Monday Night Is Weirdo Chinese Night

Last month, I was out of cooking inspiration so I subjected my family to a month of meals from Real Simple. The magazine had an issue where they published recipes for 20 meals (five weeknights for four weeks). The result was mostly terrifying and slightly starving for my loved ones. But, oddly enough, it revived my creative cooking juices. And, when I’m feeling fearless, I go back to my beloved old timey cookbooks for a little wickedness.

Lo and behold, I dug up What Shall I Serve by Letta W. Hesse. In this gem from 1945, I found weeks of menus all planned out! Four sections (one for each season) with a week’s worth of meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). What could be better? Real Simple from the past. Would it be better or worse?-

I chose autumn, because well… it’s autumn. Also, unlike my previous challenge, these were full blown menus. I’m talking appetizers, main courses, desserts, handmade juices. The 1940s works. So, rather than going through the entire week in one post, I’m breaking it up so that you’ll get a taste of my personal hell every day this week. I’m just that kind of nice.

As a final note, I limited it to the dinner menu and then chose just a few of the dishes. If I had done the entire menu, I would have had to start cooking dinner at noon. I work so that wasn’t going to happen.

Monday Night Dinner Menu

Chop suey, stewed squash, plain boiled rice, cheese stuffed pear salad, fresh fruit or berry pie, coffee

Chop Suey

  • 1 lb white meat of chicken or veal (I went with chicken breasts)
  • ½ lb lean pork
  • 4 T butter or shortening
  • 1 C shredded celery (I diced as I have no idea how to shred celery… and that just sounded horrid.)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 C mushrooms, peeled and sliced (peeled?? Hmmm….)
  • ½ C Chinese water chestnuts, peeled and sliced (optional)
  • 1 C bean sprouts (canned sprouts? Couldn’t find them, and wouldn’t want to if I could. So, I went with fresh from my store.)
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 C chicken or veal stock
  • Salt and pepper

Cut meat in thin shreds. Melt butter, add meat and cook for 2 minutes. (You read that correctly, folks. Cook your meat in butter.) Add celery, onion and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, cover closely and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with rice. Serves six.

Purchase Chinese water chestnuts and bean sprouts from store dealing in Chinese commodities. (How quaint. Modern people can just find it in the Asian aisle at the grocery store.)


Well, when cooking it didn’t look like any sort of Chinese dish I’d ever seen.

Chop suey cooking in a pan

And, even my bad photography skills aren’t at fault here. It really was just this gray. In case you have any doubts, it also tasted pretty gray. Take note: Lack of spices wasn’t invented by Real Simple, but has been around for years.

Boiled Rice

I made rice as recommended, but I didn’t make the recipe in the book. Mostly because I didn’t have two hours to spare. I include Letta’s recipe for rice just so you know I’m not lying.

Boiled Rice Recipe


Chop Suey and Rice

Here it is put together. Yup, didn’t taste any better when I put it on top of the rice. At this point, Paul was ready to do me bodily harm. This is the first time in a very long time where I threw the leftovers away. As in, I didn’t even feed them to my dog.

Before you judge, it was Monday night and I hate squash so that was pretty much a no-go. I bought the ingredients for cheese stuffed pears, but ended up not making it because Monday is an exhausting sort of day to make and then eat pears stuffed with cream cheese and nuts.


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  1. #1 by Bam's Kitchen on 11.20.2012 - 1:40 am

    Your title made me laugh out loud. As you know I live in Hong Kong so I have to eat Weird Chinese food on many days. However it is “traditional weird Chinese food”. LOL Actually chop suey might be an American making as they do not serve that here in China. However, I have been served snake soup, pickled duck tongues, spicy chicken feet and 1000 year old eggs so maybe I am one up on you on weird Chinese foods. Take care, BAM

    • #2 by e.marie on 11.20.2012 - 2:12 pm

      glad you chuckled… this recipe was definitely a 1940s version of an americanized chinese dish… i actually made spicy chicken (feet and all) in culinary school when i took a cuisine of china class… when my husband opened the fridge to see an entire chicken staring back at him, he was pretty much done with cuisine of china leftovers… oddly enough, pickled duck tongue sounds tasty 🙂

      • #3 by Bam's Kitchen on 11.20.2012 - 5:18 pm

        Chinese cooking can make even the seasoned chefs a bit squeamish. Just the other day I brought home 4 live fish from the wet market. My husband came home with the kitchen sink filled with swimmers. I told him we were ordering pizza as I did not have the heart to kill them, we now have pets. LOL

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