Friday, December 26, 2003

when frankfurters ruled the kitchen

Being from a family with strong culinary genes, there are a ton of cookbooks lying around the family homestead. Most have eye-catching, mouth-watering looking recipes. The further back you go in the collection, the more the eyes pop out at some of the dishes that passed the publisher's test kitchen.

One of the larger series we have is various versions of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbooks. Volumes from the 60s are telling in how much opinions about tasty, economical foods have changed through the years.

Key findings:
1) Every other dish was a "bake", "strata" or "hodgepodge".
2) Spam (and its knockoffs) was the monarch of the kitchen. This wonder of science could be used in every way imaginable.
3) Other kitchen basics: creamed corn, lima beans, sherry, the number of the nearest heart surgeon.
4) Anything was fair game to be an exotic dish.
5) Velveeta is the king of cheeses.
6) Frankfurters are as diverse in their uses as Spam.

Let's go to the highlights...

Cooking With Cheese (1966)
Interesting Fact: Sapsago is "the green cheese that the moon is made out of".

Jiffy Cooking

Jiffy Cooking (1967)
Baked Bean Pie - sounds innocent...'cept it's not really pie! Combine pork n' beans, Spam, hot dog relish, maple-flavoured syrup and Velveeta. Make your appointment with the toilet now.
Pork Chops on Amber Rice - pssst, the secret ingredient is orange juice on the rice! "The main dish can be put in the oven and almost forgotten till served."
Meat and Vegetable Soup - sounds OK, until the ingredients are revealed: dry onion soup mix, canned meatballs n' gravy, cremed corn and tomato soup. Definitely fills the recoommended daily amount of vegetables.
Squaw Corn - problem numero un: the insensitive name. Problem numero deux: it's more Spam than corn. Problem numero trois: It's more eggs than Spam and corn. We conquered the natives, then dishonoured them with this dish.
Dublin Dilly Hot Dish - It looks like the editors of this book had it out for all foreign nationalities. This concoction mixes corned beef, chicken gravy, dillweed, peas n' onions, mashed potatoes and Velveeta. More Dublin, Ohio than Dublin, Ireland.
Easy Perfection Salad - nothing says salad like jellied sauerkraut. "It looks like jellied yuck!"
Self-Pickling Onions - there's an obscene joke lurking in this dish.
Corned Beef Captains - "Avast ye scurvy scallywags! We are armed with scallion swords! Arrr mateys!"
Swiss Yodelers - The editors turn their insults to the Swiss, with this mish-mash of cheese, cream and god knows what else. You'll yodel with indigestion.
Hong Kong Sundaes - "Hong Kong Sundaes are a concoction of pineapple, mandarin oranges, kumquats, and marmalade with a jazz of ginger". We're still looking for the metric equivalent of a jazz...


Ground Meat Cookbook (1969)
"Ground meat casseroles are as American as the Fourth of July." If this book was produced today, it would recipes like Beacon of Liberty Beef Bake (with a side of Freedom Fries).

Meat Cook Book (1969)
Creamy Liver Over Rice - what can we say?
Chicken-Fried Heart - The dinner of cowards.
Cheesy Tongue on Rice - Eat it before the cat does.
Tongue-Stuffed Peppers - Again, insert your own dirty joke.
Scrambled Brains - What was wrong with the chef when they concocted this dish.
Frank and Corn Crown - Looks like a crown any royal would be proud to wear!
Bologna Bake - Perfect to give somebody a coronary - recipe includes mayo, hard-boiled eggs and potato chips.
Snapperoni Franks - AKA every condiment known to man tossed together. Combines pork n' beans and relish - 'nuff said.
Ham Wafflewiches - Waffleriffic!
Tokyo Turkey Toss - Key ingredient: French dressing. How Japanese.

-JB, AB

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

night of lights

A few pix from the Kensington Festival of Lights...

The Night The Crowd Spilled Out of EuropeanThe procession moves along Baldwin St. The crowds around European never cease. Note the masks and number of people moving along. Anyone could join in, most with lanterns in tow. All this to celebrate the longest night of the year.

Fishing For Lights
A mermaid and fisherman above a falafel shop. Across the street was a rooftop of native-inspired birds (the shots didn't turn out so well), then rooftop drummers at Baldwin and Augusta.

Somehow The Vehicle In The Background Doesn't Match
More masks near the end of the procession route on Kensington Avenue.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

the box spring rebellion

Let's say that since I moved down to Toronto, the items I've used for sleeping have driven others up the wall. From the last days of scanty student income, I used a cheap guest bed from Ikea with an orthopaedic pad. Surprisingly comfortable, it lasted until one part fell off (plus a basement flood was a good excuse to ditch it). Next I used a futon, which was good as long as I stayed on one half without rolling over the top of the trench in the middle. Finally, after recent repairs to my place were finished, I started the hunt for my first bed.

Amazing how the suggestions of others linger in one's mind. From the prodding of coworkers, I got it into my head that I needed a queen-size bed. Spent a couple of weeks going to stores, bouncing up and down on beds. In the end, it was a toss-up between Sears and Sleep Country. The latter won, and I happily walked out with a nicely-priced queen.

Got home, reassessed space, concluded I'd goofed. Called the next morning to change the order, resulting in more money for Xmas shopping. No problem, it would still come on the original delivery date.

Jump forward a week...

A couple of calls came, reassuring me it was still on its way, there had just been some troubles at the other places. Finally arrived 5:30. Moving the bed in went smoothly, until the box spring.

I live in older house, where the dimensions are narrower than modern standards. The frame pieces went in with no problem. Ditto the mattress. The box spring...got stuck.

So, I was left with 2/3 of a bed, which I left wrapped. The deliverymen indicated I could easily order a split box the next day. Did so, only to find my particular bed didn't come this way, but I could switch to a similar model. No problem, and I didn't mind waiting three more weeks, since this meant there'd be spillover room in case an army came to the dinner party I had in that time (which almost happened - see Nov 30th entry).

Jump forward three weeks...

Events moved quickly. I made a brief appearance at the divisional office party (food wasn't out yet) then ran home, hoping the wait wouldn't be as long. It wasn't - the delivery guys showed up at 2:20 and were finished less than half-an-hour later.

So far, no further drama. The bed fits and I'm sleeping like a baby.

COPS spinoffs

Note: most of this was written in mid-November and is only seeing the light of day now due to the requests of several people in creative who pleaded to see their work in print. We do not take any responsibility for the quality of this piece.

Ever since the Guelph Lake camping trip, COPS parodies have danced around my head. It all started when somebody made a comment about "Toilet Rangers" to take care of people violating park regulations about taking a dump. A few ideas bounced around...

TOILET RANGERS
(theme song like "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers", except it's "Go, go, Toilet Rangers!")
Coming to Fox, true stories of the brave men and women who patrol the facilities of our parklands.
(cameraman runs after guy with his drawers down. A ranger appears, complete with a utility belt that includes a plunger. Catches up with guy - closeup on blurred face)
"I swear to God I used biodegradable toilet paper!"
Toilet Rangers - Thursdays at 9.

POP COPS
Little-known fact I discovered at work last week - it is illegal to sell soda pop and beer in non-refillable containers in Prince Edward Island. From articles I've found about this law, it's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's meant to be proactive on the environmental front, creating less waste. It's also a sop to the island's sole soft drink producer, whose products come only in glass and once threaten to layoff its workforce.

Somebody has to enforce this law, which is where the Pop Cops come in.

This week: see a group of businessmen from one of the major soda companies flee as they try to bring contraband cases to small variety stores.

PARADE COPS
While at the Santa Claus Parade, those of us handing out charity noses had to shoo people away from our van at the corner of Queen and Yonge, to prevent damage and loss of charitable funds. We were effectively acting as cops, as we didn't see many of the real kind. Still, another COPS spinoff idea popped in the mind - Parade Cops

This week: Officer O'Grady takes down a drunken Megamart clown. Officer Grimwade directs traffic for the little kids in motor cars. Officer MacDougall takes down some teens throwing pennies and candy back at CEOs. Thrilling parade action that they don't show on the news! - JB, based on some ideas from MB, DM, CQ, JC

Thursday, December 11, 2003

doppleganger time

At first I thought it was just another piece of phone spam. Lately, the majority of messages left on my phone have been of the unwanted variety, which is a growing complaint around the city. It tends to either be for a "free" vacation by Collingwood or a moving company. The latter's messages crack me up, as it's the same guy everytime (who never took public speaking, judging from the long, drawn-out "uhhhhhhs"). Whether he calls himself Boris, Jimmy or Janos, I find myself wishing there was a skip command.

Twice in the past month I received an "urgent" message from an unidentified company looking for "Jamie or Barb Bradburn". Figured it was someone calling at random, since I haven't a clue who Barb Bradburn is. At least they got my gender right.

But then the other night I got the message again and it sounded urgent, complete with a case number and company name - D & A. Decided to call the number. Turned out D & A was a collection agency. Tried to look it up the phone book or on the web, but there's no trace of this agency. Was this a scam of some sort?

Called them the next morning. No scam. Turns out there's another Jamie Bradburn who owes Sprint Canada $122. He lived either in Weston or near the Junction. A few phones put me in the free and clear.

I wonder if this is the same Jamie as the other Jamie that went to U of G the same time as I did, in Enviro Science. I never met him, though some e-mails and phone calls crossed, and I recall a couple of acquaintances who'd run into him.

I have done occasional searches on the net to see what other Jamies are out there. One appears to be a member of the National Barrel Horse Association in Minnesota.

Next week, I'm expecting to here from Boris, Jimmy or Janos again. This time, I'll pass the word along...to the CRTC.