Christina Crawford published an autobiography about what it was like to grow up with her film star mother Joan Crawford in 1978, one year after her mother passed away. B.D. Hyman published her book about being the daughter of film star Bette Davis in 1985, while Bette was still alive (sample sentence: “While mother was at Paramount doing Pocketful of Miracles, having almost walked off the picture because Glenn Ford insisted that Hope Lange have the dressing room next to his (the one Mother wanted), I found a new distraction”). Of particular interest are her descriptions of Bette’s domestic skills, like her preparation of Stouffer’s frozen Macaroni and Cheese– Hyman added that “the directions on the box said: ‘Place in oven, uncovered and still frozen, for 35 minutes at 375° and serve.”
“Here are Mother’s directions, based on the way she did it that morning:
Cover a counter with several layers of paper towels and place frozen casseroles thereon; remove covers and allow to thaw.
Cover another counter with several layers of paper towels, slice a large tomato and leave slices on towels.
Sit on stool, smoke nervously and sip from drink hidden behind flour canister while you watch casseroles thaw. WARNING–Do not take eyes off casseroles or they will fail to thaw properly.
When casseroles are fully thawed, get large casserole dish and tip thawed casseroles into it. Thoroughly mush around with forefinger until satisfied.
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and arrange tomato slices around edge.
Hold lengthy debate with interested parties as to exact time dish is to be served. WARNING–Macaroni and cheese is very tricky and must be done just right.
Preheat oven for 45 minutes at 375°, meanwhile moving casserole dish around counter and to different counters to facilitate blending.
Place casserole dish in oven for 35 minutes. Announce lunch loudly and serve, chewing bottom lip in concentration.
Fidget until praised for efforts, then remind diners that macaroni and cheese is tricky and requires some little work.”
B.D. Hyman, My Mother’s Keeper, William Morrow & Company, Inc. 1985.