08 May 2009

Famous Food Friday -- Helen Gurley Brown

“All men would rather have a girl than a wife.”

Helen Gurley Brown

Today's famous foodie is fellow Pisces and Southerner, Helen Gurley Brown. In 2008 Brown was voted the 13th most powerful American over 80. (I tell you this because I had no idea anyone was keeping track of the most powerful octogenarians in America, much less ranking them in a particular order.) And may I say, I hope when I am 87 I will be bold enough to venture out in a pink, décolleté mini dress and black stilettos! If Brown was reading this, she would remind me of her oft-quoted motto, "Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere." So at least once, before you are ninety you need to throw off that twin-set and grab a mini.

Brown was born in Arkansas, left fatherless at 10, her mother raised Brown and a sister who suffered from polio. She espoused the line from Carson McCullers, “I must go home periodically to renew my sense of horror.” Brown believed that with hard work and unwavering commitment to excel,a girl, even a single one, could get what she wanted in life. In 1962, she authored the groundbreaking book, Sex and the Single Girl, and 3 years later she took the helm of Cosmopolitan. In her 32 year tenure as editor, she changed the way "women's magazines" looked and engineered a new iconography of a smart, sexy, career woman who always got what she wanted in the "Cosmo Girl."

You know what they say, a girl's got to eat. In 1969, she published the Single Girl's Cookbook. If you wanted to learn to make puff pastry, you were reading the wrong cookbook. In her always glib and breezy style, Brown took food out of the kitchen and into the bedroom. In her chapter on eating in bed Brown wrote:

"Some of us would rather do almost anything in bed. I type there, edit Cosmopolitan, telephone, put up hems, make out lists, file my nails (both kinds), brush the kitties coats, roll up wigs, use my face machine…all those things and many more in bed. There’s hardly any chore aside from rewiring the patio lights that can’t be done better in bed. As for reading, is there any other place?

Naturally, if you’re going to spend every possible moment in bed –- or at least on top of the bedspread – you’ll need a little nourishment while there.

My own favorite is Ice Cold Milk with Stale Gumdrops. Recipe: Leave a cupful of gumdrops exposed to the air for 3 days. Try to forget where you put them so you won’t be tempted to have them before the orgy. When the time arrives, put a tall glass of skim milk (you have to save calories somewhere at an orgy) in the freezing compartment for almost 30 minutes. Hunt up the gumdrops. Take the milk and gumdrops to bed."

Another of her recipes to take to bed when you just can't face the world...

Onion Milk Soup

After a day in which all your faculties have been stretched to the snapping point, take this delicious thing to bed. Even if you still have work to finish, you’ll do it better in bed with this.

1 onion
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk
2 slices of French bread, toasted
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Sauté onion slowly in butter until golden. Heat milk. Butter toast ans lay it in a bowl. Add golden onions and butter they cooked in. Salt and pepper onions, then pour on hot milk and sprinkle generously with grated cheese. How could anybody be stretched taut after that?

Helen Gurley Brown's name was never linked to the great wave of feminism in the 1960's and 70's. That oversight is being corrected in a new biography of Brown by Jennifer Scanlon, Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown .

1 comment:

  1. Wow - a blog that talks about the Mitford girls and Helen Gurley Brown is a blog I need to spend some time with!


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