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Childhood Memories: Pizza With a Hamburger Crust February 3, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Childhood Memories, Cooking, Family, Food.

This is some pizza!  Melty and cheesy and just delightful – this is not my husband’s pizza though – this is the pizza of my childhood.


I grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee – New Berlin, to be precise.  My grandparents were about an hour and a half away, in Chicago.

We saw Grandma and Grandpa frequently – two or three times a year, my parents would pack us up in the old station wagon and we’d make the trip to Chicago, spend the day, then, with the back seat folded down and us kids all sleeping in the back, we’d make our way back home.

PhotobucketSince Grandpa was a pastor (not just a run-of-the-mill pastor – he also taught at a seminary in Chicago), Grandma was quite comfortable cooking a big dinner for guests – complete with dessert!  I can remember sitting at the dining room table, with the linen tablecloth, well past my bedtime, when the chocolate chip cookies were brought out, along with Grandma’s silver (stainless, actually) coffee pot.

Of course, we kids had milk, but that didn’t stop us from admiring the creamer and sugar bowl!


Typically, when Grandma and Grandpa came to Milwaukee, we’d end up going out for dinner, usually to a place called the Sweden House.  After all, our name was Nelson!  Where else would we go?

Sweden House was a smörgåsbord – long before all-you-can-eat buffets were cool.

Mainly what I remember about Sweden House was the turquoise carpeting in the dining room, how quiet it was, and how we, and everyone else there, were dressed up.

Back then, when you went out for dinner, you dressed up.


One time, and I have no idea why, my mother decided that my sister and I would make dinner when Grandma and Grandpa came by.

Maybe there wasn’t enough notice to get reservations, or maybe my father had to work late, but for whatever reason, we got to make something from Mother’s recipe card file – from the “Recipes Children Can Make” section.

Well, we were children, so we could make it, right?


Many, many years later, I called my mother and asked her if she still had the recipe (she did) and if she could send me a copy – and my father faxed it to me.  And we’ve made it several times since – I think of it as my personal comfort food.

Mix together 1 pound of lean ground beef, 1/2 c. bread crumbs, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, then stir in 1/2 c. of canned tomato sauce (from an 8-ounce can).

I traced a 10-inch circle on parchment paper (then flipped it over so we weren’t actually eating off the penciled side), then patted the ground mixture into the round shape.

PhotobucketHeh.  We didn’t even have parchment when I was a kid – how’s that for keeping up with the times?

Uh, yeah.  And so we topped the hamburger crust with the remaining tomato sauce  from the can (about another 1/2 cup), a can of drained kidney beans, and the whole mess got sprinkled with mozzarella cheese, then baked at 425 for about half an hour, or until the meat-crust was done and the cheese was melty and browned.


Mostly what I remember about this pizza – this Pizza With a Hamburger Crust (which is how we thought of it – with Initial Caps) was how big a hit it was with everyone.  Grandma and Grandpa loved it, which just made it seem so much better.

Of course, 35 (or more) years have gone by, and looking back, what I remember is how gracious Grandma and Grandpa were about what was, literally, a Recipe Children Can Make – and also how surprisingly tasty it actually was!

I am linking this post to Childhood Memories Fridays with Girls in White Dresses – it’s not Friday, but it’s Thursday, so Friday’s not far behind!



1. Bee - February 3, 2011

ToyLady: If I could personally give you a “BEST Post of 2011” award, it would be for >THIS< post. Oh dear, where do I begin? This post was so sweet, so soft, so filled with memories from my own childhood that I felt as if I was transported in H.G. Well's Time Machine, back to my childhood in Minnesota. We too, had our Scandinavian smörgåsbord restaurants and they were stately affairs! Also, everyone dressed for "dinner" when you went out and I remember the rows upon rows of gentlemen's hats, lined up on pegs at the front door. I grew up making recipes from those Kids Can Cook recipe cards from Betty Crocker; in fact, I just answered a thread at food.com today, regarding those ubiquitous cards!!!! I will certainly have to try your recipe as it falls right into the profile of foods that my family enjoys. This truly was one of your BEST posts since I began following your blog. 🙂

Yes, and that coat rack along the wall by the door! We’d stand in line, and people’s coats would be right there, each smelling faintly of a different wearer’s perfume (or aftershave!)

Hey, we were kids – we leaned. 🙂

Thank you so much, Bee, for your kind words. I hope your family enjoys the “pizza” – it’s surprisingly tasty for such a simple dish. (And the leftovers reheated nicely, too!)

2. sjbraun - February 3, 2011

I love it too! It looks yummy to me, but yes, how sweet that your grandparents appreciated it rather than being all picky – not that I’d know anything about that … 🙂

I also love the memories about the buffet, dressing up, getting to Chicago – ahhh, memories!

Chicago always seemed like more of a real city – we lived in the ‘burbs, and Grandma and Grandpa were right in the city – it was always just so exciting to go visit them, even though we seldom left the house. 😀

3. Bee - February 3, 2011

You’re welcome, ToyLady! And don’t forget the smell of MOTHBALLS!!!! Oh, how I remember that scent! Does anyone even USE mothballs, any longer?

Oh, gosh, I hope not! 😆

4. karen - February 3, 2011

Aren’t grandparents wonderful?

Yeah. I miss them – we lost Grandma several years back, and Grandpa just a few years ago.

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