Atomic Age Casserole Redux

Ever heard of an elevator pitch?
It’s supposed to be a short, succinct presentation to somehow convince someone you have something they’d be interested in.
Short enough for an elevator ride.
Succinct enough for them to immediately imagine making millions off your invention, pyramid scheme, pivot plan or book premise.

Here’s mine for the nation’s next bestseller:

“With the current craze for clothes, movies, architecture and decor from the 1950s and 60s, GenX-Y are hungry for the next undiscovered treasure from their parents and grandparents’ era.
What they are really hungry for are casseroles. Casseroles made with cream soups. Ground meat. French Fried onions and canned peas.
They want cookies made with oleo-margarine and evaporated milk. Tortes piled high with Dream Whip or tapioca pudding. They want jello salads chock full of shredded carrots and fruit cocktail. All they need are the recipes.”

Unless you’re riding to the 107th floor of the Sears Tower in Chicago, by this time the elevator would have dinged and your pitch is over,
But the listener would be salivating, and no doubt you are too.

So I’m setting to work on THE definitive recipe compilation. I’ll scour church cookbooks and old Better Homes and Gardens magazines. I’ll take creative new photos in creative ways of “Russian Fluff” made with Cream of Shrimp soup.
I’ll test treasures like Orange Slice Cookies, Lima Bean and Pork Knuckle Casserole and Rink Tum Ditty—a personal favorite based on the name alone.

This is not me. But it is my dad. I like to think Rink Tum Ditty is in one of those pans.

My husband will feast on Baked Bean Sandwiches. Alternated with enriched bread topped by Raisin-Peanut Filling.

Got a favorite retro-classic, vintage-Atomic age, mid-century modern recipe that gets your nostalgic juices flowing? Tell me all about it.

And if you see a cookbook with this concept come out before I get mine written, remember: You saw it here first.


Corned Beef Casserole

-6 medium potatoes (‘medium’ confuses me, I need circumference and absolute measurements. E.g.: Small potato—2” around. Medium—4” on center Large—4”x 6” excluding protrusions)
-1 can cream of mushroom soup
-1 tsp. salt
-2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
-1/4 c.cubed American processed cheese (That doesn’t sound like enough. Fill free to use half a cup. Heck, go all the way to a full 8 ounces)
-1 can corned beef, cut up (Do they still package corned beef in cans? And if not, why not?)
-1/2 can milk (love the economy. No bothering with a measuring cup. And the touching faith in a cook’s ability to eyeball ‘half a can.’)
-pepper. At your discretion.

Cook potatoes, cut into cubes, place in casserole dish. Heat remaining ingredients in saucepan. Pour over potatoes and bake 45 minutes in 350º

So what do you think? Does my pitch have a chance with, say, Simon & Schuster?
Let me know if you see one of their acquisitions editors on an elevator.

Murder of crows. Everyone’s doing it.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
I wrote a suspense novel with crows.
Scary, violent crows.
What more reasonable, more noticeable, more memorable, than to call such a novel “A Murder of Crows?”

So very reasonable. So very memorably noticeable.

So incredibly common.

“Murder of Crows” is to novel titles what ‘Jennifer’ was to baby girls’ names in the 1970s.
Now you can’t turn around at a Duran Duran revival without tripping over a dozen or so of the one, or search Amazon titles without an overwhelming glut of the other.

Maybe I should have changed the spelling, like Jenifer, Genifer, Jennyfur.
Murder of Krows?

But I’m sticking with the original.
Because my cover is the ultimate in cool. It makes me feel so…dangerousish.

Because I have this pillow. My hero Vincent inspired me to keep my crows flapping and cawing and scaring my heroine witless.

Because it’s set in North Dakota and (after intense research for several minutes) I came to the conclusion that though “An Unkindness of Ravens” is also a super-cool title, ravens are rare in that part of the world. So are readers of my books, but I refuse to alienate even one Peace Garden State purchaser by a misplaced avian.

Did you know North Dakota’s nickname is the Peace Garden State?
And has advertised it on their license plates since the year I was born.
Either North Dakota is so wonderful no one wants to leave, or there aren’t enough residents to make a ripple, but I’ve seen so few North Dakota plates I had to confirm Google’s result of the official nickname with an image search.

It’s also known as the Sioux State. ( Strong, descriptive, alliterative. I like it.)
And the Flickertail State. (North Dakota is admirably secure in its unique robustity to be identified with a coy ground rodent’s backside.)

Oh, and Roughrider Country, which would also be a great name for a book.
Remind me to see how many other hundreds of books have that title before I buy a pillow with Teddy Roosevelt and his boys on it for writing inspiration.


In spite of its shivery title and awesomely menacing cover, “Murder of Crows’ isn’t too creepy.
It’s available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble as an ebook.