I don’t know about you, but I’ve been craving the classics lately for so many reasons. I think, mostly, it’s the cold weather that always brings on the yearning for comforting dishes that we enjoyed as children. Not to mention how short our grocery dollars are going these days.
Back when I was a kid in the ’60’s and ’70’s, I remember all of the adults talking about “inflation”, and how horrific it was. I remember one day in particular, that I got to go with my mom to the store, and I wasn’t made to “wait in the car”. Usually, in the summertime, we’d pile into the car, barefooted and in cut-offs and dirty t-shirts from getting into every adventure and nature hunt in the neighborhood that we could possibly find, and we’d get to “play in the car” while mom did the shopping.
Back when it was actually safe to do that.
Getting to actually accompany mom in the store was a rare and fun treat, and getting to ride in the little seat up front with the flip-down plastic red base, or stand on the end when my sister was with, which was my job because I “was older”, was like going on a ride at the carnival! But for free!
And if we were really good, and she had a few extra cents, we’d certainly cross our fingers that we’d get to pick out a candy bar or 25¢ bag of Brach’s candies at the checkout! (“Red Hots” or “Maple Nut Goodies” were my favorites!)
The local grocery store was a very special, magical place! Like a mysterious, secret club full of the most amazing and wondrous food items that only grownups were allowed to see! The floors were always highly waxed and so shiny! The shelves, neat as a pin.
It was cold in there due to the gigantic air-conditioning units mounted ominously to the ceiling. And there was always someone with an honest smile, apron, and bow tie right there to answer your questions, help you find things, and keep all of the fruits and veggies all standing up in perfect little pyramids!
And the ladies were always dressed like they were going to church or something. (I never understood that part growing up). Now I wish it were more that way. 😉
I remember actually getting to go into the store that hot, summer day. I probably complained about having to put my dirty, hole-in-the-toe, tennis shoes on the whole way there. This was during the time in our lives when our mom was a single parent raising two kids on a teacher’s salary back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. In other words, I seem to remember overhearing her say once that she made a mere $7,000.00 a year. To a seven-year-old, it sounded like we were rich!
Inflation had hit, and we were living in a small, 2-story apartment after the divorce. Pennies mattered. If you found one in the parking lot, it was a lucky day. You made a wish on it. And you darn well saved it. If you found a quarter in the coin return in a phone booth … you hit “the big time“, and probably either bragged about it to your friends, or kept it “top secret” hidden in your room!
Anyways, mom picked out the few groceries she could afford to feed us all on for a week, and had gotten a few extras. One of which, being her favorite. An eight-pack of Pepsi-Cola in the tall, swirly glass bottles. We checked out, placed our brown paper sacks into the wobbly-wheeled cart, and as we were making our way to the front, magical, “Open Says Me!” automatic sliding glass doors, (while trying to manage me, the cart and the eight-pack), the bottom of the flimsy cardboard carrier fell apart and almost ALL of those expensive pop bottles crashed onto the mirror-finish, high-gloss, white tiled floor.
The glass shattered everywhere, and foamy brown pools of my mom’s favorite treat were spilling and shooting like a machine gun had gone off and someone had died right there on that sterile, hospital-like floor.
I looked over at my mom’s legs, and she had tiny shards of glass in them and blood was beginning to trickle down her legs. I was scared. And horrified, clinging to her homemade, navy-blue culottes.
Then … my mom burst into tears.
Store clerks came to help, and I’m sure she was given a new 8-pack of Pepsi, but I think the tears were coming from someplace much deeper.
It wasn’t what broke that caused them. It was the whole situation. Tired, poor, embarrassed, everyone staring at the sound of the crash. My mom crying. Working 60+ hours a week, carpooling with a group of teachers to save money to even get there, and leaving the house sometimes as early as 5am due to the distance and bad weather, leaving me to get myself up and ready (as well as my sister), for our elementary school that was a long walk away, had been taking it’s toll on her.
Add on “inflation”, the sky-rocketing food prices,
… and the pure and simple want of a cold bottle of pop on a hot day.
That she “splurged” on.
Now gone. Shattered.
And of course, my mom broke down and burst into tears. I will never forget her sobbing, shaking, and her justified anger out of sheer frustration.
My hubby and I have been through very dismal times this last 6 months ourselves. A roller coaster ride from the start.
So, it has been basic comfort food for us, and a simple “splurge” now and then.
I find it so terribly sad, that things haven’t changed much in this world since I was a child. As a matter of fact, I think that they’re even worse now. MUCH worse. At least there were jobs to be had, and entire towns didn’t suddenly have to go on welfare due to plants, factories and companies moving to Mexico and China leaving dedicated, hard-working citizens jobless.
Until our country’s and world’s greed comes to a halt, and wealth is distributed more evenly, decently and humanely, and jobs and lives aren’t scarified because the Joneses now have an 8-figure salary, 7 cars, 6 swimming pools, 5 homes, 4 vacation homes, 3 private jets, 2 tax-free foreign bank accounts, the 1%’s cold black hearts, sipping 100k bottles of Champagne gilded with gold … meals like this one … are going to become a luxury.
Or have they already??
Make your patties out of 2 lbs. lean ground beef,
Campbell’s French Onion and Cream of Mushroom soups,
breadcrumbs, 1 egg, and seasonings.
If you want to cook them all at once, use an old-fashioned “electric skillet”!
If you don’t know what one looks like kids, here’s mine…
They will fit beautifully, but keep an eye on them,
and keep the temperature low if yours gets screaming hot like mine tends to do.
It’s great for this, but just make sure that they don’t get overdone.
Stir up the rest of ingredients for the gravy,
along with the mushrooms, and you’re almost done!
Just as quick and easy to make as a cheeseburger!
The secret to making them taste “authentic”,
is the “Kitchen Bouquet Browning Sauce“!
Be careful measuring, a little goes a long way!
But make sure you add this simple, old-fashioned ingredient,
or they won’t be the same!
We thoroughly enjoyed these “steaks”, practically inhaling every bite!,
along with some damn good green beans
and some fun new mashed potatoes from scratch!
(*Those two recipes coming soon! 😉 )
So if you, too, are facing hard times, and are in need of a nice meal that’s affordable, you’re in luck. 😉 I even made something wonderful out of the leftover last two, that were every bit as good, if not better, than the first night that we had these! So stay on the lookout for that, too! Also coming soon!! 😉
I hope that our world will someday see that there is more than plenty to go around. And that there’s no need for anyone, any child, not one single person ever, to go hungry,
when some have so much that they cannot even begin to spend it all in 5 lifetimes
while others starve to death.
Things must change. And quickly.
Before we ALL perish.
Be VERY careful how you vote.
- 2¼ lbs. ground beef
- 1 (10¾ oz.) can cream of mushroom soup, divided
- 1 (10½ oz.) can French onion soup, divided
- 1⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. coarse ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter (1 per regular pan or 2 for electric skillet or comparable pan )
- 1 teaspoon browning sauce
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 8 - 12 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄8 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
- *more pepper for outsides
- chopped fresh parsley, garnish (optional)
- In large mixing bowl, combine well with hands the hamburger, ⅓ cup cream of mushroom soup, ⅓ cup french onion soup, garlic powder, bread crumbs and egg.
- Shape into six 6½" x 4½" oval patties, ½" thick.
- Place on cookie sheet as you go.
- Sprinkle tops with a little extra pepper.
- In 2 frying pans, place a little butter and melt.
- Add 3 patties to each pan seasoned-side down.
- Pepper other sides while bottoms are frying.
- Fry over medium-high heat for 3 minutes or until deep browned.
- TURN CAREFULLY. You don't want to "flip" them or you'll break them when they "land" and hit the pan. I just gently and carefully roll them over slowly with 2 spatulas.
- Brown other sides for about 2 minutes.
- While patties are cooking, mix sauce ingredients together: rest of soups, browning sauce, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and mushrooms. (*You can also do this prior to frying the patties to have it ready).
- When patties are done, carefully place onto clean cookie sheet(s).
- Pour grease out of pans and wipe with paper towels if necessary. (*This step isn't needed if very lean meat is used. For lean meat, just dab with a paper towel around each one to sop up what little melted fat is there). Place patties back into pans.
- Pour/spoon mushrooms and sauce evenly over each patty, cover with lid.
- Bring to a simmer, lower heat to LOW and cook for 15- 20 minutes longer. (Until patties are done). *This depends on how thick they are and how hot your cooking element is).
- Remove to warm platter, spoon any sauce from pans over the tops.
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
- Great with homemade mashed potatoes dotted with butter, green beans and crusty warm bread! :).
- Serves 6 hungry guests! :).
- *All 6 patties can be done in an electric skillet if you've got one handy. Just watch them so they don't burn if yours runs hot, too. OR, they can also be done in a shallow roaster that's stovetop proof.
- **This does not make a ton of gravy -- just enough to compliment the steaks, not drown them, LOL! If you prefer a lot more, or wanting gravy for your mashed potatoes for example, definitely double the sauce part.