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"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Making One Version of the Tightwad Gazette Universal Casserole


These recipes are meant to encourage those who feel like an alien in the kitchen. So, don't worry too much when you make mistakes.

Also, I live in Mexico so things are a bit different for me.

This is Tightwad Gazette author, Amy Dcyczn’s original recipe:

1     cup main ingredient
1     cup second ingredient
1-2  cups starchy ingredient
1 1/2  cups binder
1/4  cup goodie
seasoning 
topping

Main ingredient: tuna, cubed chicken, turkey, ham, seafood
Second ingredient: sliced celery, mushrooms, peas, chopped hard-boiled eggs
Starchy ingredient: sliced potatoes, cooked noodles or rice
Binder: cream sauce, sour cream, can of soup
Goodie: pimiento, olives, almonds, water chestnuts
Topping: potato chips, cheese, bread crumbs

Choose one item from each category except topping and mix together. If mixture is dry, add 1/2 cup milk or stock. Transfer to buttered or greased casserole. Add topping.

Bake 350 degrees F for 30-45 minutes.

 ***********

This is what I have:

1 can of salmon, drained (main ingredient)
1/2 14 oz can of champiñones (mushrooms), drained (second ingredient)
1 pkg of spaghetti (about 8 oz) (starchy ingredient)
1 can of crema esparragos (creme of Asparagus soup) (binder)
3/4 can water
5 aceitunas (olives), diced (goody)
about 10 leftover wheat crackers, crushed (topping)

Plus, I have no oven just a microwave and an electric stovetop.

I started the spaghetti on the electric stovetop.

Then, I went looking for the almonds I thought I had somewhere in the house. The search turned into a re-arrangement project as I searched several locations.

Couldn’t find them. My guess is somehow I managed to throw them out accidentally. So, I choose olives instead of almonds. The spaghetti was done by then.

I have cans of tuna but in Mexico they are not chunk-like, more like a tuna soup. But, I had been wanting to use my can of salmon, so here goes.

I am assuming you drain the tuna or salmon. I did.

After struggling to open the can of salmon with two different can openers, I used the lid to hold it against the salmon to drain the liquid. Subsequently the lid got stuck down in the can. I almost got my finger stuck between lid and can trying to get it out. But, finally used a knife to get that very sharp edged lid out.

After draining the spaghetti, I put it in the casserole bowl. Then, I mixed in the other ingredients except the topping.

I used roughly one-half of the can of salmon and had to separate the salmon with a fork.

Now, I really questioned using creme of asparagus soup. Was this dish going to be green? I went ahead anyway. I also added about 3/4 cup of water.

Then, I began “dicing” the olives. Another mistake, I had gotten a jar of olives with the pits (con hueso). They were probably cheaper. So, I sliced the olive meat off around the pit and added it to the casserole.

I tossed and mixed the ingredients with a fork.

Then, with the crackers in a bag, I smashed them with a spoon and added as topping.

Now, into microwave for 15 minutes. If it takes about 1 hour to cook a dish in an oven, it will take about 15 minutes in a microwave. Also, the wattage of the microwave may affect the cooking time.

Voilà! -- It’s eatable and tasty. What started out looking like a dish for Klingons came out looking “normal.”

It was a bit dry but I liked it because I did not want it soupy.

Also, my noodles were a little chewy when I started but once cooked twice they came out nice.

Next time, I may use the salmon juice and add 1 cup of milk instead of water. Maybe the almonds will have turned up by then.


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