Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reflections on the Casserole

casserole (n) 1.an earthenware or glass baking dish, usually with a cover, in which food can be baked and then served 2.the food baked and served in such a dish

I've been thinking about casseroles a lot lately as I struggle to balance three time-consuming kids, a job, a dissertation, and a need for the occasional peace and quiet (and by "peace and quiet" I mean a lull in the total and absolute chaos that seems to characterize life at our house). Perhaps casseroles are the busy mom's answer to healthy home-cooked meals without the inevitable cooking time crunch that comes just at that point in the day when the kids fall to pieces, I thought. And as my dad pointed out "it is an entire meal in a single dish." What could be easier?

When I was just out of college and cooking for myself for the first time, I was also living in Japan. So, my earliest cooking adventures were all with Japanese food. This means I can make


and miso soup

and ginger pork

and okonomiyaki

and even rolled egg (this is the probably the only thing I make that convinces Ren there is hope for me as a "Japanese wife"),

but I can't really make casseroles.


For the record, I'm pretty sure the definition of casserole is actually: (n) any dish baked in the oven that contains either cheese or cream of mushroom soup as the primary ingredient.

Until recently, I had made exactly 4 green bean casseroles (cream of mushroom soup) and one egg casserole (cheese). Since Stow came along, though, I have been gathering various casserole recipes. I've even tried to make a couple. But the thing about casseroles is that they take twice as long to make as non casseroles. First you have to cook everything like you would if you were stir frying or steaming (things we do a lot at our house) and then you have to BAKE it.

So my question is, if it's not easier to deal with a hectic schedule by making a casserole, why do they seem to be a staple of American food? I'm starting to suspect it's because of the cream of mushroom soup and the excessive cheese which means that maybe the casserole is not the answer to my cooking problems.

Hmmm...maybe it's time to break out the crock pot.

1 comment:

FMBMC said...

Because you can make them ahead of time and throw them in the oven when you get home. But yeah, crock pot is awesome, too.

And think of the cream of mushroom manufacturers! Where would we be without cream of mushroom!!!!!!!!