This Old Cookbook: (1957) Betty Crocker’s Cook Book For Boys And Girls

I’ve never been a “Bed & Breakfast” kind of person, always preferring the anonymous consistency of a larger hotel when traveling.  I think part of the reason might have been that I never came across the right one.  This summer we found it, tucked up the side of a mountain in Woodstock, NY.  The amenities were nice, it featured all sorts of earthy-crunchy touches that my wife appreciated, it had great food and a truly nice owner, but the one thing that has stuck with me since our stay, and what has me thinking about returning, was the library in our room which featured a ton of old cookbooks.  Odds are they were chosen as much for kitsch as they were for food dreamers, but their mere appearance hinted at a new culinary world for me and I have been on a mission to find some old cookbooks for our own book stacks.  I finally had my chance a few weeks ago at our local library’s annual book sale and I felt like I scored big time with a copy of Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls.  Now, of course, the first thing I did was search for a burger recipe and I was rewarded with a few in this 1957 time capsule.  The first one I cooked up is above and I must admit it looks like your basic hamburger, but it has a juicy twist.

The recipe is all of 3 ingredients long, but the results were pretty impressive.

Combine in a bowl and then form into patties
  • 1 lb. of ground beef (we used 85/15 grass-fed beef)
  • 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1 tbsp. salt

I know what you’re saying.  Looks kind of boring, and on paper it is.  I have never even considered using evaporated milk in a burger before and to be honest I wasn’t sold after combining the ingredients.  The concoction had a really loose consistency and I panicked a bit and ended up tossing the patties in the freezer for a few minutes to firm them up for fear that they would disintegrate while cooking.  Me of little faith.  6 minutes per side under a broiler set to high is enough for the higher side of medium (in reality I had them under for 8 minutes per side in hopes of getting a bit of a crust on them which resulted in an incongruously moist solid grey middle).  Tossed on squishy rolls with a slather of mayo, mustard and a tomato, these retro treats were legit.  The evaporated milk does impart a bit of creaminess to the burgers, but it is not off-putting.  I think the selling point of these burgers is you can satisfy the “well-done” folks at your BBQ with a juicy burger – something they may never have experienced before (especially at 160°).

I have poured over tons of burger recipes over the years and have never seen evaporated milk on the ingredient list.  Have you?  It made me wonder what other ingredients have fallen out of favor.  Thankfully I have a small stack of 50′s, 60′s and 70′s cookbooks now to cook my way through in hopes of finding out the answer to that myself.

Bonus material:

Click here for extra pictures from the cookbook.

Retreat At TreeGap in Woodstock, NY (the original inspiration for this post).

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