In which we have a game night with some very important people.
We had friends over for games the other night. I made great-grandma’s recipe for whiskey slush (recipe to come later). This led into a conversation about this blog and why I started it. I commented about making my children try all of the recipes (not whiskey slush) and how sad it is that we don’t continue to make some of the recipes, but some of the recipes, like egg foo yung, should just be left in the past. “Why doesn’t anyone eat Hot Chicken Salad any more?” John lamented. Our friends turned to look at him. “What is that? I mean, I know all of those words and what they mean, but what is hot chicken salad?” “Is there macaroni in it?” another friend asked. “Nope. It’s all chicken and mayo and celery and onions and peppers all cooked up together with stuff on top. Well, one recipe is. I have something like 4 of them and I’ve only made two at this point.” So in honor of my friends, old and new and a long, complicated story of friendship beginning in 1986, I present to you the first of 4 recipes of hot chicken salad.This hot chicken salad is nostalgic in flavor and presentation. The potato chips and swiss cheese on top screams “your grandma made this.” She probably did, depending on the age of your grandma. This is the sort of food that would’ve been served in elementary school cafeterias while I was growing up. It probably made its way onto the buffet table at church potlucks in towns all over America. Diners would put this on their menu as as a daily special. It’s like the chicken equivalent of a tuna melt. This is the innocent food of a time we think of as simpler than the times we have now. In some ways, maybe it was. When life gets complicated and you want to go back to grandma’s house and just forget that you have to deal with the real world, go grab a rotisserie chicken and make some hot chicken salad. It isn’t going to help you get that promotion at work. It won’t do your housekeeping. It won’t pay a single one of your bills. But it might remind you of a time when you didn’t need to worry about any of those things, either.
In which I praise home economists.
Picture this. You are cleaning up from your Sunday dinner. Your family has devoured the Skillet Potatoes Au Gratin. They have eaten all of the Cooked Cranberry Salad. Their bellies are now full of Mama’s Apple Pecan Pie. The Bread and Butter Pickles are back in the fridge, but what are you going to do with all that leftover ham?
With everyone already planning for Thanksgiving (and the holiday that comes after that that I don’t want to mention because it’s just too soon), now is a good time to start working on menu planning and leftover planning. So let’s sharpen up our home economist skills and put those leftovers to work for you.
I know, I know. There are ham sandwiches that can be made, both hot and cold. Everyone has been yammering for scalloped potatoes. (Not at my house, but my mom did make some especially for a classmate of mine once in high school. She is amazing about things like that). The bone can be used for bean soup or thrown into greens or made into red beans and rice (my kids’ favorite option). At some point, however, you always end up with these little pieces that no one wants to eat because they are the wrong shape or size, they are too thick or thin. They languish there in your fridge and cry out to you when you open the door. You know that you should do something with them, but you aren’t sure of what. I have (or rather my great-grandma and other brilliant home economists have) a solution for you. Ham loaf in a cheese crust.Just say those words aloud. It’s ok to alternately smile and gag. It’s not something we are used to seeing in our menu rotation. There are reasons for why this recipe has fallen out of fashion. My kids would argue that taste was one of those reasons, but I think they were having an exceptionally picky day. Side note: I mentioned to Nick what I was writing about and he said “Oh, right, that weird stuff.”
When I looked at the title of the recipe, the images of what this recipe would be was something more like a meatloaf with a thick coating of cheese and breadcrumbs surrounding it, so that every slice looked like a drawing of rock layers from elementary school science class. As I read through the recipe I realized how wrong I had it. This was going to be a pie. A pink pie with an orange crust. A study in contrasting colors and textures. I’m never sure about the texture of ground ham.When this recipe was originally published, there were not the variety of cheese cracker options that are available today. I’m not sure if this qualifies as progress. I stuck with Cheez-Its original flavor. Getting out the blender or food processor seemed like dishes I didn’t feel like doing so crushed the crackers with a combination of the potato masher and my hands. It makes lovely pictures, but a crumbly crust.
All in all, this was not a bad recipe. A little on the salty side, but it’s ham and cheese crackers, so you’d expect as much.
In which I most certainly do NOT roast a raccoon.
I have amazing siblings. They are crazy talented and supportive. My sister is one of the nicest people I know. She constantly goes out of her way for other people. She actively tries to make the world a better place. My brothers almost have to be spoken about as one unit, but mostly because the world still confuses them. One of them works in energy efficiency and has published many articles and papers about the subject. The other works in theater. He is working on his first movie and is getting his first IMDB credit, or he would be, except somehow his brother is listed on IMDB instead. The twin curse…
Anyway, my brother suggested at one point that each of my siblings do a guest post for me. I readily agreed and mentioned that all they had to do was tell me what sort of recipe they wanted and I would hook them up with the goods. “What do you want? Entree? Dessert? Roasted Raccoon?” My brother jumped all over the idea of making a roasted raccoon. He attempted to source one. His friend actually came through. Unfortunately, making a movie and being away from an actual kitchen sort of put a damper on this. Well, that and the “ew” factor. As he was attempting to source a raccoon, he heard from multiple people about how sick eating raccoon had made them (probably because it wasn’t cleaned properly).
Regardless, I mentioned this recipe as a joke. I don’t actually expect that anyone will make it. If anyone does, I think I want to try it, but I’m unlikely to ever actually make this recipe myself.
I’m still waiting for them to actually get to the point of guest posting…(hint, hint).
I Googled Chicken Old Boston just to see if there was a reason that this recipe was called Chicken New Boston. Even searching for Chicken New Boston yielded nothing on the first search page. So this recipe may be new information for everyone.
So what do we think of when we think of Boston? Some people think of sports (we try not to acknowledge those teams). Some people have the experience of Matt Damon’s Boston or the Boston of the New Kids on the Block. There is the Boston of baked bean fame and the Boston of the Tea Party. Boston clam chowder. Ivy League Colleges covered in actual ivy. Then there is the Boston in Cheers. Let’s talk about that Boston because we’ve been watching that on Netflix sometimes and it helps make my metaphor better.You know how on Cheers there are the people like Norm and Cliff? They are that gritty side of Boston. The working class people from working class neighborhoods. Old Boston, if you will. If you were to imagine dinner at their houses, you’d imagine a roast that has been simmering all day. Maybe a nice plate of spaghetti. Food that is practical more than pretty. Food that will keep you going in cold weather.
And then there is Diane. There is no way she would sully her insides with that sort of food. She’s lofty and above it all. She represents that other part of Boston. The part of Boston that embraces new food and new culture. Chicken New Boston is something that Diane may whip up in her kitchen while wearing a ruffled apron. I did not wear a ruffled apron while making this dish. I think I was barefoot…
Chicken New Boston is a breaded chicken in a creamy sauce with mushrooms, artichokes and sherry. Conceptually, it’s delicious. Realistically, I had a hard time keeping the cornflakes on the chicken. It might just be a me thing. The sauce was amazing (even with the cream o’soup). It’s the sort of sauce that you’d want to mop up with bread or eat on top of noodles. It’s sophisticated enough to make me feel like I should’ve put on my pearls.
In which I introduce our wildlife.
Sickness has invaded our house. It came in with a slight wheeze that turned into a cough. A slight sniffle, a small sneeze. The weather is going to turn again, maybe for real this time? We want to be outside absorbing the last little bits of vitamin D, finishing up the yard work that we wanted to get done before it got too cold. Instead we are just doing small bits of things in between dealing with assorted viruses. We could all use some comfort food.
I pulled this recipe out from the archives. I originally made it in the summer when my tomatoes and peppers were fresh from the garden. There is nothing quite like summer tomatoes. The woodchuck that lives under our garage agrees. Tiko has an entrance to his den in the garden. We put a fence around the garden hoping to keep rabbits and assorted other animals out, but there is no stopping a woodchuck. The garden had been a dog kennel. Apparently even though I can still smell dog in the area, it doesn’t bother Tiko.
Tiko also likes apples and will sit up and eat an apple just like a human.
At some point this summer, we realized that Tiko also has a girlfriend. We named her Tika. I have these images of Tiko and Tika hanging out and Tika saying things like “I don’t like that wall there. I want more of an open concept.” and Tiko obligingly digs another hole. “You know, our living space is just not big enough, we need a bonus room.” Tiko sighs and gets back to work. We need to relocate Tiko and Tika before we have a bunch of little Tikis running around our yard digging up holes that I will probably break my ankle in.
When you make these pork chops, make sure the pan is covered tightly when you put it in the oven. The steam from all the juice and liquid will cook the rice. If for some reason, you are nervous about the rice not cooking all the way, just put it on the bottom of the pan to absorb all the yumminess from the pork and veggies.
This dish is so basic and easy that you’ll be able to think of a thousand ways to change it up to fit whatever you are craving. If summer veggies are no longer available, think about using fall fruits with the onion. In the dead of winter, you can use some mushrooms and greens. Hate pork? Use chicken breast. Have 6 people coming for dinner? Slice another onion and another tomato. Serving just you? You can still make this. It beats anything from the cookbook “Microwave Cooking For One”.
Share this recipe with your kids. Have them make it. This is the sort of food that you want them to be able to cook so that you don’t have to worry when they are on their own.
In which I put on some chaps
With these old recipes, there are occasions where the recipe is just non-specific enough that it allows for me to interpret something in a slightly different way. Sometimes this is as easy as in the Apple Marmalade where I chose to use blood oranges instead of a regular seeded orange. Sometimes it requires switching out types of mustard. A lot of recipes call for the addition of prepared mustard. I am sure that the original intention was to use basic yellow mustard. That’s boring. Not only do we have a friend that has a mustard fridge and has done mustard judging, but when we went to the Mustard Festival at the Mustard Museum the kids won 8 bottles of mustard from Koop’s and French’s. Not one of those mustard’s was plain yellow. However, in this recipe, because of the title, we had no mustard more appropriate to use than Giddy Up mustard. I mean, right? It fits the theme.As long as we are going there, let’s get a good picture of this recipe. Imagine you are a cowboy. You have been driving cows down the range. You are hot, you are tired and dusty. The sun is now setting, the cows are lowing as they eat sweet meadow grass. You may hear the trickle of a stream. If you weren’t bow-legged, your chaps would swish softly as you walked. Instead, you hear a small jangle of your spurs and the wail of a harmonica as you walk to the chuck wagon. Your tin plate is in your hand and old Cooky glops something onto it. More than likely it’s a lot like this dish. (Ok, probably not, I think I heard stories about the amount of beans that were eaten, but just go with it for the sake of the story.)
This rice-based casserole sort of reminds me of something like chili. The molasses provides a deep richness. I chopped the olives up super fine because at least one of the kids still claims to hate them and they’ve never been John’s favorite. I found that I needed to add some water that the recipe didn’t call for in order to cook the rice all the way. I might’ve had slightly better luck if I wasn’t still missing the lid to my Dutch oven. I may just have to break down and buy a new one some day, but I’m not quite ready for that kind of upgrade yet. The best thing about casseroles is that they are infinitely adaptable. We might’ve added some chipotle powder to ours. We might’ve added some ancho pepper to it. There is a possibility that we put some cheese in it and maybe some french fried onions on top and served it with optional sour cream…For all of the additions that we might’ve made, I am still pretty sure the best choice we made was the addition of something more than plain yellow mustard.
Coming up next: Groovy Teen Bars
In which an American classic gets twisted.
I just saw a chart the other day for how hot dogs are eaten in other places. Probably unsurprisingly to you, this recipe was not on there. This recipe also sparked a lot of discussion about what makes something “Deviled”. Is it the addition of mustard? I mean, deviled eggs and deviled hot dogs have that in common. But then I ponder about things like any “Diablo” recipe and those tend to include chilis. Is there actual criteria when naming something “deviled” or is it just an adjective that people assign willy-nilly?First of all, you should know that this recipe scared us. I had suggested to my brother that we make this recipe for his kids when they came to visit, he declined. I had the recipe in my head, however, so I had to make it.
It’s hot dogs cooked in a cream sauce with pickle relish and onions and green pepper. Well, we think it’s green pepper. Technically the recipe says “gr. pepper”. After I had added the 3 TB of green pepper, it occurred to me that it could’ve stood for “ground pepper” because it seems weird for green pepper to be measured that way, but then I remembered that in Iowa when my mom was growing up ketchup/catsup was considered spicy. 3 TB of ground pepper is a lot of black pepper for any recipe (with the exceptions being something HUGE or something like pastrami) and most of the other recipes that have “gr. pepper” make it obvious that the reference is to green pepper. Suprisingly, this recipe was not as bad as we thought it was going to be. It was actually kind of good, but I think it helps that we got good hot dogs. In hindsight, I wish we had butter toasted the buns. It would’ve added a little crispy element. Instead, it’s all sort of white and squashy and like the comfort food you never knew you needed. Because we didn’t know, we served these with our normal ketchup and mustard on the table, but this is an up to your taste sort of thing.
For a fun variation, add cheese to the cream sauce. It’s like a cheddarwurst.
We had a lot of sauce leftover that I secretly used in a creamy pasta dish later in the week. Don’t tell the kids.