Dinner meals I ate growing up centered around meat. Each meal consisted of four items - a meat entree, a starch which was typically potato, a vegetable and a salad. I can not remember a meal where we did not have some type of meat or fish. The meat of choice was predominantly beef.
We shopped mostly at our local grocery store. It was 3 blocks away. It had a butcher shop and none of the meat was pre-wrapped. The butcher became a friend. You would order by the pound or point out a specific piece that you wanted to buy. He would weigh it, wrap it in white butcher paper and write the price with a black grease pencil. Hamburger was purchased by the cut - ground chuck or ground round. Chuck had more fat but was much more flavorful - and cheaper.
My mother made a wide variety of beef dishes. We would have the occasional steak night - mostly rib eye cut but occasionally New York or a sirloin. We did not eat round steak very often because my mother felt it was too tough. Sometimes she would take a chuck or other less expensive cut of beef and pound it with the edge of a saucer, flour it and fry it for chicken fried steak. Large chuck roasts became pot roasts - braised and slow cooked in the oven.
We also had different types of casseroles especially when it became popular to make them with a can of mushroom soup. She would flour and fry pieces of meat and then cover them with Campbell soup thinned with some beef broth and bake. Or make fry some meatballs and cover them in mushroom soup for 'Swedish Meatballs'. These were great over noodles. Another favorite was to take a flank steak, cover with stuffing, roll up and bake. Meatloaf was made with Wheaties cereal. It was one of my Dad's favorites. Ground beef also made it into spaghetti sauce. We always had corned beef on St. Patrick's Day.
My sister lived with us in the mid-60's. Her husband was in the Navy on a ship in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. Her and her family lived in our remodeled basement which had a full kitchen and three bedrooms. She would shop at the commissary and get great deals on meat. The roasts she could get on the base were wonderful.
Pork chops and ham were popular in our house. Ham was almost always the one that came out of a can surrounded with gelatin although occasionally we did have a lovely bone-in ham roast. We also loved lamb. Chicken was mostly fried. I loved the drumsticks.
Probably one of the weirdest meals that I loved was creamed chipped beef. I completely forgot about it. You could buy the dried beef slices in a glass jar with a top that you had to remove with a bottle opener. We would save the glass jars and use them as juice glasses. The dried beef was usually very salty. My mother would make a milk sauce and then add the rinsed beef slices. I used to love the salty creamy taste. My parents would eat it on toast but I loved mixing peas in with the cream sauce.
Today - I rarely cook this style of meal. G has been vegetarian for over 15 years. I will occasionally cook beef or chicken for myself if I get the craving for meat. When the fall days shorten and the air gets cooler, the craving get stronger. There is something warm and comforting about a lovely stew or pot roast cooking on the stove. Okay... I'm getting hungry now.