When I found a red, three-ring notebook of someone’s favorite recipes in the magazine swap bin at my local library, I knew I had to bring it home. I would value a stranger’s carefully clipped and pasted recipes that no family heir had taken. No one wrote a name in the book. Proof of the time frame came from a list of ingredients with a price for Plumrose ham ($2.87 per can) noted on 11/25/69 next to the rest of the shopping list for baked ham and cheese sandwiches: A&P real sliced cheddar, Arnold Brick Oven bread, 4 eggs, and 3 cups of milk.
Maybe nobody claimed this book because it seems so outdated. Just look at the pantry items. Inside are equally outdated recipes. Chicken marinated in bottled French dressing. Corned beef hash. Asparagus rolled up in ham slices. The book’s owner also saved advice about what to eat in the pamphlet “For Health and Happiness through Food.” The wisdom of our predecessors? “To guard against no appetite and ensure good digestion and nerves, eat pork, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, and cereals.” What, no fruits and vegetables?
Eager to make good use of my swap bin find during picnic season, I decided to try Chutney-Cheddar Spread, something that probably went out of fashion around the time that the Mad Men characters stopped coming to work in mini-skirts. I hoped the spread would liven up my sandwiches and it did. It delivered a concentrated jolt of flavor best accompanied by sliced tomatoes and cucumbers to tone it down – but it sure beats boring grilled cheese, and think of the story I can tell at the picnic table.
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped chutney (I used ginger-mango)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine (soften first)
1 teaspoon instant minced onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash bottled hot pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients in a small mixer bowl. Beat until fluffy. Spread on sandwiches or crackers.