Tag Archives: casserole

God in the Kitchen, Making Casserole

This is from The Far Side. Please don’t sue me.

This is the concluding post of the Miracles of Midwestern Cooking series.

Sometimes I think of the whole world as one big casserole, assembled in a glass dish God purchased at Wal-Mart and set to cook at 350 million degrees Fahrenheit, with all of the  creatures, both plant and animal, bubbling together for millions of years.

North America is the cream of chicken soup. England is cream of mushroom. France supplies the butter and cream, while Italy comes up with some carbs and Germany throws in its brats.

India and China add spice and Japan classes it up. North Africa brings the sweet with the salty, West Africa tosses in some peanuts, South America beefs it up and adds the lime juice and beans.

Other regions mix in their own special beats, the carbs and proteins they love best and all of the roasting and toasting and broasting they do to get them just right.

We’re topped with a combination of cheddar cheese ozone and fried onions that sizzle and melt under our very own star.

As the goop swims around we learn stuff, finding that some things are delicious on their own, but most often they taste better together. That’s why there should be world peace, because cream of mushroom soup is a physical abomination by itself and spices need something to go on.

I’m not advocating an Indian-spiced cream of mushroom soup, but you get my point.

And in the end maybe a casserole isn’t the best metaphor for earth, because casseroles can be kind of gross and uncivilized. Then again, so can humans.

Probably the best reason the casserole metaphor falls apart is because each of these regions developed at the same time over many years from the same primordial cream of human soup instead of being added separately. None of us could be where we are without the other.

But I still like the image of God in the kitchen, mixing together the most epic casserole of the day. I hope it tastes good.

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Dear Lord, Thank You for Casserole

And the people of the Lord gave thanks.

What is like the casserole?

Could any other dish transform tins of canned goods into a steaming meal for prairie mouths, hungry from a hard day of television viewing? Does anything match the poetry of the phrase, “Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Recipe is easily doubled.” Is there another main course as picturesque or heartwarming?

Entire generations have attained greatness by feeding solely off of casserole nectar. Worlds of cream of chicken soup have bubbled and boiled over whole chicken breasts sitting atop beds of rice or sliced roast beef as the casserole’s alchemy creates dinner and a better planet.

As I browse through my cookbook, the endless casserole variation is like a never ending music.

Oh Zucchini Casserole, oh Country Corn Bake, oh Cheese Corn Bake, oh Broccoli Corn Casserole! And the tuna! Dear, sweet, God! The Tuna Casserole, with its 3 cans of Chinese noodles, 2 cans mushroom soup, 1 package of blanched almonds, 2 cans white tuna, and 1 cup of milk. Dry yourselves, my taste buds, for the dinner hour is not nigh.

The casserole gathers canned goods to its glassy bosom, accepting them for what they are as they are combined and layered and sprinkled with corn flakes. A masterpiece of non-cooking, an exercise in the art of assembly, this is Midwestern cuisine at its finest.

Would any church potluck be complete without a steaming pan of Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole? Could the world continue to function on Monday night without a dinner of chicken enchiladas (1 cooked chicken, 1 c. shredded Taco Blend Cheese, 1 packet of Taco seasoning, Sour cream, salsa.) with its instructions to “Shred the chicken. Mix all ingredients together?”

And after being assembled into the tortillas, these proto-enchiladas will lie down on a sweet bed of glass and be smothered with equal parts enchilada sauce and cream of mushroom soup, topped with cheddar cheese in an eternal embrace that will continue deep within the digestive tract of the consumer.

In the kitchens of the Midwest, the cook’s most fearsome weapon is the 9×13 baking dish. The ammunition of choice: canned soup, cream of mushroom or chicken. With these tools, the chef is ready to face a ravenous family, to fight the devil with cheesy potatoes at a church gathering, and entertain the in-laws on the night of the big game.

When almost every ingredient is birthed from a can or a jar, when the objective of the dish is to combine it so thoroughly that one only tastes hot chicken-y, tuna-y, or beefy mush, when an complete meal can be eaten out of a mug, is there any way to go wrong?

Let the casserole state of mind cheese its way between your neurons. Let the open-and-pour mentality soothe your nerves and line your arteries. Life should be a steaming dish full of something that bubbles. It matters not what it is.

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