Wednesday, January 07, 2009

It's January 7, and I've Already Bagged My New Year's Resolution

I like the clean slate of the new year, and I'm one of those people who likes to make resolutions. The key for me though is to make small ones--they're much easier to keep. My two resolutions this year were #1. to practice reading with Lucy for at least 15 minutes every single day, and #2. to try one new recipe each week.

Resolution 1 is going quite nicely. That one's easy. Resolution 2? Maybe not so much.

I went through all my new magazines and tore out any new recipes that sounded good or even interesting. Our family was ready to embark on a culinary tour de force. Actually, the rest of them didn't know anything about it, but I was definitely ready.

Martha Stewart Living is a magazine I read regularly even though it sort of makes me hyperventilate with thoughts of my inadequacies. However, I try to take one or two ideas each time from it, and hey, the pictures are nice. This month there was an article on revamping the casserole. Comfort food is acceptable, according to the magazine, but not if you use any sort of cream soup with which to make it. Apparently, making casseroles with Campbell's soup as a base is tacky and classless.

The writer is obviously not from the Midwest.

I certainly don't won't my family or cooking to be tacky and classless though, so I began with a new chicken casserole recipe that did not contain any sort of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup in it.

Here is a picture of Martha's version (it's chicken, leek, and mushroom casserole; so far so good with the ingredients):

It took me at least an hour to do all the saute-ing, chopping, simmering, and stirring necessary before arranging all the ingredients in the casserole dish to bake. Hmmm. Usually, I just take a bunch of frozen ingredients, dump them in my crockpot with a can of cream soup, add some salt and pepper, turn it on, and several hours later...voila.

But...I forged ahead. Here is my finished product:

Doesn't that look good? Despite all the work, it was worth it! I'm preserving my family from a life of tacky classlessness right here, my friends.

Darren came into the kitchen. "What's that?" he asked.

"A new recipe!" I said enthusiastically.

"Why?" he said, decidedly unenthusiastically. "I like your old recipes."

"Taste it and see. It's a delicious casserole from Martha Stewart that is not made with any form of Campbell's soup!" I answered.

We each grabbed a fork and took a bite.

"What's the slimy stuff in it?" he asked.

Now, there are a lot of words I'd like to describe my cooking. However, "slimy" is not one of them. And before you get outraged on my behalf, he was totally right. It was extremely slimy. And tasted...weird. We're not picky eaters, either one of us. But this was...not right.

We tried it again.

"It's not your fault," he said kindly. "It's her recipe's. What does she have against Campbell's soup, anyway?"

"She thinks it's tacky and classless," I said sadly.

"She's obviously not from the Midwest. What does she know about casseroles anyway? We like soup in ours. She needs to just stay on the East Coast with her opinions," he replied.

"I know. I wasted all this time and money and ingredients on her stupid dish. We could be eating Popes' Chicken right now instead of this glop."

[Popes' Chicken is an absolutely delicious chicken recipe from our friends, the Popes. It's one of those Campbell's-cream-soups-dump-everything-in-the-crockpot recipes. Then you serve it over egg noodles. We love it. One time I was making it when my parents came over. "What's for dinner?" my dad asked. "Popes' Chicken!" said Lucy and Elaine. "The pope has a chicken recipe?" said my dad. "And how did you get it?")

I have an abhorrence of wasting food (my parents grew up in the Depression as you know), but man. This cream-soupless casserole was the worst dish I have ever made. Inedible.

So...for the first time in almost 14 years of marriage, here's where it all ended up.

Fortunately, we still had some taco soup left over from a recipe I got out of Midwest Living. I made it in the crockpot. Now, those are people who know how to cook for Midwesterners.


Becky said...

I'm pretty sure Martha would disapprove of most of my cooking. When we moved stuff into the new house, basically the only things I had to put in the pantry was nine (I'm not sure how that happened) cans of cream of chicken, three cans of cream of mushroom, a cream of celery, and two cream of broccoli. Staples, I tell you!

Melanie said...

Ha! Loved this post...back to cleaning for me. Have a great day!

Juliet said...

That is so funny! What the saying? "If it's good don't mess with it." Or something like that.

Mae said...

My southern version is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

I'm with you about Campbell's Soup. I couldn't live without Cream of Mushroom.

I would love to have your Pope's Casserole Recipe. I like doing things in the Crock Pot.

Jill said...

I have to agree that soup makes a meal in the midwest. We actually had cheesy chicken and rice casserole for dinner tonight with cream of chicken soup... can't go wrong :) Martha should make a visit to your kitchen..she could learn a little bit from you!

Ann-Marie said...

Best line - "The pope has a chicken recipe?" Oh my! I laughed at that!

Yeah, slimy is really never a good word - I mean, I can't think of a circumstance where it's a positive thing. Oh well.

I just can't believe it was the first dish that went down the disposal. The first couple years we were married, a LOT of dishes went down the disposal. It eventually broke, and now we just eat out. :-)