Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Our Grandmothers Would Have Done

It's Saturday. The glorious weekend.

I arose at the crack of noon.

I had five wonderful friends over for dinner the night before. The day before, I had worked way overtime but still had to procure groceries for the Friday dinner thing.

I'm a staunch, firm believer in the "clean-as-you-go-method" of entertaining. It works.

The dishwasher was empty, dishes were put away, the Cuisinart had no gloppy gloops of watermelon from the previous night's watermelon daiquiries, and the kitchen floor was even shiny.


But I had no food for the weekend. I had only shopped for the dinner thingy and I SO didn't want to go out for more groceries on a Saturday. The cupboards were bare.

This was my weekend to be a total sofa-'moeba. I didn't want to do anything aside from using the Tivo remote.

I was looking forward to complete immobility. Only a glacier would move me.

If only I could get the Tivo to lower the a/c temperature. . .

I took stock of the provisions on hand and made a move that my grandmothers would have done.

You see, our grandmothers who raised families during The Depression were incredibly resourceful. They were continually faced with hungry tummies, empty pantries, little support, but could somehow emerge with a nutritious supper for six every night.

Now that our everyday living expenses, not to mention food prices, have poised upward, shot skyward, and rocketed out of sight, I think it's time we think back and grasp again onto the intuitive ways that our foremothers so insouciantly displayed with regard to feeding their loved ones.

For example, my usual weekend outing to the market (Trader Joe's) would return with the following:

Heads of Romaine lettuce for salad
Firm Tofu for a stir-fry
Frozen veggies for a stir-fry
Frozen Chinese dinners instead of a stir-fry
Frozen mango chunks
Pasta of some sort
Canned crushed tomatoes
Frozen Indian dinners instead of a stir-fry
Frozen Thai dinners instead of a stir-fry
Heads of Romaine lettuce that would turn to goop in the bottom of the vegetable "crisper".

I didn't have any of these things. Of course, I could have the Thai restaurant across the street just deliver a half-dozen entrees in one felled swoop. That's always fun, and don't think I've not done that pretty often, but I feel guilty at such an indulgence.

Grandmotherly influence kicked in.

I had the following:

One bag of rigatoni pasta
Sixteen cans of Albacore tuna
Some frozen mixed vegetables
8 oz of milk
Half stick of butter
Six green onions
Half a red bell pepper
One wedge of Parmesan cheese
Lots of powdered chicken stock

I sauteed the onion and veggies in the butter. Boiled water for rigatoni. Shredded the Parmesan cheese in the food processor. Added a handful of flour to the veggies. Added two cups of chicken stock, the milk, along with the frozen veggies which made a thick sauce, then added two big cans of albacore tuna.
Dumped the rigatoni into a buttered baking pan. Added the thick veggie-tuna sauce. Topped with a couple of handfuls of Parmesan. Baked at 425.

And there you go. Comfy sustenance for the weekend.


At 7:51 PM , Blogger MaryRuth said...

Wow, what a fine looking casserole! Nice use of the leftover odds and ends. I get so mad when I have to toss stuff.
In the spirit of grandmotherly frugality, I will share one of my gramma's famous dishes, which became one of my childhood favorites. Our family was poor and Catholic, so we had this one usually on Friday.
It is called "Baked Spaghetti" but at my cousins' house, it was known as "French Spaghetti". (We're French-Canadian too.)
Boil up a pound of spaghetti, drain it well.
Get out a oven-proof bowl and put 1/3 of the noodles in the bottom. Cover the noodles with a few slices of Kraft singles, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cover with half the remaining noodles, do the cheese thing again. Top with the remaining noodles and more cheese.
Pour in about 1/2 to 3/4 of one of those big cans of tomato juice. Just enough so the noodles are sort of gooshy but not swimming.
Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes or so--until bubbly.
Remove the foil and cook a little longer so the top cheese browns a bit.
I make this once in a while, but I use real, Cheddar cheese.

At 9:27 PM , Blogger Miss Healthypants said...

You are so resourceful! Me?--not so much. :)

At 10:03 PM , Blogger Pam said...

Well done! The very times I could do with lounging on the sofa, my daughter calls to say she's coming around for dinner with a friend.("Is that O.K...are you's just that we'll be in the area and so-and-so hasn't seen you in ages...")So I'm off now to get more tuna and macaronni to be prepared for next time...Pity I can't rustle up someone to clean the house in two seconds flat when I get one of those phone calls.

At 3:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

blosjkynIn 40 years of cooking, I have never made a tuna casserole.

Tuna is for lunch in a sandwich or a salad! :-)

At 1:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You did that without a recipe?

I couldn't do that WITH a recipe.

At 1:17 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

First of all, I adore tuna casserole. Or as Sfoof is going to call it, horse mackeral casserole.

Second, for the last 2 weeks I have been feeding my family out of what I have on hand (with shopping only to augment things in the fresh produce and a little bit of meat department). Partly, it's 'cause I had a mess of stuff on hand and realized it should be used up and also to see if I could lower the grocery expenditures for a bit. I have. Barely.

But John McCain says that's all in my head. Bet he likes tuna casserole, though. Tasty.


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