Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Seems Like Old (Hard) Times

In the early '80's I left college to work full time as a bank teller. It paid $4.35 per hour, barely covering housing, car and food expenses, but Michigan was going through some very tough times and jobs were non-existent. Lee Iacocca had just stepped in to save Chrysler, the government was spending like crazy to win the cold war, and a 5-year $10,000 CD paid over 16%.

I remember these times as some of the best working years in my history, and not just because I met my future sister-in-law while there. It was the camaraderie we shared, and to help build that we were allowed to have pot-luck lunches frequently. I still cook some of the dishes eaten in the tiny basement kitchen. Food is a way to show others you care, and many times it is a link to our pasts - sharing recipes is a form of sharing stories.

So there it is on today's front page of The Dallas Morning News, Hard Times Are Back, and if it hasn't hit you, you probably know someone who it has. Maybe you're an employer, or even just an employee, hell this would even work for PTA meetings, but if you want to start making things at least taste a little better, consider a pot-luck lunch or dinner for your group.

To get you started, here is a recipe from The Papert Family Cookbook (Revised Edition, 1995), published by Dallas neighbors Ida and Sam Papert for the benefit of the Dallas Farmer's Market Friends.

Jalapeno Chicken Casserole by Rosalie Mothner Kern
4 boneless chicken breasts, boiled, diced
1 doz. corn tortillas, torn in strips
1 c. milk
1 lb. grated cheddar cheese
1 onion, grated
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 (4 oz. ea.) cans chopped green chiles
1/2 c. chicken stock
salt and pepper

In greased 3 quart casserole, layer ingredients as follows: Tortillas, chicken, [half of the] cheese, onion, and peppers. Mix milk, soup and stock, pour over ingredients, cover with remaining cheese. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until firm. Serves 6 to 8.

Sounds pretty comforting to me.

No comments: