Sunday, November 4, 2012

Harvey's South Georgia Vichyssoise

I didn't have much hope for this one, being as how I'd also run across a recipe in my mother's old green book for something called "Chicken Tetrazenie"--but this one, at least, looked pretty good. Harvey, bless his heart, knew his onions, because this one called for three large (or four medium) Vidalia onions, and anyone who is from Georgia or those parts knows that real Vidalia onions are to regular onions what Harvey's Bristol Creme is to a jug of moonshine. So you sautee the onions in butter until they are soft; add 2 i/2 cups peeled, diced potatoes, 2 cups of chicken broth, some paprika, salt and pepper. Simmer for a while, then run it through a food processor and chill; when ready to serve, add 1 1/2 cups of milk, 1 cup heavy cream, and fresh dill for garnish. Martha Stewart uses leeks and throw in a pinch of nutmeg, but otherwise this is a simple but sophisticated bit of cookery.

How it wound up in my mother's recipe book is a mystery.

Next up: something called "Harlequin Casserole," and it turned out to be as hideous as its name. You take butter and flour and make a white sauce. So far, so good--but then! Then you pour in two cups of tomato juice and cook until it is thick. Into this pot of congealed blood you throw celery salt, paprika, thyme, chopped onion, chopped bell peppers,  grated cheddar cheese and (because you can't have blood without flesh) one cup of "tuna, or salmon, or cooked diced chicken." In short, whatever canned meat you can find in the fallout shelter, and if nothing else I guess you could open a can of Spam. Then put a layer of canned mushrooms on top of that, and, just for the hell of it, throw in four hard boiled eggs. You pour this glop into a casserole, and because the horror is not complete without one last finishing touch, put some biscuit dough on top, sprinkle some cheese on top and throw the whole thing into a 425 oven....where, we can hope, it will burst into flames. Let us never speak of this again.

Short one here: "Carrot Balls." I've heard of Carrot Top, but Carrot Balls?  

And, finally: "Holiday Ideas," which deserves to be quoted in full: "Mix one-pound can drained whole cranberry sauce with a 9-ounce can of drained crushed pineapple; fold into 1 cup sour cream. Freeze in fluted cups for special salads in a hurry." Yes! Because you never know when company will drop in and say, "Tracy, I am just dying to eat something that will really spike my cholesterol out of a fluted cup. Do you have anything like that in your freezer?" You definitely want to be able to say, "Why, yes! Yes I do."

But I am not throwing any of these recipes away--and even though they are good for a hoot, I'm not keeping them to laugh at, either. They remind me of the person my mother was--the ambitious young 1960s homemaker who had been forced to eat out of garbage cans during the Depression, but who was determined, how that she was a married lady and a mother, to learn how to be a gracious hostess and good cook. I loved her, and I loved everything she cooked.

Except for the salmon croquettes. Those things I wouldn't feed to the dog.

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