (Hmm, I'm willing to bet that's not terribly sanitary.)
Anyway, I thought to myself, "Why don't I cook more?" I couldn't really come up with a good answer, but I did happen upon a pretty good solution: Like Julie Powell, I need to challenge myself! But 524 recipes? Are you nuts? Might as well say I'm going to track down and fillet a pink unicorn while I'm at it, 'cause that just ain't gonna happen.
No, I needed to pick something a little more my speed, something much more reasonable. As I was contemplating this, my eyes wandered over to a book I'd bought for it's kitsch appeal and had actually tried to sell at McKay twice: Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cook Book for the Hostess & Host of Tomorrow (originally printed in 1955). Talk about an attainable goal. Surely I can complete all the recipes in a kids' recipe book, right? And so "The Brian 5 & Better Homes Project" was born. Okay, yeah, it doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, but you get the idea. 100+ recipes to be completed in ... well, not a year. How about I just finish when I finish, hmm?
The project began last week when I tackled page 128 - Chipper Tuna Casserole. Sounds delish, huh? I figured that, being from the South, making a dish that features Golden Flake potato chips as a primary ingredient was a nice nod to my heritage. Kind of "trailer parky"-ish, but it's a good place to start. Heck, I even have a vintage casserole dish that seemed perfect for the occasion. Unfortunately, it was kind of horrible. Poor Brent. He ate it - with a grimace - but I'm sure he was trying to remember the number for Domino's as he chewed. I don't think it was my fault. When a recipe is as simplistic as this one was ("throw the ingredients in a dish and bake it", basically), you know it's the recipe that's flawed and not your technique. I mean, it was just a goopy mess. I think I've seen something like it served to prisoners in movies. On the plus side I also prepared page 11 - Frosty Orange Floats. Basically, it's just orange soda with a scoop or two of orange sherbet mixed in. Nothing special, but it tasted good. :D
I took a handful of days off - for the sake of my bowels - and picked up again tonight. Learning from my first foray into 50's cuisine, I made two dinners, just in case the evening's culinary experiment fell short of edible. First, I made spaghetti. Nothing special, but a crowd-pleaser nonetheless and very hard to screw up. Second, I concocted page 131 - Super Soup. No, I'm not kidding; that's really what it's called. Basically, you take a can each of condensed cream of chicken soup and condensed vegetable-beef soup. You mix them up in a saucepan followed by a canful each of water and milk. Bring to a boil and serve. I ladled a small amount into a couple of bowls and we gave it a taste. I thought maybe the two soups would combine into a new, delicious flavor. Not so much. I just felt like I was eating two different kinds of soup at the same time. Strike two.
Oh, well. We'll see how this little experiment goes. Maybe I'll actually find a recipe I'd consider making more than once. Stay tuned!