Unexpected visitors always arrive around mealtime, with the clear and present expectation of being fed pretty soon. The timing is always at the end of the shopping week, when supplies are low - and it has usually been a particularly bad week for a multitude of reasons. Maybe the kids all had the flu, or the man of the house got fired, or the dog ate the laundry? The fridge (well-overdue for a clean-out) is spectacularly empty of anything edible-looking, never mind appetizing.
What is the housewife to do? (it is always the ‘housewife’ in these stories.) A good and clever housewife would be prepared better than the best boy scout. She would have a secret stash of canned food and a canny knowledge of how to disguise their origins and dress them up in a style fit for company, that’s what. She would have learned how from her good and clever mother, or from a book such as the Arizona Cook Book, by the Williams Public Library Association (1911.)
This nice book contains many meal ideas, including several ‘emergency menus’ prepared from canned food. Here is my pick of the menus, followed by a recipe for an ‘economical and good emergency soup’, also from the book. The Arizona ladies who contributed the ideas are credited in each instance. Perhaps readers in Arizona might know some of the families? Wouldn’t that be fun?
Emergency Menu of Canned Foods.
Puree of Peas.
Creamed Lobster in Patty Cases.
Lamb’s Tongue stewed with
Boiled Rice and Pimentos.
Melted Cheese on Wafers.
Pineapple or Canned Peach Whips.
Mrs. T.S. Maddock,
Italian Tomato Soup.
This is one of the most delicious soups I have ever eaten, and I have never seen this recipe in print. It is a very economical and good emergency soup, as it can be prepared in half an hour. One onion fried in butter (do not let it brown), two cans of tomatoes and one quart of water. Add the onion to the tomatoes and let it boil twenty minutes. Strain through a colander, set back on stove, and add one heaping tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in hot water, one dozen cloves, salt and sugar to taste. Let boil five minutes, then add one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
Mrs. McLarty, Manistee, Mich.
Quotation for the Day.
"'Canned food is a perversion,' Ignatius said. 'I suspect that it is ultimately very damaging to the soul.'"
John Kennedy Toole (‘A Confederacy of Dunces’)