Friday, March 13, 2009

Beef Recipe from the Late 60's - What does it tell us about beef 40 years ago?

I've had some time on my hands lately, and one thing I've done is browse through some of my late mother-in-law's many cookbooks. I just love cookbooks, they tell as much about a period in our history as, well, probably as much as a history book in our schools today. We know our school history texts today are skewed and stretched and squashed together bits of information on life in our great country since our English, French, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh and more cousins first settled this great country some 300 plus years ago (I count way before 1776, just so you know :).

But, those old cook books are NOT telling any lies, changing any facts to suit a social agenda. The cookbook is the agenda, and the women who pulled together the recipes, unknowingly pulled together and left for us a glimpse into their lives, and life in general in the good old USA.

Here's a recipe from a 1968 "Favorite Recipes from Country Kitchens - Casseroles Edition". It particularly struck my eye as it calls for the use of "beef suet" rendered in a skillet for the fat, and the fat is then used to brown the ground beef. Makes me think that just maybe the ground beef back in those days was NOT full of water and fat like supermarket ground beef is today. What do you think?


Chopped Beef Suet
1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 10 1/2 oz. can tomato soup
1 soup can water
1 tsp. salt
Dash of black pepper
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 12-oz. can whole kernel corn
1/2 c. chopped green pepper

Render beef suet in thick skillet over moderate heat until there is grease enough to brown meat. Remove rendered suet; stir in ground beaf and onion. Mix and brown lightly. Pour off excess fat and add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil and simmer 15 minutes. Turn into 1 1/2 quart greased casserole. Pour Corn Bread Topping on top of meat mixture. Bake in 350 degree oven 30 to 40 minutes or until Corn Bread topping is done and brown-crusted.


3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 tsp. sugar (I'd need more sugar than this, probably 3 Tbsp.)
1 tsp.salt
1 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. soda
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. bacon drippings

Measure the 6 dry ingredients and sift together into bowl. Make a well in center; add egg mixed with buttermilk and bacon drippings. Mix well.
Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Found the following desert recipe at, may be the perfect complement to old-fashioned Railroad Pie!

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. molasses
1 c. raisins
1 c. cherries or other fruit, drained well
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cream of tartar or baking powder
1 tsp. soda
Cream butter and sugar. Sift flour with the soda and cream of tartar and put together in usual manner. Put in baking dish and cook at 325 degrees until it looks done, about 50 minutes.
1/2 c. butter
2 well beaten eggs
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 c. sugar
1 c. boiling water
Beat all ingredients together, cook over low heat. Then add another cup of water, stir well then serve on pudding. May only want to use 1/2 cup of extra water.