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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Recipes

Mint Hot Chocolate

The weather’s warming up in our area, but we’ve had some cooler, rainy evenings that are still perfect for mint hot chocolate. And with everything that’s going on, the slightly slower process of homemade cocoa feels more satisfying than just grabbing a packet mix.

Using Barbie’s cocoa recipe as a base, I added mint for springtime flavor. I also swapped some of the milk for heavy cream, which makes it just indulgent enough to suit the Jeff Goldblum mug that Alana got me a few years back.

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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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Girl Talk

The April Stay At Home Challenge

This month is going to be a strange one. For many of us, our main role will be to stay at home while others take on the risk of keeping people safe, healthy, and fed. Social distancing may be simple compared to the important work still going on in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy.

We want to tackle the challenge of isolation by setting a challenge of our own, and naturally, it’s mostly about food. With help from some friends, we put together a list of thirty things you can do in April to cook good food, learn new things, seek comfort where you can, and support your community. So let’s get started.

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Recipes

Ginger Bump Cookies

We made these Ginger Bump Cookies during the last cooking party we had before cooking parties became a thing to avoid.

They’re a simple entry point into the Candies, Cookies, and Cakes chapter of Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook because they just involve adding some extras to a prepackaged gingerbread mix. There are only a handful of other recipes in the book that rely on similar shortcuts though.

The simplicity of these cookies made them work well for a night when there was a lot going on in the kitchen, and they had a ton of flavor for something so quick and convenient. The ingredients are also basic enough that you should be able to pick them up the next time you venture out for quarantine supplies.

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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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