A co-worker of mine had a birthday party this weekend with a Betty Crocker theme. She is anything but ordinary and her party proved to be so as well. Some of you may or may not be aware of the 1971 Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library--avocado green box, 610+ recipe cards, 90% disgusting recipes (i.e. chicken in gelatin) with a fabulous presentation, etc. Prior to Saturday night I was unaware of the ugly food of 1971 aka the horror of the 1960s and 70s cooking influences.
I received an invite in the mail which included an invitation, a recipe card, a return envelope and instructions explaining what to do and urging that if I cannot attend to return the recipe. I now understand why Ellen wanted all of the recipe cards back, these things are psycho vintage cards not to be lost. The goal was for each person to make the item on their card and make it look as close to the picture as possible. Recipes would be tested and voted on for "Best Tasting," "Worst Tasting," and "Most like the Photo." Interestingly, this party idea was a common usage of the card library as outlined in the NY Times.
I received the "Happy Traveller Sing Along" card...aka donuts. At first I panicked when I read the words "deep fry." I don't have a deep fryer, I don't know anyone with a deep fryer, I didn't want my entire apartment to smell like grease, and I didn't want to burn the place down with a grease fire. I toyed back and forth between baking donuts and buying a box of plain Entenmann's Donuts and just decorating those.
Well, Andrew convinced me that it would be a fun activity to do together so we should make them. I found a no-fry recipe from my favorite cooking source, Taste of Home, and we went to work preparing and baking donuts. And by we, I of course mean, Andrew. I wasn't feeling well Saturday, the big day, so I laid in bed dictating the recipe to the chef.
A thousand apologies for opening my mouth and speaking. I have the worst camera voice. Andrew didn't know I was filming--I was using my regular camera--he thought I was just waiting for a good pose to take a picture. Since I was being sneaky my playful voice kicked in which is unfortunately about 12 octaves higher than the average 6-year old, but unfortunately not pitched high enough so that we cannot hear it at all. Anyway, Andrew is too entertaining to not post these, so putting my pride aside I am putting them up:D
After waiting an hour for the dough to double, which it didn't, we moved on to step two. "Punch the dough." A difficult task when it didn't rise. Next, get the dough out of the bowl and roll it. Easier said than done. This was where the prep got interesting.
1) Use enough flour so that he dough doesn't stick to the counter: Failed. This is the look of a disgruntled chef.
2) Use a rolling pin to roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. What rolling pin? Luckily, my Andrew gets to watch the Today Show every day and he saw last week that you don't actually need a rolling pin, just something round, like a wine bottle. Well, when you're not classy enough to have wine...you use Svedka.
3) Cut with a 2 3/4 inch donut cutter. Not surprisingly, I didn't have one laying around, so we worked with what we had: a wide mouth cup and a water bottle cap:D
Making-do with what you have: priceless!
The donuts were "brushed" aka drowned, since I don't have a brush, with butter and ready to go into the oven.
We then began the task of making the glaze and frosting. Interestingly, donuts themselves have very little sugar in the cake part, it's all in the topping. I think it's the first time I've ever made frosting from scratch so I was pretty disturbed to know that it's made up entirely of confectioner's sugar and butter! Yikes. Not a healthy breakfast.
Our instructions were to make the recipe look exactly like the picture on the recipe card. Unfortunately, the Happy Traveler Sing Along donut picture had chocolate, butterscotch, yellow and white frosting; glaze, sprinkles, shaved coconut, shaved almonds, etc. Too much for me to buy to only use once. Needless to say, the doughnuts didn't look too close to the picture:(
This was our best attempt and our final product. Not terrible, not great.
We also ran out of frosting and had a batch of lame rejects to be left at home!! Luckily, they taste okay so they'll get eaten eventually:D
At first I was pretty stressed that it wasn't going to look exactly like the picture. I had to stop and realize that I'm not in school anymore, it's not for a grade, I don't need a 100%, I wouldn't get kicked out of the party for it not being perfect, and and life got a lot easier. This was the realization when we agreed to no-fry, use only two frostings, and only one topping. Apparently, I'm not the only perfectionist out there and more interestingly most people emulated the picture to a T. Here are some of the other dishes. I believe if you click on it, you will see an enlarged version and can probably see the recipe card photo for comparison.
This had to be the most disgusting, yet it didn't win that category. Chicken in gelatin!!! Gross.
A couple of the tuna recipes. It seemed like everything contained tuna...yuck!
Our sad little donuts sitting next to some pretty good replicas.
If you're curious to check out some of the ridiculous recipes and photos, check out this site. Click on a category at the right and then click "begin" and click through the many recipes for each category. It's all about the presentation. Complicated and impressive, yet inedible!
Most deceiving. Looks like a layered cake. Wrong!! The layers are salmon, chicken salad, and olive...with a cream cheese spread.
These are some of the recipes that were seen at the party, some you'll even see in the pictures I took, posted above--pretty impressive dishes!: