I really, really, really hope that Grammie’s Beef Casserole doesn’t go the way the previously posted casseroles went, right into the Horrible bin.
The ingredients were, like all these recipes, simple.
The instructions, however, were a shit show from the beginning. Was I supposed to brown the beef (I did) and dilute the soup (I didn’t)? Was it 8 ounces of cooked pasta or 8 ounces of uncooked pasta (I measured 8 ounces before I put the angel hair pasta in the pot)? Why on earth was the ground beef not cooked with the onion/green pepper/celery mix (it seemed really odd to add that mixture to the noodles)? One pound of ground beef seemed like a very small amount in comparison to the big bowl of cooked noodles. I only got two layers out of the whole business and dotted the cream of chicken soup on top of each layer. It wasn’t pretty.
I absolutely love this photo of Grammie, Grampie, and my Dad taken in 1950!
After the Beef Casserole had been in the oven for about 20 minutes at 325 degrees, the soup still looked like the photo above so I used my spatula and spread it out. Because it had warmed up in the oven, it spread better than I would have suspected when I assembled the casserole.
Warning: this is not a pretty dish.
VERDICT: Not So Bad
Okay, so no one is going to like this but me I can already tell, but I’m going ahead and giving it a Not So Bad verdict. The angel hair pasta was totally the way to go and there was just enough flavor for me to want seconds. Granted, there will definitely be some changes made the next time I make this, namely, more beef (and less green pepper and celery by half). For a recipe named Beef Casserole, the beef to noodle ratio was WAY off so next time I would brown two pounds and cook the beef with the onion mixture, throwing in a couple sprinkles of salt for good measure. And, it turns out, I could have totally spread the cream of chicken soup with the back of a spoon so I’ll make sure to do that next time.
My first gelatin recipe. I’ve been waiting for one to pop up as gelatin recipes, in all their various forms, were a staple in every mid 20th century household. Grammie’s Lime Ring Mold recipe was not listed as a salad per se, so I’ve added it to the blog as a stand alone post instead of including it in the Infamous Salad Week.
What the hell is the vinegar for (other than comic relief from the absurdly large bottle of it in the photo below)? The directions never say where to put it and no other Lime Mold recipe calls for it so I left it out. I was also unsure of the amount of cream cheese but I went with 8 oz after consulting many other Lime Mold recipes and I sprayed the mold with a tiny bit of coconut cooking spray (also per other recipes). Grammie’s recipe never says to drain the pineapple but I did anyway. Grammie was a bit lazy when she wrote this recipe down.
The ingredients look so pretty all together but I may have let the Jell-O thicken too long in the refrigerator.
So this isn’t really a photo of Grammie but this was her kitchen and she probably took this photo of my dad wearing Grampie’s shoes and hat. He must have been around 2ish which would date this photo as 1949. This is not the kitchen I remember. By the 1980s, that table was replaced by a counter top with lower cabinets and the table was moved just to the left of where the photographer was standing.
Evidently, I’m a scared chef; scared to liquefy whipped cream if I beat it too hard, scared to turn the Jell-O back to electric green lime water, and scared to just about beat anything too much because every time I use a stand mixer to make cookie dough, the cookies flatten into super crispy disks of shame. I should, however, have beaten the shit out of this recipe because it looked nothing like the beautiful milky green creations of the Lime Ring Mold recipes I saw online. Oh no, instead it looked like cat vomit after she ate green crayons and styrofoam.
Aside from how the Lime Ring Mold recipe turned out looking, the taste of it was way too sweet. This totally could have been user error in not mixing the ingredients together enough but if I ever made this again (an actual possibility just to see if I could get it looking right), I would beat the ingredients like they were trying to rob me.
The 12 year old didn’t like it. One of the neighbor kids, L., did so a care package may mysteriously show up at their house today.
This recipe sure doesn’t look like much. Not so sure if my witty commentary can fill the absence of terrible ingredients.
I stumbled a bit over the bouillon packets, I’ve only ever seen cubes. There were none at the grocery store so I bought bouillon powder. According to the All-Knowing Google, a packet is the same as a cube so 1 teaspoon of powder = a cube = 1 packet.
This has been the simplest recipe yet. Maybe I should have done a little dance or something to liven things up a bit instead of watching a Betty Grable movie while I sprinkled on the chicken bouillon powder ?
There’s no date on this photo but I would hazard a guess that this was taken in the 1950s. Again, guessing, but it was most likely Valentine’s day and not their August anniversary as they are both wearing long sleeves. There aren’t many photos of the two of them showing much physical affection so this photo is special.
The glass that the water was in the above ingredients photo was inherited as a set of either six or eight from Grammie when she passed away. According to Replacements.com, Grammie’s glass set was made by Libbey Glass Company and described as “Needle Etch 24 Clear.” Replacements.com also lists a shot glass and a “pitcher with Ice Lip” in this same pattern. I did a some further research and found a “Hotel, Club and Cafe Service” Libbey catalog (on Libbeyhistory.com) that listed the exact glasses that Grammie had! In the 1928 catalog, the Libbey Glass Company said of the etching,
“We make a specialty of acid needle-etching, each design a combination of etched lines wonderfully executed, that seem like so many brilliant silver threads woven around the glass.”
Well I don’t know about the “brilliant silver threads” bit but they are nice enough glasses that we use every day. It seems that shot glasses and pitchers weren’t the only items that had the “Needle Etch 24” design. The Grammie’s glasses was one of their No-Nik tumblers with Safedge (a bit of a rolled edge around the top) but listed are a number of items including lemonade glasses, orange juice glasses, and high ball glasses, among other shapes and sizes.
I don’t know whether or not these glasses were sold in retail locations. If not, then Grammie quite possibly nicked them from the hospital she secretly worked at the first year she and Grampie were married! Cool! I’m sure there’s a less salacious story behind how Grammie acquired the glassware but it’s still fun to wonder.
The Baked Pork Chops were totally overcooked and though I basted them several times in the last 30 minutes, they were dry. I don’t know if the basting was supposed to help mix the chicken bouillon in with the water and make a kind of sauce or if it was just to flavor the top of the chops. Maybe I was supposed to mix the bouillon together with the water before it went into the oven. I don’t know, but this dish needs a revamp before I would consider making it again, which is a shame because it would have been a nice easy dish to make often. So if I had to do it again (not going to happen but I wouldn’t put it past the Hubs to work his magic on it), I would definitely start checking the internal temp at about 45 minutes and make a sauce to go with it. Maybe Grammie has a Horrible sauce recipe somewhere I could try…
The Watergate Cake, in its various incarnations has been around for many years. It began as a kind of pudding in the 1950s and morphed into the sweetheart of instant food. According to the Atlas Obscura article, “Watergate Cake,” the version of the recipe found in Grammie’s recipe box gained popularity in the 1970s.
The recipe card was made by Current, Inc. which is still in business making cards and various other paper products today. The “Kissin’ wears out cookin’ don’t,” was a popular saying and adorned many products in the 1970s such as local cookbooks, needlepoint, plates, patches, and coffee mugs. You can actually still buy a vintage set of the recipes cards here.
The ingredients and the mixing of them was simple, really just dumping them into a bowl and giving them a quick stir. I tried to get Mexican 7UP but they didn’t have any at the store that day.
I’ve obviously never made pistachio pudding because I was surprised when the cake mix turned green. I also didn’t have the correct cake pan. Grammie’s recipe called for a flat cake pan so I just used what I had on hand, which didn’t turn out so well as you can see below. The middle totally fell in (but I slathered icing all over it anyway). Speaking of the icing, it was more of a pudding than anything. I’ve never used Dream Whip before (I didn’t even know if they still made it) and didn’t taste the icing until after I mixed the pudding in, but next time, I’ll whip up the Dream Whip and taste it on its own first.
Here is Grammie and Grampie in their living room, December 1975. They look like they’re ready to go out to a Christmas party. Nice medieval looking Christmas decoration on the mantel! And is Grampie checking out Grammie’s boobs?
So maybe I should clarify what constitutes a Horrible recipe from a Not So Bad recipe. A Horrible recipe is one that I’m never making again, or that to make again, I would need to revamp the recipe in such a way that it would be unrecognizable from Grammie’s original recipe. A Not So Bad recipe is one that I would make again but possibly with an addition or substitution here or there.
The reason the Watergate Cake recipe gets a Horrible rating is because it just didn’t taste like much. If I’m going to eat dessert, I want it to be amazing and this completely missed the mark. It just tasted like a cake mix cake, which I know it was, but I had high hopes that the addition of the pistachio pudding would have done something to take it outside of the cake box. It did not. A lot of the recipes online (and there are tons) bake the cake in a Bundt pan, which would have solved my sinkhole problem, and some of them used Cool Whip instead of Dream Whip, though I don’t think the substitution of whipped topping would have made any difference.
The Hubs thought it was pretty tasteless too. The 12 year old, on the other hand, loved it and this is what I came down to the next morning…
Yep, that’s my oldest, stuffing his face with cake for breakfast right out of the pan. Maybe I’ll make it next year for St. Patrick’s Day just for him.
I’m really excited about making this dessert. Ever since that horribly salty Chicken Casserole, I’ve been craving some sweets and I’m hoping that this Cherry Cream Cheese Pie is going scratch that itch.
The ingredients were pretty straightforward, nothing too terribly bad, but I had some trouble with the directions.
Okay, so let me preface this next photo by saying that I’m pretty sure Grammie knew how to make her pie crust correctly but just didn’t bother laying it out in explicit directions. But since I’m trying to follow her directions to a “T,” I made a crust which is not only an embarrassment to myself, my family and, well, everyone else, but the immense shame of what happened in this pie plate is something that will haunt me to the grave. The Hubs begged me not to include the photo.
Patting in the crust just wasn’t working for me. Can you tell?
Mixing the cream cheese concoction with the whipped cream also gave me some trouble. There was no “folding in” per se. There just wasn’t enough of the cream cheese mixture to make it something that the whipped cream could fold into. I tried my best but it didn’t mix very well. I still licked the spatula and it tasted okay. Plus, once you slather anything with a can of cherry pie filling, all is forgiven, right? If you look closely at the photo below, you can see some spots of cream cheese mix that didn’t combine with the whipped cream. Another embarrassment. Oh, and I forgot to add the lemon juice. *sigh*
This photo of Grammie was taken at her sister’s house in California in September 1967. She looks very happy and I absolutely love this photo of her.
VERDICT: Not So Bad
This is so good! It is light and fresh and not too sweet and I’m totally making this again and I don’t even care that this is a run on sentence. I might just have to rename this recipe Run On Sentence Pie, it’s that good. Now, you all know that after the debacle with the crust, that part of the dessert was not going to be up to snuff but once I took the first bite, all was forgotten (if not forgiven). The crust, of course, fell apart but the flavor of it was still good. The Hubs thought the Cherry Cream Cheese Pie was okay but he’s not a sweet eater (and therefore wouldn’t know a good pie if it hit him in the face) and the 12 year old wasn’t thrilled about cherries which means that this whooooooole pie is mine. Oh yeah.
Let me start out by saying, I’m not a cooked carrots fan. Unless, of course, they are covered in something sweet enough to make them borderline dessert. I’ll just put it out there – I think this dish is going to be gross.
The ingredients for this dish were nice and simple and, with the exception of Oleo, wholesome. I substituted butter for the Oleo. Whole milk is always used unless a recipe specifies something else and organic cane sugar was used in place of white sugar. I should try a little harder to use only ingredients that Grammie would have had available to her but part of me thinks, in a number of these recipes at least, that some of the ingredients are so terrible that every attempt should be made to balance them out with some organics. Probably silly, but there you have it.
So everything was going well until I hit the ‘toss carrots in Oleo [butter]’ instruction. I wasn’t sure if the carrots were supposed to be drained before tossing them or not, so even though I am trying to follow the recipes exactly, I went ahead and drained the carrots. I expect it would have been okay to skip that step, but I thought too much water was poured over the carrots initially. Anyway, everything else went smoothly. And why yes, that is a Deathstar kitchen timer, thanks for noticing. It makes pew-pew noises when time is up.
Grammie and the family took a vacation to Missouri, at least according to the back of the photo which says, “Inez Entrance to Cave in Mo, July 1946.” That was the year the bikini went on sale for the first time; UNESCO, UNICEF, and the Atomic Energy Act were created; and more importantly to housewives across the nation, Tupperware was introduced! My dad was born in July the next year after this photo was taken, when Grammie was 37 years old.
Okay, so Carrot Casserole is definitely not sweet, but instead very egg-y. It tastes like a breakfast casserole that’s lacking some meat. In fact, I may fry up some sausage and have a nice little breakfast with it tomorrow. The carrots don’t taste like anything next to the egg flavor, maybe I should have taken into account that eggs were smaller in the 1950s -70s and decreased the amount? Would that defeat the purpose of following the recipes exactly or would that make following them MORE exact? I don’t know. Please comment with opinions (I’m lookin’ at you, Carla). Also, there was some water at the bottom of the dish so I’m so glad I went ahead and drained the carrots but probably should have gone a step further and given them a bit of a squeeze before drowning them in egg-y milk.
This mild dish may be a good balance to a strong meat like salty ham or barbecue, you know, something with a lot of flavor. If I were to make this again, I would totally incorporate some sausage or ham into the recipe and maybe some green pepper and onion to make it a true breakfast casserole. I bet that would be a good way to get some veggies in the 12 year old too!
Today for breakfast, I paired Aidells Smoked Chicken Sausage Spicy Mango with Jalapeno with the Carrot Casserole and it was a great combination. I could actually pick out a hint of sweetness from the carrots. But don’t get me wrong, just because I enjoyed it today, doesn’t mean I’m ever making this again.
P.S. That cool blue sugar bowl was made by Darby Ortolano, she can be reached on Facebook at her page Darby Ortolano Ceramics. And the awesome salt pig is from Page Pottery (a super sweet husband and wife team from North Carolina), you can find them on Etsy here.
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All righty, Grammie’s Chicken Casserole recipe looked pretty simple, I mean, five ingredients that I can make ahead before shoving it in the oven for an hour? I had high hopes for this one. I can see why casseroles were so stinkin’ popular. Was this before the advent of the slow cooker? Well, I did a little poking around, and according to Allison Speigel who wrote the nail-biting (just kidding, it’s very straightforward) article, “A Brief History of the Crock Pot, The Original Slow Cooker,” the Crock Pot, while invented in the 1930s, did not get wildly popular until it was bought by Rival Manufacturing in the early 1970s. But before then, it’s totally understandable that dumping ingredients into a casserole dish and throwing it into the oven was the way to go for a busy housewife.
Grammie’s recipe was very specific about the brand and shape of the pasta which made me think that this might be a recipe from the company itself. I checked out the Creamette website and didn’t find one that matched Grammie’s recipe, though I’m sure the fine folks at Creamette have changed their recipes over the years.
This recipe also didn’t say what kind of cooked chicken to use so I just chopped a couple of chicken breasts and fried them in a little bit of oil. Maybe rotisserie chicken could have been used instead as a time saver. The Velveeta (SO reminds me of childhood!) was also a bit of a challenge. I couldn’t for the life of me cube it. Maybe because it was room temperature? Anyway, I ended up just pinching off bits and placing them evenly over the noodles. I layered the ingredients in the order of Grammie’s recipe. The clean up crew had to be called in after I got a little crazy with the mushroom soup/milk mix. She didn’t complain about the overtime though, so it all worked out.
This is Grammie and Grampie, probably in the late 1950s. I have a sneaking suspicion that my dad is the boy wearing the face mask on the left. And look at that farmer’s tan on Grampie! Grammie looks so cute in her gingham bathing suit and that is the happiest smile I’ve seen in a photo of Grammie to date. The family went on a quite a few vacations like camping (in a cabin), Yellowstone, and Mt. Rushmore, among other places. Grammie and Grampie often vacationed with her sisters and their families. Some of the vacation photos are labelled with locations and it would so much fun to recreate some of them one day!
If this tastes like it looks, it’s going to be Horrible.
Looks kind of pretty plated up but…
Too salty, not enough flavor, looks like cat vomit.
Of course, the Hubs loved it.
It’s definitely a creamy dish, not super flavorful but it perked up a little bit after sprinkling some smoked paprika on top. Some of the noodles were more al dente than others but overall not a bad make ahead dish for a busy mom, I mean, I’m never making this again, but I’m sure it would work for other people. I’m glad I cooked my own chicken as the Velveeta and mushroom soup gave this plenty of sodium and the plainness of the chicken balanced that out a bit, or at least tried to. If this is ever made again (never going to happen), maybe use low sodium mushroom soup instead? The Chicken Casserole needs an additional oomph in the flavor department, the smoked paprika helped but maybe it needs to be incorporated into the preparation, or another ingredient should be thrown in there. Maybe a dash of chipotle hot sauce? I don’t know, it needs something though. The 12 year old thinks it’s edible but not great.
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Casseroles, including Broccoli and Rice Casserole, were a staple for American families in the 1950s. They have been made for family meals, potlucks, and family gatherings ever since. Grammie, most likely, made quite a few casseroles in her day. Looking over the recipe, it looks pretty straight forward, edible even. Okay, so you know from the About page that we try to eat as whole and as organic as we can in our house so I’m sure you completely understand when I say that when I read that one of the ingredients was Cheez Whiz, I threw up in my mouth a little bit. And lucky me, the Hubs bought the big jar so we have some left over. What the hell am I going to do with it?
So according to the Food & Wine article, “History of Cheez Whiz,” the cheese sauce was originally created to more easily make Welsh Rarebit in England, and found its way to America in July of 1953. That dates this recipe from 1953 onward. I would assume that most of these recipes were from the 1950s to early 1960s when my father graduated high school. Since I’m determined to make these recipes while staying as true to the specified ingredients as possible, in the pot goes the Cheez Whiz (with a plop).
Author Clifford A. Wright includes a short history of casseroles in his book “Bake Until Bubbly: The Ultimate Casserole Cookbook,” parts of which, including the history of casseroles, can be found on Google Books here.
In researching Broccoli and Rice Casserole, I discovered that both the Kraft and Minute Rice websites have their own recipe which is exactly the same, down to the picture of the finished project. Their recipe differs slightly from Grammie’s as theirs calls for less liquid and more rice along with the addition of bread.
Okay, the ingredients are assembled. I knew I had frozen broccoli but didn’t realize it wasn’t chopped until I was ready to cook so I gave it a quick chop while the onions and celery cooked down. I decided against adding the ham since we were using this as a side dish (with delicious Asian pork medallions from Cooking Light April 2004 which I can’t find posted on their website anywhere to link to). The recipe didn’t say what size casserole dish to use, I assumed a 13×9 but I have a nice oval one that the Hubs quickly experimented with to see if it equated to a 13×9 (he likes to do that kind of stuff) and it worked out perfectly! Now into the oven for 25 minutes.
This recipe was from the kitchen of Lillian Peart. Lillian was Grammie’s sister-in-law who was married to Grampie’s older brother, Harold (he died the same month and year I was born), and her name appears on a number of recipes in Grammie’s Recipe (chocolate) Box. Lillian and Harold lived on the old Peart farm in Burns Township and farmed the land until 1973. She was born, raised, married, and died in the same town as my Grammie. They lived their whole lives in the same place. As sister-in-laws in a small town, one can imagine they saw each other often. I don’t ever remember meeting Lillian, who died in 2004, and I can’t seem to find a photo of her among Grammie’s old photos (at least not one that’s labelled with her name). I have my feelers out but until I can find one, a cute little photo of my dad getting his hair cut by my Grampie in the kitchen while Grammie looked lovingly on (and kept him still with an iron grip) will have to suffice. Absolutely adorable!
So this was Grammie’s kitchen. The window over the sink looked out over the back yard with the grape arbor to the left, the garage on the right, and their neighbors horse pasture along the back. I still remember feeding apples to the horses as a little girl. Everything that is dark in this photo was red. From the little tchotchkes on the wall and circular decorations on the cabinets to the Formica counter top, scalloped wood valance, and toe kick under the cabinets was a bright cherry red. Grammie’s kitchen rocked that shiplap way before Joanna Gaines made it cool again. There is no date on the photo but my dad only looks about two years old so it would have been taken around 1949 (before Cheez Whiz was invented).
VERDICT: Not So Bad
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m never making this again, but it was not so bad. I’m sure there are recipes out there that are a bit healthier that we would consider for the future. Overall, the textures were a bit off. It was a little watery, though maybe some extra rice or broccoli would have solved that. My Hubs checked on the casserole at 25 minutes and determined it needed 5 more minutes. After that, he put it under the broiler for a couple minutes to get some nice browning action on top. We made our plates and sat down to eat when the following conversation happened.
Me: The pork is really good, I like the flavor a lot, and you cooked them perfectly.
Hubs: Thanks, the pork IS good. Your casserole is….. (gives a look that translates to “Meh”).
Me: (under my breath) Self congratulatory ass.
The twelve year old has not had it yet. Can’t wait to see his reaction when Broccoli and Rice Casserole is all he gets for dinner!
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A lot of the recipes in my Grammie’s recipe (chocolate) box had the name of the person that shared the recipe. This one did not. Maybe they didn’t want to own up to being the person that put ONE SOLID POUND of powdered sugar in a single dessert? I’m not going to lie, I’m a little scared.
Okay, so I’ve assembled the ingredients. The only substitution I’ve made is one stick of butter instead of one stick of Oleo (read: fake stick of death. Okay, okay, margarine does not cause death but I’m clearly on Team Butter). The Great and Powerful Google told me that a stick of Oleo was the same size as my stick of butter now. I’m not sure what constituted a ‘large’ cream cheese in the 1950s-1970s but I’m using 8 ounces and we’ll see how it goes. The recipe doesn’t specify, so I’m going with unsweetened coconut flakes.
Steps 1 and 2 completed! The instructions did not say to grease the jelly roll pan so I didn’t bother. Doesn’t look half bad. The second step called for 1 pound of powdered sugar which was a LOT more than I thought it would be. I just kept adding and adding and adding spoonfuls to the scale. I barely had enough but just squeaked by. That 5 minute whisking was no joke either. I’m glad I opted for the mixer instead of hand mixing! As I was mixing, I thought maybe shredded coconut might have been a better choice, but it might not matter that much in the end.
While the Goody Good Bars are in the oven for the next thirty minutes, I thought I would post a photo of my Grammie, Inez. She labeled it herself as she wrote “Me” in the margin below the photo (not shown). Grammie was born in 1910 so that dates this photo to about 1914-1918. I remember her telling me a long time ago that she was five years old when this photo was taken which tracks with the drop waist white dress, over the knee socks, and white ribbons in her hair. On the reverse side of the photo (not shown) is printed POST CARD with defined spaces for correspondence, name and address, and the stamp. Grammie also labeled that side with “Me.” She was so cute!
It would be easier to mainline sugar directly into your veins than to make these, even though the Goody Good Bars were pretty easy to make. I know it said one pound of powdered sugar but holy cow. Even the twelve year old passed on them initially. He said he might like them but wasn’t in the mood for them at the time. A pre-teen boy NOT in the mood for a sweet treat? Luckily, my neighbors have three kids so I’m going to take them over there.
If I were to ever make these again (never going to happen), I would use shredded coconut instead of flaked coconut (thank goodness I opted for unsweetened!) and cut waaaaaaaay down on the powdered sugar. The top started browning at 30 minutes so I took them out but I think they could have stayed in a bit longer. The bars were quite sticky to cut and the knife picked up bits of the bars. Greasing and/or flouring the jelly roll pan is definitely not needed as the bars released very easily.
Verdict: Not So Bad
The next day, I tried one (NOT because I was too lazy to make breakfast) and 24 hours made a huge difference. I mean, it’s still sweet but it’s not so sickeningly sweet as yesterday. They also firmed up and are less sticky. I would suggest letting them sit for 24 hours even before cutting them. They are the 12 year olds new favorite thing in life so I’m not sure the neighbor kids are going to get any.
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