In the South, we've been raised on casseroles. Our Mommas have passed down recipes for all kinds of scrumptious pies, stews, and of course, cornbread; but casseroles hold a special place in our hearts. I'm not sure why these one-dish wonders are such an important part of our culture, but I've been exercising my googleiciousness (of course it's a word) and have some thoughts.
Our entire lives, we've seen casseroles spread kindness. They are "carried" to homes for anything that is worth celebrating. Had a baby? Casserole. Someone died? Casserole. Potluck at church? Casserole. Just moved into the neighborhood? Casserole. Southern ladies have an arsenal of recipes ready to throw into a 350 oven at any given moment. Some pre-planners even have casseroles already made in the freezer just waiting the need for a quick warm up. No time to whip up a dish? No worries. Most delis and some restaurants have them waiting for you to pick up right out of their frig. They can even be transferred to one of your own dishes so you can act like you made it yourself if need be. I personally would feel enormous guilt in doing that, but you do you. No judgement here. You'll still get a hand written thank you note.
My 'round 1 marriage' was in my twenties. Pyrex dishes were on every registry, and I accumulated several at the bridal showers. I thought the duplicates should be exchanged for something more glamorous, but Momma said "Keep them all." She knew best. I didn't understand how important they would be as I set up my first kitchen. I've used every single one, no matter the size. Some have been broken and gone to dish heaven, but they were well-loved while they were here. I didn't register for bridal showers in 'round 2' because that's tacky, but if I had, casserole dishes would have been on the top of the list. Especially the ones with the lids. They are extra awesome.
Our mommas mastered the art of taking any protein, mixing in cream of something, possibly adding a veggie, topping it off with crushed crackers and melted butter and "tadaaa!" Instant meal. All you had to do was say a blessing and dig in. I think this sensation began because of our "waste not, want not" mentality. Any leftover could be mixed with a cheap can of soup and a couple of other ingredients into something truly delicious. Whatever the reason, I'm thankful they were invented. I'd rather eat a casserole than just about anything.
The next time you fix a casserole to tote to the church Homecoming Celebration, say a prayer of thanks for Southern Mommas, past and present. The dishes we take for granted were created by them, and we are blessed to carry on the casserole tradition. Just make sure to write your name on the bottom of your Pyrex, or you just might not get it back. They've been known to disappear, especially the ones with the lids.
What's your favorite casserole? Share the recipe below. You can never have too many tried-and-true casserole recipes. Here's a link to some Pyrex and covered Corningware, best wedding gift ever! Subscribe to bethroperstewart.com and we'll start a recipe thread! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
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