Watergate Cake

The Recipe

The Watergate Cake, in its various incarnations has been around for many years.  It began as a kind of pudding in the 1950s and morphed into the sweetheart of instant food. According to the Atlas Obscura article, “Watergate Cake,” the version of the recipe found in Grammie’s recipe box gained popularity in the 1970s.

The recipe card was made by Current, Inc. which is still in business making cards and various other paper products today.  The “Kissin’ wears out cookin’ don’t,” was a popular saying and adorned many products in the 1970s such as local cookbooks, needlepoint, plates, patches, and coffee mugs. You can actually still buy a vintage set of the recipes cards here.

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The ingredients and the mixing of them was simple, really just dumping them into a bowl and giving them a quick stir. I tried to get Mexican 7UP but they didn’t have any at the store that day.

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I’ve obviously never made pistachio pudding because I was surprised when the cake mix turned green. I also didn’t have the correct cake pan.  Grammie’s recipe called for a flat cake pan so I just used what I had on hand, which didn’t turn out so well as you can see below. The middle totally fell in (but I slathered icing all over it anyway). Speaking of the icing, it was more of a pudding than anything.  I’ve never used Dream Whip before (I didn’t even know if they still made it) and didn’t taste the icing until after I mixed the pudding in, but next time, I’ll whip up the Dream Whip and taste it on its own first.

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Here is Grammie and Grampie in their living room, December 1975. They look like they’re ready to go out to a Christmas party. Nice medieval looking Christmas decoration on the mantel! And is Grampie checking out Grammie’s boobs?

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Finished Product

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VERDICT: Horrible

So maybe I should clarify what constitutes a Horrible recipe from a Not So Bad recipe.  A Horrible recipe is one that I’m never making again, or that to make again, I would need to revamp the recipe in such a way that it would be unrecognizable from Grammie’s original recipe.  A Not So Bad recipe is one that I would make again but possibly with an addition or substitution here or there.

The reason the Watergate Cake recipe gets a Horrible rating is because it just didn’t taste like much.  If I’m going to eat dessert, I want it to be amazing and this completely missed the mark.  It just tasted like a cake mix cake, which I know it was, but I had high hopes that the addition of the pistachio pudding would have done something to take it outside of the cake box. It did not. A lot of the recipes online (and there are tons) bake the cake in a Bundt pan, which would have solved my sinkhole problem, and some of them used Cool Whip instead of Dream Whip, though I don’t think the substitution of whipped topping would have made any difference.

IMG_1456The Hubs thought it was pretty tasteless too.  The 12 year old, on the other hand, loved it and this is what I came down to the next morning…

Yep, that’s my oldest, stuffing his face with cake for breakfast right out of the pan.  Maybe I’ll make it next year for St. Patrick’s Day just for him.

Carrot Casserole

Recipe

Let me start out by saying, I’m not a cooked carrots fan.  Unless, of course, they are covered in something sweet enough to make them borderline dessert. I’ll just put it out there – I think this dish is going to be gross.

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The ingredients for this dish were nice and simple and, with the exception of Oleo, wholesome.  I substituted butter for the Oleo. Whole milk is always used unless a recipe specifies something else and organic cane sugar was used in place of white sugar.  I should try a little harder to use only ingredients that Grammie would have had available to her but part of me thinks, in a number of these recipes at least, that some of the ingredients are so terrible that every attempt should be made to balance them out with some organics. Probably silly, but there you have it.

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So everything was going well until I hit the ‘toss carrots in Oleo [butter]’ instruction. I wasn’t sure if the carrots were supposed to be drained before tossing them or not, so even though I am trying to follow the recipes exactly, I went ahead and drained the carrots.  I expect it would have been okay to skip that step, but I thought too much water was poured over the carrots initially. Anyway, everything else went smoothly. And why yes, that is a Deathstar kitchen timer, thanks for noticing.  It makes pew-pew noises when time is up.

Grammie

Grammie and the family took a vacation to Missouri, at least according to the back of the photo which says, “Inez Entrance to Cave in Mo, July 1946.”  That was the year the bikini went on sale for the first time; UNESCO, UNICEF, and the Atomic Energy Act were created; and more importantly to housewives across the nation, Tupperware was introduced! My dad was born in July the next year after this photo was taken, when Grammie was 37 years old.

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Final Product

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VERDICT: Horrible

Okay, so Carrot Casserole is definitely not sweet, but instead very egg-y.  It tastes like a breakfast casserole that’s lacking some meat.  In fact, I may fry up some sausage and have a nice little breakfast with it tomorrow.  The carrots don’t taste like anything next to the egg flavor, maybe I should have taken into account that eggs were smaller in the 1950s -70s and decreased the amount?  Would that defeat the purpose of following the recipes exactly or would that make following them MORE exact? I don’t know.  Please comment with opinions (I’m lookin’ at you, Carla). Also, there was some water at the bottom of the dish so I’m so glad I went ahead and drained the carrots but probably should have gone a step further and given them a bit of a squeeze before drowning them in egg-y milk.

This mild dish may be a good balance to a strong meat like salty ham or barbecue, you know, something with a lot of flavor. If I were to make this again, I would totally incorporate some sausage or ham into the recipe and maybe some green pepper and onion to make it a true breakfast casserole.  I bet that would be a good way to get some veggies in the 12 year old too!

Today for breakfast, I paired Aidells Smoked Chicken Sausage Spicy Mango with Jalapeno with the Carrot Casserole and it was a great combination.  I could actually pick out a hint of sweetness from the carrots. But don’t get me wrong, just because I enjoyed it today, doesn’t mean I’m ever making this again.

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P.S. That cool blue sugar bowl was made by Darby Ortolano, she can be reached on Facebook at her page Darby Ortolano Ceramics. And the awesome salt pig is from Page Pottery (a super sweet husband and wife team from North Carolina), you can find them on Etsy here.

Thanks for checking out the blog!