So you may know I have this thing for vintage cookbooks. Specifically Better Homes & Gardens cookbooks from the 60's and 70's. I have highlighted portions of my collection here, here, here and here. I also love browsing vintage cookbook flickr groups, mainly Vintage Cookbooks and Mid-Century Supper Club. I love these books for their crazy photography and food styling, and for the often nasty-sounding recipes (canned chicken in lemon jello anybody?). However, not all of them are filled with condensed cream-of-mushroom-soup concoctions. I decided I needed to stop making fun of these books, and actually cook something from them.
It being winter, I went for my 1968 Better Homes & Gardens Casserole Cookbook. And actually this book has a lot of yummy-sounding comfort-food dishes that I'd totally try (and I just discovered Saveur listed it as one of their favorite casserole cookbooks!)! The recipe I chose this time was Bavarian-style stew. It caught my eye for several reasons. First, it was one of the pictured recipes. I'm a sucker for visuals! Also, the recipe was written in paragraph form. Finally, the last ingredient you ad to this beef stew is crumbs from gingersnaps! What?!? I was sold.
I followed the recipe as written...oh wait...I added garlic with those onions...and I browned the beef in butter instead of shortening. But other than that...here is the recipe how it is written in the book:
Brown 2 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1-inch cubes, in 2 tablespoons hot shortening. Add 3 cups water, 2 medium onions, sliced, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 bay leaf, and 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seed. Cover; simmer 1 hour. Add 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar. Cut 1 small head red cabbage in thin wedges; place atop meat.
Cover; simmer 45 minutes or until tender. Remove cabbage to platter. Add 1/2 cup broken gingersnaps to liquid; bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
How was this crazy retro recipe? It was Really Good!! It was sweet and the meat was tender. The cabbage took on almost a sauerkraut like flavor, but not nearly as strong. And I loved the purple! Pretty. Maybe I outta crack open my collection more often. Now, this book is not all gems.... it also has such recipes as the "Wienie-lottas"...basically enchiladas with hot dogs as the meat. I don't know about that one...although I love the name so much I just might try it.
A comparison...not too shabby!