Tuna Chip Casserole or Tomato Cheese Delight?

Praise for the Cook - coverPraise For The Cook
Proctor & Gamble Company

Yes, we have another retro cookbook for everyone. Crisco (Proctor and Gamble) are the sponsors of this gem.  Not too fond of some of these recipes. I think my mom probably trotted out a few of these back when I was a kid. I think many of these should stay in the past. I included the “best”. Vegetarians, you will be excited that there is a meatless tomato casserole for you. (yum?)  I would also like to suggest taking a peek at Retro Recipe Attempts.  (She actually took the Surprise Meatloaf Recipe from this post and made it for her family.)

Cookbooks are so cool as collectibles and these types of books/ephemera belong in archives. For public libraries, not so much. Personally, I hate spiral bound stuff for regular circulation. They just don’t hold up over time.


Praise for the Cook - Main courses

Praise for the Cook  - Meal in a dish

Praise for the Cook - dinner in a hurry

Praise for the Cook - Feeding the crowd


  1. I like how the tuna casserole is good for a “meeting” day… and I’m guessing that in 1959 the meetings refer to sewing guilds & coffee klatches, not a paying job outside the home, right?

    I might be tempted to try one of these recipes for fun if they didn’t require up to a half a cup of Crisco! Yuck. That’s not retro fabulous.

  2. My mom had this cookbook and I remember it well, so I’m thinking she used it a lot. I do know that she fried every damn thing in Crisco. Looking back, I have to say that shortening had its uses, but frying stuff like onions or liver or hamburger–not so much. For years I wouldn’t touch onions, until I finally realized that they didn’t have to be coarsely chopped, half cooked, and dripping with Crisco in some casserole.

  3. Hmmm, Crisco at every meal…no one will have to worry about living a long retirement!

  4. My idea of dinner in a hurry doesn’t involve cubing meat, salting flour, browning onions, and adding several more ingredients at different times. I prefer to throw about 4-5 ingredients in a pot and be able to walk away while they cook.

    I do remember tuna casseroles with potato chips, though, from junior high home ec. But we didn’t use Crisco in them!

  5. As a vegetarian, I think I’ll pass on the tomato-cheese delight. Yuck factor #1 — Crisco. Yuck factor #2 — high fructose corn syrup, which makes me break out in hives (look at the ingredients list for condensed tomato soup sometime). And, for what it’s worth, I don’t like mushrooms.

    That being said, my mom has a Betty Crocker cookbook from decades ago and it has some really good recipes for baked goods.

  6. If I want a casserole containing noodles, cheese, and tomato-based sauce, I’ll whip up a batch of baked ziti. And OMG, that Tuna-Chip Casserole is an affront to the words ” Tuna”, “Chip”, and “Casserole”! Not to mention saltier than a box of Morton’s!

  7. OMG!!!! My mother refuses to part with this and I want it SOOOOO much. It has the best pie crust recipes, and I adore the pictures, and we still use the icing recipe even though it has Crisco, Karo, AND a raw egg! My mother’s is spiral bound, so fell apart quickly. I can’t believe that a library would have had this.

    Now I have to go see if there is a hard bound version of this….

  8. I was born in 1957, but thankfully my mother never cooked anything like in these recipes!
    Speaking of Crisco, I will say that I tried store brands, and I will never use anything but Crisco name brand!
    I would never use shortening to make a ruex though.

  9. Ragan, I don’t think they had discovered the wonders of high-fructose corn syrup back in 1959, so it’s possible that the condensed soup wasn’t quite as bad as today’s model. But, it still probably had way too much sodium and other bad things. What struck me about that recipe was the insistence on awful ingredients — canned mushrooms, why not fresh? And why condensed soup, why not tomato puree or something? And why American cheese, why even bother? Of course, if you are going to mix it all up with Crisco, I suppose none of that matters. But it might not be bad with real cheese, real mushrooms, a real tomato product, and a decent oil for the browning step.

  10. I hate spiral binding too! The public library I work at is in an immigrant neighborhood, where a lot of men are studying to be taxi drivers. The older guys want to look at a map book of the local area, and they get to use our beat up old Thomas Guide “in library only”. The back cover has almost fallen off, and it’s from 2009 (which is saying something for a reference book that is outdated before they publish it)! Yikes. Our collection manager says that Thomas Guides might not even publish physical map books anymore, as everyone uses Google Maps. I hope they do publish at least a 2013 edition, just so we can replace that book.

  11. Judith, I lived through and learned to cook in the 50’s. One reason they used canned soup and mushrooms was that in smaller cities and towns the grocery stores didn’t stock the wide variety of produce available now. I never saw fresh mushrooms in a grocery store until I was in my late 20s.
    In the homogenized middle west we didn’t have ethnic markets–our choice of cheese was pretty much Colby, Cheddar, and American (and in our house it was strictly Colby, because that’s what my dad would eat). By the late 1950’s Kraft Parmesan in the green shaker boxes became available–yay, pizza.
    And Crisco was certainly a more pleasing choice over lard or margarine at the time. (We used to have to buy margarine in a pound bag with a little red dye button that you had to knead into it to give it a “butter” color–otherwise, it just looked like Crisco.

  12. I think Donna Jo’s assessment makes sense as grocery stores started getting bigger in the 60s and 70s more things were widely available. However, I also think since this was a Proctor and Gamble published cook book that the use of canned stuff was probably shills for their own products. I love, adore and collect old vintage cookbooks especially pamphlets like these (I wish I had this one!) and the ones that are published by food companies all contain recipes that are shills for their products. The Betty Crocker ones I have are exactly that. However, not all are and those are the ones I might make recipes out of especially if they involve baking goods. For meats and other mealtimes dinners, I stick to Food and Wine. Much more appetizing.

  13. Being a foreigner I sometimes get a skewed impression of American culture. Crisco is a thing I have only heard of as handy lubricant for anal intercourse.
    Which might explain the happy but blushing glow of the cook ;->
    Don’t ask me about the children and the dog, though. I have no idea why they are happy. It can’t be due to any of the foods in this book…

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