Sunday, June 28, 2009

The 50s

50s • What’s Life? A Magazine!

Before housewives were ‘desperate,’ before microwave ovens and Mr. Coffee brought the holy grail of instant gratification to the liberal American palate, there were the 50s. A time when we were weighing the value of thrift and conservatism against the power of progress as our most important product, the 50s shaped the backlash Boomer brand of our nestlings. Moms grew more and more profligate with TV dinners and dads, eager to force-feed science to their offspring in hopes of debunking Sputnik, taught that Tang was not so much a Chinese dynasty as the breakfast drink of astronauts.

Predictability still reigned, however. Maybe roast beef was on your dinner menu on Sundays, pork chops on Mondays. And in our house it was pasta for sure on Wednesday, since that day was Prince Spaghetti Day.

But youth had started to do its own unique dance. Elvis had gyrated his way into the hearts of teenage girls, tossing back his slickly Brylcreemed hair while his hips bumped and ground below camera vision on the Ed Sullivan show. Kids were jiving and jitterbugging to the new rock n’ roll on American Bandstand, the girls with their long locks pulled back tight and anchored up in neat but ever-so-bouncy ponytails. Yet each night, those same bobby-soxers found the energy to set a thousand pin curls that would brush out next day into a sleek pageboy for school.

Back then everyone loved Lucy. Are you old enough to remember? She had thick, curly hair that we just knew was almost as flaming red as the lipstick on her big, wildly expressive mouth. We didn’t need a color TV to tell us that. We watched her while Mom listened from the kitchen as she grated the fixin’s for macaroni and cheese (Fridays?). Or maybe it was meatloaf? You tell us.


How she wore her hair: pin curls

Hard to believe women slept in these at night –– but we did.

How to do a pin curl set: Use a rattail comb to create finger waves around the head. Moisten hair with wave set (or you can use beer), create a short part, then comb hair into an “S” formation around temples on each side of the head. With the tail of your comb, lift a one-inch section from top part of the “S” (top row). Twirl the section of hair around your finger and anchor with a straight pin or bobby pins. Make sure you do not twist the hair as you wind and pin the curl directly on top of the hair base. When dried, brush hair and then use your fingers to arrange curls in the desired style.


Cauliflower Ears

Is that all you’ve heard about this wonderful vegetable?

Here is some of the best cauliflower you’ve ever tasted! Remember to use the heel or rind or the end of the cheese that’s difficult to grate. It has a waxy consistency so use a large sharp knife to cut it.

Back to the cauliflower. Are you all ears?


Keep-the lid-on-it Cauliflower

2 heads of cauliflower, no blemishes, separated into flowerets and sliced about ½ inch thick including the stalks, peeled and sliced

4 oz. of salt pork, diced

¾ cup of Parmesan Reggiano crust, cut into small cubes 

1 to 2 bunches of scallions (chop both the white and the greens) 

1 can of tomato paste, 6 ounces 

salt and pepper to taste

2 ounces wine with 1 teaspoon sugar dissolved in it

½ cup bread crumbs toasted in olive oil

1 pound short pasta such as mostaccioli

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a 5-6 quart pot (that has a tight-fitting lid), place a layer of salt pork and

scallions in the bottom of the pot. You do not need oil or water. The salt pork will
 provide the fat and the cauliflower will provide the moisture needed. Next is a layer of cauliflower until the bottom of the pot is totally covered, and you can’t see the pot anymore. Now a little bit of salt (remember, the salt pork is salty), freshly ground pepper, and then put 7 or 8 cubes of Parmesan Reggiano rind. Do not let the cheese sink to the bottom of the pot (it will stick.) Must be on top of the cauliflower.

Place 3 or 4 dollops of tomato paste and repeat layers until you run out of cauliflower (at least 3 layers are recommended.) Make sure your pot has a tight-fitting lid because you’re not going to add any liquid. This dish will steam for a 2-3 hour period, until all is tender.

First put it on the stove on a high heat with lid and wait about 5 minutes until you hear the ingredients have come to temperature and then turn the heat down to the lowest setting.

Now here’s the hard part: don’t take the lid off for at least an hour and a half because you will release the steam. Then you can peek.

There should be at least 2 or so inches of liquid at the bottom of the pan. Depending on the time of the year, the cauliflower will give off varying amounts of liquid. Then you have the option of stirring and getting all the dollops of tomato paste from the top layer mixed into the liquid. 
Cook until tender, 2-3 hours. When cauliflower is tender, add wine and sugar, turn heat up to a quick boil for 5 or 6 minutes.

Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, put the lid on and turn off the heat.

Boil the water for pasta, and cook as directed. Heat non-stick pan and toast breadcrumbs (we like homemade) with a little bit of olive oil.

To serve, mix pasta with cauliflower and top with toasted breadcrumbs and more grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 6-8.

What kind of pasta should you use for this cauliflower dish?

Pasta size adds interest to your dish. It should complement your sauce or topping and most people have a preference or a reason for their pasta choice. Gina will tell you that if she’s cooking with peas she likes to use shells, because this way the peas fall inside the shells. We’ve noticed some men don’t care for angel hair pasta. Children love elbow macaroni. Irene’s a ziti girl. We suggest mostaccioli for this cauliflower dish.


In the 50s...

What's hot?/ What's not?

Fridge/ icebox

drive-in/ dance hall

Red Skelton/ Charlie Chaplin

Felix the Cat/ Rosie the Riveter

girdle/ corset

Ovaltine/ cocoa

Lindy hop/ Fox trot

banquets/ rationing

martini/ bathtub gin

Monroe/ Harlowe

High Noon”/ “Double Indemnity"


Sputnik Meatloaf

Named for the world’s first artificial satellite launched by Russia to orbit the world in 1957, we consider this dish to be out of this world. Serve it with mashed potatoes and peas and carrots as they did in the 50s.

1 and a half pounds lean ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

2 cups fresh (not dried) bread crumbs, made from about 4 slices of day old bread

1/3 cup grated onion

1 small carrot, peeled and shredded

3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley

2 egg yolks

juice of two lemons

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup ketchup

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1-2 lemons, sliced thin (need at least 8 slices to top individual loaves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 cookie sheet (to form mini loaves) or use 8 individual custard cups or 1 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, pork, bread crumbs, onion, carrot, parsley, egg yolks, juice of 2 lemons, salt and pepper.

Shape the mixture into 8 individual Sputnik loaves and place on greased cookie sheet, or fill custard cups with meat mixture, or simply make one large loaf (one large loaf will require longer cooking time.)

Bake individual size loaves on baking sheet or custard cups for 20 minutes. Cook the large loaf one hour.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce in a small bowl by combining ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, allspice, and cloves.

Spoon sauce over each loaf (or the one large loaf) and top with lemon slice/s.

Return loaves or loaf to oven and continue cooking for 30 minutes longer basting with sauce. Serves eight.

Food is an important part of a balanced diet. ~ Fran Lebowit


Childhood food traumas (Check all that apply):

__ Mom said: "No desert unless you clean your plate.” (You didn’t, so you couldn’t.)

__ You had no pet dog to help “clean your plate.”

__ Mom said: “Starving kids all over the world would be happy to have this ____________.”

__ Broccoli or anything green


__any fish not in the shape of a stick



__anything that isn’t a hotdog

__anything you can’t put catsup on

Or tell us about your food trauma:

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