Baked Beans ‘N Burgers: A Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on May 11 2011 - 5:29am by RetroRuth

38 Answers001

Welcome to this week’s Mid-Century Menu, a fun feature where Tom and I make a mid-century recipe chosen from our vast collection of vintage cookbooks. This week we pulled a recipe from one of our “newer” books that we recently found for 10 cents at a recent rummage sale. 38 Answers to What’s Cooking? was published by the Carnation Company in 1974 and deals with, you guessed it, Carnation Evaporated Milk. 

Which is fortuitous, since I have been wanting to try out Carnation’s Stay-Juicy Basic Ground Beef for a long time. Ever since I saw it in a 1955 Carnation cookbook.  It apparently has staying power. Power which I wanted to harness for the Mid-Century Menu.

Oh, and if you are curious, this recipe is cooking “answer” 11 out of the 38 titular “answers” in the book.  And yes, I just used the word titular.

So, since this book is about answers, I say we make up some questions for this recipe trial. I must say that I had a lot of questions after cooking it.

My first question is: How did they get that ice cream to scoop like that? I have tried, and failed, on many occasions to duplicate that look. I think I need some kind of ice cream spade or something.


38 Answers002

Why would they think that long ropes of ground meat would make me want hamburgers?


Why did I buy only 1lb of ground beef, when the recipe called for 1.5 lbs?

Is that a chicken plate in the background?


Is that much mustard really necessary?

Why is there a chicken plate in the background?


Why does everything on the Mid-Century Menu end up looking like a pile of barf? Or brains? Or brain-barf?

Why couldn’t I just stick to the basic recipe? Why did I get excited to see what this brain-meat could do and decide to try one of the 5 variations?38 Answers003

Does everything really taste better served on a bed of baked beans?

And why is that sauce radioactive red?


Now it looks like a pan full of hamster brains.

I mean…why does it look like hamster brains?


Is that much Worcestershire sauce really necessary? (In a hilarious side-note, this is the first time I have ever typed Worcestershire sauce and spelled it correctly the first time! Yes!)


Is this really a good use of my camera?


Does the fact that baked beans glisten disturb you as much as it disturbs me?


Why did I have to spoon the baked beans into the casserole dish? Couldn’t I have just poured them in?


Does this look disgusting?


Seriously. Does it?


What kind of fool would actually eat this?





Did Tom like it? Even after he made this face?


Yes. Yes he did.

The Verdict? Good.  Even though I shorted the recipe half a pound of meat, the meatballs actually did stay as moist as the recipe promised. Almost too moist. The sauce was pretty much sloppy joe sauce, again, so no surprises there. After Tom got over his initial panic about what exactly was in the meatballs, he settled into the saddle and started to enjoy it. He said, and I quote, “I am going to eat all of this.” And he tried. But in the end, 2 pounds of baked beans is too much for any mortal man to tackle in one meal.


What do you mean, “There are more beans?”

WordPress Author Box

I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

Like us on Facebook
on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter
Follow @MidCenturyMenu on Twitter

16 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Eartha Kitsch May 11, 2011 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Oh my gosh, you had me laughing SO hard! I have to admit that their illustrations look really, really gross (I’ll never forgive them for that close-up of the raw meat) but the recipe itself as you were making it (well, after the hamster brain step) looked really good!

  2. Toni May 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Okay, I haven’t read it yet, but I have to ask, what the heck is on the cover? A jello mold filled with what??

    • RetroRuth May 12, 2011 at 8:40 am - Reply

      Ahhh…melon balls? Maybe?

  3. Toni May 11, 2011 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    that doesn’t sound to bad. I also wondered why they said spoon and not pour. Maybe if you make your own baked beans you’d want to spoon them in (homemade baked beans are sooo good). Maybe the fact that I’m STARVING makes this meal sound better than it is. hmmm. I need to go to lunch . . .

    • RetroRuth May 12, 2011 at 8:39 am - Reply

      It actually was pretty good, so your hunger pangs are completely justified!!

  4. Ae May 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    When have you seen hamster brains? Oh my! I hope you had a nice night after Tom ate all those baked beans! Really didn’t sound too bad! Oh, and we had an ice cream spade that you can use the next time you’re here. 🙂

    • RetroRuth May 12, 2011 at 8:38 am - Reply

      Ma! Hampster brains? Oh…you know. Around. 🙂

  5. Kim Campbell May 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    I have that same chicken plate!

    • RetroRuth May 12, 2011 at 8:38 am - Reply

      Chicken Plate Club!! 🙂 Just Kim & me in the CPC…it even rhymes.

  6. DrJulieAnn aka The Modern Retro Woman May 11, 2011 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    Why WAS their a chicken plate in the background?

    I often wonder the same thing about every mid-century recipe looking like some variation of brains. Why is that?

    Thanks for the good laugh! Great post!

    • RetroRuth May 12, 2011 at 8:37 am - Reply

      Thanks! I love that chicken plate. 🙂

      Dunno about the brains thing…maybe because brains weren’t considered as gross back then, so it was okay that everything looked like them?? Maybe???:)

  7. Andrea May 11, 2011 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    This one sounds not too bad, actually! However, I would like to know why, oh why were they so fond of pairing that alarming shade of red with pictures of meat in the 70s???

    • RetroRuth May 12, 2011 at 8:36 am - Reply

      I don’t know. Those meat pictures are super-disturbing!!!

  8. Sara In AZ May 12, 2011 at 12:18 am - Reply

    I want to know if you ever gain the ability to scoop ice cream like that! 😉 I was very worried about this recipe, esp. becasue it resembled Hamster brains so much, I am so glad it turned out in the end.

    And yes, the glistening beans DO disturb me!

    PS – any digestive issues after eating almost 2 lbs. of beans??? 🙂

    • RetroRuth May 12, 2011 at 8:35 am - Reply

      Sara! Girl, if I ever get my ice cream like that, you will be the first to know. 🙂 And I was fine re:2 lbs of beans because I didn’t eat most of them! Poor, poor Tom…

  9. P'Gell May 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Congratulations on spelling Worsheshishier…. whorshessheshetershure… wesh…. AUGHGHGHGH Worcestershire sauce right the first time. 🙂

    Glistening beans. MMMM. Did you make Tom sit on the patio after all those beans? My husband would have been banished if he ate that many.

Leave A Response