1950's and 60's meals, memories and trivia

A New Hobby

on February 25, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

O.K., so now I have decided to write a blog about mid-century cooking. There are a couple of issues I need to address first. I am technologically challenged or so my family tells me, and as of 1 hour ago, I had no idea what a blog was. I googled “What is a blog?” This is what I came up with, paraphrased of course! A blog, is short for “weblog” or a cyberspace journal, pulpit, soap box…etc. That certainly defines what I intend to do.

My interest in mid-century cooking stems from a sojourn through some 50’s and 60’s cookbooks I bought at a garage sale. I was lost in them for days. Lost in the reverie of my sweet and simple memories of that era. I could be considered middle aged, (if I live to be 106), and so this was my childhood.

As I read these cookbooks, I decided to give some of the recipes a try. I love to cook and I love to read, so reading old cookbooks was a total joy and replicating the recipes was like therapy. My family was also quite pleased with my new hobby because they were able to participate by devouring the finished product. As strange as some of the ingredients may seem, you will be surprised by how good some of this food really is. My family certainly was.

One day I brought home a can of Spam, (don’t close this page just yet! It may be too soon to ask you to trust me but stick with me through a recipe or two), and my then 13 year old said, “Mom, I don’t think I can eat meat that comes from a can.” I made “Pork and Beans Pie” which included that classic mid-century staple, Spam….yah I know, I felt the same way, but after tweeking the recipe a bit, I served it to all my guys while they were watching a football game on a Sunday afternoon. It briefly brought them out of their football stupor. Honestly, they raved and I was on my way to 4 years of tweeking, testing and writing down these recipes. Now I would like to share them with others who either lived through the 1950s and 1960s or the younger set who may be curious about this unique time period. I am also including some mid century trivia, just for the fun of it, thus the “memories” part.

Today’s recipe is from my mother. This was considered economical, yet good enough for company, but then again, while perusing one of my vintage cookbooks, there was a paragraph extolling the virtues of making “Frankfurter Casserole” if the hubby brought home the boss unexpectedly. This is why this era is unique. You just wouldn’t find that acceptable at any other time in our history. I think that is why those of us who lived it, look back and grin. It was a simpler time, a happy time, a silly time. Life seemed so much easier and less complicated, sort of like this dish. She always used Gallo burgundy wine because she said it was good but cheap!

This is a really easy and hearty dish. Exactly what this book is all about! Don’t season the meat with salt. There is enough in the soup and soup mix. The dish will end up too salty. (Believe me, I tried it!) If you add mushrooms and onions, I recommend you double the sauce. (Mushroom soup, soup mix, wine, milk, garlic.) You can double, (triple, etc.) the entire recipe nicely if you are feeding a crowd. If you do that, I would cut the amount of onion soup mix you used in half. Again, you don’t want it too salty. WARNING: This is NOT gourmet! Let me know what you think, but go easy on me! Remember the era you are critiquing and realize it was about ease and cost!

Stroganoff Casserole

Serves 6


1 Tbls. oil

2 lbs. stew meat

1- 10 oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 pkg. dry onion soup mix

½ c. dry red wine

¼ c. milk

2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp. garlic powder

½ medium onion, sliced and caramelized (optional)

1- 4 oz. can mushrooms or 1 c. fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)

Sour cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In skillet, brown meat over medium high heat in 2 separate batches. In separate bowl, mix together mushroom soup, dry soup, red wine, water and garlic. Pour over meat in skillet and stir to deglaze the pan, picking up all the flavorful brown bits. Pour into a 2 qt. casserole dish. Bake covered for 1 hour or until meat is tender. Stir once during cooking. It is O.K. if the casserole gets a little dark. That just adds to the flavor and color of the dish. If you add onions and mushrooms, I suggest you double the sauce. Serve over rice or noodles. Top with a dollop of sour cream.



DID YOU KNOW:   Pepperidge Farms debuted it’s European style cookie line in 1955 with the Bordeaux, Geneva and Brussels cookies. The goldfish debuted in 1962.


2 responses to “A New Hobby

  1. Linda Fleming says:

    I love the Stroganoff Casserole. Tummy food in the winter and easy to make. I like the “Did You Know” trivia at the end of each piece.

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