We all like making beautifully molded aspics, delicate cakes and pastries, and airy creams, but the vast majority of the world has dined on much simpler fare throughout history. For this challenge, give your best interpretation of the food eaten by the nameless rabble. Be sure to document what makes it “working-class”!
$14,500 for a house?! $3,216 for a car?! 37 cents for a pound of coffee?! Absolutely! In 1950 that is. This website has some interesting facts about the prices in Dunklin County, Missouri, United States in the year 1950.
One of the staples in both Patrick's and my childhood kitchens was hamburger and potatoes. We both remember many meals with those ingredients and when you view the Dunklin County website it is easy to see why. Potatoes might have been a 5-pound bag for 35 cents or a 10-pound bag for 35 cents depending on the season and type of potato. Hamburger was 89 cents for 3 pounds. So our working-class families would have been inventive of those ingredients which might have shown up on our working-class dinner tables at least several times a week.
The CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes has a recipe that both of us believe was in both of our mothers' recipe boxes; Meat Crust Casserole.
As with most of the recipes from this period, the ingredients are simple.
Where our 1950 pricing might have been 89 cents for 3 pounds of hamburger or 33 cents per pound, our pricing today was $4.18 per pound.
Potatoes costing 35 cents for a 5 pound bag in 1950 or 7 cents per pound are $1.97 for a 3-pound bag or 65 cents per pound.
Considering that the basic price of this meal for potatoes and meat is only $6.15 and will feed 6 people, the price is still very affordable for a working-class family.
The preparation is fast making this a quick meal even for today's working family.
|Potatoes are peeled, cut, salted, covered, and boiled until soft.|
|Butter is melted, and diced onion, celery, and green pepper are added.|
|Salt, pepper, and French's mustard season the hamburger.|
|The seasoned hamburger ready to become a crust.|
|The hamburger formed into a crust so that every slice will have all ingredients.|
|Onion, celery, and green pepper cooked until tender.|
|An egg is added to the cooked potatoes.|
|Egg and potatoes beat until fluffy.|
|Cooked onion, celery, and green pepper added to potato mixture.|
|The ingredients combined.|
|Potato mixture placed in hamburger crust and baked at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.|
|Oooooo, that's looking and smelling nice!|
|A cup of peas added to the top of the casserole.|
|Baked at 350 degrees for another 10 minutes.|
Patrick is thrilled! He said it reminds him of the country-fried steak with mashed potatoes and peas he ate as a child. Oooookkkkayyyy. Me? I'm not really excited by the looks, but the smell is great and actually I'm really hungry.
The final vote? Four thumbs up! While it could have done with a little more color it was a very delicious meal! The mustard added a nice tang to the hamburger and it must have been the egg that added some great texture to the potatoes. Very hearty and filling. You can see I'm working on a tomato aspic recipe and had a little left over so I made a side presentation of tomato aspic and Granny Smith apples. It was a nice addition.
I think our mothers, Mary Ellen and Bernice, would have enjoyed today's working-class dinner. We sure did!
Patrick and Jeanette