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watch out there’s a stepford wife in the kitchen



February 28, 2018

Reading: critique partner stories – this doesn’t leave room for any other reading, but benefits my brain in other ways.

Writing: the space opera with the end which is still missing in action.

Wearing: a t-shirt that is both stripy and printed with oranges. lavender nail polish. shorts. a frown.

Watching: the Bachelor. Oh yes, whatever, I know I’m going straight to the Bad Place. I follow up by watching/reading Sharleen’s recaps (here and here). Her astute & sympathetic insider’s eye has markedly increased my enjoyment of the show. I can see the joins! And have a lot of fun recognising them.

Playing: Stardew Valley and why oh why did I download this, I knew this would happen, somebody please take it off me, anybody, please.

Listening: to songs written by Linda Perry.

Eating: Rocky road. I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen WATCH OUT. Pistachios & ginger make nice additions. Broken up biscuits are a bit meh and aren’t worth it. I like a mix of dark & milk chocolate – Whittakers, of course, because I think we’ve talked about how Kiwi dairy makes the best chocolate. Oh, you need to ensure the chocolate is cooled before you add the marshmallows…


1970 dessert experiments: mocha cream pie

October 8, 2015

Pie crust made, pie filled, about to be baked

Mocha cream pie fresh from the fridge

Mocha cream pie with an attempt to remove a slice

Mocha cream pie - half an eaten 'slice'

Essentially: glue

I actually thought this might be a nice dessert. It seemed to have good elements – a pie crust. A coffee/choc filling. Whipped cream. “Mocha cream pie” – it just sounds delicious.

I never learn.

Go & do a google image search for “mocha cream pie” and then come back here. Compare & contrast. Entertaining, no?

So, you start with a basic pastry – flour, butter, “enough” water. As usual I screwed up the pie crust & overbaked it. I am not destined to create pretty crusts, this much I have learned on my 1970s dessert journey.

Then you make a filling – sugar, flour, spices & cold milk – cooking until thickened. Add in some beaten egg yolks, butter & vanilla, and cook for 5 more minutes. Cool, then pour into the pie shell & chill until firm. Finish with whipped cream.

I sprinkled a little cocoa on top for effect. I thought it looked quite pretty for a pie made by me.

Then I tried serving it.

Listen. “Firm”, right? Firm makes it sound like maybe this would turn out like mousse. What “firm” actually means is THICK STICKY GLUE. It clings to the knife as you try to cut into the pie. It tries to SUCK THE KNIFE OUT OF YOUR HANDS INTO THE PIE. This is like some sort of 1970s quicksand. You think, this is how the dinosaurs died, in ponds of this stuff. You wrestle some out onto a plate. It should look like a slice. It looks like a gelatinous heap, possibly even a gelatinous heap that has reached singularity and is self aware and already plotting how to take over mankind.

It’s deceptively sticky. You try to remove a forkful and almost lose your fork in the process.

With some trepidition, you put a forkful in your mouth.

Your mouth is instantly gummed up. You cannot talk. You look at your fellow taste tester and communicate with bugged out eye language alone: I need a huuuuge glass of water. Me too.

But what about the taste? Even if it looked a hot mess, and gummed up your mouth, surely it tasted OK? Ah no, my optimistic reader. It didn’t even taste very nice, mostly due to the excessive amount of spice. I was somewhat perturbed at the levels specified – 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon & 1 teaspoon of clove – I halved the clove because honestly 1 tsp seemed too much, even though I do try to stay true to the spirit of the recipe. I should’ve reduced it further, and the cinnamon too. This wasn’t really “mocha-cream”. It was “cinnamon-mocha”. Although I have to say, it did seem quite 1970s. Lots of cinnamon and clove in a recipe that should be about the mocha flavours instead.

Things it would have been nice to know: how much water is actually required to make the pastry? (“add enough cold water to form a stiff dough”… turns out 3 squirts from the tap wasn’t enough, but 4 squirts was too much. Ha.) How long must you stir for until it is ‘thickened’? (I went for 3o minutes. Maybe I should’ve gone for more? Maybe it would’ve been less gluey? Or less cooking time = less glue?) How long should I chill it for until this magical ‘firm’ stage? (I must admit, the texture was sliiightly less gluey the following day after overnight refrigeration. But by then the damage had been done, and no more was consumed.)

At least this recipe specified a pie dish size & how thin to roll out the pastry…. small wins. Very small ones.

Verdict: never again.


1970s dessert experiments: sour cream apple pie

August 14, 2015

Sour cream apple pie in progress

Sour cream apple pie in progress

Sour cream apple pie being consumed

Meh. Apple pie with sour cream, basically.

I actually had hopes for this one. I like sour cream. I like apple pie. What could go wrong?

You start by making a pastry with self-raising flour, rolling it out & creating the shell, then filling it with sliced apples mixed with dry ingredients: cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, flour & salt. Top this sour cream, chuck a pastry lid on top, and bake.

As always with this book, there were some details missing. Things it would have been nice to know: what size pie dish should I use? (I picked the wrong size & ended up throwing out half the apple mix) How thin should I roll out the pastry? (Thinner than you think, Kate)

Verdict? Actually it was OK. A bit soggy. (Perhaps I should have blind baked the shell first. Add that to the ‘things it would have been nice to know’ list.) It was also ridiculously unattractive… but kind of delicious. The sour cream added a nice tartness to the overall flavour – unusual for these recipes, since the 1970s seemed to be big on Add All The Sugar. I wish I had packed in more apple, since it shrunk down quite a lot. Maybe I should’ve cut the apple up into smaller chunks. (Add that to the ‘things it would have been nice to know’ list too.)

This was also nice cold the next day as lunch-dessert.

What? Doesn’t everybody have lunch-dessert?

// I really wish I had better photos for these 1970s dessert posts – sorry for the half-ass quality. Haaate the lighting in our kitchen/dining room!


1970s desserts ahoy: chocolate marshmallow souffle

June 19, 2015



After a brief hiatus I am back with this madness. I had to recover from a lot of terrible inedible attempts.

This book is pretty crappy, guys. I’m not convinced anyone test baked all (any?) of these recipes.

And I’m sorry for the kind of crappy photos too. Trying to take pictures in our kitchen drives me bonkers, it has the worst lighting. Downlights. Ugh.

But here we are again. With separated eggs! and marshmallows! Hooray for some of the classics.

So you start off making a bechamel sauce. That was weird. Instead of adding cheese and glooping it over cauliflower… you melt in marshmallows, chocolate and sugar.

The addition of sugar was an interesting choice, I thought. Aren’t marshmallows like 99% sugar anyway? Do you really need to sweeten them further? (the answer, we found out, is no)

Then you add beaten egg yolks (the recipe doesn’t specify how beaten – I went for a nice pale creamy yellow) and vanilla essence. Another entirely useless ingredient, I thought: aren’t marshmallows vanilla flavoured anyway?!

Cool the mixture, then fold in stiffly whisked egg whites. Bake in a bath.

Eat, and marvel.

For this dessert tastes wholly – and perhaps unsurprisingly – of marshmallows.

Slightly eggy, cocoa-ish marshmallows.

But you know what? The taste testers are in agreement that this dessert also tastes proper 1970s. We got a real authentic vibe from this fluffy claggy too-sweet marshmallow moosh. We felt like we were all wearing crochet vests and corduroy trousers and shaggy hair as we ate it.

Do you have lino floors and mustard-yellow kitchen cabinets and a formica table? You should totally make this dessert. It will feel right at home.

So. Verdict: interesting, & tooth-stingingly-sweet, & we all managed to finish a bowl, even though most of us felt a bit sick afterwards. Nobody went back for seconds though. This won’t be made again!



1970s dessert hilarity: banana madeleines

October 16, 2014

Not actual madeleines

So this recipe was SUPER DIFFICULT.

First it tricks you by being called ‘madeleines’. Ah, but this is not a recipe for beautiful wee scalloped French cakes. Oh no.


And thirdly, THEY ARE SO HARD TO ASSEMBLE. Probably a piece of cake (ha did you see what I did there) compared to actual madeleines, I am sure.

I have laboriously typed out the entire recipe – word for word, exactly as it is in the book – for you below, dear reader. So you can follow at home and make this delicious dessert yourself.

Banana madeleines

Serves 6

  • 6 bananas
  • 3 Tbsp raspberry jam
  • 2 Tbsp desiccated coconut
  • whipped cream

1. Peel the bananas and cut in half lengthwise.
2. Warm the jam and brush onto the bananas.
3. Roll in the coconut.
4. Serve with whipped cream.


Ahem. Seriously, though. The verdict is in: banana “madeleines” aren’t bad. Not exactly noteworthy. But you know. Tasty in a simple fare kind of way. They are made up, after all, of very nice component parts. Put together, one can hardly be surprised they taste nice as an ensemble. The surprise is really in the fact that this is an actual RECIPE in a RECIPE BOOK. It’s a bit like having TOAST in a recipe book, don’t you think?


1970s dessert expeditions: nutty cheese cake

June 2, 2014




S’alright, I guess

A simple recipe for a baked cheesecake. Except using cottage cheese instead of cream cheese…


The crust is smashed up arrowroot biscuits, melted butter & a dash of cinnamon. The recipe also called for sugar but I omitted it, figuring the biscuits would be sweet enough.

For about a milisecond I entertained the idea of putting the biscuits in a plastic bag & using a rolling pin on them. Authentic 70s styles.

Then I got out my food processor.

The filling is sugar, eggs, cottage cheese, whipped cream, lemon juice & lemon rind, flour, and a handful of chopped nuts (I picked a mix of pecans & walnuts).

I didn’t use as much lemon rind as called for. I am getting the feeling this recipe book tends towards heavy-handed on the zested lemon front.

Verdict: like the pineapple glazed cheese pie, I tried this when it was still warm.


And like pineapple glazed cheese pie, later, chilled, it was much improved.

But still a bit meh.

The overall consensus? Cottage cheese just gave it a weird lumpen sort of texture, which wasn’t helped by the odd chewy piece of nut discovery. Perhaps, we wondered suspiciously, using cottage cheese made this a healthy cake, which could be the reason it is rocking the blah factor.

Oh well.

Onwards & upwards!


1970s dessert misadventures: apple mousse

May 8, 2014


A bit weird

Ok this was a novelty factor selection, not because I thought that sounds delicious.

This dessert involves making a fine puree of cooked apples & lemon rind, then mixing in some gelatine & lemon juice. Then you beat eggs over boiling water (which is kind of terrifying. I didn’t feel like scrambled eggs for lunch that day). Cool the eggs, and mix into the apple, fold in a hefty serving of cream, and chill.

The recipe says ‘pour into a wet mould’. Oh, this might look awesome turned out onto a plate! I thought. Nope. Mousse stayed firmly inside the mould & was in no way jelly-ish enough to unmould. The recipe SHOULD say ‘pour into individual serving dishes’… Luckily I did dollop a spare bit into a ramekin just in case.

Verdict: Apple mousse is far more citrusy tasting than appley, with a fluffy creamy texture. I mean, it tasted fine… yet kind of odd… This recipe produced BUCKETLOADS of mousse but is definitely something best served in small doses. Would perhaps be a lovely little digestif dessert in hot weather.


A study in 1970s dessert-y goodness

April 9, 2014

I stole this cookbook from my Mum a long time ago. Wonderful ways to prepare desserts, by Jo Ann Shirley. It was published in 1977.

Inside its thick yellowed pages are recipes full of 1970s indulgences. No pictures, so you have to use your imagination.

Plenty of treats containing pineapple, bananas, gelatine, and eggs separated by the dozen. Pineapple glazed cheese pie. Cream cheese and apricot flan. Chocolate marshmallow souffle. Frozen lemon mousse. Peach upside-down puddingButterscotch cream pie. 

So I’m going to give some of these a whirl. Join me on a journey back to the height of 1970s pudding chic…