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day 54: it's a mad, mad giveaway

March 27, 2011

About a year ago, my husband and I joined five other couples in a rotating dinner party.  Every two months, one couple hosts a themed dinner and provides the main dish, while the attendees bring side dishes, appetizers, and desserts.  We dubbed the group Chez Nous, and Day 54 ended with the most recent installment.

When the supper club began, Chez Nous’ dinner themes were restrained (traditional North Carolina dishes!) or earnest (all ingredients bought from the farmer’s market!).  Increasingly, dinners have gained momentum in inventiveness (a Sopranos theme two months ago had us all in tracksuits, gold chains, and fake nails), culminating in last night’s Mad Men-themed dinner.

Please tell me you'll watch this show. Rent the previous seasons to catch up, too.

If you aren’t familiar with the AMC series Mad Men, it revolves around Don Draper and his colleagues at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Advertising Agency.  More interesting to me, the series (according to “depicts authentically the roles of men and women in this era while exploring the true human nature beneath the guise of 1960s traditional family values.”  If you’ve watched Mad Men, you know that everyone spends a lot of time smoking cigarettes and a lot of time drinking booze.  Women’s (well, “girls'”) roles in the workplace, while evolving, still involve serving coffee and aforementioned booze to their male counterparts.  Oh, and they wear wonderful clothes.

Last night’s Chez Nous hosts outdid themselves with efforts to keep the evening era-appropriate.  An extensive bar offered cocktails (Pink Ladies, Sidecars, and Tom Collinses among them) and cigarettes (delicious candy Lucky Strikes… we all know sugar is a far more acceptable vice than tobacco these days).

Dinner was particularly impressive, featuring this standing crown roast:

Impressive even to a vegetarian. The only inauthentic detail was that the husband prepared it.

Potatoes au gratin, green salad, crescent rolls, and molded jello salad rounded out the menu.

True confession:  Steve and I were charged with bringing the molded jello salad, a recipe I excitedly located in my mother’s vintage Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.

As authentic as it gets. The recipes from back then, however, appear to have assumed the cook had some working knowledge of Jello.

Called Spiced Orange Mold, it featured cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, orange jello, mandarin oranges, and walnuts.  I faithfully followed the instructions listed in the book, pouring the vivid mixture into my rarely-used Bundt pan.  By dinner time, it was still a liquid.  Fourteen hours later, it is still a liquid.

While the jello fail still confuses me (feedback welcomed), it left me undaunted, and fortunately our Kroger had an array of packaged molded jello salads in the deli case — who knew? — and jello salad was enjoyed (well, eaten) by all.

Throughout the evening, Betty Drapers roamed the party in white gloves and red lipstick, Dons in skinny ties and pomaded hair.  In his fedora and horn-rimmed glasses, my husband looked like a cast member from Dragnet.

Just add Buddy Holly glasses, and a far more handsome face.

I relished the opportunity to wear an early-’60s era Ceil Chapman dress my great aunt gave me when I was in high school.  I’ll not lie and call it comfortable, but the black silk crepe and boned bodice made me feel like I’d stepped right out of 1964.  I accessorized with costume jewelry, a “pearl” necklace and earring set I wore to my junior prom, and a faux fur stole I bought several years ago for a wedding.

Faux fun.

I’m not giving away the dress, but I now realize that my opportunities to wear this fabulous stole and costume jewelry are pretty limited.  Let it be known that these items witnessed uproarious conversation last night.  They listened to a painstakingly-selected, legitimate 1960’s soundtrack while enjoying Irish cream cake and pineapple upside down cake for dessert.  These items relished an entertaining evening, surrounded by costumed raconteurs.

Who wants ’em?  Who wants to give ’em to someone they know and/or love?  Who wants to encourage their little Sally Drapers to play dress-up, candy cigarettes optional?

Leave me a comment below, and be sure share your email address as well.  At approximately 12:20 tomorrow, I will randomly select a winner of this week’s mad, mad giveaway. 

Quick question: when our kids dress up for 2011-themed parties in the future, what do you think they will wear?

I hope your Sunday leaves room for whimsy.  Thanks so much for showing up.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Jordan P permalink
    March 27, 2011 1:19 pm

    That roast looks mouthwatering, and the faux fur stole is even lovelier!

    I can only imagine that 2011 theme parties will focus on low rise jeans and lady gaga outfits.

    • March 28, 2011 3:35 pm

      Jordan, I think you are right about the Gaga-wear and low-rise jeans. And you are the winner of Day 54’s mad, mad giveaway! Send me your mailing address at, and I will pass along your prize ASAP. Hope you have a great day.

  2. March 27, 2011 1:54 pm

    Why didn’t you call me? I, too, made a congealed salad from that very book as a newlywed, and it never gelled! My wise mother-in-law gave me her secret,”I always add an envelope of Knox’s gelatin to my molded salads.” Problem solved, but why didn’t “Bettery Homes” get it right?

    • March 27, 2011 5:52 pm

      I should have called you, Mother — I just assumed it was user error! Next time, I’ll remember the Knox trick :). Love you, A

  3. March 27, 2011 1:56 pm

    and yes, I know it’s “Better Homes!”


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