Happy Wednesday, All! Welcome to the Mid-Century Menu, where this week we are delving way back to the 1930’s, where Mueller’s has been “keeping faith with the American Housewife ever since the Sixties.” And yes, that would be the 1860’s. 1867, to be exact. And Mueller products are still in grocery stores today. In fact, we were actually able to use Mueller’s Egg Noodles in the menu, which is always kind of neat.
Aaaaanyway, I picked up this cute cookbook at my local Goodwill, and I didn’t realize that it was from the early thirties until I got home. I was pleasantly surprised by that! There are a lot of interesting and questionable recipes in this one, and even some that are downright crazy. And few even remotely resemble dishes that we think of today as pasta dishes. The closest I could come to an Italian dish was Macaroni with Peas and Bacon. And, of course, not a drop of basil or oregano in the book. What we did find, surprisingly, was peanut butter! Now, peanut butter had been around for centuries before this, but the American people had recently been introduced to jars of peanut butter that didn’t separated and were excited about it, so I can kind of understand why it is included in this cookbook. Kind of.
In any case, Tom and I picked a couple of different menus out of this book (so many things to choose from) but we started with the menu that was the strangest to us.
Macaroni with Peanut Butter
Egg Noodle Pudding
Wow. I mean, rice pudding is pretty good, so noodle pudding should be okay too, right? Guys? Hello?
And don’t forget, you must only luncheon from one to two. Learn it! It is the most popular form of entertainment for women, after all. You know, eating. And doilies.
Anyway, let’s get started!
As you can see, only one bag of Mueller’s product is on the board. They don’t make just the regular macaroni anymore, which in the cookbook looks like uncut elbow macaroni about as long as a piece of spaghetti. Luckily, the Walmart brand Ziti was smooth on the outside instead of being ribbed, and it looked enough like the macaroni in the book to make a good substitute.
But first, the Egg Noodle Pudding.
Creaming the butter and sugar. Like the new bowl-scraping beater?? Tom got it for me for Valentine’s Day. Thanks, hun!
Adding the eggs and lemon to the mix.
The sliced apples, raisins and nuts.
Now, here I made a tactical error. The recipe didn’t say to cool the noodles, so of course I threw them into the mix pretty hot. What it did was immediately melt the butter, making the creaming step completely useless. Goody.
Crammed down into the ring and compacted as well as possible. It turns out twisty Al Dente noodles are very springy, so I did my best. Flat noodles would have worked better, I think.
In the pan of water in the oven!
Here is the beginning of the tomato sauce cooking away. Since I didn’t have “tomato pulp” I went with a can of tomato sauce. I know, kind of cheating, but no big deal in the end. I will tell you why.
Here is the finished “tomato sauce”. I ended up not thickening it because it was thick enough already. Then I took a taste and got a little miffed. Why? Well, you culinary veterans have probably already figured out that the recipe was for, duh, ketchup. That’s right. I had just spend 30 minutes making ketchup. I should have guessed with the cloves and everything, but I was still surprised when I tasted it.
Thankfully, it was at least good ketchup, so I was relieved. About a second later I was afraid, because THIS ketchup is meant to go OVER the peanut butter noodles. Gross.
The cooked noodles over some peanut butter. See?? Kind of like the macaroni in the book (see the page at the end of the post).
Peanut butter all melted in with paprika, parsley and salt added.
Now, here is another interesting thing. Instead of having a cooked white sauce, the recipe just calls for the flour to be stirred into a small amount of milk until it is a paste, then added to the rest of the milk. Odd.
And yes, I did use the peanut-noodle spoon to make the paste. Conserving clean silverware!
Stirring the paste into the milk.
Milk stirred into the noodles to make the peanut butter “sauce”.
Covered in bread crumbs, with dollops of peanut butter on top. Which looks terrible.
All the finished food, ready for dinner. And yes, that pile of dog vomit in the back is actually the Egg Noodle Pudding. It didn’t really unmold all that well, so I tried to stick it back together as best I could with Tom laughing at me.
But it turns out I get the last laugh, because he has to take the first bite.
“So, what does it taste like?”
“Awful. Tastes like peanut butter on noodles. It is even worse with the ketchup.”
I took a bite of noodles. It did just taste like peanut butter noodles. I took a bite with the ketchup.
“Actually, I think it tastes better with the ketchup.”
Tom whipped his head around, startling awake a cat sleeping on a chair. “Take another bite.”
I took another bite and chewed, swallowed and then put my fork down.
“No. You are right. It is terrible. I think I just like the ketchup.”
Tom shook his head. “I can’t believe you wasted my peanut butter on this!”
But we still had dessert. Which smelled surprisingly good.
Tom chewed as I waited, watching him.
“It is weird, but the filling stuff is actually good. The noodles are too chewy. This would be great as a pie or bread pudding or something.”
Macaroni With Peanut Butter – Bad. It tasted like gummy peanut butter noodles, not at all a good side dish. Tom pretty much got my immediate agreement when he said, “Please never make these again.”
Tomato Sauce – Surprise! It was ketchup. Tasted like ketchup.
Egg Noodle Pudding – This one was hard. The apple/lemon part of it was really good, but the noodles weren’t the greatest. I am seriously thinking about taking the filling and making real pie with it. And no noodles are invited.
Just a note on ziti: ziti are never ridged; they’re always smooth. They’re typically really long. Cut ziti are short, though (those are the ones you have). Penne are either ridged (“rigate”) or smooth (“lisce”), but they have angled ends. It’s all very complicated unless you spent your childhood cutting ziti.
Also: why is Americanized Italian food always so complicated? Real tomato sauce is tomato, garlic and oil, simmered. You can throw in oregano, basil, hot pepper, meat, or (sacrilege!) veg, but it’s not required.
I recognize you wrote this two years ago, but I’m only reading it now! I too collect midcentury cookbooks and love when people make the recipes, so your blog is a great find.
I wanted to mention that there is a sweet noodle pudding dish in Central European/Jewish cuisine called noodle kugel, and it’s actually really good- it’s the same vibe as this but more raisiny: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kugel.