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November 26, 2007

Horrors! Casserole!


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 means.


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.


How many 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 stovetop.


To conclude, call your family together and unleash upon them the madness you have just created.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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