Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Some things, like baking, require everything to be just so. Exactly one tablespoon of baking powder, exactly three cups of flour, exactly a quarter-cup of butter, oven set to exactly 400 degrees Fahrenheit, etc., or everything goes pear-shaped.

Other things, like cooking, are a little more free-wheeling. Casseroles and quiches are particularly flexible. Tonight's example: tuna noodle casserole. We're trying to use up food in the fridge and pantry instead of buying more, so the only item I picked up was dollar-store noodles, since I didn't have quite enough macaroni. (Besides, I like egg noodles for this dish.) The recipe calls for two cans of tuna, and I only had one, so I substituted 12 ounces of canned chicken chunks (thanks, Mom and Dad!). It also calls for a half-cup of milk, but I put in just a little bit more since I had some evaporated milk in the fridge that needed using up. I didn't have red bell pepper, but I had half a green bell pepper, so I threw that in. I had frozen peas, but I also had my eye on some fresh asparagus languishing in the crisper bin. We could have steamed the asparagus and eaten it on the side, but instead I cut the asparagus into small pieces, parboiled it for about a minute and added it to the casserole instead of the peas. And we're out of breadcrumbs, so I crushed up some cornflakes instead, mixed those with butter and sprinkled the crunchy goodness over the top.

I'm now sampling the resulting chicken noodle casserole. Guess what? It's tasty. It's really tasty. Casserole alteration to da rescue!

Life is like this. Some of it requires precision and fine-tuning, but usually it's more like cooking -- things don't turn out perfectly, you may have to alter your plans or your expectations a little (or a lot), but you can still use your head and solid advice to make good choices, learn from experience, and end up with a worthwhile outcome.

(Oh yeah, and add asparagus. Always add asparagus.)

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