Freakshow recipes from the 60’s & 70’s

My old pal Tristen sent me this Buzzfeed link today.

The post has pictures and (some) recipes for “21 Truly Upsetting Vintage Recipes”…I think he was expecting more horror on my part.

Chef Frank L. PerkinsSeveral of these were things that they were teaching students in culinary school when my dad went in the late sixties (and forever considered a complete waste of his time, lol…)

I remember things similar to Frosted Ribbon Loaf, and Shrimp Sandwich Roll.

They were very into covering everything in pastels back then. I blame it on the LSD.

Anyway, these were the good, the bad, and the ugly that caught my eye…

Igloo Meat Loaf

Family Circle / Via rochellesvintagerecipes.blogspot.com

Actually Pretty Awesome: Igloo Meat Loaf (above), Glazed Potato Salad, Jellied Tomato Refresher. I think those three would make a great dinner!

Ham and Bananas Hollandaise

McCall’s / Via vintagerecipecards.com

Might need to try: Super Salad Loaf, Shrimp Sandwich Roll, Baked Stuffed Salmon, Ham and Bananas Hollandaise.

The Atora Steak Puddings – which I think is really only off-putting to us because of the use of the British term, “Pudding.”.

#21 – which I’m going to guess is a canned salmon mousse with an avocado glaze (our refrigerator and oven were that EXACT shade of green!)

Not so sure: Perfection Salad, Liver Sausage Pineapple (this is a presentation issue, it probably tastes great).

Spam ‘n’ Limas (again, I like the ingredients, just seems like a stretch to call it a “recipe”)

Perfection Salad

McCall’s / Via vintagerecipecards.com










Dear God No: Lime Cheese Salad (they lost me at lime jello and onions, but I love that they call canned chunk tuna with mayo and diced celery a “seafood salad”, lol.

Lime Cheese Salad
The “Banana Candle” is, of course, on the “No Way” list. I actually have seen these before on one of my favorite BBC food shows, “The Supersizer’s Go”, it was the 60’s episode and this was a very popular recipe at “swingers parties.” Eww…and, um…EWW!

 So, for me it’s a mixed bag, so of these are strangely familar, some leave me curious, and some I’d like to acid-wash from my brain (though I’ve probably served my daughter just as strange…)

Any of these I really need to make and post?

Chef Perry

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Turkey hotdogs as part of a healthy diet…


Looking for some brains to pick…

As you know, we’re spending the month of November developing our “Dollar Dinners” – a new series of free dinner plans featuring the healthiest possible recipes we could develop that  fall at or below the average SNAP benefit allotment.

Our goal is that most will be 15-25% below the $1.50 per-serving average, as we want to allow for some fresh fruit and vegetable snacks, as well.

Here’s my question:

Obviously, at that limited of a budget, occasionally we’re going to have to go with the “best possible option”, when preferred (& more expensive) foods simply won’t fit in the weekly budget.

Growing up as I did, where I did, things like chicken-turkey hotdogs and bologna were a staple of our diet. While I’m certainly not going to advocate those as a “healthy food option”,  I’m wondering what your thoughts are on how often, if ever, items like that could be included in limited portions and as one ingredient in a otherwise healthy dish? (Something like a cabbage-zucchini stir-fry.)

  • No more than once a week
  • No more than twice per month
  • No more than once a month
  • Never!

Again, we’re making no pretense that these will be the healthiest meals one can cook, but that we’re making the best with what folks have available to them, and looking to vastly improve their current diet. The vast majority of the meals that include meat will still be a fresh, unprocessed, lean-protein options.

Please comment below!

Chef Perry

PS – We’re not interested in vegetarian or vegan commentary. These plans will include 1-2 meatless dinners per week already, so this is not the question. Thanks!

PPS – I know that subject line was pretty inflammatory…but it got you here, right? :)

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The Evolution of the Home Chef

The Evolution of the Home Chef

“Home Chef”

It’s a new term, one that has not, until now, had precedence in history.

For hundreds of years, since the first “restoratives” (ie: restaurants) opened in France, following the toppling of the French monarchy and the world’s first  “professional” cooks who worked for them suddenly found themselves without employment, the commercial chef and the home cook have eyed each other distrustfully across a wide abyss of training, technique, mythology and methodology.

That began to change on November 23, 1993 when TV Food Network was launched.

Okay, that’s not exactly true, Julia Child paved the road for Emeril, Bobby, and all of the other “celebrity chefs” with The French Chef in 1963, as did Graham Kerr with the introduction of The Galloping Gourmet in 1969, but the globalization of food-related television really exploded in the early nineties.

The point being that starting back then, and growing exponentially over the last two decades, the line began to blur. Techniques and terminology what were previously only available and comprehensible to those who indentured themselves to a restaurant kitchen at a young age, or shelled out the bucks to attend culinary school, became commonly and easily available to anyone who was willing to watch and study what was being offered for free (or at least for a minimal cable television subscription) and cared to pay attention.

Please take note of that last paragraph…words like “watch”, “study”, and “pay attention” are key. 

Sitting on your rear-end, sucking down Doritos and staring vapidly at a chili throw-down, ain’t what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about people who watch the right shows (more “Good Eats”, less “Hell’s Kitchen” please) on Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel, and an increasing number non-cable channels, with a pen and notepad in hand, and then test and practice what they learn in the “lab” of their own home kitchen, treating the medium more like correspondence courses, and less like a mindless hybrid of game shows and soap operas.

Knife skills, French techniques, building on mother-sauces, deglazing, mise en place

We can take what is actually about the cooking from these shows, and winnow the gold nuggets from the falderal of high-pressure, turn-and-burn techniques designed specifically to keep you alive and cooking through a 300-cover night, and not necessarily about creating two, four, or six perfect plates of food for your family.

Another amazing resource, possibly an even better one that the cable network shows, that has helped bring about this cooking evolution are online video sources like YouTube. Here, instead of being at the mercy of a television show’s production calendar, you can actively search out short “how to” videos on specific techniques, often presented by professional chefs, on thousands of culinary subjects and recipes.

It’s like having a free, private cooking instructor in your own kitchen!

The Home Cook and the Professional Chef.

Understand this: one is not more or less than the other, or at least it doesn’t have to be.

There are those who aren’t interested in being a “home chef”, just like there are those of us who couldn’t care less about knowing how to change our own oil (sorry, Dad!) And, that’s okay. Nobody has to know how to sousvide an egg, or chiffonade parsley, or blanch a duck, to put a fresh, healthy and delicious dinner in front of their family…as long as they can do the latter, that’s all the skill anyone needs to have.

The Home Cook, and the Professional Chef are each their own animal, and now the Home Chef is an evolving hybrid of the two…someone who cooks nearer a “professional level” of quality (if not quantity) using and improving on the classic “Mom’s methods” with two-plus centuries of techniques and styles perfected by professionals.

I point out “quantity” because this is a large part of what you’re paying for at culinary school…it’s not just the techniques, it’s how to perform them on a massive scale, very very quickly, in such a way as to conserve costs and maximize profitability, the business of professional cooking…but none of which are skills required when cooking at home.

With the availability of online (or on-air) education, these are really the only factors that will separate the professional chef from the dedicated home chef of the future.

It’s an exciting time to cook in, and those of you who are willing to research study, and practice practice practice are ushering in a new age of food in the home kitchen.

You are the new home chefs!

-Chef Perry

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Inequality and “understanding” the poor

Blog Action Day 2014

Founded in 2007, Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included Water, Climate Change, Poverty, Food, Power of We and Human Rights, with over 25,000 blogs taking part since 2007.

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It seems like every day I see some new politician, or news personality, or celebrity talk-show host discussing their recent eye-opening, life-changing experience of living for a month on a “Food Stamp Challenge” – the simulated grocery budget of a family on food stamps.

0912_poverty_630x420Invariably, when the receipts are tallied at the end of the month, and the last journal entry, or blog post is made, the summation of the experience begins with a heart-felt, “I never understood before…”

First and foremost I want to say that I know that something is better than nothing. I appreciate the desire to help, and whatever compassion, or empathy, or social awareness (or whatever you want to call it) that comes along with this experiment.

I get that some good people are trying to make a difference, and I applaud that, but please don’t ever, ever…think that because they did a Food Stamp Challenge, that they understand.

Don’t think that someone can load up a couple of bags of cheap groceries in the back up their Outback, cruise on home to a nice house in the ‘burbs, and fix dinner in their modern kitchen…and know what it’s like to be poor.

Ask any police officer if a one-night “ride along” makes you understand what it is to be a cop, or any serviceman or woman if eating an MRE makes you understand being a soldier. Yes, people can spend a faintly uncomfortable month paring down their food budget, heck – they might even lose a few pounds and gain a little insight, but until they live in the same cheap apartments and ignored neighborhoods, wear their old clothes, feel their frustration and hopelessness, and lay awake at night with their fears…

All they’ve done is shopped like the poor.

Until they’ve have carried those groceries home a hundred times, through two bus transfers, and an eight block walk through a rainstorm, past the drug deal in the parking lot, and up two flights of stairs to an apartment that may or may not have had the electricity turned off, (and it’s January)…

Until then, they don’t understand.

Until they’ve faced staring down long years of an unchanging life, the absence of hope for a better future (not in 30 days, or 30 years)…years where things like new cars (or any cars), nice restaurants, vacations, etc., anything beyond the grinding out of daily survival, are as far off the radar as a trip to the moon; watching their children grow up never “getting”, until finally they stop asking, until they begin to come to an understanding that these things are not meant for them, and they begin to harden…

Until then, they don’t understand.

Until they’ve looked at all the things they cannot buy for their kids, cannot experience with them, cannot give them, and realize that while they can’t have things so many other children take for granted…but that the simple joy of a cheap fast-food meal, or a sugary soda pop, or junk-food snack, or hell…even stupidly spending every penny they have for a ridiculously priced pair of tennis shoes…is a single moment of happiness that they CAN give them (and themselves) now, as a momentary reprieve from the unending grayness of life.

That the cheap sugar and salt and fat bomb will, for a moment, eclipse all of those lost hopes and dreams they had as a parent, and numb the crushing guilt and helplessness they feel every waking moment.

Does it make them feel like a bad parent?

Probably. God knows they get enough judgement and derision on the subject.

But then, they feel that way every morning when sending their kids off to school in clothes they hate, on a breakfast of watered-down milk, every winter night when they tuck them into a cold room because they don’t dare turn the heat on…in fact, they feel like that all the time, and at least they get a smile from those french-fries. At least they can give them something besides the constant, bone-wearying, broken-record response of “No, we can’t afford that.”

A brief blink in their day where they don’t feel like a failure…like if God really loved their children, He’d have given them to someone else.

(Btw – that’s not dramatic prose talking – I was told that by a woman in a soup kitchen, who was living with her three children in a tent.)

Until they’ve been ground down by year-upon-year-upon-year of life at the bottom of the well.

Until then, they don’t understand.

You see, I grew up with a woman who knew these things. A divorced invalid, raising a child in Portland’s ghetto neighborhood of Rockwood, spending the last weeks of many-a-month living on potatoes and government cheese…my mother knew these things very well. She understood.

And the assumption of understanding, based on a month of mild inconvenience (often with the an underlying smugness of “Well, it was hard, but it wasn’t that hard”…) disrespects a lifetime of hardship and sacrifices that she, and all of the parents like her (and some much worse off) went through, and go through every single day.

Frankly, it pisses me off.

Don’t get me wrong, by all means please help…but do something tangible.

Sympathy without action is worthless.

Empathy, or even sympathy, without action is worthless…worse that worthless, it’s counter-productive, as others will follow your example. I don’t need to have cancer to comfort an old friend who does, and you don’t need to “live on assistance” to help people who do.

Volunteer at a food bank, contact a local ministry or non-profit and be part of an outreach program, give to local charities, become a constant, burning, unyielding, pain-in-the-ass advocate to your local politicians and decision makers…and God bless those of you who do these things…I hope you don’t take offense at anything I’ve said here, as it wasn’t directed at you.

If, however, people want to know what it’s like to be poor, so they’ve “been there, done that”, I wish they’d do me a favor…do it for a year, in my old neighborhood, on foot, in the cold and dark, with their children…no life-lines…and I may begin to take their “experience” seriously.

Until then, no…they don’t understand.

-Chef Perry

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.



My pulled-pork mission in life…

Perfect oven roasted pulled pork

One of my personal quests in life is to eradicate the horror that is “crock-pot pulled pork.” As a BBQ guy it just kills me.

Now, obviously, I would hope that each of you would get to revel in the awesomeness that is REAL slow-smoked pit BBQ pulled pork, but that’s just not feasible, for a number of reasons, for a lot of home chefs.

Here’s the next best thing:

12 hours slow roasting, UNCOVERED, in the oven at 225F is so much closer to the real thing, with that classic BBQ texture to the meat and actual “bark”, than the steamed meat that you get in the slow cooker, which is typically “pot-roasted” pork – something else entirely from BBQ-style pulled pork.

Here’s that full recipe, btw: Easy Pulled Pork: Good to Great in 4 Steps

And before I get barraged with angry messages telling me “I make awesome pulled pork in my crock pot!!!”

No, you don’t.

You make pork pot-roast in your crock -pot, which may very well be delicious, but it isn’t pulled pork.


Chef Perry

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Picky eater…or pushover parent?

Picky Eater

Okay, so this post is going to stray a bit from our normal conversations about meal plans and recipes, but I have a little rant that I need to get off of my chest.

Lord…I’m so tired of parents complaining about what their kids WILL and WON’T eat…

“My three-year old son won’t eat anything but peanut-butter and jelly…”

Really? Does he have a job? Does he get a paycheck?

Is he driving to the store and buying his own peanut butter and jelly?


Then how is he getting it?

Oh, YOU’RE buying it…YOU’RE putting it in the cupboard…and I’ll bet YOU’RE even making the sandwich when he’s caved you in with tears and begging (which, by the way, he knows EXACTLY how long will take…because YOU’VE trained him to know.)

Grow up.

One of you is 40, one of you is 4….figure it out.

Now, of course, there are children with physical, emotional, and learning challenges that can have issues that fall outside of the typical power-struggle scenario. Understand that I’m not directing this at those kids or their parents.  You live in a day-to-day world that I have not experienced nor could begin to speak to (but please feel free to share your insights!)

However, let me go on for the rest of us…

You don’t want him to live on PB&J? Don’t buy it! You want him to eat the soup…don’t give him anything else. If he doesn’t eat it in 24 hours, throw it out and make another, identical bowl of soup.

Repeat every 24 hours until you WIN.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.


The child will not starve. When his hunger overpowers his will, and it will, he WILL eat. I’ve seen what the bodies of children who are really starving will force them to eat when they have nothing else. Believe me, the soup will go down.

How long that takes is solely dependent on how long you train him to “hold out” to win Because it’s not all about the food. It’s not even mostly about the food…it’s mostly about control.

Who’s in Control?

As a stay-at-home, work-from-home dad, I’ve battled this as well. I won’t let my daughter play with my shotgun, even if she cries and begs, and won’t got to sleep…because that’s my job…to ensure that she does the things she needs to do for her heath and safely, REGARDLESS of whether or not her 7 y/o brain agrees…and I’m not going to let her chose to eat nothing but crap, for the same reasons.

If that means she’s “not going to like me” for a little while, or she’s not fun to be around for a day or two, I’ll just have to live with that, because I’m the ADULT. The sooner she learns to obey, regardless of her “feelings” or “likes”, the less chance it will escalate in the future.

Be the adult…he’ll be happier (and healthier) in the long run…and maybe you won’t be back here whining about far more serious problems in ten years.

Be the adult.

“I made my son eat his cucumbers when he was little, actually puked and hasn’t been able to eat them since!”

Yes, there will always be exceptions with certain foods. Gracie really dislikes cooked zukes, so I cut her some slack (and usually serve her share raw, which she loves). HOWEVER..that’s an exception being made for a child who enjoys widely varied and nutritious eating, with a few specific dislikes.

You’re fighting for the hill here, not every pebble on it. One or two items on the “yuck list” (once they’ve been tried a few times) is perfectly acceptable.

By all means, if you’re child has a real aversion to one or two foods, give ’em a break…if they only want Lucky Charms three times a day, then there’s a problem.

You have to be careful with some kids and food/control issues. This can start one down the path of eating disorders. I tried this tactic with my daughter and after almost 2 days saw the handwriting on the wall. Today she’s a healthy 19 year old who eats a varied and healthy diet.

So…you taught her that if she holds out for less than two days…you’ll quit?

Personally, I would say that a three-year-old who won’t eat anything but PB&J already HAS am eating disorder…Also, while it’s great that a 19 y/o is eating a varied and healthy diet (and it really is great, and a rare thing, lol)…at the same time the vast majority of brain development and neural pathway structure happens in our first five years of life, decreasing exponentially during the years following.

I’d rather that my kid’s brain not be formed on the building blocks of nothing but Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and Koolaid.

Let’s be honest (those of us who are parents) it’s far easier to please and keep a kid quiet by shoveling into their mouths the foods that they really like to eat..and they really like to eat them because we fed them those of course with some exceptions.

It’s also a control issue with kids…compare the U.S. children’s behavior with eating with the French..there are some major differences…France does not divert to Mac n Cheese and Chicken Fingers as kid’s food..why? they do not subscribe to a children’s menu, their kids eat adult food from day one… (Thank you, Peter B., for those insights!)

And frankly, we (my wife and I) fight it, and the associated guilt, here too.

My daughter is very aware of what the “Golden Arches” mean, and how good the French Fries are. Again, it’s not about never eating questionable foods (’cause if I was saying THAT. I’d have to wear a t-shirt that says HYPOCRITE is big red letters, lol) it’s like most things, about moderation and control.

Once in a while, as a special treat, and interjected into an otherwise healthy diet, a small order of clown-food isn’t the end of the world.

But if you’re doing it 3-4 nights a week…you’re diggin’ your kid’s grave right there in the Happy Meal line…

-Chef Perry



On Real Food and Home Cooking

Empty Shelves

Someday I want to write a cookbook based on the premise that you can eat anything you want, any time you want, as long as you personally cook every bite from scratch ingredients.

You see, I disagree that people “don’t have time to cook” (I kinda have to, right?)…but really, I believe that:

1: people choose not to prioritize home cooking (we all have 24 hours in a day), largely due to social pressures and media influence, and…

2: people with little cooking experience don’t understand that home cooking can be simple, healthy, fast, and affordable… a position of ignorance that corporate food has been more than happy to encourage and profit from.

In our MY KITCHEN program, we teach foster kids, many with ZERO kitchen experience, how to cook simple, healthy meals in classes lasting less than an hour.

Regardless of what Food Network (and their frozen food sponsors) would LIKE us to think…you don’t have to be an Iron Chef to cook real food.

100_4719There’s also the ever-growing trend towards convenience “foods”, again much of it due to corporate marketing, who’s been trying to push their C-Rations on us since they were forced to find a non-military market at the end of WWII.

We’re reaching a critical tipping point in history where it will no longer be a matter of IF I choose to cook from scratch, but that there won’t be raw ingredients available to do so.

Lack of business and ever-tightening “regulations” are putting small farms, farmer’s markets, and artisanal food producers out of business in droves (and not by accident) while corporations are buying up larger tracts of farmland at a historic rate. As the supply diminishes, so does the knowledge, interest, and demand.

Unless something is done to change the trends…our great-grandchildren will be shopping in a food desert, and happily munching their solent green, and never know what they’re missing.

Retailers, of course, have a much more vested interest in moving people toward “meal assembly” than actual cooking.

There’s less waste, it’s easier to stock and store more “high profile” products in less space, and the shelf-lives (ie: the amount of time they have to get it sold) are vastly greater with frozen and pre-packaged foods. I’m not sure what the difference in mark-up is, but with 30% of our fresh produce ending up in the dumpster, the gap has to be pretty marginal.


Finally, how much responsibility should we place on the TV shows, magazines and food writers of the past decade’s “foodie movement” for possibly widening the rift between “us and them” (ie: people who cook and people who don’t) by making it more about entertainment and “food porn” than practical application?

You’ll note that Food Network (and all the others) may be yapping incessantly about “farm to table” during the shows…but the ad time is filled with pre-packaged garbage and convenience food. Is the underlying message that…

“We both know you can’t do what you just watched Bobby do…but doesn’t THIS look almost as good?”

Change and education are the key to regaining responsibility for our family’s health and nutrition, not conceding to a corporate food mentality that will always, ALWAYS place the security of their shareholders over the health of our families.

Your thoughts?

-Chef Perry


Cell Phones & The Dinner Table

Our new SimplySmartDinnerPlans radio spot (if you haven’t heard it, listen here) ends with a funny comment about trying to get the family to put their cell phones away at the dinner table. This got me thinking…

Texting at tableNow, for the sake of honesty…I’m guilty of the occasional email peek myself, so no high-horses here! :)

But, at the same time, I’ve been to dinner at folk’s houses where four kids are plugged into cell phones, ipods, ipads, you name it, and never lift there eyes from the screen through the whole dinner.

Well, what’s the point of having a “family dinner” if every one is hiding in their own little digital world?

To quote one friend, commenting on this subject: “Talking, texting, or listening to your ipod during a family dinner is just rude. When having a meal, one is supposed to enjoy/cherish the other party’s company. Engage them in a conversation, laugh about things or just sit, eat and drink while appreciating each others presence.

“Appreciating each others presence”…I like that.

No, I love that.

Of course, as the chief cook and foodie of my family, I also enjoy seeing some respect and appreciation for the food I’ve cooked and served (and so should show the same respect and appreciation when my spouse cooks) as well.

Frankly, if you’re going to just grab a spoon and hork it down while “lol”ing with your “bff”, uncaring of what you’re putting in your mouth, I think I’d rather just slop something into a bowl and let you eat it off the floor, as that’s the behavior I expect from the dog.

Actually, that’s not fair – our dog is always clearly appreciative of her food. :) Sorry…that was the chef in me expressing moral outrage, lol.

Finally, from those foremost authorities on good manners, at Emily Post.com:

“If your meal is just about nourishment and you are by yourself in the kitchen, text away. No problem! But if you’re having dinner with friends and family, be with them.”

The dinner table is, or should be, that place where as a family we reunite from our various daily adventures to re-connect, to share, to ask and answer, to seek and give help, and to grow closer as a family. It is where we, as a tribe, commune and break bread with one another, affirming the importance of each member to the whole, where we love, and laugh, and make memories.

Texting3So, here’s what I’m thinking…

While this really isn’t that big of a deal at my house (yet), I do have a six-year-old daughter who is watching and learning, and it’s probably never too early to start setting a good example. I think I’m going to put a basket on our dinner table, and anyone who brings a cell-phone, tablet, etc., to the table, has to put it in the basket.

First one to take their phone out of the basket, before dinner is over, has to do the dishes!

Yes, that includes myself.

So, remember…



Your thoughts?

-Chef Perry