Archive for January 2010

Mystery Meal

January 27, 2010

It all started on a Sunday afternoon. We had taken the boys somewhere and returned home later than we had planned. Dave whined because he wanted to have dinner with his Dad before he went back home. I had to make something quick that everyone would enjoy and send Dave back to his Mom with a full stomach and homework finished.

What to make. I was out of nearly everything. I had a few hamburger patties in the freezer, and a partially used jar of tomato sauce in the fridge. I put on some rice to steam and went to work thawing the hamburgers in a frying pan. (This was before I had a microwave for jiffy thaws). Once the meat was thawed and cooking, I tossed in some onion flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper. When the meat had browned, I poured in a little water to deglaze the pan and and mixed in the left over tomato sauce.  Hey, it smelled good!

The boys arrived in the kitchen. ‘What’s that?’ asked Dave. ‘Mystery Meal!’ I replied. “Mmm! Mystery Meal!’  both boys exclaimed. Well. That was off to a good start if they decided they liked it before they even tasted it for the first time.

I decided that meat on rice wasn’t as exciting as they expected (I had no idea what they thought they were getting).  I flipped the oven on so that it would be hot enough to melt some cheese on the finished dish.  Everything went into a large, Pyrex casserole – rice first, meat and sauce second and enough sliced American cheese to cover it. I tossed it into the oven and yelled for everyone to wash their hands.

By the time my men-folk had washed up and set the table, I had put some lettuce and tomato on salad plates. Dave carried the salad dishes to the table and I carried the hot casserole.  The combination of cool, crunchy salad and ‘Mystery Meal’ was a hit.

‘Mystery Meal’ became a family tradition. The mystery was that it rarely turned out the same twice. Sometimes there were egg noodles instead of rice. Sometimes there was diced, left over chicken instead of ground beef. Sometimes there wasn’t any meat at all, and sometimes there wasn’t cheese.

Of course, it was hardly original and it has evolved into something low fat and low cholesterol as the boys grew up and we aged.  We had a Mystery Meal version for dinner tonight. Diced chicken breast simmered in a can of low sodium stewed tomatoes and served over ‘No Yolk’ noodles.

It may be totally different than that quickly thrown together casserole, but it is still tasty and warming. We ate from the same dishes and the same table where we shared meals with our kids. There were lots of good memories to accompany it, too.


In the beginning.

January 23, 2010


I’ve been considering a blog about the relationship between memories, people and food. I’ve often written down family stories and family recipes in my personal journal.  In this blog I hope to talk about people in my family and the recipes they loved.