A Sparkling Vintage Life

As you take a break in your Thanksgiving preparations, I hope you get a chuckle out of these rather unique stuffing recipes from the November 1936 issue of Delineator magazine. Clearly the writer had a romance going with her can opener–indeed, she writes, “In addition to being a gastronomic delight, [stuffing] is such a practical method of inexpensively stretching costly poultry . . . It’s not a nuisance; not anymore. Not if you have a good can-opener and a well-stocked pantry shelf.”

In her defense, in 1936 the country was still suffering through the Great Depression. It’s quite possible that canned goods were more affordable and “stretchable” to feed a family than fresh ingredients, unless a homemaker were able to grow and can her own garden produce. (That still doesn’t account for the canned spaghetti, though.)

Regarding these recipes, I guess I shouldn’t laugh at them until I’ve tried them. But I don’t think I’ll be trying them anytime soon.

Spaghetti Stuffing: From the can to a duck in practically one operation. To a number-two can of spaghetti with tomato sauce, add one egg, unbeaten, salt, pepper, celery salt, onion salt or a minced onion, one tablespoon drippings and one-half cup crumbs. And that’s all there is to it.

“Corned Beef Hash Stuffing: Mix a number-two can of corned beef hash, a can of ready-to-serve mushroom soup, a minced onion, a minced green pepper, a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce, an egg and sufficient bread crumbs to fill the bird. Add a little milk, if the dressing is dry.

“Baked Bean Stuffing: Just open a can of baked beans with tomato sauce, add chopped onion that has been sauteed in two tablespoons shortening, an egg, a quarter cup milk, one cup bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and worcestershire sauce to taste.

“Chili Con Carne Stuffing: Blend a cup of flaky boiled rice, a number-two can of chili con carne, a minced green pepper, an egg, celery, onion, and garlic salts to taste and enough cracker dust to make firm enough for stuffing. Thin with  a little soup stock if needed.”

After you’ve prepared one of those, er, innovative stuffings–and if  your family still agrees to come to the table–here’s a delightful poem from the same issue of Delineator. Read along as “Uncle Dudley” compliments his niece on her first turkey and instructs his nephew on the fine art of carving the holiday bird:

A bird, m’dear, of which to boast!
Now for dissection by our host.

Tut, tut, what dreadful massacre, my son,
‘Tis not by force that many a battle’s won.
Such brutal strength but makes the gravy splatter.
Let Uncle Dudley show you what’s the matter.

Keep two things sharp to lead a happy life,
Your wit, my dear, also your carving knife.
And, note, I place this gustatory sight–
His neck upon my left, tail on my right.

With fork firm in the breast (the topmost point),
slice off the thigh, just so–right at the joint.
Then poise your trusty carving knife on high
and sever, thus, the drumstick from the thigh.

Next, slip the knife between the breast and wing
and make a sharp incision with the thing;
Lo, with a manly twist of gleaming blade
A gap between the bird and wing is made.

White meat–ah, there is art in deftly slicing
thin, snowy morsels, dainty and enticing
from just above the wing, these tidbits would
be fit, I vow, for an archangel’s food.

Two crosswise slits in poor Sir Gobbler’s rear
(above the sewing)–stuffing doth appear.
Fold back the skin and scoop it out, like this.
Egad, dear niece, what epicurean bliss!

Forget the thanks, my boy, for I am bent
on tasting of this turkey succulent.

Happy Thanksgiving, Sparklers! Let’s be thankful for all of God’s good gifts to us, whether they come from a can or an organic farm, from the most well-appointed state-of-the-art kitchen or the humblest pantry. His grace and provision know no bounds.