Sausage and Rice Supper

There are some of our family favorite meals that are asked for all year round.  Sausage and Rice is one of those, but I keep it in my mental filing folder of cool weather dishes.  The flavors of root vegetables, peppers and sausage are heartily complimented with Basmati rice.  The colors even look like Fall.  And it makes enough to satisfy the most robust appetites as temperatures begin to come down and we are working more outside.  I have no “first made” date penned on the recipe I originally used, but since it was torn from an entire Southern Living magazine page, I look to see if the magazine date will tell me. I smile as I turn the page and look at the coupons on the back of the recipe and picture:  they expire in the fall of 1982.  So it is an easy conclusion that I have brought this to the table for nearly 20 years.  Our version that has grown during this time varies little but I do change the vegetables occasionally.  This is a dish that can easily be stretched by adding up to 1/2 cup rice and additional chicken broth.  Last night I served Basil Cucumbers and a fresh fruit cup for sides. A wonderful companion dish is apples with  butter, cinnamon and brown sugar baked along with the casserole. Wonderful for potlucks, and  definitely “good food on a budget!”

                                        Sausage and Rice Casserole

                                         1 cup uncooked Basmati rice

                                          2 cups sliced carrots

                                          1 large onion, chopped

                                          1 cup chopped celery

                                         1/2 cup chopped green pepper

                                          2 cups chicken broth

                                          1 pound pork sausage.  (we like maple flavored or hot and spicy)

                        Spread rice over bottom of large casserole dish which has been coated with cooking spray.  Scatter vegetables over rice, then pour chicken broth over all.  Brown and cook sausage, then add to top of vegetables.  Cover and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven, stir well, replace cover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is done.  Makes 8 large servings.

                                                         Basil Cucumber Pickles

 I like cucumbers and vinegar to keep in the refrigerator in the summertime.  My mother and grandmother always peeled and sliced garden cumbers to add with layers of chopped or thinly sliced onion, salt and pepper and cover with white vinegar.  One of our favorite Indonesian dishes is Acar which is diced cucumber, carrot, onion, and hot peppers added to vinegar, sugar and water.  These cucumbesr may be the best yet.  I use unpeeled long seedless cucumbers from Canada and slice them thinly.  A handful of basil leaves from the garden and a touch of sweet mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)  give these pickled veggies a unique flavor that was perfect with our sausage and rice.

                    1/4 cup sugar

                     1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

                      3 tablespoons mirin

                      1 tablespoon sea salt

                      1 English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds

                        1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

Whisk vinegar, mirin, sugar, and salt in a non reactive container.  Add cucumbers and basil and toss, covering as well as possible with the vinegar mix.  Refrigerate 3 or 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Elbows on the Table

Pasta was not a word in most families’ food vocabulary in 1940’s East Texas. However, they did eat noodles in chicken noodle soup and occasionally buttered instead of potatoes with a meal. Appearing also at family meals, macaroni, specifically small elbow macaroni, was the star in macaroni and cheese (not Kraft dinners) and a potluck favorite called simply Macaroni Salad.

The latter was favored by a woman who not only made it for her table at home, but also bore it proudly to Sunday School luncheons and church potlucks. Opal grew up on a farm, picked cotton, packed tomatoes and proudly sold tins of Cloverine salve to buy her first set of pots and pans. A hard worker at any of those jobs, she set herself to perform well at any task, cooking included. Opal’s blue eyes snapped with both humor and determination when she decided to do something. Permed curls bobbing, hands on her hips, arms ready to hug she demonstrated wit and will as well as how loyal and loving she could be. Raised in the Great Depression, she was thrifty to the bone while being generous with what she had. Food she made in her kitchen in the little house on Sunset Street in Jacksonville, Texas was prepared with what she had on hand. Macaroni Salad was no exception.

After tying on a brightly colored apron trimmed with ric-rac sewn on her Singer, she hard- boiled eggs in an aluminum pan whose handles had long ago burned off. With the cooled and peeled eggs set aside, she rinsed the pan and brought salted water to a boil for the little crooked macaroni elbows. She never worried that they needed to be al dente! Once she had drained the noodles into a metal strainer, she dumped them into a Pyrex bowl. Next came the chopped eggs and whatever other ingredients that were available. Most of the time, celery was in the icebox to be scrubbed and diced, along with American Cheese sliced into small cubes, chopped pickles, and a small squatty jar of pimiento pieces. Opal’s skinny, bespectacled young daughter often peeled eggs, pulled strings from celery and forked out pickles. Sometimes she cut onion into small pieces while tears ran down her cheeks.

Perhaps there was a recipe Opal learned from working in a cafeteria before her girls were born. Or there may well have been directions on the Skinner macaroni package. More likely, Opal helped Clyde Terrell, her own mama, so she knew how to make this for her husband Howard Teal when they married in 1931. Or it could be that Clyde’s gift of a cookbook was the source of the all those macaroni salad filled Pyrex bowls. There is a recipe for Macaroni Salad in a worn copy of The Service Cookbook by Mrs. Ida Bailey Allen,  inscribed “From Mamma, Dec. 25, 1933.”

Opal Terrell Teal was my mother. Until very near her death in 2006, one month shy of her 93rd birthday, she claimed Macaroni Salad by saying, “I always liked it.” No longer young or skinny, still bespectacled, and ever grateful for growing up loving to be in the kitchen, I like it too. My granddaughters like to wear the ric-rac trimmed aprons.

Macaroni Salad

2 cups cold cooked elbow macaroni
½ cup diced celery
½ cup finely chopped American cheese
1 Tablespoon minced onion
½ cup French dressing
½ teaspoon salt
A few grains paprika
Lettuce
Mayonnaise

Combine the macaroni, celery, cheese and onion; marinate with the French dressing, and season with salt and paprika. Chill; arrange in individual nests of lettuce; and garnish with mayonnaise and a little paprika.

Note: I don’t remember Mother using paprika, nor do I remember any nests of lettuce. Boiled eggs do not appear in this recipe, but they did appear in the Pyrex dishes.

 

 

   Opal Terrell Teal’s cookbook.        The apron on which it rests belonged to Clyde Terrell.

Welcome!

Welcome to Kitchen Keepers, a blog for sharing good memories, good stories and good recipes.  I have been asked to record family recipes which have been favorites for many years, adding to their story every time they are prepared and enjoyed as well as those newcomers which have their own story.  Since I believe growing and preparing your own food is not only a pleasure but an art which is worthy of passing on, I am pleased to begin.

  Gathering around our table has been so much more than providing physical nourishment for me.  For as we gather, whatever the table shape may be, we form a circle, a place of conversation and knowing and caring.  Expressing our gratitude for the provision of food and family, giving thanks for bread and baker, we enter a sacred space.  Welcome.