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.


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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?”

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