By Susan Dromey Heeter, Joyful Musings
“Recipes and Party Ideas Starring Potato Chips.”
This is my favorite title of this Thanksgiving weekend and prompts me to muse joyfully. Recipes not just featuring potato chips, but STARRING potato chips. In a world where vegan, gluten-free and paleo seem to be taking over the lexicon of every dietary conversation, it’s a relief to know potato chips can still star. I am positively giddy.
Alas, full disclosure here – the “Recipes and Party Ideas Starring Potato Chips” booklet is from a box of vintage recipe booklets I discovered at Wonderland Thrift Shop in Stratham.
This cardboard box of recipes, sitting inconspicuously among the electronics, features a treasure trove of vintage recipe booklets, including one celebrating Jell-O dated 1928, one titled “Menus for the Busy Housewife” from 1927, and another advocating “Reducing Diet Menus with Domino Sugar.” I like that term, “reducing diet” rather than “losing weight.” It just sounds so fabulous. And Domino Sugar as a part of the solution? Bring it on.
One of the booklets features “New Tempting Ways to Serve Bananas.” My friend, Cheryl, and I both laughed and gagged at the “Ham Banana Rolls with Cheese Sauce” recipe which features boiled ham, cheese, prepared mustard and, of course, bananas.
We giggled and continued foraging through the booklets, embracing the beautiful cursive of the former owner, basking in recipes which featured oleo and Karo syrup.
In “Menus for the Busy Housewife” Sunday’s “quick dinner” menu suggests vegetable soup, creamed potatoes, pork chops, pineapple and peach salad, canned peas, celery and ice cream with saltines. Yes, really. And that was deemed “quick” in 1927. But I do like the idea of saltines and ice cream – I may try that combo today for my “quick dinner” next week.
Thrift shops are treasure troves for discovery, venues for looking at the past, locales to invite wonder about whose attic was cleaned, who died, whose house is now on the market, who divorced. As an admitted voyeur, I feel both Margaret Mead-ish and like I’m watching reality TV as I go through boxes of memories, recipes, the past.
This specific box not only smelled musty and aged, some of the writing allowed me to think of my own mother, my grandmothers, my aunts. In the booklet, “and she does it so easily and so well” dated 1956, it reads, “A clever bride cooks to please her husband. She knows that feeding a man successfully starts with feeding him the things he likes to eat. She has no quarrel about the foods ‘that mother used to make.’ She realizes that childhood memories can lend a glamour to mother’s cooking where mother was a talented cook or not.”
Hmmm. I now understand why my late mother cooked a lot of potatoes. My Grandmother Dromey was direct from County Cork and, I suspect, was not one for creating “quick dinners” with peach salad and pineapple. I’m thinking her quick dinners were spuds and butter. I wish I could ask my dad if he appreciated his “clever bride” mashing potatoes on a daily basis. One of my greatest memories is my mom peeling potatoes over the sink – glamour is not a word I would attach to her meal preparations.
But the box did bring some glamour and giggles. Some of those recipes were glamour and intrigue personified. Cut out from a Sunday edition of the Tampa Tribune from March 1969 is a recipe for Bismarcks. Bismarcks. Just the name alone invites glamour.
And while food and food preparation and shopping and serving is not always exciting and satisfying, this box reminds me in myriad ways that, well, food design and preparation has and always will be a part of our lives. In the 1950 booklet “Eating is for Everybody” it reads, “To survive, everybody has to eat – something! This has always made eating one of mankind’s most popular pursuits.” And yes, eating, along with discovering thrift-shop treasures, is one of my own popular pursuits.
And may you muse joyfully on your own popular pursuits, – remembering the legacy of those before you whose Sunday and Thanksgiving dinners warmed your soul, whose homemade Ham Banana Rolls delighted your senses. As for me, I’m off to create a stellar Sunday dinner – starring potato chips.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, writes “Joyful Musings” for InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.