Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book" (2 versions) - Springtime Skillet Dinner and Rhubarb Custard Pie

Date I made these recipes: June 1, 2008

Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book (three-ring binder) by General Mills
Published by: General Mills and McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
© 1950 – First Edition (Second Printing)
Recipe: Springtime Skillet Dinner p. 399

Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book (hard cover) by General Mills
Published by: General Mills and McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
© 1950 – First Edition (Second Printing)
Recipe: Rhubarb Custard Pie – crust p. 299 and filling p. 306

If this weekend’s cooking event was a baseball game, here’s how this went down: a swing and a hit and a swing and a miss.

Not that I want to tell Betty Crocker what to do, but I think she should stick to what I consider to be the cornerstone of the BC kitchens: baked goods. But casseroles? Not so much.

Two things prompted the selection of these recipes. One was that my mother-in-law had rhubarb that needed to be used up and the other was that while going through my mother’s things that she put in the attic, I discovered my Betty Crocker Junior Baking Kit. People, I almost cried. The kit originally contained 12 baking mixes (although I remember buying more) and 20 baking utensils including my favorite little red bowl. Oh how I loved to bake with this kit. Yet missing from the lineup of things we found (including my Bobbsey Twins books—remember those?) was my Easy Bake Oven. To my absolute horror, my mother informed me years ago that she “threw that out.”

Whaaaaat???? She kept the baking kit yet threw out the coolest toy ever? I almost had to be committed to the nearest mental hospital.

Moms can be funny about these things and I’ll never know exactly why she got rid of the Easy Bake but she redeemed herself by Betty’s Junior Baking Kit.

So of course after finding my bake set I had to bake something from my one of my two Big Red Cookbooks (a/k/a/ Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book) using the rhubarb and the pie I made was mighty delicious. But alas, people, the casserole was a real disappointment and for that, I take the blame.

I could have made any number of baked goods from the second BC cookbook but my eye latched on to the casserole and that was that. Besides, I really did want a main dish to round out dessert. But here’s the problem: the rice got too mushy cooking after cooking for 40 minutes (as directed) and the veggies were still too crisp even after I extended the cooking time by an extra 20 minutes.

But the bigger problem, in my humble opinion, is that the dish was bland, bland, oh-so-bland. The only “spice” was 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and that didn’t even make a dent with my taste buds. So…a swing and a miss it was.

By the way, in case you’re wondering why on earth I made a springtime casserole in June it’s because a) summer doesn’t start until June 21st and b) it’s been so cold and rainy here that it might as well be spring. (By the way, “It Might As Well Be Spring” is also the name of a song written by Rogers and Hammerstein for the movie State Fair. I will confess to liking show tunes but honestly, after watching a scene where a farmer serenades his pig with the song “Sweet Sow of Mine” I was outta there!)

Springtime Skillet Dinner – About 6 servings
2T fat
1 cut-up clove garlic
1 cup finely diced onion
½ lb. Ground beef
½ cup uncooked rice
5-6 cups water
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced potatoes
1 to 2 tsp soy sauce
1 T salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Brown the garlic in the fat in a 10” skillet. Remove the garlic then add the onion and ground beef. Cook until browned stirring. Add the rice and water and simmer uncovered over low heat for 40 minutes. Add the carrots and potatoes and continue simmering until tender (20 minutes—although I did 40 and the veggies still weren’t tender). Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper.

Rhubarb Custard Pie – yields 7 to 8 pieces

For the pie crust
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
4 T water

For the pie filling
3 eggs
2 2/3 T milk
2 cups sugar
4 T flour
¾ tsp nutmeg
4 cups cut-up pink rhubarb
1 T butter

To make the pie crust:

Mix together 2 cups sifted flour and salt. Cut in the shortening and then sprinkle with the water. Gather dough together and press into a ball. Roll out on a floured surface until your dough is about an inch large than the pie plate. Trim and crimp the pie crust. (Note: the recipe said to make a lattice crust for the pie but I skipped that part).

To make the filling:

Beat slightly the three eggs then add the milk. Mix together then stir in the sugar, flour and nutmeg. Add the rhubarb and mix well. Pour into the pie pan and then dot filling with butter.

Bake until nicely browned, approximately 50 to 60 minutes in a 400 degree oven.


Kimberly Ann said...

I'm sorry to hear the casserole didn't turn out as you hoped. I am always looking for easy peasy casseroles myself. But congratulations on the recovery of your junior kit!

Anonymous said...

This was one of my mom's standards when I was growing up in Michigan in the 1960s. She added the potatoes and carrots right after putting in much less than 5 cups of water, and used Worchester Sauce instead of soy sauce (Worchester includes soy in its formula). That gives it more zest, and the longer cooking time for the veggies and less water make a much better final product. It is one of my fondest memories (because she knew the tricks to make it delicious). Give it a try with these little changes and you'll have a yummy, easy meal.