A few weeks ago I bought a set of Kathie Webber’s All-Star Cookery Card Club recipe cards from a charity shop for a pound.
I know what you’re thinking. A pound? That seems too cheap. Were they cursed by a witch or something? Well, yes. Yes they are cursed. But perhaps not in the way you imagine. They are cursed because they are a window into the food habits of the 1970s, a time when people did really bad things to food. Weird and cruel things. Inexplicable things. Unforgivable things.
But Ben, you say, this is an ‘All-Star’ project. Surely the greatest food minds of the seventies could come up with something edible. Of course they could. A cookery card club run by, say, Jane Grigson, Albert and Michel Roux, Franco Taruschio, Madhur Jaffrey and Claudia Roden would be cornucopia of incredible food. Unfortunately, in this case, ‘All-Star’ means ‘every card has a star rating to indicate how many calories they contain’. In 2022, that isn’t what ‘All-Star’ means. But maybe that was an acceptable use of the term in the seventies. I don’t know. I’m not a historian. We’ll have to take Kathie Webber’s word for it. Anyway…
Those of you who are on Twitter may have noticed that I am going to be cooking one of Kathie Webber’s recipes every Thursday and reporting back to you on a Friday. I am even adding a fun and exciting voting element where you decide what I cook. Look at me go! I’m interactive!
But before I start cooking all these, potentially delicious, meals, I have something to confess. I went through the recipes and removed some of them. I had my reasons. Some of those reasons were good. I removed anything that would take a long time or be really expensive to make. I removed the fish recipes if I couldn’t replace the species in the recipe with a cheaper, more sustainable option. I removed a lot of the puddings because they were a bit boring. All that is forgivable, I think. However, I also removed a handful of recipes that crossed the line in what I was prepared to put in my body. When the whole point of the bit is, oh look at me, I’m eating something stupid, removing the dumbest recipes seems like an own goal. But some recipes are just too damn stupid for their own good. Which brings us to Vitamin Morning Drink.
This is the recipe for Vitamin Morning Drink.
4 large oranges
2 large eggs
5oz/142g carton plain yoghurt
If you have a blender with a large goblet – at least 1¾ pints/1 litre size – cut the oranges into small chunks, including the peel. Put them into the goblet with the eggs, still in their shells, and the yoghurt. Blend for thirty seconds until frothy. Strain and serve.
Unsuitable for freezing
120 calories per serving
I mean, fuck off and no thank you. “the eggs, still in their shells”. “until frothy”. “serve.” Again, no thank you. Again, fuck off.
I’m no coward. I’ve eaten the odd raw egg in my time. I’ve had steak tartare. I’m not scared of eggs. You give me eggs and I’ll eat them. I once, for a dare, necked a pint of Advocaat. It was a mistake, sure, but the point is I did it. The point is that I am not afraid of eggs.
(It comes up exactly the same as it goes down, in case you were wondering.)
What I won’t do, is blend egg shells into a yoghurt and then call that a drink. Egg shells may be a good source of calcium but so is cheese. So is broccoli. So is tahini. And, unlike egg shells, those foods are both delicious and free of sharp edges. There is no reason to find yourself eating egg shells. Not under normal circumstances. Not in a functioning democracy.
I hope this won’t put you off getting involved in my journey into the food mistakes of the nineteen seventies. There are still plenty of absolute stinkers to vote for. Today’s vote is between ‘Ham layer’ (which involves suspending stuff in aspic and then spreading it on ham) and ‘Dutch cheese pudding’ (a puff pastry roll filled with Edam, mushrooms, onion, green peppers and sultanas). In less than forty-eight hours I will be eating one or the other of them.