My oldest daughter was here for supper in the middle of a weeklong siege of snow and I wanted to fix some kind of comfort food. What says “comfort” more than a casserole and some cookies from the late 1940s-early 1950s?
The Casserole: I loved to have lunch at my Aunt Mabel’s house when I was a kid. Mabel shared a two-family house with my maternal grandmother and each week they and Mabel’s two young children got together with my mother, my sister, and me. Mabel was something of a kid herself – in her early 20s, funny, good with young people, a tomboy in jeans long before girls had started to wear them in the mid-1940s. She wasn’t particularly interested in cooking but she always served fun food – cold cuts, store-bought cookies, potato chips – and sometimes she would try out a popular recipe such as her Tuna Noodle Casserole. My father wouldn’t touch anything that even looked like a casserole with its conglomeration of ingredients, so this was a real treat for us. At Mabel’s, we enjoyed the food we never had at home, as well as all the latest magazines and, the best thing for me, the chance to sit with the three women and listen to them talk while the younger children went off to play.
This is my version of Mabel’s casserole:
LILLIAN'S TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE
- 6 oz. dry noodles (about 1-1/2 cups)
- One can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
- Several gratings of black pepper
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 2 Tblsp. chopped pimiento
- 2 Tblsp. dry minced onion
- 2 cans white albacore tuna (6 oz. each), drained & flaked
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 cup crushed cheese crackers
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray or oil a 9″ baking dish
Cook the dry noodles in boiling, salted water until al dente (about 7 minutes). Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the soup, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mix well and stir in the peas, pimiento, onion, flaked tuna and grated cheese. Stir in the drained noodles. Pour into the prepared 9″ pan. Sprinkle the top with the crushed cheese crackers.
Bake @ 400 degrees F for 20 minutes until the mixture is hot and bubbly.
Serve at once.
The Cookies: These cookies are especially good when they’re first baked and the chocolate is still soft.
PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOMS
- 48 Hershey milk chocolate kisses
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 Tblsp. milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
Beat shortening/margarine and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla, blending well.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture.
Shape dough into one-inch balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2″ apart. Bake @ 375 degrees F for approximately 8-10 minutes until cookies are lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately press a chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool.
Yield: 48 cookies
I would love to have just one more chance to sit around the table with those dear people, listen to them talk and enjoy Mabel’s casserole.