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Let’s Cook: Never underestimate the power of a casserole

I have taken on the task in 2020 to look through the mound of cookbooks, recipe cards and gathered cookery tips that I have collected over the years. My interest in the kitchen started early, and I do have the photograph to verify it! I could walk by baseball cards, matchbox cars, and bugs, but if my eyes landed on an interesting recipe, it was added to the collection.

Gathering of recipes most often came by the following means: reading the paper, checking out cookbooks on the home shelf, library or rummage sales, my aunts, and friends of my mother. It is the later listing that I have recently been sorting through, and while doing, so I came across several casserole recipes from around the mid-60s.

A lesson on “Nutrition Cooking for the Family” was the title of the topic presented at the Harmony Homemakers monthly meeting and led by Home Econonics teacher, Gladys Rust. Her focus was on Casseroles. I quote from her presentation, “family food favorites can and should be repeated often. However, give them a new twist so they don’t become monotonous. It is surprising what a new look casseroles take on with the mixtures of vegetables, meat and fruits when combined with soups and sauces.” It was after this opening statement that the gathered ladies were off and running with news ideas for casseroles.

When it came time to leave, Mom slipped her winter coat over her olive jumper–complete with black fashion boots–and she headed home with several casserole recipes that were sure to please the most discriminating, as well as the hurry-up dishes when time runs out. She made several on the list, and they were delicious, nutritious and thrifty. I saved this listing because there was one she never tried. After all these years, I put it to the test.

It is called chicken-apple casserole and included in the mixture are raisins and nutmeg. These are two of my favorite ingredients, and I must admit it was worth the effort of making. Now keep in mind that a casserole is any food that is cooked and served in the same dish. So, in this casserole, we have our protein, but the added kicker is the raisins. Now, I know there will be folks who say, “I don’t like raisins.” Fine–then this is the perfect meal for you! Since you don’t like raisins, you can make double the cooked carrots and just a touch of this casserole. After all, should not a large portion of your plate be vegetables? Both Lydia and Jan were good sports and ate this meal with me. I would make it again with the addition of a cooked vegetable or salad.

I think it is fair to say that a home without a unique casserole recipe is barren. So, I have come up with a list that qualifies you to make a different casserole. If you are witty, original, intelligent and always doing the unexpected, make the funky casserole. If you are friendly, like pink bath towels, or can adapt yourself to circumstances or environment, you are a natural for casserole. You are imaginative, almost visionary and enjoy socializing and cookies after church, then clutch a casserole to your heart! If you desire a more charming home, hook up with a casserole!

It is now time for me to get back to discovering additional unique recipes in my trove of treasures. Don’t worry– when I come across another unique find, I will be sure to make it and share it with you!

Chicken-Apple Casserole

½ cup of chopped onion

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

2 cups cubed, cooked white chicken

2 cups cubed, cored, unpeeled apples such as Granny Smith or of choice

1/3 cup raisins

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Pastry using 2 cups flour

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Sauté onion in butter until tender. Combine onion, soup and next four ingredients, spoon into a 2-quart casserole. Prepare your favorite pastry, roll thin and cut pastry to fit over casserole and seal to the edge or tuck pastry under casserole and seal with fork. Make decorative slits for steam to escape and brush with egg wash and then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. This makes 6 servings. Serve with cooked carrots or a green salad. The concealing of the crust with egg wash and sesame seeds is a new addition and it will have folks wondering it you can do wonders with the baking of baklava.

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