My sister-in-law is getting married this month, which is a good thing. Now my mother-in-law can find something else to keep her up at night. The other day, I got a bridal shower invitation from a friend of my SIL's reading: Please bring your favorite kitchen gadget and 3 recipes for the bride's new recipe box.
Recipe Box? Do people even still have those things?
I loved riffling through my mother's recipe box as a kid. Most of the recipes were splattered with some kind of detritus or crumpled slightly or water-marked. But mom's recipe box was a bone-fide historical document.
The recipe for our annual Christmas butter cookie? Given to my mother by one of her students in 1964 after my mother confessed she couldn't bake (this whole baking disorder is genetic, obviously). The recipe for vichyssoise? A gift from my uncle during one of his brief flirtations with French cuisine. Chocolate cake? Aunt Lou. Fancy spaghetti? That lady in North Dakota whose kid was a biter. Pasta primavera? A relic from my college days when I flirted with vegetarianism.
All of my mother's recipes were lovingly handwritten and passed along by someone kind enough to share. My mother could go through that box and name every person behind each smeared card, and every card had a story to tell.
I keep my recipes in very organized 3 ring binders and a lot of them have sleek pictures from magazines accompanying them, but the charm just isn't there. As I was flipping through my binders, trying to figure out which 3 recipes would make the cut, I stumbled upon a musty old recipe card from my childhood. I must have gotten it from my mother at some time, or stolen it outright--I have no idea.
This particular recipe was for a dish I loved, loved, loved growing up. And it looked like a lot of the other recipes in my mother's collection; in short, it was White Trash Food. Now c'mon there, you know what I'm talking about and don't pretend you didn't eat and love a few White Trash delights of your own growing up.
White Trash food, at least for me, is some kind of casserole containing soup. And maybe some Velveeta cheese. And some bread crumbs or fried onions on top. And as much as I cringe today at recipes that read: Add a can of cream of mushroom soup, some of those casseroles were kinda tasty.
I didn't include my White Trash recipe when I filled out my 3 recipe cards. Stuff like that just doesn't cut it today. Paula Deen can get away with cooking crap like this but she has that whole Irresistible Southern Charm thing going on. And I certainly don't think I'll be serving this to my husband because say the word Casserole and he turns green around the gills. I guess Indian people (dots, not feathers) don't do casseroles. And that's fine by me.
But I think even the most hardened Food Snob has a soft spot for some kind of White Trash food. It's a little slice of the past, served up with reverie, that takes you back to Mom and the warm kitchen of your childhood.
My favorite part of this recipe is the last line, written by my grandmother: Delicious as an accompaniment to meat loaf with a tossed salad. You think I'm shitting you, but I'm not.
Broccoli and Rice Casserole (serves 8)
Cook 2 cups of rice according to directions.
Cook 1 package of frozen chopped broccoli and drain.
Heat up 1 can cream of mushroom soup and add 1 jar of Cheez Whiz.
Chop 1 can of water chestnuts.
Mix everything together and put in a buttered casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 for about a half hour.
Note: Like most White Trash recipes, there aren't really any detailed directions eg: size of the jar of Cheez Whiz/package of broccoli and I haven't eaten it since about 5th grade, so I can't help you out there.
And no, I'm not going to make this and report back to you. Some things are better left to the fuzzy lens of memory. But if you'd like to share your childhood favorite with me, I'd love to hear it.