Monday, September 29, 2014

"Crazy Quilt Cookery" by Bunny Day - Beef Casserole/meatloaf for a rainy day

Date I made this recipe:  September 24, 2014

Crazy-Quilt Cookery by Bunny Day
Published by: Gramercy Publishing Company
© MCMXLIV (1944)
Purchased at the most awesome estate sale ever!  The lady of the house was downsizing and she used to be a home economist.  Two words:  Cookbook Nirvana!

Recipe:  Beef Casserole (really, a meatloaf in disguise) – p. 59-60

So here's my story about why I chose this recipe and I'm sticking to it:  I was seduced by cornflakes.  Yup.  Good old Kellogg's was featured in a recipe and I was intrigued, then curious and then seduced.  Corn Flakes are like that you know—not as fancy as your Fruit Loops or your Captain Crunch but just as lethal.  So let's take a look at how this all happened.

Earlier that day:  as always at this time of year, selecting a recipe (and clothing) is a gamble.  Today started out rainy and that made me think of comfort food and casseroles and quilts (hint:  this is what is called "foreshadowing.")  The day before though, was sunny.  And the weather the day after I made this casserole is also sunny and warm – near 80.   So lucky for me, I hit the right recipe on the right day and all was well with the world.  Except...

...I should have realized that what was labeled a "casserole," specifically "beef casserole," was not, in fact, a "beef casserole" but was a meatloaf in disguise.  A meatloaf that called for cornflakes.  And again, I saw that and I was all "Cornflakes? Well, this could be awesome!" And it tasted great, but it was not a casserole and the cornflakes only served as binder in the same way that bread crumbs or oatmeal does with a meatloaf.

Deep heavy sighs ensued.  Deep.  Because when I want a casserole folks, I want a casserole.  There were plenty in this book, many requiring the standard can of Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken or Cream of "Whatnot" but did I go with any of them?  Nope.  And that's because I was seduced by the cornflakes.  This is shameful kitchen behavior on my part, people.  Shameful.  So enamored was I by the cookbook, the casserole and the cornflakes that I didn't really read the recipe to see what I was in for.  Reading is a good thing.  Pausing is another i.e. "pause" to take in all that is required for ingredients and for cooking before making a snap decision. 

In fact, had I been thinking clearly, I would have contemplated also the rules of one of my favorite shows, Chopped (Food Network): 1) you must make a meal out of four disparate ingredients in the basket and you must use all four ingredients, not three, not two but four and 2) you must repurpose your ingredients such that you don't just go and dump three cups of cornflakes into the meat like I did, you must do something outstanding like toast each cornflake individually and then with your tweezers, add microscopically chopped roasted vegetables to make an AMAZING itty bitty taco.  THAT, people, is the sign of a Chopped Champion.

So, to review:  On Chopped, not repurposing is bad.  Very bad.   Almost worse than leaving an ingredient off the plate.  In other words, you're going to hell.  I just hope I get to take the rest of the box with me.

Even earlier than earlier that day:  So like I said, the weather was rainy and rain makes me think of casseroles and quilts, specifically eating a casserole whilst bundled up in a quilt.  And so when I looked upwards at the sky and at my bookshelves and saw this cookbook, Crazy-Quilt Cookery, I knew we were meant to be.  Except...

...this book isn't about quilts at all like I thought ("don't judge a book by its cover") but rather "From holiday dinners at grandmother's house to sophisticated suppers in New York, a patch-quilt of recipes for all budgets and all occasions." (From the back cover) In other words, the quilt on the cover was just another ruse to get me to cook out of this book.  And I was once again seduced.  Sigh.

Now you might be tempted to see the author's name, Bunny Day, and think "Well, speaking of seduction..." but that would not be appropriate for our author, Eleanor "Bunny" F. Day.  This Bunny has authored several cookbooks, had her own TV show and was grandmother of two.  "Bunny" was actually a very popular name/nickname a few decades ago and I know of two people named Bunny, both of whom were very nice.  No Thumper though. (!)

As to the other recipes, this cookbook appears to be a good primer for making basic comfort foods like roasts, salads (including yes, Jell-O), casseroles and more.  Nothing is fancy, and ingredients are kept to a minimum but most dishes sound good and well, comforting! And so it came to pass that I ate my non-casserole huddled under my non-crazy quilt in the rain.  Our circle is complete.

Beef Casserole (meatloaf) – serves 6
1 ½ pounds ground chuck beef
2 eggs slightly beaten
3 cups corn flakes
1 tablespoon minced onion or ½ onion chopped
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon A-1 sauce
½ cup chili sauce

Mix the beef, eggs, corn flakes, onion, salt, pepper and A-1 sauce well with your hands.  Pack into a casserole and spread the chili sauce on top.  Bake at 400F for 30 minutes. 

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