Sorrento Soup (adapted from Smart Shopper’s Cookbook, 1972)

Sorrento Soup is a hearty tomato-vegetable soup perfect for a crisp, autumn weeknight, one of a dozen or so excellent soups in Loyta Wooding’s 1972 Smart Shopper’s Cookbook.  While ostensibly written for budget-conscious homemakers in the face of rising food prices, Mrs. Wooding’s background at Betty Crocker kitchens lends a sense of company-friendly sophistication to……

Lamb Conquistador (adapted from the Smart Shopper’s Cookbook, 1972)

Lamb Conquistador is an easy weeknight chili-with-beans from Smart Shopper’s Cookbook (1972) by former Betty Crocker executive Loyta Wooding.   Like many recipes in Smart Shopper’s Cookbook it treats lamb shoulder and lamb chops as a budget friendly item – a cost-friendly alternative to beef.  This may have been true in the 1970s but it’s hardly……

Chicken with Fresh Pears Stir-Fry (adapted from Sunset Wok Cook Book (1989))

Chicken with Fresh Pears is an enjoyable summertime stir-fry perfect for weeknights.  If you’re looking for traditional Chinese cuisine look elsewhere.  This dish, along with many others in Sunset Wok Cook Book (1989), falls squarely in the old school Americanized stir-fry tradition.   Stir-frying is an ingenious technique that works well with almost any set……

Tomato Beef Chow Yuk with Pea Pods (Oregon, 1974, adapted)

I’m fortunate to live in an area with a large Asian population and have ready access to high-quality traditional Chinese food.  And I occasionally like to tell myself that I’m somehow fancy or cultured because I can distinguish regional cuisines or appreciate cold, spiced jellyfish, but I also have a soft spot in my heart……

Lamb Curry Tomato Soup (adapted from Smart Shopper’s Cookbook, 1972)

Lamb Curry Tomato Soup is an easy-to-prepare weeknight soup from Smart Shopper’s Cookbook.  Lamb is a surprising ingredient for a cookbook dedicated to budget-friendly meals.  In my little corner of paradise ground lamb is priced higher than ground Wagyu, and the discount grocery chains don’t always have it in stock.  Lamb is something of a premium……

Mock Turkey (adapted from Mennonite Community Cookbook, 1950)

Many of my older cookbooks contain some variant of a “mock turkey” recipe.  Despite what our twenty-first century sensibilities might suggest, mock turkey has nothing to do with tofu or seitan and it’s anything but vegetarian.   Recipes vary but they usually agree on two core components:  ground beef and poultry seasoning.  From a health……

Mexican Barley Soup (adapted from Mexican Recipes, 1967)

Mexican Barley Soup exemplifies the balance of accessibility and authenticity that Mexican Recipes is trying to achieve.  This recipe is nestled in with a bunch of more obviously traditional recipes, including an excellent albondiga sopa and menudo, but I suspect that Mexican Barley soup is a modern invention.  I’m no expert, but I’ve lived my……

Connoisseur’s Casserole (Ohio, 1995, adapted)

In my home vegetables are often served naked.  I try (and occasionally fail) to ensure that my family has a serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal, but most of my time and energy goes into the entree course.  Many of these feature plenty of vegetables, but if the entree doesn’t have enough plant……

Chin-Chin-Charlie (Wisconsin, 1988, adapted)

Chin-Chin-Charlie is an archetypal example of the mid-70s Chinese Casserole from A Book of Favorite Recipes.  Like the Tuna Cashew Casserole, it’s a traditional meat-and-canned-soup casserole that’s somehow made “Chinese” by the inclusion of crunchy vegetables (usually celery) and chow mein noodles. You may detect some vaguely racist overtones in the name of the recipe,……

Tuna Cashew Casserole (Various, 1960s-1970s)

Several of the church cookbooks I own have some variant of a Tuna Cashew Casserole.  The proportions and details vary, but the key ingredients are the same:  cashews, canned tuna, cream of mushroom soup, and fried chow mein noodles.  There’s usually a crunchy vegetable in there as well, usually celery but some times bean sprouts……