[2] & [3] A dinner from Better Homes and Gardens, circa 1962

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (1962)

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by the fact that Bill and I hadn’t done much shopping this weekend, in anticipation of our CSA half share arriving. Also, it was inspired by not wanting to leave the house today. The final inspiration for it was realizing we have committed to cooking nearly 2500 recipes before we can ever buy a cookbook again, and we want that to be the shortest possible time.

I have to admit, we’re both a little nervous about tackling the Better Homes and Gardens “New Cookbook”, because it’s huge and so many of the recipes seem to come from a cooking style rather different than our own. Still, my grandmother gave it to me when everyone had good reason to believe I was going to starve in undergrad (I was not so much a fan of cooking back then). She made me promise I’d use it, and I did for a good long time (mostly to make its version of fried rice). However, for a long time, it’s sat on the shelf. This doesn’t make it any different than any of our other cookbooks.

With that in mind, let me tell you that we had a very green and lemony dinner tonight. If you’re curious about BHG:1962’s version of Lemon Butter Sauce and/or French Green Salad, read on!

Lemon Butter Sauce


1/3 c butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt (We used kosher)

1/2 tsp pepper (We used pre-ground white pepper)

1/4 c lemon juice

2 tbsp minced parsley (Which I don’t much care for, and we don’t have, so we didn’t use. Call it optional!)


Mix together all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and heat until the flavors blend.

Notes from the cook

I didn’t melt the butter in advance, and it was fine. Furthermore, because the book says it makes 4 – 6 servings, we halved the recipe.

French Green Salad


1 clove garlic, halved or quartered
1/2 tsp salt (Again, kosher in this house)

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp paprika (Oh NO! We didn’t have paprika, so we substituted some super mild red chile powder from our home state.)

1/4 salad oil (We took this to mean corn, canola or vegetable oil. We used the third.)

4 c salad greens (The book calls for whatever, we had a farmers’ market mix, so it was really “whatever”!)

2 tbsp vinegar (Remembering that this is a 1960s cookbook, I used basic white vinegar.)

2 tbsp lemon juice

Fresh ground pepper (You choose the amount!)


Rub the garlic clove all over the interior of the bowl. Throw in the salt, paprika (chile, if you’re using that instead), mustard and grind in a bit of pepper. Blend these together, then beat in salad oil with a fork or whisk. Add the greens and toss to coat (leaves should “glisten”, says the BHG staff). Then sprinkle with the vinegar and lemon juice, and toss a second time. Serve!

Consumption Notes

The salad was the trickiest thing so far (of our whopping three recipes, I know). I had intended to halve that recipe as well, but a brief brain fart had me putting half the spices in with the normal amount of liquids. Needless to say, we ended up making the full dish. And, honestly, we added a bit more than four cups of salad greens. Why? No, not because we are awesome and healthy and want to eat all that food that is so good for us, but because there was SO MUCH LIQUID at the bottom of the salad bowl that we figured we’d use up the final cup of our salad greens to attempt to “sop up” some of that (it didn’t work very well). The acids in the lemon and vinegar were a bit too much, both in tasting and seeming to wilt the greens quickly. We both ate our two and a half cups of greens with slightly puckered faces. Having a lemon sauce that was tasty, but also fairly lemony, for the asparagus didn’t help. Then, out of sheer curiosity, Bill took both our bowls and the salad bowl (now empty of greens) and poured the leftover liquid contents into a measuring cup. We had a quarter cup of liquid leftover. WAY TOO MUCH. Anyway, that’s the first adventure. In one day (31 May 2010) we knocked out three of our gazillion recipes.

The lemon butter sauce was fairly tasty, though I think it could have used a little more kick of something. Or more butter. In addition, we only used about half of it between the two of us, despite halving the recipe. So that’s noteworthy as well.

Tonight, we aim for either white beans and not-escarole soup or yogurt and cardamom salmon!