March 4th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1969, the Los Angeles Times ran a profile of Seal Beach writer Lynn Dallin that focus on her latest book, the “Stay Out of the Kitchen Cookbook.” The book had been published by Doubleday in late 1968 to acclaim and good reviews and was featured as a book-the-month by The Cook Book Guild.

The premise of the cookbook grew from Lynn Dallin’s own life. She was the wife of ASCAP composer, author, and Cal State Long Beach music professor, Leon Dallin. During a earlier stint in the music department at Brigham Young University, Leon often played host to renown visitors like the Paganini Quartet and Dimitri Mitropoulos.

Lynn was no traditional housewife and pursued her own successful career as a writer, journalist, and volunteer for local causes. She had no desire to be slaving in the kitchen while her husband was hobnobbing with interesting guests, so she started cultivating and creating a stockpile of gourmet recipes that could be prepared ahead of time and required minimal supervision while cooking. Lynn would turn on the oven and leave the kitchen to socialize. “Why invite people to your home if you can’t spend the evening with them? And why be a drudge while everyone has fun?” Lynn asked.

The Dallins lived at 1500 Crestview Avenue when Lynn Dallin wrote her cookbook. The Times story described her Seal Beach kitchen where she tested her recipes as “an open, airy room that complements their high-ceiling, hillside home.” Lynn was so devoted to getting her recipes right for publication that she elected to stay at home working while her husband presented a paper in France.

Some of the recipes featured in the cookbook had names like Chicken Gustave, Veal Vivanti, Tenderloin Parnassus, Cardinal Cream, and Creme Brûlée au Rhum. (Times staff writer Marjie Driscoll seemed to enjoy listing those names.) Dallin also had a category of recipes she called “Can Opener Quickies,” and those recipes would have the letters COQ printed in bold type next to the title.

Lynn went on to write other books and also continued to collaborate with her husband on a number of music books. The couple continued to live in Seal Beach until their deaths. Leon passed away in 1993, and Lynn passed away at the ripe age of 91 in 2007. She was an painter and an accomplished pianist, but more than one profile of her quote her as saying, “I’d rather write than anything else.”

The “Stay Out of the Kitchen Cookbook” is out-of-print, but secondhand copies in good condition are available on Amazon and eBay, but, courtesy of some half century old cook book reviews, I can share a few recipes from the “Stay Out of the Kitchen Cookbook” while you decide whether you want to order a copy.

BILLIE’S SWEET AND SOUR PORK

⅓ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
⅓ cup vinegar
2 ¼ cups water
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup water
4 cups cubed cooked pork
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 small carrots, very thinly sliced diagonally
1 medium bell pepper, cut into strips
3 firm tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 buffett can pineapple tidbits with juice
1 small firm cucumber, unpeeled and thinly sliced diagonally

Combine sugar, salt, vinegar and 2 ¼ cups water, and heat to boiling. Thicken with cornstarch combined with ¼ cup water. Add pork and soy sauce and simmer 5 minutes. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving time, add remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until heated through. Serve with rice. Serves 6-8.

Note: Vegetables will be crisp-tender at serving time. Vinegar and sugar proportions may be altered to taste. This is an attractive dish, and an excellent choice for a buffett.

TEXAS TORNADO

1 large package crushed corn chips
3 (No. 2) cans chili con carne
1 bunch green onions, chopped including tops
2 (4-ounce) cans sliced ripe olives, drained
4 large firm tomatoes, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Place corn chips in bottom of buttered baking dish. Spoon on chili con carne. Sprinkle chopped onions over chili.

Layer olives, tomatoes, and seasonings. Top with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until heated through. Serves 6.

NoteL Chili con carne with or without beans may be used. For a spicier flavor, combine 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and liquid peeper to taste with chili con carne.

LADY KATHERYN’S LEMON CAKE (a delicious cake from a regal lady…)

1 pkg lemon chiffon cake mix
1 pkg lemon gelatin
4 whole eggs
¾ cup water
¾ cup cooking oil

Combine all ingredients. Beat for 5 minutes. Pour in a 10×14-inch oiled, floured pan. Bake in a preheated 350 deg. oven for approximately 50 minutes or until cake shrinks from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and stick hot cake full of holes with toothpick. Glaze immediately with a mixture of:

3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
Juice of 4 lemons

Serve warm or cold. Serves 12-16

Note: Do not test this cake before it starts to shrink from the sides of the pan.

– Michael Dobkins

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