Recipes

Chopsticks Sandwiches

Chopsticks Sandwiches is probably one of the lowest effort dishes in Barbie’s Easy-as-Pie Cookbook. And let’s just address the name and issues with ‘ethnic’ recipes in vintage cookbooks upfront. Reference to chopsticks aside, this is an American recipe. It comes in the middle of the Sandwiches, Salads, and Snacks chapter, and wisely contains no story vignette or Barbie-based flavor text at all. As a white girl who maybe kind of definitely wore a cheongsam to her senior prom in the 90s, let me tell you. Cultural appropriation does not age well, and naïveté is no excuse for it. I am more than happy to be spared whatever Barbie and Midge might have had to say about Chinese food in 1964. 

I should backtrack and point out that the recipe might have been low effort in Barbie’s day, but it proved challenging in ours, as its main ingredient is frozen chow mein, and that… is not so easy to find it turns out. Both Donna and I were stymied in our early efforts. Still, the recipe appealed to my lazy side, to say nothing of the side of me that thinks that American Chinese food served with butter on a bun sounds … pretty good, actually. (Don’t judge me!)

The internet promised me that the product does still exist, although not in a form Barbie would have recognized, and eventually, I stumbled upon a carton of Tai Pei’s chicken chow mein in the freezer section of my grocery store. Score! (Note: The history of Chinese food in America is a really rich rabbit hole to fall into if you have some free time. You could start here!) I grabbed some hamburger buns and peanuts and was all ready for a delicious* if not culturally authentic lunch. 

*At least, I hoped it would be delicious.

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Recipes

Brandied Apple Sauce

My apple sauce recipe is neither easy nor Barbie-inspired, but it IS full of booze and butter, and that makes it worth a mention, right? It also provides a nice counterpoint to Barbie’s stovetop and Donna’s pressure cooker in that it is baked in the oven. 

It comes from Volume 11 of the Short Stack series of zine style cookbooks. Each book in the series is about fifty pages long, devoted to a different single ingredient, and bound in textured paper printed with original artwork. (They are gorgeous, and I am obsessed with them. I display mine facing out, as if I lived in a store and needed to merchandise my home.) Volume 11: Apples by Andrea Albin is one of my favorites in the collection, and probably the one I reference most often for actual cooking (Chicken apple meatballs with aggrodolce? Pork chops with apple-beet-horseradish compote? Yes, please.)

Albin’s applesauce is made with apple brandy and butter. I halve her recommended amount of apples … but not the brandy. So my apple sauce is pretty boozy and plenty buttery too. If you’d like to do a more sedate version, use 5 lb of apples, a half cup of sugar, and 4 tbsp butter.

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Girl Talk

Pause

We’ve decided to pause our posting schedule this week in deference to the current political climate. Or, as Donna put it, because maybe posting about apples is fucking weird right now. 


As white women we believe in the importance of listening to people of color and of practicing anti-racism. We don’t get everything right, but we push ourselves to learn, and when we know better, we try to do better. We support the Black Lives Matter movement and encourage all of our readers to act to end racial injustice.

Recipes

Spicy Meatloaf, or Cold Meatloaf Sandwich, the Long Way

I love a meatloaf, and Barbie’s meatloaf, while not prepared My Way, seemed like it had potential. It has salami in it. Salami. In a meatloaf. Interesting. Better than peas anyway. (Barbie’s tuna salad has peas in it. Ew.. I’m hoping Donna will take that one.)

Unfortunately, perhaps because I already have an internalized meatloaf recipe in my weeknight dinner rotation, I played really fast and loose with Barbie’s perimeters, which is why I wound up having to make the recipe twice in order to get anything close to presentable. 

Warning: This post will go on and on and on and on. I really love meatloaf. And apparently I have a lot to say about it.

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Recipes

Berry Milk Punch

This post was written prior to Covid-19 and social distancing, back when Donna and I could get together for cooking dates. In the absence of bars, I have upped my cocktail game, so I’m drinking well these days. But this post reminds me that good friends make even terrible drinks go down well. I don’t know when we’ll be able to get back to that kind of thing, but I’ll make sure to appreciate it when we do.


In Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia Project, I’m pretty sure there comes a point when her friends and blog readers give her permission to skip all of the aspics in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I wish we had a similar crowd letting us off the hook for the variety of milk punches in Barbie’s chapter “MMMNN! Is for Milk and Other Marvels.”

Julie didn’t back down from her meat jellos, and we wouldn’t wimp out either, but man. It would be tempting. 

Milk punch. Milk. Punch. Milk and punch. Milk and pineapple; milk and orange juice; milk and strawberry jelly AND red food coloring…

Wasn’t milk and orange juice what Wynona Ryder was going to use to make Heather Chandler throw up before Christian Slater swapped her glass for Drain-o? 

There’s milk and orange juice in today’s recipe. Just saying.

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Recipes

Pot of Burgers

It took me right up until it was time to cook them to understand that Barbie’s pot of burgers was a kind of sloppy joe and not a magical dish where hamburger patties are braised to tangy, juicy excellence in a kind of olive-tomato stew. If I had realized that these “burgers” were not cooked in what I think of as burger form, I would have been much less enthusiastic in my recommendation that we include them in our last cooking adventure. And that would have been sad. Because, y’all. The pot of burgers is really good. 

I think it was the olives. I’ve never had a sloppy joe with olive in it before. (I don’t know if I’ve had a sloppy joe at all since I’ve turned, I don’t know, twelve, but that’s beside the point.) It also could be due to the fact that Donna and I blatantly ignored Barbie’s instructions and used tomato paste instead of ketchup. It’s nice to have access to ingredients beyond what would have been available to a child in the 60s.

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Recipes

Hashed Corned Beef Salad

Corned beef has been on my mind since reading Toothpick Tales’ blog post about the perfect reuben sandwich . (An unexpected side effect of writing about food and cooking is wanting to read what everyone else is writing about food and cooking too.) Reading that post took me from never having had a reuben sandwich to absolutely needing a reuben sandwich. Right now. In my mouth and in my stomach.  I’m not sure my first experience with one should be homemade, though? Such an iconic dish deserves an expert touch, at least for the first one. 

It’s not a sandwich, but when I was flipping through Easy-as-Pie in preparation for my weekly grocery outing, I noticed that Barbie had a hashed corned beef salad. I didn’t even know if I liked corned beef, but I thought that would be a start anyway.

You have to like beets to appreciate today’s recipe. You will definitely taste the beets.

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Recipes

Waikiki Meatballs

I didn’t make a Barbie recipe this week, but I did make a vintage one. When I use my old recipes, I feel connected back to another generation of women. One for whom work was staying at home and keeping house. In another of Cynthia Lawrence’s Barbie novels, Barbie’s New York Summer, Margaret Roberts (Barbie’s mom! She has a name!) says to Barbie, “You’re the one who has an exciting career ahead of you. This is my career.” while gesturing to her attractively furnished living room. On reading that, my heart sank and I shared Garfunkel and Oats’ horrified realization about the moms.

I miss work. I miss coffee and cleaning the whiteboard each morning and meetings. And all the things you do and say to people every day without thinking about it.

 It’s week two of social distancing. Week two of being home and getting dinner on the table every night, unromantic and unexciting. Just a job, like I imagine it was for my grandmother’s generation. For the job of cooking today, I decided to make one of my favorite workaday Betty Crocker recipes. You need ground meat, pineapple nibs, a green pepper, and about 45 minutes.

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Recipes

Barbie’s Birthday Punch

Since the covid-19 crisis seemed to turn crazy-real on Friday the 13th, a lot of people pointed out that it basically ruined Jason Voorhees’ special day. As someone with a mid-March birthday, it wreaked a little havoc on mine too.

 I’m all about following the rules of social distancing, so parties and dining out aren’t options right now. And the world has shifted enough that that doesn’t seem like a very big deal? Anyway, Barbie had the perfect recipe to lift my spirits even if it didn’t come with its own little frame story. (The frame stories are my favorite part of the book.) If her party was half as good as her birthday punch, I bet it was really fun.

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Recipes

Cheddar-and-Horseradish Beauties with Tomato Bacon Chutney

I decided to go with rye bread for my take on the bacon-and-cheese beauty. I like aggressive flavors, and rye is one of the only carb-y things I ever find myself really craving. In keeping with the theme of strong flavors, I also decided to include horseradish. Bacon, tomato, cheddar, horseradish… How could you go wrong?  

Well, I managed. On our big cooking night, I put together a horseradish cheddar spread, put it on a slice of rye, and topped the whole thing with a fat slice of tomato and 3 strips of bacon. It was… soggy. Really soggy. The flavor was there, but it wasn’t appetizing. Oh well. Inventing recipes isn’t going to be a get it right the first time kind of thing. So the next day I tried again, using plain horseradish and a slice of cheese, and… meh. Still soggy. Still not worth the effort. 

The tomato was the big issue. Fresh tomato was just too wet. Could I put it on after the beauty cooked? Could I cut it up into little bits of tomato and avoid the juicy seed part? Scowling, I wrote in my journal that what I really wanted was a grilled cheese with a bloody mary on the side. Hmmm… 

Though I didn’t get a bloody mary out of it, On The Side turned out to be the answer I was looking for. I present: Cheddar and Horseradish Beauties with a side of tomato bacon chutney…

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