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

Barbie’s Baked Custard

It’s been a busy few weeks around here, and halfway through planning the big batch of freezer meals that my husband and I made over the weekend, I realized that I hadn’t started a post yet. I was also low on pretty much everything other than basic pantry staples. Thankfully when I cracked open Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook to look for something to make, there it was: Baked Custard. A relatively quick prep dish that would work with the few ingredients I had on hand. Read on for the recipe…

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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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Recipes

Pressure Cooker Applesauce

When I tried the applesauce recipe from Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook, I kept thinking that my usual pressure cooker applesauce was more hands-off and predictable. It also cooks up faster.

The disadvantage of the pressure cooker method is that you need a pressure cooker, but if you’ve got that covered (or if you’ve considering picking one up and want a delicious, apple-flavored excuse), then read on!

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Recipes

Barbie’s Easy Homemade Applesauce

I’m a big fan of homemade applesauce.

I practically lived on the jarred stuff as a kid, but after years of inching back from processed food, it tastes too sweet to me now. So once a month or so I break out my electric pressure cooker, grab a bag of apples, and pressure cook my way to apple heaven. Barbie’s stovetop method is a little more hands-on. It’s still pretty easy though, and it works with fewer apples.

To find out how Barbie does it, read on.

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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

Indoor Picnic Potato Salad

We picked this potato salad recipe to try while attempting a Barbie-style indoor picnic a few months back.

At the start of the “Sandwiches, Salads, Snacks” chapter of Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook, Midge tries to talk Barbie into going to the movies now that the weather’s too rainy for the picnic they had planned. But Barbie promised Ken a birthday picnic, so she announces they’ll just lay out their paper plates in the dining room and use the stove instead of a grill.

The main attraction of Barbie’s indoor picnic involves a fundamental misunderstanding of what burgers are, so for our own similar type of party (back before we couldn’t have picnic parties), we decided on something more routine for the side dish.

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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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