Ellie, the Kitchen Wench is hosting a once-off called This Nostalgia Tastes Bittersweet, in which food bloggers are asked to blog about a food that evokes a sensory memory for them. For this event, I called upon my husband for his input, and in the end, decided that this event suited him better than me, and so I give you my husband Paul as a guest blogger. Everything to do with this event, from picking the menu, to shopping, to cooking and photographing, to the text below, is all his. So with that being said, take it away, Paul:
Tastes from the past…
What evokes memories of a happier, simpler time? A time when the family sat around the dinner table and ate dinner like… a family?
God knows B. and I don’t often eat dinner at the dinner table like civilized people; we prefer to plop down on our chosen seats in the family room with our respective plates of food and eat while talking or watching some TiVO’d television program.
Having said that, B. challenged me to find a dish that brought back memories of times past. The one that came to mind, that I haven’t had in decades, that brought me back to my childhood was, of all things, my mother’s (in)famous Salmon Noodle Casserole.
Determined as I was to find That Recipe — my sister took all my mother’s recipe cards and cookbooks and notebooks after Mom died, so I had to do some online research to find That Recipe on my own — I looked for a Salmon Noodle Casserole that was cheese-based and included frozen mixed vegetables…. and I found it. Here follows a recipe, based on a recipe I found online and modified to be closer to my mother’s:
Salmon Noodle Casserole
15 oz boneless skinless pink salmon
3 tb Butter
2 tb Flour
1/2 ts Dry mustard
1 can Evaporated whole milk
10oz package frozen vegetables (I substituted peas)
3 c Wide or medium noodles, cooked
2 c Shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
Drain salmon; break into large chunks. Melt butter in saucepan; stir in flour and dry mustard. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened. Stir in vegetables, cooked noodles, and 1 1/2 cup cheese. Gently fold in salmon. Pour into greased 2-quart baking dish. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake uncovered 5 minutes or until cheese melts. This recipe serves 6.
Note that I modified this recipe somewhat; my mother always used white cheddar in her Salmon Noodle Casserole, and hers was rather cheesier, so I upped the total cheese to 2 full cups shredded Vermont white cheddar.
Also, I’d had a Senior Moment while at the grocery last night, and had forgotten the 10 ounce package of frozen mixed vegetables, so I substituted 10 ounces of frozen young peas for the mixed vegetables. I believe the substitution produced a superior final product. It wasn’t *quite* the same as my mother’s, but it definitely had the same vibe going on.
So… Here it is, one of my childhood favorites, that brings back images of my parents’ eat-in kitchen with its ugly garish floral wallpaper, its 19″ black-and-white knob TV sitting atop the refrigerator (no remote, strictly manually operated), its hideous linoleum, and its fugly kitchen table, made of plasticky veneer over particleboard in a faux-butcherblock look. It was a decorating abortion, but it was home.