Bankrupt hostess

It’s happened again. I should know better; this always happens. We’re having some friends over for a simple dinner tonight, I couldn’t find the recipe for the spicy hot nuts, and now I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of terrible hors d’oeuvres ideas from old recipe booklets.

I can’t really blame The Calvert Party Encyclopedia for its miserable-sounding ideas – snacks called Hot House, Tongue Treat, Cheese Breeze and the like – because the thing was compiled by a gin manufacturer who wanted to add a few more pages to their “hey, mix this with gin, and you could also try this with gin” marketing effort.

It’s this Good Housekeeping’s Appetizer Book that gives me pause. I believe I’ve discussed this book here before, but the last time I looked through it I don’t think I noticed the “I’ve given up” recipes. Here are a few examples in the “Quickies” section:

English Muffinettes: Spread split English muffins with butter or margarine; sprinkle with poppy, caraway, or celery seeds. Broil till bubbly; cut into wedges to serve.

Seasoned Popcorn: Pop a big bowlful of popcorn; sprinkle with seasoned salt.

Potato Chips: Heat in oven; serve in basket.

That’s just sad. I prefer the happy, bat-shit crazy attempts. Let’s try some Ham-Grape Pickups, shall we?

Ham-Grape Pickups

12 scalloped round crackers
1 2 1/2 oz. can deviled ham

About 1/4 cup commercial sour cream
6 halved, pitted green grapes

Just before serving: Spread each cracker with deviled ham; top with small mound of sour cream. Press grape half, rounded side up, into cream.  Makes 12

Or maybe you can try that. I just found the spicy hot nuts.

Style and substance

I feel so late to the party. Before yesterday, I had no idea who Sandra Lee from the Food Network was. Apparently Sandra Lee is a woman who throws a lot of pre-made food together until it resembles something hilarious and then drinks a lot of cocktails so she can properly concentrate on making a fancy centerpiece for her table. I really can’t knock any of that. This is what my “quick and delicious dishes” category on the Notions is all about. Trader Joe’s wouldn’t exist if there weren’t drunken housewives who can’t admit that they hate cooking.

It’s just that the styling and the tone are all wrong. This would be the greatest show in the world if it were hosted by Francine Dancer with a public access television aesthetic – the “Steven Seagal: LAWMAN” of the Food Network. But I guess you already knew that.

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