Thursday, December 1, 2011

Garbage Casserole

--Adrienne Miller

There’s an old Miller family recipe--well not that old, we did come up with it when I was a kid--called Garbage Casserole. While the name isn’t all that appealing, I gotta admit the dish is one of my favorites, and the recipe is ridiculously simple. 
Take last night’s taco dinner leftovers and layer them in a gratin dish. Pile on the cheese. Heat and eat.
I can make Garbage Casseroles out of almost anything. Leftovers from roasts and poultry can become quickie pot pies. Extra hamburger can become cottage pie. And I have no idea why anyone on god’s green earth would even think of throwing away bacon. I would crumble that stuff on anything. 
Maybe it was my solidly blue-collar upbringing--or, let’s be honest, present--that gave me my mind set on leftovers. Waste not, want not. Hell, it’s more than a dish, it’s a philosophy.
I’ll admit, it’s a way of thinking that can get out of hand. My grandmother was hoarder. Not as extreme as some you see on tv, but still, pretty bad. Whole rooms were filled with old clothes and drawers stocked with those little soaps you get in hotels. The shed was packed with crumbling tools that were decades past their usefulness. 
I sympathized with her obsession with keeping things. She came from a poor I have a hard time understanding. A rural Upper Michigan during the depression kind of poor. Think Charles Dickens, only less populated.
It makes me sad to think that once she finally go to the point in her life where she did have stuff, she was so plagued by the fear of losing it. On the other hand, it kind of makes me sad to think of those who live in such abundance that they never know how precious those things that they thoughtlessly toss out are.
Maybe that’s why I like the idea of Garbage Casserole so much. You use it all up, but you don’t waste. Yeah, that’s a thought I like a lot.


Sophie Littlefield said...

i think the depression era mentality goes very, very deep in a person's soul, and it would be unkind to try to force a "saver" to change since saving is what makes them feel peaceful. that said, it would be hard for me to live with such a person since i feel so much better when there's not a ton of clutter.

reminds me of a great book, however, called How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew by
Erin Bried. I think you and she would get along famously, Adrienne! Oh, and she blurbed Rachael :)

Gigi Pandian said...

In my house as a kid, our "garbage casserole" was stir fry. Anything can go into a stir fry.

Rachael Herron said...

This whole leftover week is leaving me permanently hungry, and now I want Garbage Casserole.

Liz said...

My mom made "garbage soup", with a ham bone and all those left over veggies. I've never been able to duplicate it--maybe because everything I use is fresh.

Adrienne Bell said...

Liz - I think you may be right about the freshness. I have a theory that day old's have more concentrated flavor, and that's why they mix so well with other ingredients and still shine through.

Adrienne Bell said...

Gigi - Ohh, stir fry! I don't do a lot of stir frying, but I should. Brilliant for leftover veggies!

L.G.C. Smith said...

I'm all for leftovers. But when I was a kid, the word 'casserole' struck fear in my heart. Those were the cream of mushroom soup years. Bleh. My mother made this awful thing ON PURPOSE called 'Shipwreck Casserole.' It had horrible canned things in it: stewed tomatoes and corn. Fresh potatoes, sliced thin, I think, and hamburger. It looked like barf. It was vile. Had the veggies been fresh, it might have been tolerable. But no. And when it was leftover, as it inevitably was . . . god help us all.

Juliet Blackwell said...

Love the garbage casserole! Though like LGC, casserole always struck fear into my heart. Tuna noodle casserole was particularly bad. My dad would have called it garbage stew, and we would have eaten it ;-)

Adrienne Bell said...

Oh LGC, I am with you on the canned vegetable issue. Those things are vile. Seriously vile.

Jeorge Mackay said...

To finalise, Sunday payday loans are a best suggested financial aid which shows lender’s consciousness for their borrowers. Such kind of loans shows lender’s positive attitude towards borrowers and their needs in every situation and know more about our services please visit us saturday payday loans.