Wednesday, February 20, 2008

1950s budget menu: frankfurter picnic

Four days into the 1950s budget menu. How did our grandmothers do this every day?

The toddler busied herself shaking sugar on the floor. The kindergartener burst into tears at the smell of boiled cabbage.

The homemade hot dog buns swelled and spilled all over the oven. Quick, open the windows!

I give up. Let's make cole slaw. Warm up the beans.

Andrew, get the picnic basket.

Click here to return to the complete 1950s budget cooking experiment!


Anonymous said...

Well, at least you recognized that menu as a disaster! I would have been right there in tears with Andrew! I could never understand boiled cabbage and hot potato salad in the lst place. Good for you for at least going to cole slaw and warming up the beans!

Meredith said...

We still had the hot potato salad. I like it!

Anonymous said...

Well, I do not know for sure HOW our grandmother's did this everyday. I know that MY grandmother did it with a smile on her lips and a prayer in her heart. She NEVER complained. I swear to you in the 38 years I knew the worman I never heard her complain about anything except the high cost of ground beef...when it went from 4 pounds for a dollar to 3 pounds for a dollar she thought the world would end...
I think the slaw and warm beans with the weiners will be a great meal.
To all things patience. Andrew is so lucky to see his mother do this kind of experiment. I know that he is too young to appreicate it, but he is very lucky.
Thanks for sharing your experience. Roixe

Anonymous said...

Uh-oh!...I have had similar messes from time to time in my oven, & it sure can bring things to a screeching halt, eh? I think you compromised nicely: cole slaw instead of the boiled cabbage. What about having the cabbage stir-fried? You could even have put the frankfurters in along with it...or would that have deviated too much from the menu? I admire your "stick-to-it" attitude, Meredith! This is a great experiment, & I think you've inspired a lot of folks to dust off some of their older cookbooks, & maybe even look again to some of the wisdom of that era. Not everything was perfect, of course, but food-wise, I really do believe they did much better, as a whole, than we do today.


Heart of Wisdom said...

Our Grandma's are an inspiration to us all. I get all warm inside thinking about eating at my grandma house...Thanks for sharing and bringing up that warm fuzzy again.

You have been tagged for the "What’s On Your Refrigerator?" meme. It is a Meme and a contest! I'll be giving away two free books. Read all about it at

Monica said...

I'm loving this series. It reminds me of the days I spent as a young girl at my Great Grandma's house. She spent the entire day tooling around the kitchen and serving up our meals in individual pretty glass dishes. She'd no longer finish cleaning up from breakfast and then be starting dinner.

But you know what, pudding never tasted so good as when it came in chilled in an individual small glass bowl with a spoon of whipped cream on top. It was like art work.

Anonymous said...

you baked the hot dog buns?! go meredith!

A farm wife in Iowa I knew had special mornings reserved just for baking bread according to the week's need. It wasn't a meal by meal occurrence, perhaps that's how they did it.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I think that I would have quickly decided that the $.99 hot dog buns at Walgreens were well worth it. :) I've always like boiled cabbage, myself - better than most cole slaws.

My grandmother was a farmer's wife - I've heard stories of her meals during baling season. I do not know how she did it with three little ones. I'll bet she wonders today, too, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'll say from my family's standpoint that my grandmother lived on the same block as her mother and all her sisters. The kids went back and forth among various aunts and there was a lot of communal cooking amongst the lot. The famous family story is the time one uncle brought the boss home for dinner unexpectedly and the solution was that the aunt next door pulled out the pot roast her family was scheduled to have that night and carried out her back door into the other kitchen just in time.

Jan/ said...

Other '50s ideas for hot dogs with no buns: cut a slit in each hot dog. Insert a slice of cheese. Wrap each with a half slice of bacon. Broil until the bacon is crisp.
or, cut up the hot dogs in "coin" size slices, and combine with leftover baked beans, or with sourkraut, or with fried cabbage. These were some of the things my mama did to stretch one package of hot dogs to feed a carpenter husband and four growing kids.

Julie said...

Reading this series, I was surprised at how much I already cook like that. Meat is used in more than one meal. celery tops and other veggie bits are saved for soup.

I've never made scalloped or au gratin potatoes from a box. Following my grandma's recipes is always so much better. (Same thing with her peanut butter cookies, mac and cheese and French onion soup.)

I have to laugh about the baking. My oldest son does it all now. He made his brothers' birthday cupcakes this morning and is now making the most delicious sugar cookies from The Joy of Cookie with his friend. Had to find a recipe that used the ingredients we had on hand and they are doing a wonderful job. They are squishing down the dough with a meat hammer, lol.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

What is it about males and boiled cabbage? I had this discussion once while out to lunch with some girlfriends. All of us liked boiled cabbage, but all of our husbands thought it smelled like garbage while cooking and refused to eat it. It's like the male olfactory sense can't handle it or something.

Sounds like you salvaged your meal beautifully.

Kelly said...

Hot potato salad with bacon bits is very good!

Anonymous said...

I have been fascinated to read over this series. I am a great believer in vintage style cooking because it eliminates many of the processed goods that can do us so much harm. I also like the emphasis on lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. I agree with you that the desserts can be a bit much though.

Late last year I wrote an article for my blog on The Case for Vintage Style Cooking. You might enjoy reading it.

Thanks for a most interesting series.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of boiled cabbage, but I remember a hint in one of my vintage cookbooks: a little vinegar thrown in the pot of boiling cabbage cuts down on the odor :)

Amanda on Maui said...

Did you figure out what went wrong with the buns? I'd like to start making my own.

Carrien Blue said...

MY grandma always made soup for lunch, with the leftovers from meal prep, and she always served the leftover salad for next day's lunch too. And she did all of her baking for the week on Monday, bread, buns, pie and cookies, and then she was done. She just made up one big batch of dough, and pastry, etc.

And she did her prep work the night before for the next day's meals wherever possible, or right after breakfast.

And she did the laundry on Thursday, only Thursday, she did it all and then she was done until next Thursday.

Does that help? :)

I studied to answer the same question myself once you see.