Friday, November 21, 2008

Tuna Casserole Recipe

While having lunch with Kathy the other day, she told me about her childhood cookbook she actually used to cook with and described the illustrations of the eggs diving into the bowls and I was so inspired by these images, I couldn't get it out of my mind.

When we returned back to the studio, she pulled it out from the shelf and showed it to me. It was everything I imagined it to be. Adorable illustrations with truly simple instructions.

When I was a kid, I always loved eating tuna casserole for dinner. Even now, as an adult, I will occasionally pack a Stouffers tuna casserole entree to take for my lunch at work. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across a Tuna Casserole recipe I could easily make for myself.

Ok. So I admit it.

I'm obviously not the greatest cook. Nor am I the most intuitive cook. I have no clue what ingredients taste good with what.

I photocopied these two pages and I headed off to the grocery store to pick up a few items.

Ingredients: Tuna Fish, Condensed Mushroom Soup, Piminto, Small bag of chips and an onion.

I skipped the pimento because I figured they were those green olives with the red circles inside, and I didn't see any reason to include them.

I did buy the small bag of potato chips and the cream of mushroom soup. I already had a can of tuna and an onion.

Returned home to my newly updated kitchen, turned on music ... and I went to work.

As I was stirring the tuna fish and the cream of mushroom soup together, I started to vaguely think this might be a bad idea. Having already scrapped the idea of adding the pimento olives, I simply stirred in the small chopped onions and crumpled a small bag of potato chips on top as the recipe explained and then placed it in the oven.

It didn't look right.

It didn't feel right.

Short of a gray mushy matter, it looked like something I should be pouring down the garbage disposal instead of into my pyrex dish for my dinner.

But I placed it in the oven anyway and cooked it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

When the buzzer sounded, I scooped up that lovely gray matter onto a plate and I ate my dinner.

Maybe it's just my own personal observation, but I found it rather bland and boring.

If I were writing the recipe, I would have added extra ingredients such as celery and peas and noodles! NO0O0DLES for heaven's sake. Is that so wrong?

No, of course not. And why didn't I add those things myself? Because I didn't believe in my own cooking talent skills.

Hey, you know what? I learned something about myself tonight. I carry around the same beliefs about my house-keeping skills and keeping house plants alive.

Tonight I'm believing in second thoughts . . .


Janet said...

The pimentos are the red things inside the can buy a small jar of only the pimento.
(I have to confess...I only recently discovered that a pimento was a pepper...they use them in the Mexican cornbread at the restaurant where I work).
The illustrations for the cookbook are neato!

danny said...

That book is soooo fun! yeah you should definitely try it again, and add your own ingredients!

doodlegirl said...

thanks for the lesson on pimentos Janet. Who knew that the pepper would be the difference between it tasting good or not. I think I will certainly try it again but add my own ingredients danny. Someone else told me that when they make it, they also include a little bit of milk...

Maybe what I oughta do is look for the recipe in a more sophisticated book! But. Then again. I'm not so sure Tuna Casserole is considered sophistication.

platitudinal said...

Yes, Shawn, you should make this again and add all the ingredients you thought should get in there. Without knowing it you are actually an instinctive cook already :) I did not know how to cook until I got married (and that’s because we’re poor and couldn’t afford to eat out daily). When I first learned how to cook I followed the recipes faithfully. Some times they came up good, some times bad. I learned that it had nothing to do with my skill, but the recipes. There are good recipes and there are bad recipes. Later on, I started embellishing on the recipes. I added things that I thought would taste good. There were bombed experiences, and there were fantastic results. All that I can say is: trust your instinct. Artistic people have very good instinct :)

Paula Prass said...

Hey Shawn, For the casserole next time add the peas and celery and absolutely the noodles...splash with lemon and top w/ chips or french style onion rings. It'll be so much better I promise.

I actually add sliced green olives w/ pimentos when I make tuna salad,,,I also add the onion and celery and a splash of lemon. It's very good if you like tuna sandwiches or salad.


Kate said...

You have sent me to the kitchen where I have just finished baking my grandmother's sugar cookies. These from a recipe that reads, "Flour to make a soft dough" - so it's chance-y. Too much flour is trouble. Too little can be fixed. We lived with her. The dough scraps were always handcrafted into a little piggy with a squiggly tail. That was my cookie. Did I make one this time?

As for the tuna casserole...the first time I made it I thought to add a touch of minced, dried onion. It POURED out. We had onion casserole with a touch of tuna taste. Ah, the poor and early years, post-college...thankfully we can't go back.

doodlegirl said...

Thanks Ms Luci Plat.. you make a lot of sense. I think you're right about the recipes being the result of a dinner gone bad. Intuitiveness helps a lot, too.

Thank you so much Paula for your added instructions. I am going to do just that the next time i cook it. I'll keep you posted.

Kate, your story of the onion casserole touched my heart. I so have experienced that sort of meal before as well. Priceless. "Flour to make a soft dough" makes absolutely no sense to me and I think that would send me running to the store to buy them pre-made. I hope you made a little piggy with a squiggly tail .... for the sake of your grandmother. did you?

Doodlestreet said...

Awww..that's always tough to have a misfire in the kitchen. I've had PLENTY! My mom makes the most fantastic tuna noodle casserole...maybe I can get the recipe from her and make if for ya one day. She likes doing that 'chip' thing on top too...and she puts peas in hers. It's all about the noodles...those flat ones.

Keep trying...nurture your inner Julia Childs! :O)