Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Losing Ground

Let's see how '70s families saved money for 8-track tapes, Daisy Dukes, and macrame wall hangings.

The Sunset Ground Beef Cook Book (editors of Sunset Magazine, copyright 1965, but mine is a 1971 printing) has plenty of suggestions for meals built on the budget-stretching meat. The first one that caught my eye is right in the middle of the cover.

Those enormous hamburger patties look as if they're meant for one of those food challenges at a forcibly-"fun" restaurant. Eat the full burger and ten pounds of coleslaw in under an hour without hosing the place down with semi-digested beef and cabbage, and you can have a free T-shirt!

So are those big burgers what they appear to be?

Yep! They're fancied-up by being called "Hamburger Steak in the Round," and they're meant to serve ten people, thankfully.

At least in the '70s, a recipe that starts out by spreading a quarter-pound of butter on a full loaf of bread that will be topped with three pounds of meat is meant to feed a crowd.

And hey-- the pretty tomato and cucumber flower on top means it's even got some fresh vegetables!

The writers must have been really proud of this one, too, since there's a second photo (though not a full color one):

This cookbook isn't all straight-up burgers, though. There are some interesting variations:

Mexican Meat Patties mash up canned tamales (Yes, they're real, and they're crap-tacular.) with ground beef and seasonings, then serve them over tortillas that have been shredded for some reason.

Mexican Meat Patties call for actual chili powder, corn tortillas, and green chili salsa. A "Chinese" dish in the casserole chapter has a more dubious connection to its supposed heritage:

There are no markers of '70s "Chinese" food-- no rice, no soy sauce, no bean sprouts. The closest this recipe gets is the observation that "the slices of crisp celery taste surprisingly like water chestnuts." The celery, nestled in mushroom soup and light cream, topped with potato chips, has a mighty struggle to get anyone to believe this is a Chinese treatment....

My "favorite" recipe, though, is of course one of the weirdest:

Banana Meat Rolls are basically miniature horseradish-seasoned meatloaves with a surprise filling-- and I'll bet you can guess it based on the recipe title. Who hasn't craved "Individual meat rolls, centered with a whole banana" at one time or another?

Sane people. That's who. But apparently, sane people did not edit Sunset Magazine.

Happy Cookbook Wednesday! Get out there and center yourself on something more pleasant than a banana mini-meatloaf.

Thanks again to Louise from Months of Edible Celebrations for hosting.


  1. Good morning, Poppy:)
    For a minute there I thought these recipes weren't half bad until...the attack of the Banana Meat Rolls!!!

    I know today is Banana Day but gee whiz, lemon sprinkled bananas nestled in a blob of ground beef?

    I have a few Sunset books that I still refer to every now and again. Many of the recipes really do give a glimpse into the cooking of the time. I especially like the Sunset Bread Book but as you know, I'm no bread baker, lol...

    I think this book and the recipes you've shared is mild as compared to some of those other over the top recipes you've offered.

    Thanks for joining in for Cookbook Wednesday Poppy...

    1. I knew I had to save the weirdest for last! Luckily it fit for Banana Day too! ;-)

  2. Sunset books usually weren't as over-the-top as this one! Did you maybe pick the most extreme recipes?

    I really liked quite a few of the recipes in their sixties-seventies era Mexican cookbook, and their salad book had some ideas that still sound pretty good.

    Happy Cookbook Wednesday from mae at

    1. I usually pick the most extreme ones I can find! That's the fun of it.

  3. I had a Southern Living ground beef cookbook, but gave it to a friend who was (a) Texan and (b) a great griller. We can't eat nearly so much saturated fat these days, so it seemed like a good idea to keep temptation away.

    And Banana Meat Rolls? Those are a good reminder of why I'm a food segregationalist. But the giant burger dinner-for-10 looks like a pretty good thing, with the caveat that 3 pounds of ground beef would never feed 10 people in my hungry horde.

    Happy Cookbook Wednesday!

    1. I'm generally a food segregationist too... I used to separate components of casseroles when I was a kid and eat each part separately!

  4. Replies
    1. I'm sure the meat rolls could be improved that way!