In spite of the fact that we have been using our Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook at least once a week for over forty years, it is in pretty good shape. The title page and page two, a note from the editors, have torn loose and some of the section tabs have torn off. But every recipe is still there, and many taste just as good today as they did when we first tried them.
That, coupled with the fact that the recipes are easy to read and follow, helps explain why the book has been in print continuously since it was published in 1930. Over forty million copies have ended up in the kitchens of America.
Our copy is the 1968 edition and the copyright page states that the book was published by Meredith Corporation of Des Moines, Iowa, and “Printed in the United States of America.” I was glad to learn that, as it gave me the perfect answer to the question that Minnesotans like to ask visitors from the Hawkeye state, “What is the best thing to come out of Iowa?”
I-35 indeed. Ask the jokers how many cookbooks from Minnesota have sold forty million copies.
Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook is still published in Des Moines, Iowa, but I note sadly that it is no longer printed in the USA. Instead, it is now “Printed in China.” Alas.
One of the recipes that Jerri discovered in this wonderful cookbook is “Hamburger Pie.” Like many casseroles, this one lends itself to being put together ahead of time and cooked just before the meal. When she was giving piano lessons, she made this casserole at least a couple of times every month. She assembled it before her first student arrived, put it in the refrigerator and then popped the casserole in the oven an hour before we sat down to eat.
Even our kids liked it. Give it a try.
1 lb. hamburger
1/2 small onion (about 2 inches in diameter)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 cups canned cut green beans
1 can (10 1/2 oz.) condensed tomato soup
4 large or 5 medium potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
Peel and quarter the potatoes and put them in a two or three-quart saucepan. Cover them with water and add a teaspoon of salt. Bring the pan to a boil and simmer the potatoes until they feel tender when you jab them with a fork. It will usually take about twenty minutes for the potatoes to cook, but check them after fifteen minutes or so, as you want them tender but not falling to pieces.
While the potatoes are cooking, brown the hamburger over medium heat in a large skillet. Use a wooden spoon to break the hamburger into crumbles and season it with a half teaspoon of salt and about an eighth teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Chop the onion medium fine and mix it with the hamburger. You want about a half cup of chopped onion. Remove the pan from the heat.
If there is more than a tablespoon of fat in the pan, drain the excess before you add the beans and tomato soup. Drain the beans and mix them with the meat. Then stir in the soup.
Grease a one and one-half or two-quart casserole and spread the meat mixture evenly on the bottom.
Preheat the oven to 350º.
The potatoes should be cooked by this time. Drain and mash them. Heat the milk until it feels very warm but not hot and use the masher to stir it vigorously into the potatoes. Beat the egg in a cup until it is lemon yellow and stir it into the potatoes along with an eighth teaspoon each of white pepper and salt.
Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the meat mixture.
Grate the cheese and sprinkle it over the top. Bake the casserole for twenty-five minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned around the edges of the casserole.
NOTES: Jerri uses medium cheddar most often for this casserole, but I think that it is even better with sharp cheddar. In an emergency, you can use mild cheddar or even Colby.