Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


It was the 1960s. And there was pineapple. And sitar music. And flowers. And a girl called Daisy.

I was delving through some ephemera cookbooks of the 1960s - magazine lift-outs, that kind of thing. The recipes were wild. The pictures were all yellow and brown and the food styling was kind of hazy and way-out and then the room started moving and glazed hams passed overhead and there was muffled sitar music and ... and then I actually read the recipes and they were the weirdest thing of all.

Schnitzel Royle. (Sic - minor celebrities contributed their favourite recipes to this particular booklet: this recipe was from ABC-TV compere John Royle.)

Take a thin slice of veal for each person, season with salt and pepper and cook gently for ten minutes in a covered saucepan. Arrange slices on an oven-proof platter with a piece of ham on each slice of veal.

Kind of OK so far, but here's where the recipe takes a sudden and very expected turn off the straight and narrow and into somewhere wild and new and ... disgusting.

Surround with bananas, small mushrooms and rosettes of cauliflower. Cover with bechamel and sprinkle with grated cheese and small pieces of butter. Bake.

Whew. I suppose he could have been kidding. Let's look at another recipe. Remember how everything had pineapple in it in the 'sixties? Of course you don't, you weren't there. But yes, pineapple was in everything. It went especially well (or badly) with duck:

Duckling Ninon.

Salt and pepper duck pieces and roast them with a cup of water until water has evaporated. Remove duck. Toss a chopped onion into roasting dish and fry slightly, then add a tablespoon of plain flour and brown. Now add half a cup of port and a cup of water. Boil until smooth. Add juice of half a lemon and half an orange and more salt and pepper. Strain this sauce over the duck pieces.

You just know the pineapple is not far away now:

Garnish with pineapple and almond pieces which have been lightly fried in butter. Serve with potato croquettes and orange salad.

Orange salad! Exactly what was it about oranges in the 'sixties?

Beef and orange casserole.

Saute in maize oil one and a half pounds of cubed stewing steak, floured and seasoned, with two chopped onions and a clove of garlic. Place in casserole along with two carrots chopped into fingers. Cut into thin strips the peel of two oranges then blanch and add half of this to the casserole. Add the juice of the oranges to half a cup of cider, add two beef stock cubes and enough boiling water to make up one and a half pints, pour over casserole. Cook ninety minutes in moderate oven. Serve garnished with slices of capsicum and remaining orange peel. Ring serving dish with scalloped mashed potato and around that, more orange slices.

What did you do with the orange slices? Mop up the gravy?

On another page there was a thing called Lazy Daisy Bacon Cake, involving brown sugar, margarine, glace cherries, bacon and - yes - pineapple. I wondered what made Daisy lazy in the 1960s. Could have been any one of a number of things, I suppose.

I closed the book and the muffled sitar music stopped. Weird.

Does anyone else remember 'sixties food? Or heard about it from their parents?


Julie said...

I have in my posession a "Swedish Meatball" recipe from my mother. The sauce is a fifty-fifty mix of grape jelly and Heinz cocktail sauce. (I've always wondered if Swedes make meatballs at all, and I'm POSITIVE their traditional recipes involve neither cocktail sauce nor grape jelly.)

The oddest thing about it is, it tastes okay.

I still make it occasionally to torture other family members who remember it being made for holidays and cocktail parties.

jo said...

I inherited boat loads of Gran's magazine and newspaper tear outs and a few cookbooks from the 40's forward.
I love going through them. I'm not sure if B&W or yellowed colour photos make the food less appetizing.
There was plenty of jello(jelly, you know a bit like rowntree) molds in various shapes.
I recall her making a salmon mousse one thanksgiving in her copper salmon mold and garnishing with cucumber "scales" with dill and caper eye. Yes, it was as horrid as you might imagine.
The 60's was also the beggining of casserole spelndor where everything contained in your cupboard and fridge was mixed with a can of creamed soup of some sort and baked 'to delight your family'. Sometimes they were garnished with tins of those nasty 'Chow mein' noodles.
This book has been on my list to purchase...
I'm sure the recipes are pricelss.

Dr. Alice said...

What the heck were you SMOKING there, Kitchen Hand??

Yeah, some of those recipes are mighty bad.

Linda Rae said...

I was born in 1976 however, I grew up in a single wide trailer that had had a dark brown and avacado green kitchen... I cooked my first thanksgiving dinner there and the turkey had orange rings and cherry halves... When I look back now at that photo I wonder when I was going to serve the special kool aid that would set us all free...

Miss Katharine said...

Yuck! The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks features many similar dishes (along with deliciously smart-assed comments about said dishes). He also has a web gallery of "regrettable" food at

lucette said...

One of my aunts made those swedish meatballs with jelly sauce--and they really weren't that bad!
But most of my '60s food memories are of my mother's excellent cooking, both American and Slovak; although come to think of it, she did have several creative Jello recipes.

Kitchen Queen said...

Gawd yes I remember the sixties! Pineapple everywhere, jello everywhere, Cool Whip often holding them together, and Spam! (My family was poor, so we actually ate that stuff, along with chipped beef, sometimes.)

And Julie, that abomination you spoke of isn't Swedish meatballs! This is Swedish meatballs, well, a gluten-free version. But the spices are authentic!

kitchen hand said...

Thanks for all your memories, everyone. The world was obviously awash with Swedish meatballs of doubtful heritage and jelly in the 1960s. And pineapple.

(Dr Alice - are you too busy to blog?)