This entry is mid-century. Truth be told, I’m surprised that it took me this long to get to this point as I like mid-century culture, and it just seemed like a natural that I’d pull out one of those cookbooks and craft some entre that would emote nothing but 1950s Rat Pack style coolness. Well, let me just say that things turned out a lot better this time than in my previous attempts. For the first time I think I got the gist of what I was trying to do, and that I got it right. And for that, I turned to a mid-century culinary classic.
The 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book was one of the first post-WWII cookbooks designed for the “modern” housewife. It contained a number of photos in both color and black and white, and included such basic tidbits on how to set a table, how to display your food, and how to prepare your meats, pastries, and vegetables. It truly was a single volume guide for the kitchen. It’s still in print, routinely updated, and is a must-have for anyone fumbling around a kitchen (like me).
Granted, meatloaf and potatoes don’t normally scream out “Rat Pack,” but I have to confess that this one is pretty good.
My edition is a reprint of the original 1950 version, with some updates for the modern kitchen:
Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book
Hungry Minds, Inc. and General Mills, Inc.
(1950) 1998, ISBN: 9780028627717).
I love meatloaf, but believe it or not, I’ve never had it using beef and pork; traditionally, I use only ground beef.
1 lb. ground beef (or veal)
1/2 lb. ground lean pork
2 c. bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
4 Tbsp. minced onion
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. sage
Pack into greased 9x5x3” loaf pan. Bake. Unmold. Serve hot . . . or serve cold. For Catsup-Topped Loaf, spread 3 Tbsp. catsup over top before baking.
Temperature: 350F (mod. oven).
Time: 1 1/2 hr.
Amount: 8 servings.
Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book (1950), p. 275.
As you can see, I served it with mashed potatoes, French cut green beans, and sliced white bread. (I was trying to make this as 1950-ish as possible.) I had gravy on the side but didn’t pour it (to get a good shot of the plate), and then later forgot about it.
So how did it turn out?
Well, it was fantastic! I really enjoyed the meatloaf. As I said, I’ve never had it with two meats as dictated in the recipe, so the taste surprised me. It was good! My problem was that I could not buy just a half-pound of ground pork; I had to buy a full pound. And since I knew that I’d likely not use any remaining pork, I doubled the recipe. That’s right – I made two loaves.
Had I been smart, I’d have frozen one for future use, but I didn’t. Instead, I cooked them together on the same tray. That means that instead of taking just 90 minutes to cook, I put them in the oven for nearly twice that. Next time I’ll use better sense, but given that I was afraid that the meat might spoil otherwise, I think I made a decent decision.
In terms of taste, it was good old fashion meatloaf: nothing splashy or flashy here. I didn’t taste the pork at all – no big deal; it just surprised me. The other items were okay; nothing flashy there, either. In fact, this was a meal without flash but a lot of substance, you might say.
Of the meals thus far recreated, this one probably came the closest to my idea of being “accurate.” I mean, a 1950-ish meal being served on mid-century dinnerware while on a television dinner stand? The only thing that would have batted this ball out of the park would have been to set the channel to “Ed Sullivan” while we ate!
The dish that I used is from a 1956 Paden Preview set. I picked it up at the Tip Top Atomic Shop in Milwaukee, but unfortunately it was the only one on hand. The pattern pops up on Ebay periodically, but usually at outrageous prices. Mine is in excellent condition and just five bucks. All things considered, it was a pretty good deal.
The silverware is the mid-century inspired, but otherwise modern, Slate pattern from Cost World Market. I went through a couple of books that I have on mid-century modern/post-modern styles, and of what I found on the current market, this pattern seemed the most 1950-ish to me. I think it was the futuristic styling of the knife that actually pushed me towards the set. I just wish that I could have bought them as a set (which you can do online) as opposed to open stock. (There’s a white cotton napkin, not shown for space.)
The glass and place mat are both from Target. Each year, Target introduces what can be best described as a “spring retro” collection in their kitchen ware section. Last year they had a really nice picnic and barbeque set that featured matching everything from cup to plate to salt and pepper shakers. Had I been more motivated, I’d have gotten them, but I didn’t. This year’s set was smaller in scope: Juice pitchers, along with water and juice glasses, all with pastel colored rings. I grabbed this glass because it struck me as a 1950s era glass, but because I don’t have the space for yet another set of dishes, I only got one – for this photograph. Yesterday, I learned that Target has closed out that line, but I still managed to find a solitary matching juice glass on the cheap. I may look for more, but I don’t anticipate any success.
(Target can be a cool place to find retro themed items. Check out this clock, for example. We had something very similar to that in our house growing up. I might have to see if our old clock is still in the basement . . . )
All said, this dinner turned out very well.