Ok, I skipped the ‘A’ section of the recipe tin. It was mostly apples and I just can’t bring myself to do weeks of apple dishes in February/March. So, I’ll come back to ‘A’ when the time is right! On to ‘B’… “Broccoli Cheese Casserole”. Confession: I was an extremely picky eater as a child and still have some quirky food issues I deal with. Growing up, I would only eat broccoli raw. I almost never ate cooked vegetables. I grew into them but not until I became an adult. I didn’t consistently eat them until we started the Tuesday Night Dinner Club, in fact! I never tried broccoli casserole until Thanksgiving… Like 2 months ago… My sweet neighbor friend, Tia brought hers over. It’s basically famous and completely delicious! Oliver couldn’t get enough of it! So, when I saw this folded up piece of paper in Mamaw’s sweet handwriting next in line in this challenge, I was so excited! However, do you know what I didn’t know was in Broccoli casserole?? Fake cheese. On the recipe it calls for an “8 oz jar of processed cheese”. What does that mean? So I called on my friend Tia… Just as feared, it means Velveeta “cheese”. Hmm… Just as my mind began to reel with how I could change it, how I could health it up, how I could improvise considering the fact that we know more now about processed foods than our grandmothers knew… Tia said just what I needed to hear: “Yep. This recipe is one part healthy and three parts delicious.” Here’s the thing, usually we should do the best we can. Sometimes, we should go ahead and enjoy 1 part healthy and three parts delicious. So, I decided to go for it and use real cheese later… if this becomes a regular dish in my kitchen.
Broccoli’s purpose in this casserole is not to fulfill the government’s recommendations of getting our fruits and vegetables. No. In this gooey, crunchy, bubbly side dish, the broccoli’s lone purpose is to serve as a vehicle for cheese, butter, and cracker crumbles. I wish all vegetables had such a purpose…
So, off to the grocery store we went. Oliver and I tried out the new Winn Dixie near our house for our ingredients. It is marvelous in there!!! New carts with cup holders, a coffee bar to fill said cup holder, beautiful flowers, and samples galore. We sampled our way from the flowers to the frozen foods. The recipe called for 2 10 oz packages of broccoli cuts…I prefer florets though. Would you believe that I was so distracted by the fact that the broccoli was BOGO, that I didn’t pay attention to the fact that they were bags of “broccoli cuts” instead of “broccoli florets”. There’s a really, really big difference! There are A LOT of stalks in broccoli cuts. Eew. I used it but I have to tell you, my mistake ruined this dish for me. So sad!! The good news is, this is one of two recipes she had for this casserole. So, I’m having a broccoli casserole bake off. And I’ll buy the right thing next time!! I’ll look beyond the BOGO sign and really read the package… Anyway… Here’s the recipe:
1/2 c chopped onion
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 c water
8 oz processed cheese (Velveeta block)
2 10 oz bags of broccoli (she said cuts, I say florets) thawed and drained
2 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp mustard
2 c cracker crumbs
Brown onions in 4 tbsp of butter
Stir in flour, add water, and stir until it thickens (this part is fun)
Add cheese and mustard
Combine sauce, broccoli, and beaten eggs
Turn into a greased, 2 qt casserole dish
Cover with cracker crumbs
Dot with remaining butter
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes
Side note, in effort to get our money’s worth for the standing mixer I begged my husband to buy, I use it for everything I can think of. I used it to combine these ingredients and may or may not have flung cheesy broccoli all over my counters… It is my pleasure to make these messy mistakes so that you don’t have to. You’re welcome!
It tasted great but needed less stalks! Billy ate it and seemed happy… I think it’s a great side to a chicken dinner or a nice addition to a church or work potluck dinner, which actually brings me to what I want to tell you about this week…
I asked my daddy if this recipe brought up any memories for him. He doesn’t remember eating it at Mamaw’s house. I don’t remember it either but what she did use it for was for church suppers. My Mamaw and Pa were ministers in the Church of God for more than fifty years. In fact, they began their ministry right after this sweet wedding picture was taken. After their “retirement” Pa continued to travel and preach at different churches in the state. Together, they served and ministered to thousands of precious souls. As any of you church goers would know, a big part of attending a church, is eating at church… Especially in the South… Especially in small towns, which is normally where they were. We love our church suppers and often, one of the jobs of a pastor’s wife is to coordinate said suppers. My dad told me that once, while they were pastoring a church in Winchester, KY when he was a teenager, the unthinkable happened. At a Homecoming Dinner on the Grounds, the church actually ran out of food!! Gasp! She was so embarrassed that from then on she made tons of food for every church event. This meant she made a lot of casseroles. And this is one he remembers her taking to church. This must have impacted her greatly because it was also a lesson she taught to her daughter in law, my mom. My mom would often say that one thing she learned from my Mamaw was that it’s always better to have too much than not enough! Mamaw wasn’t a flashy woman. She didn’t need or seek much recognition. She did however, always make sure that people’s needs were met. Church members and church visitors left with full hearts and full bellies. That’s how we all left her house too. She had this quiet and pure way of loving on people. She wasn’t overly gushy or overflowing in false flattery, but you never, ever left her presence without knowing you were loved. You never doubted that you mattered to her. I miss her so very much!