80s, Blog, Food — November 3, 2014 2:04 pm

Recreating Recipes from my Favorite Childhood Cookbook

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As we often do here, I became obsessed with something recently—a cookbook from my childhood.

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This is the Fisher-Price Fun With Food Cookbook by Lisa deMauro from 1988. My parents really knew what they were doing when they first bought it for me. I was obsessed with food when I was younger. I’d watch cooking shows all day like kids watch cartoons. I took this book on car rides with me everywhere we went and generally sat around reading and re-reading it. I never cooked anything from it, but just reading about food was good enough for me.

Fun With Food doesn’t include any photography, instead it’s full of these great illustrations of kids making weird food. I was completely captivated by these illustrations and 26 years later, I still dig ’em.

I don’t consider myself a picky eater. You can choose a restaurant and I’ll find something on the menu that I’m happy with (and that isn’t chicken fingers or just a plate of fries). I’ll try just about anything as long as it doesn’t move. That being said, each recipe is full of things I hate: coconut, bananas, yogurt, canned oranges, pimento, American cheese, walnuts, grape juice, any gelatin ever. Almost every recipe includes at least one of these big no ingredients. This may explain why I’ve never made any of these recipes… until now.

Since I’m going to hate anything I make from this book, I decided to make a three course meal fit for Fisher Price royalty:

  • Smiling-Face Sandwich
  • Make-Believe Fried Eggs
  • Maple Peanut Softies
  • All washed down with Pistachio Milk

Let’s begin, shall we?

Smiling-Face Sandwich

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Fun With Food: An open-faced sandwich has no top piece of bread. A smiling-face sandwich is an open face with a smile!

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Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon chopped pimento or red pepper
Sprinkle of salt (more if you like)
1 strip pimento or red pepper (about 3 inches long)
1/2 roll toasted English muffin

Hard boil your eggs. When that ordeal is over with and your eggs are cooled, peel and cut the small end off one egg and save for the nose. Save a couple slices of egg for eyes. Then go ahead and mash the eggs together with mayo, mustard, relish, red pepper, and some salt.

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I was going to complain that this egg salad had way too much mayo, but then I realized when typing up the recipe that it says 2 teaspoons, not tablespoons. Don’t be like me.

Also, is pimento the same thing as red pepper? I love red peppers, but I always pick the pimentos out of olives.

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Spread that egg salad on one half of an English muffin. There are a few issues here: that’s way too much egg salad for one half of an English muffin. Egg slices and pepper are too large for English muffin (also I don’t know inches, so the red pepper thing might be on me). Did English muffins get smaller or eggs and peppers get larger? This recipe has left me with so many questions.

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Make-Believe Fried Eggs

make-believe-fried-eggsThis picture always made me kind of sad. Real dick move to trick that poor chicken into thinking her kids are on toast.

Fun With Food: Do these look like two fried eggs, sunny-side up? Well, they’re not. This fruit snack will fool almost everyone.

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Ingredients:
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese (half of a 3 ounce package), at room temperature
4 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
2 canned peach halves (packed in juice, if possible)
2 slices of toast
Butter for the toast

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While you toast up a couple slices of bread, mix together the cream cheese and sugar.

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Cut just the round tops off the peach halves and set aside on a piece of paper towel to drain. These should look about the shape of an egg yolk.

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Butter your toast, then spread the cream cheese mixture on top of that. Then, lay those “yolks” in the middle.

I’d like to go on record and state that making actual eggs and toast is a hell of a lot easier and tastier. Also, buttering the toast before piling on cream cheese and sugar seems unnecessary.

So, were you fooled? Neither was I.

Maple Peanut Softies

maple-peanut-softiesProbably one of my favorite illustrations in this book. This kid’s face looks like one of those match-the-shape buckets, where you have to place the square piece of plastic through the square hole.

Fun With Food: These squares will melt in your mouth.

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Ingredients:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup maple syrup (preferably pure maple syrup)
1 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
About 2 tablespoons peanuts

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Oh boy. Mix together the peanut butter and maple until combined. Then add the dry milk powder, which is nearly impossible to find at the grocery store. I had to go to two places and had to ask at the second one. Who even uses this stuff?

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Anyway, once that’s all mixed together, press it into a pan. The recipe did not call for it, but I lined my pan with some wax paper because I did not want to deal with that mess later. Sprinkle your two tablespoons of peanuts on top and smash them into the weird peanut-maple-powder mix.

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Refrigerate for an hour. Grab that beer. You’re going to need it.

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Cut and serve.

Pistachio Milk

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Fun With Food: You’ve heard of chocolate milk. But pistachio milk? Here it is!

fun-with-food-008My Canadian really shows when I bust out the bagged milk, eh?

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pistachio instant pudding
1 cup milk

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There are so, so, so many reasons why you’ve never heard of pistachio milk. So many. Add the pistachio pudding mix into a glass. Pour in a bit of milk and stir to make a paste. Add more milk, stir, milk, stir, gag, stir, until combined.

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Serve. As the book warns, “There will be a few pieces of pistachio nut in the bottom of your glass.” Because that’s exactly what I want in my beverage, hard shards of nuts. They weren’t joking about it, either. This beverage is made up exclusively of things that will tear your throat apart upon swallowing.

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Spoiler: it was not Turtley Awesome, as the glass suggests.

The Verdict:

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I am not excited about this.

Smiling-Face Sandwich:

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Not bad– probably would have been much better if I didn’t mis-read the mayo amount. You can’t really go wrong with egg salad on an English muffin. I probably would have split the egg salad onto two of these open-face smiling sandwiches, but I am not offended by the results.

Make-Believe Fried Eggs:

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Again, not bad. I prefer the Smiling-Face Sandwich to this, though. The sweetness on toast throws me off. I’d much rather be eating real eggs on toast. Who just piles a sunny-side up egg on top of a piece of buttered toast? You gotta dip that shit. And also drench it in ketchup. #Canada.

Maple Peanut Softies:

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Not going to lie, I was really dreading having to try this one. Peanut butter is okay, but mixed with maple syrup and powdered milk? Maybe it’s the powdered milk I’m apprehensive about. This was… well, I didn’t let it sit in my mouth long enough to know if it “melts” or not, as the recipe description suggested it would. It’s edible enough, but it helps if you chase it with some beer. Lots of beer.

Pistachio Milk:

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Well, I’ve survived the solid food portion of this cookbook recreation experiment. How bad could this be OH GOD BABY JESUS NO. NO. WHY. NO. NO. DO NOT WANT. NO. How could this happen? Of all the nuts I’ve had in my mouth, pistachio ranks in the top three. But pistachio in pudding form mixed with milk? WHY. Why would you do that? Especially to children. There’s only one thing that can fix this…

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Oh, sweet, sweet box of wine. You never do me wrong.

Did you have a favorite cookbook as a child? Have you ever tried to make something out of it? Leave us a comment below!

 

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