Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My appalling collection of recipes

I am, I admit, hopelessly addicted to recipes. I clip them out of magazines, though I’ve narrowed my subscriptions down to two: Southern Living and Bon Appetit. But I can’t resist, “Oh, that sounds good” and I tear it out with never a thought about whether I’ll really fix it or not. The result is that two drawers in my mother’s antique secretary are filled with files labeled Entrees Tried, Entrees Not Tried, Vegetables and Sides, Appetizers, and Desserts.

New Year’s Day, the Burtons and I are hosting a small neighborhood potluck so that everyone gets their ham and black-eyed peas. Friend Subie tells me we must also have collards for prosperity—collards are a bad childhood memory for me, but I want to be prosperous so I’ll eat a few bites. My neighbor Susan said they have a huge ham left that they will bring, so relieved of getting the ham I decided I should provide another side—like mac and cheese or cole slaw. That sent me to my vegetables and sides file, which was huge. I probably threw away half the recipes—going through one by one (took me an hour and a half). I had several criteria: since the Burtons will be merging with my household, I threw out recipes I knew they wouldn’t eat—squash and zucchini, things with anchovy, spinach, a chicken liver salad (sounds good to me) etc. A lot of those I know how to fix for myself. Most potato salad recipes went—I have a couple of stand-by potato salads that I love, so I’m not likely to try others; I also discarded recipes that looked impractical, like a lot of work. I think I’m beyond that in my cooking.

It was fun to discover things I’d forgotten about that I’d like to fix again—an onion and vinegar slaw to put over green beans, Aunt Reva’s asparagus, corn pudding. But I came up empty on cole slaw (well I did find one recipe that included apples which sounds great to me, and another for vinegar and oil slaw but Christian doesn’t really like cabbage in any form). The one tempting mac and cheese recipe was built on a foundation of a box mix for mac and cheese. Not what I had in mind.

I finally decided that to go with our peas and ham sliders I’ll fix a recipe a friend gave me. She got it from her stepmother, and it is delicious. I close my eyes and overlook the prepared foods in it. Here’s Louella’s rice:
1 cup Minute Rice
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 can cream of celery soup
4 oz. can green chilies

Mix and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Serves four. I’ll double it. I’m sure my source, Barbara Bucknell Ashcraft of Mississippi, must at least triple it for her huge family. Thanks, Barbara, for your contribution to our dinner.

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