Friday, February 6, 2009

A&P Cookbook is Like Time Travel

This cookbook is like traveling back to your childhood if you grew up in the "Brady Bunch Era" like me. It was published in 1975 by Simon and Schuster and the ISBN is 0 671 2241-8. I remember my Aunt Lena had an A&P grocery store in her small town. I have fond memories of going with her on a shopping trip and watching her put her coffee bean selection through the grinder. The aroma of that A&P Eight O'Clock coffee in the little red bag was wonderful. In the front pages of this book you can see the entire display of the famous coffee products. There's also a picture of a housewife in a snappy green dress with matching coat. Her ensemble is topped off with pearl necklace and a bouffant hairdo. She's dressed like this for weekly grocery shopping! This is the polar opposite of the comfortable jeans and tennis shoes that most people wear to hunt and gather today. If you spot someone dressed up in Krogers, you assume they've just come from work or church service.
While this book, I believe, was published primarily as a public relations/advertising piece, I feel it has merit as a cookbook and guide in everyday meal preparation and grocery selection. It gives tips on saving money at the grocery store by breaking it down to the different parts of the store, such as deli, meat counter, and bakery. It explains the finer points of the checkout such as unit pricing and how a UPC code works. Also included are handy charts on spice usage, oven temperatures and the metric system. It even has a chapter on how to save time and money when house cleaning!
The recipes in the book are basic and homey. It offers a wide selection of everyday recipes. I like that in a cookbook! When a cookbook has recipes that are simple, and the ingredients are easy to find at the store, it makes the cookbook a "go to" book for me. It's usually the cookbook with worn corners and little slips of paper marking my place that I grab when I'm pressed for time.
The sample recipe that I chose for this week is an old favorite. I've had it at breakfast buffets and school cafeterias, but never made it myself. I plan to make it this weekend as a special breakfast. I'll let you know if the guys give it a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Pg. 25 Creamed Chipped Beef

1/4 lb. (1 jar) dried beef, shredded
4 TBSP butter or margarine
4 TBSP flour
2 C milk
4 to 6 slices of toast

Cook the dried beef with the butter in a heavy skillet for 5 min. or until edges curl. Sprinkle flour over the beef and blend well. Remove from heat; slowly stir in the milk. Return to low heat and cook, stirring until sauce is smooth and thick. Serve on hot toast. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

P.S. I believe A&P stores might still exist in some parts of the country. If so, you need to search one out .....and smell the coffee!

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