Foods from the 50s

Does anyone still make tuna and noodle casserole, that iconic casserole of the 50s? I hear about meatloaf. Macaroni and cheese. Deviled eggs. But I never hear anyone say they are going out for gourmet tuna and noodles. I like meatloaf and make a pretty good one myself, using organic, grass-fed beef that has no hormones or antibiotics. I have never been a fan of macaroni and cheese, no matter how gourmet it is. And deviled eggs? Oh, disgusting. Please don’t put them in my potato salad either.

Tuna and noodles…that’s a dish I make about once a month, especially during the colder months, and we seem to have had more of those this year. I make my own white sauce, using lots of butter. I cook the noodles al dente because they will cook more in the oven, and I top it all off with a sourdough french bread and cheese crumble.

It comes out looking like this: 

Usually a salad is all that’s needed. Last night it was coleslaw:

I have been reading a great little book about food in the 50s: “Something from the Oven,” by Laura Shapiro, where she tells how packaged, processed foods changed the way we eat. And cook. The 50s were definitely the era where women questioned what they were doing and looked for ways to make housekeeping easier. Betty Crocker became a household word during that decade with all of her mixes, cookbooks, and radio programs telling American housewives how to cook. I believe that my mother discovered tuna and noodle casserole in one of those cookbooks. I never used a recipe for my casserole, but rather my own concoction, as is the case with most of my cooking. Today’s young woman is turning to the Internet, and places like Pinterest to find recipes. Even I find myself going online to look at how to make something like browned butter sweet potato pie that I read about being served in a restaurant.


8 responses to “Foods from the 50s

  1. I just made tuna noodle casserole the week before last, at the request of one of my teen daughters. I found an Emeril recipe, which used a from-scratch white sauce. Came out pretty tasty.

  2. I make tuna-noodle casserole once or twice a month (and I’m an 80’s baby! LOL). My kids love it.

    I cook the same way – almost never use a recipe, and if I do, I ALWAYS change it! I love being creative in the kitchen!

    • I had a rule when I was working: anything I made had to be made in 15 minutes on school nights. I would cook more time consuming dishes on the weekends and we would have them warmed up during the week. Now that I’m retired, I can spend more time in the afternoon cooking. Yesterday was the tuna noodle casserole, today it was apple pie, caramels, potato salad, roasted chicken. Tomorrow, though, I’m going out for lunch with my girlfriends!

  3. I remember tuna casserole, and it’s not fondly. Yours does look pretty good, though. My life changed when Mama stopped making real potatoes and started using instant. Ick! (although in truth there wasn’t that much difference if you used enough butter)

    • Ah yes, instant mashed potatoes. I remember my sister making those, opening a can of meatballs and a can of green beans and calling it dinner. My mother was aghast.

  4. I never was a fan of tuna noodle casserole, but maybe it’s because my mom always added canned peas to hers. I bet if I tried again I could make one that was good.

    • No peas, please! Also, Kathy, I think the sauce is the main thing. Some people use canned soup, but I make my own white sauce, rich in butter. Also, don’t cook the noodles as long as recommended because they will continue to cook while baking and can become gummy if overcooked.

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