Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In a culinary rut? Try salad burgers!

My grandma's cookbook, Of Food and Thought, begins with January. The sub-headings are "Think Up New Project," "Wheat for Man," "Fun to Get Up in the Morning," "Let's Turn Over a New Leaf," "There is a Silver Lining," and "Quicker by the Dozen."

I've thought up a new project (borrowing heavily from grandma). Check! I made wheat for man--which I will share with you another day. Check!   I never find it fun to get up. No Check!  I've turned over a new leaf and found dirt below (I guess I need to start digging).  Check!  I'm looking for the silver lining but let's just leave it at that--after all nothing really is shiny in an inversion. No Check!  I am looking and I have yet to crack the code of quicker by the dozen.  Maybe in February. No Check!   This paragraph is a little depressing--sorry--I find the cookbook inspiring, tender, and most of all, intimidating.

Here's a sample of how I feel inadequate from January's chapter:

"Fun and nourishing lunch bag ideas:

1.  Chopped meat turn-overs in place of sandwiches
2.  Chopped peanuts added to ground ham and salad dressing for a nourishing sandwich filling.
3.  Dates stuffed with creamed cheese.
4.  Graham crackers put together with creamed cheese.
5.  Dried fruit, dampened and rolled in powdered sugar.
6.  Corned beef sandwich. Break the corned beef into pieces and combine with pickle relish, prepared mustard, and mayonnaise.  Season to taste and spread on rye bread.
7.  Spiced apple cider or apple juice--good with ham on rye.
8.  Thinly slice the top of hamburger buns.  Scoop out the center, butter, toast lightly.  Fill with egg salad and sprinkle with minced chives. Cover with top of bun.
9.  Sandwich made with three parts salted peanuts and 1 part carrot put through the grinder. Spread on graham bread. (What is graham bread?)
10. Scoop out the core of an apple and fill with chopped raisins."

Did I mention this cookbook came out in 1965? Before the feminist revolution!  Lunch at my house is make your own or eat at school.

For January grandma has 36 recipes.  This does not include the 40 or so mini recipes she throws in like the ones above or a fun new idea for supper--"Pancakes can be used for dinner as well as for breakfast.  Try them some night with creamed salmon over them and a crisp salad on the side." Somethings are better left untried! She has lists to liven up breakfast and after school snacks. I have to admit she is a little bit daunting. Breakfast at my house (similar to my lunch philosophy) is peanut butter toast or cereal, period--where my motto is everyone fends for themselves. 

 I remember thinking when my twins were about two and poked their darling heads up next to my bed at 6AM every single morning saying, "I want to eat," that I could not wait to teach them how to pour milk. Which I did as soon as they were strong enough to hold a one gallon milk jug. I am often, a do the simplest thing kind of woman, not the make anything extra type. So, reading my grandma's book is good for me! Right? 

So I studied the recipes to find one outside my comfort zone, as well as my family's, and had a brilliant idea, Salad Burgers!

Grandma said, "High protein salads contain eggs, meat, fish, cheese, or gelatin and may become the piece de resistance of the meal."

Salad Burgers
Makes 10 rolls

1/4 lb grated cheese
3 sliced hard-cooked eggs
1 can tuna
2 T chopped green pepper
2 T chopped onion
2 T chopped stuffed olives
2 T chopped sweet pickles (my family would have revolted at this so I used dill)
1/2 c mayonnaise

(I love ingredient pictures, I just think each individual food is so beautiful, just by itself!)

Mix all the ingredients.

Cut 10 wiener rolls (hot dog buns for those of us who don't like saying the word wiener).

Spread salad on rolls.

 Wrap each roll in aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes in a 250 degree F oven.

That's a lot of foil. 

Unwrap and eat.

Now for my turn--I think this could actually be good, but no one in my family  liked them because the buns got soggy! Yuck! Even I, who can for all intents and purposes eat anything--seriously anything (except cow liver), did not like this. I got about 3/4th the way through one. I made my son try it and he gagged--yes it's true, but he also gags on yummy food so I'm not sure it's a definitive judgement. 

Honestly, forget the tin foil. Toast the buns, put on the spread, then broil. It would make a yummy and festive tuna melt--If you like that sort of thing.