Carrot Casserole

Recipe

Let me start out by saying, I’m not a cooked carrots fan.  Unless, of course, they are covered in something sweet enough to make them borderline dessert. I’ll just put it out there – I think this dish is going to be gross.

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The ingredients for this dish were nice and simple and, with the exception of Oleo, wholesome.  I substituted butter for the Oleo. Whole milk is always used unless a recipe specifies something else and organic cane sugar was used in place of white sugar.  I should try a little harder to use only ingredients that Grammie would have had available to her but part of me thinks, in a number of these recipes at least, that some of the ingredients are so terrible that every attempt should be made to balance them out with some organics. Probably silly, but there you have it.

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So everything was going well until I hit the ‘toss carrots in Oleo [butter]’ instruction. I wasn’t sure if the carrots were supposed to be drained before tossing them or not, so even though I am trying to follow the recipes exactly, I went ahead and drained the carrots.  I expect it would have been okay to skip that step, but I thought too much water was poured over the carrots initially. Anyway, everything else went smoothly. And why yes, that is a Deathstar kitchen timer, thanks for noticing.  It makes pew-pew noises when time is up.

Grammie

Grammie and the family took a vacation to Missouri, at least according to the back of the photo which says, “Inez Entrance to Cave in Mo, July 1946.”  That was the year the bikini went on sale for the first time; UNESCO, UNICEF, and the Atomic Energy Act were created; and more importantly to housewives across the nation, Tupperware was introduced! My dad was born in July the next year after this photo was taken, when Grammie was 37 years old.

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Final Product

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VERDICT: Horrible

Okay, so Carrot Casserole is definitely not sweet, but instead very egg-y.  It tastes like a breakfast casserole that’s lacking some meat.  In fact, I may fry up some sausage and have a nice little breakfast with it tomorrow.  The carrots don’t taste like anything next to the egg flavor, maybe I should have taken into account that eggs were smaller in the 1950s -70s and decreased the amount?  Would that defeat the purpose of following the recipes exactly or would that make following them MORE exact? I don’t know.  Please comment with opinions (I’m lookin’ at you, Carla). Also, there was some water at the bottom of the dish so I’m so glad I went ahead and drained the carrots but probably should have gone a step further and given them a bit of a squeeze before drowning them in egg-y milk.

This mild dish may be a good balance to a strong meat like salty ham or barbecue, you know, something with a lot of flavor. If I were to make this again, I would totally incorporate some sausage or ham into the recipe and maybe some green pepper and onion to make it a true breakfast casserole.  I bet that would be a good way to get some veggies in the 12 year old too!

Today for breakfast, I paired Aidells Smoked Chicken Sausage Spicy Mango with Jalapeno with the Carrot Casserole and it was a great combination.  I could actually pick out a hint of sweetness from the carrots. But don’t get me wrong, just because I enjoyed it today, doesn’t mean I’m ever making this again.

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P.S. That cool blue sugar bowl was made by Darby Ortolano, she can be reached on Facebook at her page Darby Ortolano Ceramics. And the awesome salt pig is from Page Pottery (a super sweet husband and wife team from North Carolina), you can find them on Etsy here.

Thanks for checking out the blog!

Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Casseroles, including Broccoli and Rice Casserole, were a staple for American families in the 1950s.  They have been made for family meals, potlucks, and family gatherings ever since. Grammie, most likely, made quite a few casseroles in her day. Looking over the recipe, it looks pretty straight forward, edible even.  Okay, so you know from the About page that we try to eat as whole and as organic as we can in our house so I’m sure you completely understand when I say that when I read that one of the ingredients was Cheez Whiz, I threw up in my mouth a little bit. And lucky me, the Hubs bought the big jar so we have some left over. What the hell am I going to do with it?

So according to the Food & Wine article, “History of Cheez Whiz,”  the cheese sauce was originally created to more easily make Welsh Rarebit in England, and found its way to America in July of 1953. That dates this recipe from 1953 onward. I would assume that most of these recipes were from the 1950s to early 1960s when my father graduated high school. Since I’m determined to make these recipes while staying as true to the specified ingredients as possible, in the pot goes the Cheez Whiz (with a plop).

Author Clifford A. Wright includes a short history of casseroles in his book “Bake Until Bubbly: The Ultimate Casserole Cookbook,” parts of which, including the history of casseroles, can be found on Google Books here.

Recipe

In researching Broccoli and Rice Casserole, I discovered that both the Kraft and Minute Rice websites have their own recipe which is exactly the same, down to the picture of the finished project.  Their recipe differs slightly from Grammie’s as theirs calls for less liquid and more rice along with the addition of bread.

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Okay, the ingredients are assembled.  I knew I had frozen broccoli but didn’t realize it wasn’t chopped until I was ready to cook so I gave it a quick chop while the onions and celery cooked down.  I decided against adding the ham since we were using this as a side dish (with delicious Asian pork medallions from Cooking Light April 2004 which I can’t find posted on their website anywhere to link to). The recipe didn’t say what size casserole dish to use, I assumed a 13×9 but I have a nice oval one that the Hubs quickly experimented with to see if it equated to a 13×9 (he likes to do that kind of stuff) and it worked out perfectly!  Now into the oven for 25 minutes.

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Grammie

This recipe was from the kitchen of Lillian Peart.  Lillian was Grammie’s sister-in-law who was married to Grampie’s older brother, Harold (he died the same month and year I was born), and her name appears on a number of recipes in Grammie’s Recipe (chocolate) Box.  Lillian and Harold lived on the old Peart farm in Burns Township and farmed the land until 1973. She was born, raised, married, and died in the same town as my Grammie.  They lived their whole lives in the same place.  As sister-in-laws in a small town, one can imagine they saw each other often. I don’t ever remember meeting Lillian, who died in 2004, and I can’t seem to find a photo of her among Grammie’s old photos (at least not one that’s labelled with her name).  I have my feelers out but until I can find one, a cute little photo of my dad getting his hair cut by my Grampie in the kitchen while Grammie looked lovingly on (and kept him still with an iron grip) will have to suffice.  Absolutely adorable!

So this was Grammie’s kitchen.  The window over the sink looked out over the back yard with the grape arbor to the left, the garage on the right, and their neighbors horse pasture along the back.  I still remember feeding apples to the horses as a little girl.  Everything that is dark in this photo was red. From the little tchotchkes on the wall and circular decorations on the cabinets to the Formica counter top, scalloped wood valance, and toe kick under the cabinets was a bright cherry red. Grammie’s kitchen rocked that shiplap way before Joanna Gaines made it cool again.  There is no date on the photo but my dad only looks about two years old so it would have been taken around 1949 (before Cheez Whiz was invented).1949 Gary haircut

Final Product

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VERDICT: Not So Bad

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m never making this again, but it was not so bad.  I’m sure there are recipes out there that are a bit healthier that we would consider for the future. Overall, the textures were a bit off.  It was a little watery, though maybe some extra rice or broccoli would have solved that. My Hubs checked on the casserole at 25 minutes and determined it needed 5 more minutes. After that, he put it under the broiler for a couple minutes to get some nice browning action on top.  We made our plates and sat down to eat when the following conversation happened.

Me: The pork is really good, I like the flavor a lot, and you cooked them perfectly.

Hubs: Thanks, the pork IS good. Your casserole is….. (gives a look that translates to “Meh”).

Me: (under my breath) Self congratulatory ass.

The twelve year old has not had it yet.  Can’t wait to see his reaction when Broccoli and Rice Casserole is all he gets for dinner!

Thanks for coming!