Throwback of the House: Busy Lady Beef Bake Starts a Revolution


  • Todd Ehlers, Wikimedia Commons
Robin Wheeler writes for the blog Poppy Mom. After years of making and eating fancy food, Robin is sick of it all. She's returning to the basics: recipes that haven't surfaced in three decades. She reports on the results for Gut Check every Tuesday.

Are you a busy lady? I'm a busy lady. There were lots of busy ladies in 1966, entering recipes in the 17th annual Pillsbury Busy Lady Bake-Off in hopes of winning the $25,000 grand prize.

What better time than the mid-1960s to be a busy lady? The times, they were a'changing. Women were taking care of their families, breaking into the workplace and getting involved. The National Organization for Women was founded in 1966.

And who knows? Perhaps one busy lady had plans to win the $25,000 and start her own organization. Like, perhaps, the Furies Collective or Redstockings.

But a busy lady can't even begin to subvert the patriarchy in earnest if she's spending hours in the kitchen every day, so one busy lady created the Busy Lady Beef Bake.

  • Robin Wheeler
Dump a couple of cans of Dinty Moore Beef Stew (made by Pillsbury, of course) into a casserole dish. Stir in some frozen peas and frozen onions in cream sauce so that no one can accuse you of shirking your nutritional responsibilities to your family.

  • Robin Wheeler
Bake the hell out of it at 425 degrees for half an hour so that they won't be able to tell if you substitute Alpo for Dinty Moore in a justified fit of passive-aggressive feminist rage. Remove from oven and top with homemade cream biscuits, just like your mama used to make because The Man didn't give her any choice to do otherwise.

  • Robin Wheeler
Continue to bake the shit out of it for another half-hour. Serve. An hour later, when family has nursed the third-degree burns on their tongues and have slipped into sodium- and cream-induced comas, sneak out the window to hang with your pals Clara, Melba and Gloria. You know, to see if you can come up with new ways to keep busy.

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