Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The amazing Nancy Drew

Especially for her time--the fifties and sixties--Nancy Drew was an amazing young lady. She could swim, dance, hike, do all manner of things. As one reviewer at today's Nancy Drew Luncheobn said, she could do anything.  She had amazing survival skills, living through being shoved overboard on a cruise and being buried in a cave-in, among other disasters. For a young lady in a time when people didn't travel as freely as they do today, she was surprising well traveled--from the Netherlands to Arizona to Istanbul and other exotic places--in over 48 mysteries, she could do a lot of hopping around the world. Her mystery solving skills are beyind comparison; never mind that she relied on coincidence and lucky happenstance for a lot of her solutions. When us oldsters were reading her books way back then, we believed she could do all those things and that all those adventures could happen to her (we hadn't become cynical about the Cabot Cove Syndrome yet)--and we wanted to be Nancy Drew with her red convertible. In a room of over fifty women, only three had never read the books--and two of those just read their first to be on the discussion panel. Fascinating stuff, and it took many of us back a lot of years.
The menu at today's luncheon was pretty much from the fifties--high in carbs. There was Scarlet Slipper Raspberry Punch from The Scarlet Slipper Mystery; Crooked Banister Corn Bread from The Crooked Banister; Shadow Ranch Barbecued Beans from The Secret of Shadow Ranch (one of the earlier books); Mannequin Casserole from The Mysterious Mannequin; and Brass-Bound Trunk Candy from The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk. I didn't taste the punch but others said it was pretty good; the cornbread was just that--cornbread; the barbecued beans were really really sweet--what we in Texas call northern beans. They were made with two cans pork and beans, not from beans soaked overnight, and cooked only two hours. Good, if you like sweet beans--and I do. The main dish, Mannequin Casserole, was a melange of ground beef, macaroni shells, tomato sauce, creamed corn and cheese with onion, bell pepper and mushrooms. Good, but as a friend next to me said, "It's sort of what we call ghouash," and another said "It's like the Doris' Cassereole you make, Judy." Still, if I weren't on the small portion kick, I'd have gone back for more.
Presenters synopsized each book from which a recipe came but they were hard put to tie the recipe to the book--the cornbread was actually mentioned on a specific page in Crooked Banister, but the reviewer for Shadow Ranch could only surmise that when they packed a picnic lunch for a day's outing, it included the beans. And the reviewer for The Mysterious Mannequin, in which Nancy finds herself in Istanbul, guessed that it was based on a dish from that region of the world. Hmmm. With canned corn?
 The cookbook was originally compiled in 1973 by Carolyn Keene, the pen name used by the several authors who compiled the mysteries; a later version, Nancy Drew: Clues to Good Cooking was published in 2005 and was the book the recipes came from today.
Highlight came when Tracy Thompson read from Nancy Drew's Guide to Life which contains such gems (roughly paraphrased) as "If you see a bleeding injured man swimming toward your boat, be sure to stop and help him; he may be fleeing evil pursuers." Or, "Never disregard fine lines on a piece of paper--a microscope may reveal them to be fine printing."  Or "If you see something resembling a shark in the water, don't fret. It's more likely a small submarine operated by thieves." Words to live by.
Fun event, and now I think I even want to reread one of the books--don't I remember a title about a winding staircase? And another about an old clock? The friend next to me said she still has all thirty-six of her books. If you want to delve more deeply into Nancy and her history, there are scholarly books today, such as Nancy Drew and The Women Who Created Her, which I suppose talks about The Stratemeyer Syndicate that created not only Nancy but the Hardy Boys and other series. A great era in young-adult literature--and we got a welcome glimpse back into it today! Kudos to Susan Oakley, Shari Barnes, and Human Relations at TCU for a great luncheon .

No comments: