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November 26, 2007
Few words inspire more
terror in our minds than the word casserole. Each family is haunted by a
casserole that is prized by its maker but regarded with horror by those
on whom it is inflicted. It is believed that casseroles are the number
one cause of dinners smuggled to the garbage can through surreptitious
It gives me great
pleasure to offer yet another weapon with which you may maintain your
own household’s balance of terror.
Start, as so many
casseroles do, with the simple egg noodle.
casserole-related nightmares start with the egg noodle? Just about all
of them. Countless adults wince and cringe at the presence of egg
noodles because of things unleashed upon them as children.
Boil a couple handfuls
of egg noodles until soft. Drain and set them aside. They will be a
malevolent presence in your kitchen for a few minutes.
Now, slice a handful of
peeled carrots into two-or-three-inch chunks and boil or steam until
nearly soft. A little rigidity is preferable, because it means that some
juices remain locked up.
Cut a couple of
boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Here, we
allude to the Kitchen Principle of Proportion – the ingredients in a
recipe should be of about the same size to create an even eating
experience. You are creating a casserole, which itself will likely be
regarded as bland no matter what you do to spice it up, and
out-of-proportion ingredients will create unnecessary tension.
Keeping this in mind,
chop up some fresh broccoli, and pour yourself a small bowl of mixed
frozen corn and frozen peas. Here, because the peas and corn are much
smaller than the chicken, carrots and broccoli, you say, “You have
violated the Kitchen Principle of Proportion.” Remind yourself that it
is appropriate to allow ourselves our own little rebellions, including
when a casserole is at stake.
Now, mix the chicken,
vegetables and the baleful presence that are your cooked egg noodles in
a casserole dish with a can or two of Cream of Celery soup. Thousands of
voices, attuned to the great flow of energy that binds us all together,
now cry out in alarm for they have realized, too late, what you are
doing. Any cream-related soup used in this matter sets off alarm bells
in this way.
Mix them all together
and preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and cook until the chicken is
thoroughly done, which will be about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove, stir to
break up what is apt to be a thin covering scum of soup, and sprinkle it
generously with cheddar cheese and a dusting of paprika. Place back in
the oven until the cheese is melted, and let set to cool on the
To conclude, call your
family together and unleash upon them the madness you have just created.
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