Casseroles and Stew with 70s Style

stews and casseroles cover

Wonderful way to prepare
Stews and Casseroles

I know it is summer so a hearty stew is probably not your first choice for cooking. As a Midwesterner you know that casseroles (or hotdish to my Minnesota friends) are year round fare. Generally speaking, casseroles include some kind of cheap meat or tuna, some kind of noodle/macaroni or tater tots, and some kind of cream of something soup. You will be happy to know that this book does fulfill some of the the basic Midwestern casserole requirements. The shocker for me was the lamb curry  and the tuna curry recipe. Pretty darn wild for a my central Illinois roots. I am not sure that curry can save some of these recipes.

Confession: I have a tuna casserole recipe (to call it an actual recipe is generous) that was a staple in my growing up years. I know my mother used it on days she didn’t feel like cooking for 4 annoying and hungry children. It is cheap and doesn’t require anything special. With COVID-19 still hanging around, it has been showing up on our meal rotation. It’s kind of perfect for the pandemic.

For real cooks, this book is a joke. It is also probably the most boring cookbook ever printed. No pictures, no comments. I am not sure it would have made the cookbook collection back in the day.

I would bet everyone has a couple of recipes that function as just filler.

Bon Appetit!



ground beef


tuna curry

more tuna


  1. Mildly “curry” things were fairly widespread in the 1970s. It meant you put a small amount of packaged curry powder in it. Notice it says “to taste” so your sophisticated New York housewives would use more than the Midwestern ones. In “Desk Set” (Tracy and Hepburn — Kate’s a librarian!) our couple whips up a lamb curry in 1957.

    This definitely didn’t deserve to be in a collection even back then. We know from past posts and Lileks’ Regrettable Food that cookbooks had lots of photos back then, even if they were terrible. OTOH, I have a feeling most of these would have ended up looking alike anyway, so why bother with the pictures…

    Mary: Share your recipe, please! I’ve got tuna and noodles in the pantry and I’m pretty darn bored of cooking after all these months. I hope it’s better than “Mrs. Kotter’s famous tuna casserole” of this era.

  2. I have to be honest. The cover illustration actually looks appealing.

    When I was a Catholic kid in the 1950s, my mother made what was possibly the cheapest meatless Friday dinner that could be imagined. It was a baked casserole of Minute Rice with a chopped onion and a can of a can of stewed tomatoes with American cheese slices placed on top.

    She called it Spanish Rice. If Franco knew about this thing, I have no doubt we might have a second Spanish-American war.

    Please add me to the list of those who would like the tuna noodle casserole recipe.

  3. As someone who grew up in rural north central Illinois in the ’70’s I can state that curry or anything with any significant flavor was showing up on our dinner table. Tuna noodle casserole and the ground beef casserole were eaten with regularity. I am wondering how you feed 4-6 people with a cup of macaroni, one “large”can of tuna and one can of condensed soup as they would suggest with Quick Tuna Casserole.

  4. Tuna casserole has been a staple at our house, for nearly 30 years of marriage. I’m sure my wife got it from her mom. The kids all love it.

    14 oz. Elbow macaroni
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 can milk
    1/2 cup mayo
    salt, pepper, dill
    8 oz. cheddar cheese
    1 can tuna.
    Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
    I like to add onions to it, but some of the kids won’t eat it that way.

    1. Mine is very similar except I don’t do the mayo. Both my mom and I have also taken different types of pasta. I have also done a bit of sour cream as well. Mary

    2. Thanks Robert and Mary!

      I’ve got everything but the mayo, which I can replace with Greek yogurt.

      What size tuna can? At least 5 oz, I’d think. But not the 3 lb. giant size.

      I think all my pasta is whole wheat, so it’ll be marginally more healthy.

      1. I admire your changes, but that wouldn’t float at a church potluck in the 1970s.:)
        One of the features/bugs of Midwestern “cuisine” is a complete lack of healthy items. I also think to call it a recipe is funny. It isn’t that precise. Good luck and let us know how it all tastes.

        1. You think that’s bad? I don’t have any potato chips so it’s going to be topped with those “exotic” tortilla chips!

          But you still can’t beat cream of mushroom soup.

          1. I crumbled up some of those French-fried onions once for the topping like for a green bean casserole and that was a HUGE hit!

  5. A similar tuna curry featured in my childhood, courtesy I believe of the Australian Nursing Mothers Association cookbook, but also included raisins and canned mushrooms.

    1. Your mention of raisins took me back — suddenly I remembered a similar dish my mother used to make! I ate it but wasn’t really enthusiastic. I think I am allergic to one of the components of supermarket curry powder.

  6. You can tell this is a 70’s cookbook by the fact there’s metric measurements. President Carter was gung ho about the metrication plan that was started under Pres. Ford but of course Reagan nixed that as un-‘Muricn.

    All we got was 2-liter bottles of soda.

    (I’m old enough to have been taught metric in 6th grade, because it was the wave of the future. And I have measuring cups from that era labeled in both, which is handy when I want to make a recipe from anywhere but here.)

    1. I can vouch for the 70’s attempt at metrification. Also, for a time, the exit signs on the NYS Thruway(I-90)said “Exit XX 2 km” instead of “1 mile”.

      1. Yes!! My elementary school teachers (Buffalo, NY) lectured us regularly about how we would have to know and understand the metric system VERY SOON, and those of us who didn’t would be left behind.

        After we moved to Texas in 1978, I never heard about it again. Not sure if the whole country had given up by then, or if Texas had refused to participate in the first place.

    2. I have told my immediate manager (in his late 50s/early 60s I think) several times that if his generation did what they were supposed to, I would have grown up in a completely metricated world (and not this 4 temperature scales sh¡t).

      1. Don’t blame him! Those in his generation were exactly the kids who were taught metric (except apparently in Texas, per Thalia) and were ready to be switched over. It was the one ahead of them — the “Greatest” one — who decided it was all a furrin’ Commie plot.

        And after I so carefully made a construction-paper box that held exactly 100 cc in science class.

        You’d still be stuck with Celsius and Kelvin, though, but that’s a simple conversion.

        1. Hmm, I should blame his father! … but that is mean. Maybe we should all start verbalizing in metric and force the old offenders to admit their metrologic illiteracy and ask for USCS.

          1. I have attempted this. Everyone just gets mad at me for “speaking in Celsius” and telling me to “speak American.”

  7. At first I thought “yay, at least it gives you metric measurements!”, but then I read something about a “large can of tuna” or “2 cups of flaked fish”. If you are going to give metric measurements (which I (and everybody else in the world, minus the US) appreciate), then please do it consistently! But yeah, at least it repeats again and again that one inch is 2.5 cm…

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