My 50's cooking experiment has lasted longer than the original week I had intended. Either this menu is really idealized or the 50's housewife spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Cooking 50's style just doesn't mesh well with our busy lifestyle. So, the 50's meals have been spread out and intermixed with quicker, busy day meals. My family in general has loved 50's style cooking, especially breakfasts. Things I have learned about cooking 50's style:
1. They ate a lot more eggs and bacon and sausage. Bacon and sausage are served at 6 meals during the week, 5 breakfasts and one lunch. We kept the serving sizes to 1 or 2 slices each, to limit fat. Interestingly, when I've had 50's breakfast, even if I don't eat any more volume, I stay full until lunchtime.
2. There are a lot more "sides." Even for breakfast. So, instead of cereal and juice, one would serve cereal, toast, bacon and a dried fruit compote/grapefruit half/sliced oranges. Both my husband and I remember visiting grandma's and having them serve more complicated breakfasts like this. I always thought it was cooking for guests, but perhaps it was an everyday thing. My family loved eating breakfast this way every day.
3. Desserts were different. Most were made with very simple ingredients. It's amazing the variety of results you can get from using things like eggs, flour, butter, and cream. Fruits were frequently used. And desserts were served every night. Most of the deserts were surprisingly good. I had to learn several new cooking techniques: using a double boiler, steaming a pudding, baking a custard, poaching merengue.
4. Meals were pretty. Not every single meal, but most had a variety of color and texture. The number of sides made this easier to accomplish. But, overall a 50's meal was pleasing visually as well as in taste.
5. They used a lot of dried fruit. There is quite a range of fresh fruits and vegetables for a December menu, so they had pretty good access to a variety of produce. Some were not ones that we typically use and see at our grocery store, like brussel sprouts and rutabagas. But, dried fruit was still heavily used. I wondered if this was a carryover from times when produce was less available and dried foods would be needed in the winter months.