This rainy, humid summer of ’13 is feeling like the sultry south, so the time had come for Florida Salad in Pennsylvania. Why the Westinghouse Refrigerator Book called simply dressed crab meat in half an avocado ‘Florida Salad’ is a question I can’t answer (Mexico and California are big producers, actually) but this recipe dates back to 1932. Cooks who wanted a cool, lush salad in the midst of the Depression are entitled to some whimsical recipe naming. What would you rather tell your bridge club you’re serving –crab salad or Florida salad? I rest my case.
Before I launch into this very simple, but delicious recipe, let’s focus for a moment on the cover of this booklet.
Careful homemaker, clad in dress and apron with neatly coiffed hair and opaque hose, cradles her freshly made concoction while tiptoeing over to her new refrigerator (complete with vase of fresh flowers on top). The image fires my imagination, and I can envision her whole life. There are morning birds singing outside the kitchen window and snippets of dialogue coming from a nearby radio. That kitchen table has a bright sheen, I’m certain, and the rest of the house carries a hint of lemon furniture polish. Like Mary Poppins, she’s practically perfect in every way, and the Westinghouse folks certainly gave that some thought while creating this cover. No doubt their newest refrigerator model had lots to do with this pristine American home.
Eighty years later, I’m in my home with the following cooling appliances:
The nice one upstairs and the second stringer in the garage keeping company with the lawn tractor. I’m off topic here but I must address this brief, energy news bite I discovered while doing some fridge research a few minutes ago—-the petite Westinghouse version from the 30s is a far cry from how we preserve food today. We buy more, store more, cool more and eat more. And according the the NY Times Green Blog, 26 percent of American households have a second fridge, and the rate grows one percent each year. Since that report was published three years ago, we’re close to 30 percent of homes with two refrigerators. The blog also reports that when we buy newer, more efficient models we hang on to the old ones. They look innocent enough in their pure white finishes, but they are major energy hogs. Just putting it out there, cold soda lovers. That’s what I have in mine. And I must confess that I love having extra space in such lovely environs when I have watermelons or thawing Thanksgiving turkeys or party platters to store.
Now back to the Florida salad.
It was easy and quite refreshing for an Amazonian-rain forest kind of day. The crab meat was a huge splurge and after finding a vintage crab meat advertisement online, I discovered that 1930s cooks shopping at H.F. Elmore Co., Crisfield, Maryland, paid 50 cents a pound for “fancy jumbo chunk lump.” I think that’s the grade I had and will not reveal my price because I spent way too much. Crabmeat is notoriously low in Weight Watcher points so a girl’s gotta do what she must.
The ingredients were quick to assemble and the sour cream dressing that binds the crab together was a cinch.
The recipe writer has a tone in the last paragraph. Sort of putting you in your place for eating such decadent food: “This salad is very rich and should be served with a light dessert such as chilled fruit. It would be particularly appropriate for a guest luncheon.” In other words–don’t even think about serving cake or cookies afterwards because this is high-calorie stuff and you shouldn’t be a slob. Yet, it’s perfect for showing off for company.
1/2 avocado pear (the 1930s way to say avocado, I guess)
1/2 cup crab meat
1/4 cup sour cream dressing (see below)
1/2 tsp. salt
For each portion allow the above ingredients, very thoroughly chilling them all after they are mixed. Use 1/2 avocado pear for each serving and fill with the crab meat, salt and sour cream dressing. This should be garnished with red and green pepper (I used sun sweet cherry tomatoes from my garden), and serve extremely cold as you may so easily do by chilling in your Westinghouse refrigerator for an hour (I am not making up this sentence).
Sour Cream Dressing
1/4 cup sour cream (I used light s. cream)
1/2 tsp. vinegar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
dash of cayenne pepper
This sour cream dressing is usually served on fish salads, but may be used with equal success on all types of fruit salads. Thoroughly mix all ingredients and chill.
Note: I added 3/4 cup of crab meat to the prepared dressing. Using just 1/2 cup created a “wet” result with too much dressing coating the crab. The extra crab meat yields two servings.