Lately I have been feeling (and, I fear, looking) much like Nanny in this picture. How many times a day do I dream of saying, "Hello, this is me ROBIN and would you kindly send a nutritious dinner for my family and a plate of warm oatmeal cookies and a split of champagne for me and seven spoons and charge it please. Thank you very much." In addition to the whole of everything else, I have been starting to think about what we're going to do for preschool a year from now in a different city. I have reached only one conclusion: forget about Bee, I am the one who needs some kind of Montessori training in peace and order!
It's Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book, of course. Here is the whole chart, which I love...
...until it starts to make me feel a little sad (which is how I feel when I read Eloise, too, actually). I guess Betty Friedan was really onto something. For the record, I try to do "head work" all the time while my hands are busy, but it usually just makes me feel scattered.
Food photography is such a mystery to me. Some books from the 90s already look wildly dated. Often even in a more recent book or a current magazine, I can identify quite a few things that would make me reject the photos if I had taken them myself. I think the problem is that in my heart, I believe photographing food to be an absurd use of our limited time on earth. I suppose I've learned something about light by doing it over and over again; when it comes to composition, I think I'm just hopeless. (Rereading this paragraph I see how I date myself like studio lighting on a dish of aspic; the 90s seem like last year to me!)
Ahem...Betty Crocker. I spent a year admiring the sketches and absorbing the advice (although somehow my tired husband has never been greeted at the door with a glass of fresh fruit juice, alas). Then this month I finally tried two recipes. One, for oatmeal cookies with a spoonful of lemon zest and a glug of molasses, was nothing special, but the one I expected to be funny turned out to be irresistible, at least for me (I kept going back for spoonfuls until I was finally embarrassed for myself). It comes together in a jiffy and is something like a very simple chili in casserole form. The millet is my little update, of course. Here is the original headnote: "One of the popular supper dishes served by Georgia Kelley of Boston. The recipe was given to her sister by a Texas friend, now a leading hostess of Washington, D.C." Isn't that glamorous? The millet stays the slightest bit crunchy, which is actually rather pleasant.
Preheat the oven to 350 Heat a couple of glugs of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 3 yellow onions, sliced, 1 green pepper, finely chopped, and 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic and cook until the oinions are yellow and the pepper is soft. Add 1 pound ground beef and cook until it is browned and crumbly. Stir in a 28-ounce box or can of chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup uncooked millet, 1 tablespoon chili powder (I used this recipe), 2 teaspoons salt (less if you are using a chili powder that includes salt or if you generally prefer less salt), and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish and top with about 3/4 cup of grated cheese, preferably a blend of Monterey Jack and cheddar. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes, removing the foil for the final 15 minutes. (At least, I think I baked it for 45 minutes total. The book recommends an hour, and I suspected it might be done at 30, so I know I adjusted the time but cannot find my notes.) Serve with plain yogurt (or sour cream, I suppose) for dolloping and chopped cilantro for sprinkling. (It now occurs to me that I may have stirred a handful of chopped cilantro into the casserole mixture before pouring it into the dish, too, but I'm not sure.)
Since I don't have a picture of the hash, I'll share this tomato pie. (This picture, by the way, was taken by Andrew while I hovered impatiently behind him. I wanted to start eating, but he insisted that we document this weird golden thing that had just emerged from the oven.)
I had to find out what a Beard-, Reichl-, and Colwin-endorsed tomato pie was like, especially since the crust was biscuits, the filling was tomatoes, and the topping was...mayonnaise and cheese? This looked amazing and tasted like it was...topped with mayonnaise and cheese. This is the first time one of Ruth Reichl's recipes has not delivered 100% for me, so I'm going to have to assume some sort of user error on my part. But my day is rawther full, you know; I can't knock every single one out of the ballpark.