I don’t know about anyone else— at least this time of year, come Lent I know it’ll be a group obsession — but I’m constantly on the look-out for something to make that doesn’t involve carne.
Beyond the staples of fried cheese sandwiches (Thank you, George Foreman), the treat of deep-fried calamari, and various canned soups, my childhood only offers one option:
Take a big soup pot, put a glob of bacon fat in the bottom and heat it up to frying temp.
Chop a small potato per person into cubes and fry in the fat until tender or slightly translucent.
Pepper and garlic salt to taste, if you wish.
Turn down to simmering temp.
Add a can of chopped clams and add milk until the potatoes are covered, then about a quarter inch more.
Simmer until thickened and serve. (Has the big advantage of being something that doesn’t have a point where it’s ready and MUST be served right now—it can set on the stove for an hour, just fine.)
You can add some onion when you’re frying the potatoes, or add dried onion when you add milk, and probably add some other things to taste, it’s kind of like jazz.
As good as this is, my husband got tired of it pretty early, so I had to branch out; unfortunately, our budget was extremely limited at the time. Grandma to the rescue—she raised a whole flock of boys, mostly on casseroles or one-pan bakes. (To the point that we never had them when I was growing up, unless we ate at her place—my dad can’t stand them!) The format of a cup or two of carbs like leftover rice or pasta, a can or two of tuna, a cup or so of cheese and enough ranch dressing to make it stick together is very simple while leaving room for adjustment.
Substituting mushrooms or eggs for meat can also help with existing recipes.
Anyone have some favorites? Should we make this a reoccurring TAC subject?