I like going through cookbooks in search of new recipes. I especially like older cookbooks that have recipes that don’t include any convenience foods (like canned soups or pre-packaged anything). These are recipes that are easier for me to make over here. Well, here at our friends’ house, I discovered the 1963 edition of the McCall’s Cookbook (Subtitle: The Absolutely Complete Step-By-Step Cooking and Serving Guide). I read through it last night and in addition to several tasty-looking recipes, I found a wealth of outdated social philosophies and a heavy dose of guilt-inducing womanly expectations. I also found the solution to practially all of life’s problems. Since you, my dear readers, are unable to access these important solutions, I have gleaned the greatest ones and have delivered them to you here. So, put on your sea-foam green dress, check your bouffant hair-do for any strays, and make sure your high heels are shined. Then, you’ll be ready to learn the secrets of life….

Are you a new bride, eager to prove yourself to your husband and to the world? You’ll never get anywhere by trying to love one another unconditionally and work through your problems unselfishly.

“If you read the funny papers, you know that a bride’s biscuits are supposed to be heavy as lead. McCall’s step-by-step method for biscuits gives you the kind of perfection you hope you’ll get and seldom do. Biscuits should be served as soon as they are baked, piping hot, so butter can melt into them deliciously.”

Are you having marriage problems? Does your husband feel neglected? Is he unsure of your love or his place in your life? Then, bake him some bread!

“The fragrance of bread baking in the kitchen is so heavenly we think it should be bottled and sprayed about! There is something about baking her own bread that’s deeply satisfying to a woman, and nothing makes a husband feel more flattered, more pampered.”

Perhaps you feel as if your husband is neglecting you or that he pays more attention to Walter Cronkite’s nightly news reports than your new dress. Well, silly woman, that’s the problem! You’re trying to get him to notice a dress! Instead, follow these directions towards marital bliss…

“Men of every age, from four to ninety-four, adore frosted cakes. A beautiful frosting on a cake will get a woman more compliments from them than a beautiful gown. As a matter of fact, frosting does for a cake exactly what a stunning gown does for a woman. Though it’s true that frostings (and we include icings, glazes, and toppings) preserve the moisture and freshness of a cake and give it flavor, their chief function is glamour.”

Do you have a bad reputation? Are you poor? Who knew that a simple egg dish could fix these issues?

“Reputations and even fortunes have been made by omelets. While we don’t promise you’ll be able to run a wildly successful omelet restaurant, like some women we’ve heard of, we shall show you how to produce sheer golden perfection, time after time after time.”

Men, are you struggling with feeling weak? Feeling inferior? Forget weight-lifting! Set aside all of your business aspirations that thinly veil your insecurities! You just need a sandwich!

“If sandwiches had a sex, certainly these super-sandwiches would be masculine. For example, there is McCall’s Magnifique. This is a sandwich of the century. The other sandwiches, both hot and cold, are equally impressive, in their own ways.” (The Magnifique is salami, swiss, tomatoes, ham, green peppers, olive loaf, pimientos, cucumber, mushrooms, lettuce, and mustard on Italian bread. To hold it together they recommend tying it with string.)

Women, do you desire to be popular? To be important? To have a place in society? Who knew that your answer was so simple?

“Just the thing for a special luncheon when the P.T.A. board meets at your home, or for a first course at a sit-down dinner, these cream soups have an elegant touch. Try the Cream-of-Curry Soup or the Sherried Mushroom Bisque — they’re delicious.”

Do you desire more drama in your life? More romance? More mystery? More satisfaction? Who knew that the problem was with the type of pan you’ve been using?

“Most romantic kind of cooking is chafing-dish cooking. it has the air, somehow, of a ritual: the live heat glowing under the blazer pan, copper or steel or whatever; the cook bending over it, intent and content, adding a bit of this, a dash of that, pouring a ladleful of blazing cognac on the mixture and watching the blue flame ripple across it. Whether it is a fragrant Cafe Brulot, hot as blazes; a hot appetizer, kept hot and appetizing; a main dish of uncommon distinction; a fabulous flaming dessert; or even such a simple thing as oyster stew or scrambled eggs served at midnight — make it in a chafing dish, and secure your reputation as a hostess of syle and sophistication. Our recipes, we say without a bit of modesty, are worthy of your finest chafing dish.”

Is your family in deep discord? Can they hardly stand to be in a room together? Or, do you have someone in your family who is ill? A spoiled child who won’t listen to what you say? Bring in s’more good will and best wishes with this helpful tip:

“For years, we’ve been making all sorts of charming favors out of marshmallows. We’ve made them for parties, to brighten sickrooms, to beguile children. Sometimes we’ve made them just to surprise and delight our families at dinner. Favors are fun to make; but the real reward comes when you see the faces of the people (big and little) you have set out to please.”

Do you struggle with finding your own value and worth? Do you wonder what your purpose in life is? Do you want to be liked and admired by all you know? Throw a dinner party!
“Finish your dinner in a blaze of glory. Dramatic, impressive, easy to make, there’s nothing more exciting than the dessert that comes to table wreathed in a flickering flame of brandy or rum.”

Then comes the ultimate test…. the final exam, you could say. How can you know when you’ve become all that you’ve ever wanted to be? Why, that’s easy as pie!

“Now to find out how good a cook you really are. For the really good cook makes really good piecrusts — one of the hardest things a cook can make — and fills them to perfection with fruit or cream or lemon meringue….Though no one rightly remembers the genius who first invented the pie, nobody ever forgets the woman who bakes a perfect one.”

There are many other gems of wisdom packed away in this 785 page book. If you feel that I haven’t selected passages to fit your particular need, leave me a comment. I’ll search out the answers for you. But, that must wait until tomorrow. For now I must go bake a nourishing meal for my family followed by a delightful cake. And my hair really needs another mist of Final Net… this humidity makes it hard to keep my bouffant bouffy!

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