I'd love to pretend and have you all think that we only eat super healthy, all produced here on the farm, good for you meals. I would love it if you thought that ;) Probably even better if it were true. And while it is true most of the time, there are also those times when I just opt for fast food, deli food or comfort foods from my memories growing up.
These simple, satisfying recipes are throwbacks to my childhood. My Mom was an excellent cook....I mean to tell you, she was really good! She cooked at home. But in that odd, tilted way that life has because she was such a good cook and because we ate mostly at home we always thought tv-dinners and fast food were treats! And maybe that's okay - it would be a lot better if we all thought good home cooking was "the norm" and these others were "treats" to enjoy only occasionally, instead of the other way around!
Thursdays were Dad's payday and Mom's grocery shopping days. I remember the routine - go to town, pick up Dad's check and go grocery shopping. By the time there were five of us kids ages 10 and under, it got to be a rotational thing to be able to be the child who went to the store with Mom. Anyway, I'm wandering here....what I wanted to do was share two recipes with you that are from that era for me. You might laugh, but as kids one of our favorite tv-dinners was "Franks and Beans" LOL! It came in the little oven safe packet with two little hot-dogs in a rich brown baked bean mixture with a little piece of cornbread and (I think) chocolate pudding for desert. Whew, no color in that menu and probably not much nutrition either! But we loved it.
So here is a recipe that recreates that taste treat from long ago (okay, its probably from 30 or 40 years ago for me). Really, you've got to try this, it's so good! Unless of course, you are one of my healthy-choice friends who never eats processed meats and store bought beans - that's okay, just skip over this recipe then.
FRANKS AND BEANS
2 (16-oz) cans baked beans (use the most common baked bean you can find for this – in our area the brand name will usually start with a “C” or a “V” and is a kind of tomato-ey base)
1 large onion, chopped – about one cup
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
2/3 cup catsup
8 frankfurters, cut diagonally into pieces (3 or 4 pieces per frank is good)
Butter the inside of your crockpot. Mix all of the ingredients together in the crock, making sure the franks are pushed down into the beans. Cook on low setting for 3 or 4 hours, or till mixture is heated through and nice and thick.
To be true to our tv-dinner memories, I make a nice moist and dense cornbread to serve with this. This is one of those lick-your-spoon comfort dishes to me. It can also be made in the oven – set at 300 to 325 degrees, combine the ingredients in a well greased casserole dish and bake for one hour and a half, to two hours.
Here is another one, only this comes more from my junior and senior high school Home Economics class. I loved Home-Ec class!!! I still remember the Home-Ec room with its sets of well supplied kitchens (our class room had four different, complete kitchens) As I mentioned earlier, my Mom was a great cook and people often say to me "you must have learned to cook from your mom" Not so. I was/am a very messy child. My Mom was extremely, obsessively neat and clean and orderly. I think I really distressed her! So no, I was not allowed to cook with her. Maybe I learned some things just from being in the same household? I don't know, but I do know that I loved those cooking lessons in Home-Ec. We didn't just learn to cook, we learned nutrion and menu-planning and grocery shopping.
Okay, I'm wandering down memory lane again, sorry! I really just meant to share this second recipe with you from Home-Ec class. It wasn't one of the healthy recipes we learned, it was a home made "fast food" of the day, one that was popular with kids. It seemed like everyone made this occasionally at that time. Now days, I know a lot of you don't eat canned tuna and if that is the case, this is another recipe you just want to skip over. But oh my, it makes my stomach rumble just to think about it ;)
TOAST and TUNA CASSEROLE
8 slices bread, toasted (rye bread is really, really good in this dish!)
1 (6 ½-oz can) tuna, drained
1 small onion, chopped
¼ cup mayonnaise
4 slices American cheese (I prefer to use a nice slice of real cheddar)
Canned peas, drained (use your personal preference here – I use about half the can, but you can use the whole thing if you like)
1 can (10 ¾ oz) cream of mushroom soup
¼ cup milk
Arrange 4 slices of the toast in an ungreased baking dish. Mix tuna, onion and mayo; spread over the toast. Top each slice toast with 1 slice of cheese; place remaining slices of toast on top.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over all. Sprinkle with pepper. Cook, uncovered, at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.
Even better than the tuna-melts we had as kids! The original recipe called for broccoli rather than peas, but to me peas just go hand in hand with tuna. I have even added chopped hard boiled eggs and that's good, too. What to eat as a side dish to this meal? Good ol' salty potato chips! LOL...hey, we are going unhealthy here, we might as well go all the way. And then wash it down with a big glass of super cold white milk (now that IS healthy!)
Okay, so now we have enjoyed our 1960's throwback foods, we will return to having a farm raised, free range chicken baked with garden produced garlic for supper tonight along with redskin potatoes from my brothers garden and frozen corn from the neighbors garden. Healthy and delicious and local or home raised.
But I still lick the spoon on those other two retro recipes ((grin)). Do you have a favorite?