on Christmas Chronicles and zucchini casserole

20170508_173850When food for fun started flipping through Great-Aunt Helen’s recipe boxes, I promised myself I would avoid any and all casserole/hot dish recipes. As equal-opportunity as I am with most foods, I have been known to turn my nose up at these quintessential Midwestern one-dish meals. Maybe it’s the canned cream soups they often contain. Maybe it’s their combination of ingredients better enjoyed separately (tuna + tater tots ??). Whatever the reason, you won’t see hamburger macaroni hotdish on my dinner table anytime soon.

Why then, did I pick this well-worn recipe card from Helen’s box?20170508_154532Partly chosen because it is credited to Rosette, my paternal grandmother, Green Zucchini Casserole looked like something I could get into. I had just bought zucchini at a local market and dressing it up a bit with cheese and (buttered!) breadcrumbs seemed a fine idea. Increasing its appeal: Only a few ingredients and plenty of wiggle room. Amounts weren’t given, nor was baking dish size. Plus, the last line of the recipe cracked me up. Almost a dare, it “was liked by all.” Why not give it a whirl?

***

Last time we visited Helen’s Recipe Box, I had discovered a bunch of her papers, letters, etc. Going through these stacks will fuel dozens of blog posts and I hardly know where to begin. There are programs from her attendance at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 (!) as well as a Christmas card from said Queen. Also, lovely full-size menus from the ship she sailed on to London. Wonderful all, but a better segue for zucchini casserole is the first paragraph of a Christmas letter she wrote titled “Chronicles of ’80.”

There is light snow on the ground and the sun is streaming through the kitchen window, lighting the four red blossoms and many buds on the hanging basket of Christmas cactus and on the row of cherry tomatoes ripening on the window sill. A long and benign fall made it possible to leave plants outside well into November. I still have marigolds in a sunny window.

This woman loved her plants. Flowers, herbs, vegetables, berries – she grew them, tended them, enjoyed them whether outdoors or lined up on her window sill. I don’t remember specifics of what she grew, but with zucchini known for overproducing, she probably had plenty to cook and bake with. (Recipes for zucchini cake and bread are in her boxes as well.) Green Zucchini Casserole almost certainly made use of home-grown zucchini and if she served it when family or friends joined her for dinner, it was probably indeed liked by all.

Should you want to give it a go:20170508_15453220170508_15153320170508_15114720170508_154601I used a round 1 1/2-quart baking dish and a total of about 7 or so cups cubed zucchini. No green onions on hand, I subbed in thinly sliced onion and minced garlic, about 1/3 cup total.20170508_154631After tearing a few pieces of dried baguette into crumbs, I mixed in a bit of softened butter, giving me about 1/2 cup to sprinkle between layers as directed.20170508_154657I used about 1 1/2 cups total shredded Cheddar. Four layers of each ingredient brought my baking dish to full capacity.20170508_155249Though the recipe mentioned that the final dish would shrink to half its size, this did not happen. Which is just as well as the heaped casserole was lovely and impressive.20170508_173841To say that it was “liked by all” was a stretch for my table. Both daughters thought it “yucky” and my husband doesn’t like zucchini on a good day so this did not work for him. Not a problem as I will gladly eat this for lunches and dinners until it’s gone.

The zucchini surprised me by staying bright green instead of overcooking into olive-green oblivion. As well, the thinly sliced onion, crunchy breadcrumbs, and pockets of gooey cheese provided all sorts of flavor and texture contrast. Plain and simple. Showcasing fresh produce. It’s all good and I’m glad to have picked this one out of the box.

What we’ll drink with it next post, I don’t yet know. But we’ll figure it out and I hope to see you back here when we do.

11 thoughts on “on Christmas Chronicles and zucchini casserole

  1. That looks fantastic. Like you said, I’m surprised the zucchini did not shrink or the casserole may have become soup-like. Another win for Great Aunt Helen.

    And Christmas cards from the Queen. Sounds like you have a lot of food for thought for some time to come. 🙂

    • Thanks, Fannie. That QE stuff blew me away. To imagine a single woman traveling abroad for such a thing. Just wow. Not back in those days. Helen was a trailblazer. You are another 🙂 Appreciate you coming by.

  2. It looks delicious to me. For my money, you can’t go wrong with zucchini and cheddar cheese. One of my favorite of your posts so far! I’m surprised by how bright and colorful that cuckoo clock is on the recipe.

    • Thank you Kerbey 🙂 Am humbled by your words. That cuckoo clock, yes. Perfect as my dad’s mom (Rosette) had a German cuckoo clock in her house and when we’d visit (she and my grandpa lived in Denver) it was such a in-your-face thing, the bird coming out and going cuckoo on the hour. My brother has that clock now. Nostalgia is good, but that clock would make me nuts.

    • We have to wait for our summer veggies. Those zukes are at least a month away. Glad you already have some to play with 🙂 Thanks for coming over!

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