Monday, July 12, 2010

Historic Recipe: Spring Casserole

Today's recipe comes from the May 29, 1943 Topeka Daily Capital. It's a simple recipe with on-hand ingredients so I couldn't resist. Here's what you need:
*1 1/2 cups dried macaroni
*1 1/2 cups milk
*1/4 tsp paprika
*1 tsp salt
*1/4 tsp celery seed or celery salt
*1/3 cup cream
*2 cups milk
*1 cup fresh peas, slightly cooked (we used frozen since fresh peas have been long gone)
*3 TB minced fresh parsley
*2 TB minced onion (I used green onion)
*3 TB green pepper, diced
*3 boiled eggs, sliced
*3 TB cream cheese, softened

1. Cook macaroni until al dente (the original newspaper recipe said to cook it for 20 minutes - blah!).
2. Combine flour, paprika, salt and celery seed.
3. Mix together flour mixture and cream in small sauce pan until smooth.
4. Add milk and stir until smooth. Heat over medium heating, stirring constantly, until mixture boils.
5. Reduce to a simmer and stir contents until they thicken (approximately 15 minutes).
6. Add noodles and stir until well mixed.
7. Pour into buttered 8"x8" casserole dish and top with egg slices (you can mix the eggs in, but since the girls are a bit hesitant about boiled eggs I made them easily accessible for removal).
8. Mix cream cheese with green pepper and spread on top of macaroni mixture.
9. Bake at 370 degrees for 20 minutes.

With a side of fresh green beans here's how it turned out:
The verdict: very plain but palatable. Eowyn happily ate her portion (she loves peas), Sissy declined (she "wasn't that hungry," sigh) and TMOTH and I ate hearty helpings with the addition of a fair amount of salt and pepper.

I like this recipe for it's simplicity (meatless, most ingredients are regular kitchen stock) and because it requires very few ration points. If you have fresh (or home preserved) peas the only rationed item required to make this dish would be the cream cheese - of which the amount used represents only around one red ration point.

But I'm afraid it does little more for me than to further my belief that the majority of 1940's cooking can be reduced to "Random Ingredient in a Doctored White Sauce," (click here and here for other examples).

But then, I guess a lot of recipes these days are really like that, too. Just think of how many recipes require a can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup - those are just the modern processed versions of a white sauce (albeit with a ton more sodium and preservatives).

But I admit I'm a sucker for cream of chicken and wild rice soup and also that traditional Thanksgiving green bean casserole. What's your favorite version of a "doctored white sauce" recipe?

--Rational Mama


  1. Do you guys make hodge podge where you are? I don't know if it's a Maritime thing. I made some today. I scrubbed baby potatoes, new carrots, which I snapped in half, washed and trimmed yellow beans and usually I'd put in peas but I forgot. I barely cover with water and cook until the potatoes are cooked through. Then, if desired, add new onions with the greens, sliced and some cream (I used about a third of a cup and let simmer slowly until it is cooked down and ready to eat; it is served like a soup. So good! I like mine with some butter and we had it with freshly baked oatmeal brown bread, mmmmmm! You can add any new veggies you like (here is a recipe, but it's kind of different: ). It's a good way to use garden veggies (where I live, things are just starting to grow so it's nice to eat fresh things!). I plan to make some with garlic scrapes, green beans and peas tomorrow. I can't wait!

  2. My mom makes this chicken and rice casserole using cream of mushroom AND cream of celery soup. And then tops it with dried French onion soup mix! It really tastes much better than it sound, all creamy and comforting. I wonder if there is a way to make it without using so many convenience foods? And quite so much sodium.

  3. Hodgepodge is definitely a new concept - but a good one to keep in mind as the summer produce keeps rolling in. Emilie - I think the casserole sounds wonderfully comforting and creamy!