My mother always told me that if I couldn't say something nice not to say anything at all.
So I won't divulge the name of the blog I'm quoting….
I doubt that the author is alone in this opinion, however.
I decided someone had to come to the defense of Betty Crocker.
The blogger found a box of Betty Crocker recipe cards, circa 1971 on which said opinion is based.
I have 'Betty Crocker's Cookbok', copyright 1972 which will be the basis for my defense.
The assertion is made that nothing is made from scratch 'back then', with recipes calling for Cream of Mushroom Soup, packaged pie-crust and so on.
I'll go along with the Mushroom Soup being less than desirable….. I never liked it. Try to remember, though, that this was the beginning of the era of convenience foods. Try to think of the canned soups as being the bottled salsa of the day: both convenience products, both better made from scratch.
As to the packaged pie-crust…. Does packaged pizza crust sound more familiar, perhaps?
I looked through my 'Cookbook' and almost all of the recipes in it were made from scratch, with the addition of one or two prepared foods – like canned soup or canned tomatoes or canned beans or canned tuna. Sound familiar?
A comment leads us to believe that every recipe started with '1 lb of ground beef, 1 onion and 1 green pepper'.
A lot of them did….
They also fed 4 – 6 people. That's less than 4 (or 2.6) ounces of beef per person.
Hmmmm. The problem with that escapes me.
As to vegetables, apparently that section was missing or damaged in the recipe cards. The implication was that all vegetables were frozen or canned, none were ever 'seasoned' and all were boiled.
My 'Cookbook' has 40 pages of recipes using fresh vegetables, including detailed instructions on how to prepare the more unusual ones (for the times)…. like artichokes, as well as more challenging recipes, like Spinach Souffle – using fresh spinach, I might add.
Not all 'Retro Food', to use the current term, is / was good. I don't think Tater Tot Hot Dish has any redeeming qualities…. but I didn't like it then, either.
And using canned Tomato Soup to make spaghetti sauce should have been banned in all 49 50 states.
Oh, wait…. My 'Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls' had a great spaghetti sauce recipe, made much the same as I would make it now.
It's fun to laugh at how ignorant the cooks from the '70's apparently were: making towering Jell-O cakes and using Velveeta in the mac and cheese….
Before you start giggling again, remember this:
In the '70's most people ate dinner at home, at the table with the family and the food had been prepared in their very own kitchen.
They weren't eating McDonalds or pizza at the mall.
And they weren't fat.
Think about that one when you're laughing at all the meat and cheese and pie crust recipes from that decade.
The majority of Americans were not obese in the '70's.
Today, over 68% of Americans are obese.
If we are what we eat, maybe the cooks of the '70's were on to something.
They weren't overly concerned about the pedigree of their groceries…. But they did manage to successfully feed an entire generation that produced the generation that now looks down their noses at them.
And they weren't fat.
Maybe Betty Crocker knew her stuff after all.
As for Retro Food – here's an oldie for you….
You could make it in a springform pan and unmold it for a fancier (1970's) presentation.
12oz ground beef (350gr mince)
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs olive oil
2 cups tomato sauce (16oz, 450gr)
8oz frozen spinach
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
3.5oz (100gr) spaghetti
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup (1oz, 30gr) grated Parmesan
bit more oil
Cook pasta according to package directions.
While pasta cooks: Thaw spinach and squeeze dry. Chop onion and mince garlic. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender. Add garlic and beef and sauté until meat is done, breaking it up as it browns. Stir in herbs, vinegar and tomato sauce. Cover and simmer until needed.
In large bowl lightly whisk the egg. Add 2 tbs of the ricotta and whisk.
To assemble: When pasta is done, drain well. Toss to cool a bit (do not rinse) then add to the egg mixture. Mix well and put into an oiled, glass baking dish. Pat into place.
Fluff the spinach a bit with your fingers and sprinkle it over the pasta. Drop the ricotta by small spoonfuls evenly over the top and spread out a bit. Spread the meat sauce evenly over the ricotta. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake, covered with foil (or lid) at 400 F (200C) for 20 minutes. Remove foil (or lid) and bake 5 minutes longer. Cut into wedges and serve.
The defense rests.