I love reading about the history of food.
Researching and making my Mom’s recipes has become a hobby of mine and I’m often amazed at the evolution of food through the years – especially during my lifetime; I find that food is in many ways like fashion.
I enjoy taking trips down the international food aisle at the grocery store. It’s here I can be surprised and delighted with foods I’ve never heard of… not to mention the interesting and artful packaging.
My international food journeys remind me of the things I often mistakenly take for granted. Things like:
- Some foods are no longer available. I discovered this the hard way with one of my early BCN posts when searching for madrilène so I could make this tasty avocado soup. Also extremely hard to find? A garlic cheese roll. If you were a chocolate and caramel lover eating between 1973 and 1981, you likely remember the Marathon Bar which was sweet and savory braided deliciousness that was a treat about as big as a Texas sunrise.
- Packaging sizes have changed. I often find that cans and packaged foods are trending larger than they did in the good ole’ days. Supersize Me! And give me seconds. And please don’t forget the cheese.
- Food packaging has changed. Wine in a box? Get real. (Pssst – it is real)! Refried beans in a bag? Just heat ’em and eat ’em! Tomato paste in a tube? Totally tubular! Let’s get rolling!
A Cheesy Love Affair
I got super sucker-punched in the belly when I lived in Italy. I thought I knew most everything about the country – Heck, it was my seventh trip there. But living far and away for more than a couple of weeks taught me a lot about the presence and absence of food.
Most notably I learned that authentic Italy does not sell or consume yellow cheese. Wait, what?!? Yeah, no yellow cheese! You can imagine the sadness and horror that became my new face as repeated trips to every store in the region produced no yellow cheese. This Texas boy quickly developed a serious health issue when I realized there would be no yellow cheese for me. No homemade mac and cheese. No cheese n’ potatoes. No queso. NO QUESO?!?
This is the solid truth – had someone told me there was a store in a province within a one or two day walk from Tuscany, I would have walked there and back just to score a single log of Velveeta. Pinky swear it. Joe will back me up on this.
I begged our great friends Jeanie and David who were flying over from Texas for an Italian New Years to please, please, please bring me a block of Velveeta. And if they could also find it in their Texas-sized hearts to tuck some taco seasoning in their bag, I would be eternally grateful. And I am.
My dream came true for NYE 2012 when three beautiful blocks of Velveeta arrived along with several packets of taco seasoning, some Pace picante sauce, Rotel and even a bottle of Don Julio tequila. It was a Holiday to Remember! ← Read this post of mine to learn more about shopping Italian style.
Get On With It
OK, OK! So what does all this have to do with this recipe? Everything.
The optional yellow cheese? Yeah, forget about it. It’s not that you’re in Italy … it’s because this dish doesn’t need it.
Most notably this is a typical recipe circa 1970s that is less about sizzle and more about sustenance. No fancy presentation draped with a demi-glaze sauce. It’s good ole’ timey tasty. For me the combination of swiss cheese, ham and pickle was a delicious trio that packed a lotta taste. The mayo, onion and peas only sealed the deal.
foodie tips ~
❤ While perfect as a side salad my appetite was trying to find other ways to enjoy this aside from “just a salad.” I wound-up making lettuce cups out of mine and enjoyed every delicious bite. I think a toasted sandwich filled with the stuff would make the world a brighter place, too.
❤ American Cheese is optional for this dish; I did not use it but I love me some yellow cheese, as the story above reveals.
❤ Dill pickle lover? Check out my other post for Sauerkraut Bend’s Potato Salad… plus a video revealing the history behind the little pickle that made Texas famous.
1 box | Bird’s Eye frozen green peas
½ teaspoon | salt
1 ½ cups | water
1 ⅓ cups | Minute Rice
¾ cup | mayonnaise
½ cup | chopped dill pickle
1 teaspoon | onion, grated
1 cup | slivered cooked ham
1 cup | slivered swiss cheese
1 cup | slivered american cheese (optional)
to serve | tomato wedges (optional)
ii. what to do
1. Add the peas, salt and water to a saucepan. Cover and bring to a full boil.
2. Add the Minute Rice and mix to moisten all the rice. Cover, remove from heat and let stand for 13 minutes.
3. Add the mayonnaise, pickles and onion and mix/fluff with a fork. Chill in the fridge.
4. When ready to serve add the ham and cheese. Serve on lettuce with tomato wedges and enjoy!
Yields 6 servings
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
I’m not quite sure how to pronounce “timbales” (2 syllables or 3) – it seems to depend on whether or not you are using the French or Spanish pronunciation.
The name derives from “kettledrum” after the drum-like mold in which the dish is baked.
Growing up I was a drummer and we often played drums called “timbales.” We pronounced them like this.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ In a hurry? I think you can substitute canned peas for the frozen and save yourself a step. And a pot to clean.
♥ I must have been a salt block lovin’ cow in a former life. For some reason I couldn’t get enough salt on these so I used more than what was noted below.
♥ White Pepper? Didn’t find it at my grocery. I just used fresh cracked black pepper. Sorry, Mom!
♥ I don’t own any custard cups so I used the 4 ramekins, shown below. As a result I made larger timbales which required a little more time cooking. If you’re not planning on eating this as your only item I’d suggest making 6 and serving as a side.
10 ounces | frozen peas
1 cup | cooked rice
1 cup | chicken broth
½ cup | cream
4 | cage free eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon | parsley, chopped
¼ teaspoon | celery salt
¼ teaspoon | onion salt
for the sauce:
1 cup | falfurrias brand butter
¾ cup | celery tops, finely chopped
¼ cup | flour
¼ teaspoon | salt
⅛ teaspoon | celery salt
⅛ teaspoon | white pepper
2 cups | milk
to garnish | more chopped parsley
ii. what to do
0. Heat oven to 325°F.
1. Cook the peas and drain. Combine the peas with the next seven ingredients – the rice, broth, cream, eggs, parsley, celery salt and onion salt.
2. Grease 6 custard cups (or ramekins) and fill each 2/3 full of the pea mixture from step 1 above. Place the custard cups on a shallow roasting pan filled with 1 inch of hot water and place in oven.
3. Bake 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
4. After the timbales have been baking about 25 minutes, let’s make the sauce. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add and sauté the celery. Blend-in the flour, salts, pepper and milk. Simmer 6-8 minutes, stirring often until thickened.
5. Un-mold the pea timbales onto a warm serving platter and top with celery sauce and some chopped parsley.
Yields about 4-6 servings.
Here’s a scan of Mom’s original recipe!
If you missed the Sofia Vergara You Tube link above you have to watch it now. A guaranteed belly buster!
Everything But The Kitchen Sink Soup
This “BIG SOUP” recipe is insanely flexible! It starts with a base of chicken broth and our familiar friends onion, celery, carrot and herbs. But then the party gets a little crazy – you add whatever fresh, canned or frozen veggies, pasta and or meats that you have loitering around the kitchen, making this soup “soup-er” flexible.
Some of the best cooks never follow a recipe to the “t” and this is surely one of their favorites!
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Note the variations on the original scan –
For more soup: Add additional vegetables and broth.
For two meals: Freeze the leftovers.
For creamed soup: Add ½ to 1 cup cream 5 minutes before serving. Do not boil the cream!
For pureed soup: Put all ingredients (no bones) into a blender and work your magic, until smooth.
♥ If you discover a version you really like, make record of the ratios so you can make it again on the next go.
♥ I was 10 when this recipe appeared in the 1976 edition of Apartment Life Magazine. How alarming it is to see the office phone hanging on the wall in the photo below! PS ~ I also love the bananas T-shirt!
i. base ingredients
2 cans | chicken broth
4 | chicken breasts
1 | large onion, chopped
1 | celery stalk, chopped
1 | carrot, chopped
2 sprigs | parsley
1 teaspoon | thyme (or dillweed)
1 | bay leaf
to “cover” | water
ii. “scavenge” for these accessory ingredients
1 small can | pinto beans, chickpeas and or plum tomatoes
1 medium can | corn
½ package | frozen okra, asparagus, artichokes and or pea pods
2 | potatoes, chopped
1 small | zucchini, chopped
1 | green pepper, chopped
¼ pound | mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup or more | pasta or rice
1 length | seasoned sausage
cubes | leftover meat
1 | kitchen sink (just checking if you’re paying attention!) :)
iii. what to do
1. In a medium/large pot over medium heat, add the first eight ingredients in step “i” above. Add water to cover.
2. While waiting for the soup to simmer, scavenge for your step “ii” ingredients above, whatever form they take.
3. Add fresh veggies and rice after the soup’s been simmering 15 minutes or canned, frozen ingredients and pasta after 20 minutes. Simmer soup for 30 minutes or until everything’s done.
Click To View –> An Original Scan Of The Big Soup Recipe
If you love to s t r e t c h your food dollar, it’s hard to knock any recipe that’s been featured in The Unemployment Cookbook.
While my Mom’s recipe is a slightly different version, most hash recipes are a simple combination of beef, onions, tomatoes, rice and seasonings.
Perfect for a hearty, quick dish that’s budget friendly.
foodie tips ~
♥ For oil we used olive oil. But I bet Mom would have used Crisco Vegetable Oil.
♥ For the big can of tomatoes we used 28 ounces of San Marzano tomatoes . . . my favorite.
♥ If you like to kick up the heat a bit add some chopped jalapeño while sautéing or a few cracks of fresh black pepper just before stirring and baking. Sets my heart on fire!
♥ Before baking you don’t have to stir the ingredients but we preferred stirred to layered for the finished dish.
2 | onions
1 | green pepper
3-4 tablespoons | oil
1 pound | ground beef (not browned)
½ cup | raw white rice
2 teaspoons | salt
1 teaspoon | chili powder
big can | tomatoes
dash | sugar
ii. what to do
0. Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Sauté the onions and the green pepper in oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
2. In a casserole dish add the uncooked ground meat, the sautéed onions and pepper (from step 1 above) and the remaining 5 ingredients. Stir to combine.
3. Cover the casserole and cook for 1 hour.
Yields: 6 – 8 servings.
Green, white and red make this colorful all-in-one dish a hearty way to satisfy your meat, veggie and carb craving in every bite.
Did somebody say carbs? ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
foodie tip ~
♥ Turkey stove top will make great use of Thanksgiving turkey leftovers (sliced or cubed).
10 ounces | frozen cut asparagus tips and pieces
1 can | campbell’s cream of celery soup
1 ⅓ cups | water
1 ½ cups | diced cooked turkey
½ teaspoon | salt
¼ teaspoon | worcestershire sauce
dash | fresh cracked pepper
1 ⅓ cups | minute rice
3 tablespoons | pimiento, diced
to garnish | parsley
ii. what to do
1. Prepare asparagus according to package directions. Now drain.
2. In a large saucepan combine the asparagus, soup, water, turkey, salt, worcestershire sauce and pepper.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in rice, cover and simmer or 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
4. Stir in pimiento and garnish with parsley.
Don’t let this recipe fool you.
This rice isn’t spicy hot. But that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.
I was surprised to read this dish calls for ground beef … but all the happier since it was my main squeeze tonight. That’s right – this dish and I are going steady.
After making this dish per Mom’s instructions I read up a little more on the history of Spanish Rice which you might want to check out.
foodie tips ~
♥ Bacon drippings or shortening? Seriously ~ this is Texas. Go for the bacon drippings.
♥ We all know that food portions were smaller back in the 1970s. So when this calls for a “small box” of rice, I’m thinking it must have been 3 ½ cups of rice. The smallest box of rice I found at my local grocery store was about 7 cups strong (14 ounces). Supersize me.
♥ This is a great-tasting recipe but if you want something spicy you better add some cumin or chili powder or maybe even a can of Rotel (drained).
¼ cup | bacon drippings (or shortening)
1 | onion, thinly sliced
small box | minute rice
½ | green pepper, diced
1 pound | ground beef
2 8-ounce cans | tomato sauce
1 teaspoon | prepared mustard
to taste | pepper
to taste | salt
1 ¾ cups | hot water
ii. what to do
1. In a medium sized pot prepare the bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon strips and set aside reserving the drippings in the pan. The bacon isn’t used in this recipe so now you have something to snack on while you finish this out. :)
2. Add the onion, rice, pepper and meat. Stir over high heat until lightly browned (including the rice).
3. Add the tomato sauce, mustard, pepper, salt and hot water. Bring to a boil; then simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Shake your maracas – it’s ready!
Serve warm, as a sidekick or a main dish. Leftovers refrigerate well. This makes a lot of rice!
A scan of Mom’s original recipe card:
And for those who want to learn a little more about how to shake your maracas: