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December 26, 2005

Stuffed Squash Deseret
Posted by Teresa at 07:15 AM * 80 comments

Christmas dinner yesterday (glazed ham, two veg., green salad, mince pie) was bizarre: dinner was ready well ahead of schedule, and everything came off perfectly. That included the improvisation du jour: cooking the stove-top stuffing mix inside the acorn squash, a dish that’s very much in the style of la cuisine de Nouvelle Zion.

On the one hand, it’s sort of depraved: stove-top stuffing mix? On the other hand, it’s easy, it’s tasty, it doesn’t dirty a lot of dishes, it makes a nice presentation, and it’s blessedly tolerant: you can leave it on hold between steps whenever you need to deal with some other bit of cooking.
Stuffed Squash Deseret

1 fair-sized acorn squash
1 six-ounce box of cornbread stovetop stuffing mix
1/4 C. butter or margarine
waxed paper

1. Wash the squash. Plonk a few discreet holes in it so it won’t explode. Put it in the microwave and nuke it, perhaps turning it over once or twice, until it softens up a bit. (If it suddenly starts looking bigger and rounder, stop immediately, and give it a few minutes to settle down before cutting into it.)

2. Slice the squash in half from nose to tail. Scoop out all the seeds. Wrap each half in waxed paper, and continue nuking until they’re imaginably edible, but still a bit stiff.

3. Put the stuffing mix in a bowl. Boil the amount of water specified on the package, melt the butter or margarine into it, and pour it over the mix. Stir briefly. When the stuffing is cool enough to handle, pack it into the squash halves, mounding it up over the entire top of the half-squash. Wrap waxed paper around each squash-and-stuffing module and return it to the microwave.

4. Keep nuking until the squash halves are pleasantly soft. Turn off the oven and let them sit until you’re ready to serve dinner.

5. Carefully remove the waxed paper. You can cut each half lengthwise, yielding four substantial wedges of squash-and-stuffing, or slice them into smaller portions as desired, as long as they’re not so small that the components fall apart.
If there are only two of you, eat the other half-squash for brunch on Boxing Day.

I’m thinking it ought to be possible to take the lid off and scoop out one of the larger winter squashes, and use it to bake a stuffing mixture (not instant stuffing, it’d go to mush) when you’re cooking a cut of meat that doesn’t have a body cavity.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on Stuffed Squash Deseret:
#1 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 09:55 AM:

You could do that -- use one of the more pumpkin-shaped squashes (the amber cup I have in the kitchen right now would do), and cut a lid out like you would for making a jack-o-lantern. Fill with raw stuffing, bake. Should be an excellent way of making a pretty vegetarian version.

#2 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 11:04 AM:

My kitchen algorithms that involve the word "explode" and contain phrases akin to "If it suddenly starts looking bigger and rounder, stop immediately" are why none of my relatives trust me NEAR food prep areas.

#3 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 11:38 AM:

It makes it easier to cut the squash if you microwave it first, but it's not necessary. You can microwave winter squash perfectly well, and without fear of explosions, if you cut them up first. I generally slice them in half, then put them face down on a plate with a little bit of water in the bottom.

#4 ::: Tiff ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 12:10 PM:

This sounds like the kind of recipe I'd like to try out (if I can get my hands on a squash). Unfortunately I have no idea what stovetop stuffing mix is.

#5 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 12:30 PM:

Tiff: basically, seasoned bread cubes or seasoned crumbled cornbread, dried and packaged to keep well. Not unlike croutons, but less toasted, more heavily seasoned (herbs, onion, etc.) and smaller. The preparation method recommended on the package is to add enough hot water (or better, hot broth) to make the bread moist but not soggy.

#6 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 12:33 PM:

"Imaginably edible" is such a great cooking-instruction phrase, I'm surprised I've never seen it before.

#7 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 12:35 PM:

One of our all-in-one favorite meals back when we were not-quite-poor-and-starving in Washington, DC was a variation on this theme. There is no recipe per se - it's more of a heuristic:

Seed and slightly hollow out your winter squash (acorn works best) and bake or microwave it until sort of al dente. Place squash hollowed-out side up on a baking sheet and set aside.

Saute 1/4 to 1/2 lb. sausage meat (any kind, though we usually used a 'breakfast' sausage) until cooked through. Saute some diced onions in the resultant fat. Combine onions and sausage. (For a vegetarian option, simply saute the onions in the fat of your choice and crumble in some thawed veggie sausage patties - it's just as good.)

Season onion/sausage mix w/ some combination of black pepper, sage, thyme or other similar spices to taste. Fill squash cavities w/ mix.

Prepare one box of cornbread mix according to package directions. Pour/spoon cornbread batter over squash.

Bake filled & encrusted squash at the temp. and time recommended for the cornbread mix; remove from oven when crusty/golden brown.

Feel free to tinker with recipe as tastes dictate; it's quite flexible and forgiving...

#8 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 12:37 PM:

Just went back and looked at the original "cuisine de Nouvelle Zion" thread. I am reminded of when I explained congealed salad to my eldest daughter, then about 10. I mentioned that it was the sort of thing people bring to the home of the bereaved, adding a quick explanation of why people bring food when someone dies (at least here in Georgia). She pondered this for a moment, then plaintively inquired, "Yeah, but do they have to bring something that makes it WORSE?"

#9 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 12:43 PM:

I did a fancied-up version of that when I was kitchen manager at a café last year. Used the ample supply of stale French bread and sourdough from the sandwich fixings to make the bread cubes, seasoned it with sage and thyme, and added in nearly-caramelized onions, dried cranberries, and toasted pecans. And plenty of butter. I would have used some chicken broth to moisten the stuffing but I was promoting it as a vegetarian dish so veggie stock it was. There was also probably some mirepoix in with the bread cubes. I can't remember exactly -- I was improvising, because we had most of a case of acorn squash to get rid of with the squash bisque rotated off the menu.

But yes, acorn squash with a stuffing in it is Good Eating.

#10 ::: Emma Bull ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 12:44 PM:

Foodbiggood! Eat bread/squash sameplace smart! Yes!

#11 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 01:06 PM:

I suppose that microwaving the squash first would make it more easily halveable.

But, hey, whacking a hard winter squash apart with a big knife (usually my 10" Solingen) or cleaver, preferably with one blow, is one of those Manly Prowess things we guys like to do now and then.

(Speculation on any Hidden Meaning behind guys and their big knives will be left as an exercise for the reader.)

#12 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 05:37 PM:

Microwaving the squash does make it more easily halvable, but more importantly, it makes it easier to get the seeds out.

My version of stuffed acorn squash:

Wash the squash, stab it around the diameter, put it in the microwave and zap for 10 minutes.

While squash is zapping, slice mushrooms, make sausage patties (or other fatty meat things), grate mozzarella cheese.

When the microwave buzzes, use potholders to get the squash out. Depending on your tolerance of steam, either cut the squash in half and remove the seeds now or do it a bit later when the squash isn't so hot.

Stuff halves with mushrooms, seal the top of the half's cavity with the sausage patty. Zap for three minutes, add the cheese, zap for another minute.

As to stuffing other squashes, I used to stuff pattipan squashes, which are pretty small, with herbed bread crumbs and also zap.

#13 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 05:58 PM:

Bruce Arthurs wrote: But, hey, whacking a hard winter squash apart with a big knife (usually my 10" Solingen) or cleaver, preferably with one blow, is one of those Manly Prowess things we guys like to do now and then.

It's for precisely this task that I own both a cleaver and a rubber mallet. Insert the cleaver just far enough into the squash to get the cutting line established, then tap the cleaver with the mallet to split the squash. Works every time; no bloody fingers.

#14 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 06:20 PM:

I'm absolutely drooling at these descriptions. And most of them sound simple enough that I could even try this in the tiny, tiny cluttered kitchen here, with my poor cooking skills. I wonder if I can use that lingering can of corned beef hash rather than sausage patties...

(Baking, that I can manage. I can whip up some damn good experimental cookies. But as soon as I'm trying to make non-sweet things edible, it all goes to heck.)

#15 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 07:12 PM:

Fade: I learned to cook via Peg Bracken's I Hate To Cook Book. Chapter titles alone endear one: Leftovers, or Everyone Needs A Dog, which includes remarks about people who consider cheese a leftover (similar to people who consider wine a leftover); Potluck Suppers, or How To Bring The Water For The Lemonade; Luncheon For The Girls, or Wait Till You Taste Maybelle's Peanut Butter Aspic; and Little Kids' Parties, or They Only Came For The Balloons. The newer combined version cleans things up a bit and takes out wonderful lines like "let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink." She doesn't assume you know much of anything about cooking, and even if you did, you don't like to. If you want to be a bit better than someone who burns water (*waves*), hunt down a copy.

#16 ::: Tiff ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 07:54 PM:

I think I've got the stuffing part worked out. Only now it's occurred to me that I've no idea what an acorn squash is either. Google to the rescue...

Does anyone have an idea why it's so hard to get any squash over here except butternut and for two weeks in October, pumpkins?

#17 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 08:08 PM:

Tiff: I don't know if this holds in the UK or not, but I think I've also seen them called "Danish" or "Danish Blue" squash...

#18 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 09:31 PM:

Is it possible to translate some of these lovely, tasty recipes for the microwave deprived? Or does that become an impossibility once stove-top stuffing gets involved?

(It's not that my household has some sort of luddite aversion for the nuker, but a kitchen will only hold so many things and ours is at capacity. In addition to the usual culprits, it mostly contains a toaster oven, a crock pot, and an ungawdly amount of tea.)

#19 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 10:07 PM:

Nicole --

If you can get the squash apart when it's in the robust, raw state -- if all else fails, put it on a hefty plank and use an ax -- there's nothing at all says you can't bake the thing in a regular oven.

Scoop the seeds out, heave in what you wish to add, cover with foil to discourage drying out, and there you go. Bake at 300 or 350 or so until toothsome.

I have a tendency to throw in bacon fat, dried cranberries, maybe cubed bacon, mushrooms, and maple syrup, but almost anything up to and including outright bread works.

#20 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2005, 11:56 PM:

Graydon and/or Nicole: or, instead of covering w/ foil, bake upside down...

<HomerSimpson>Mmmmm... Bacon fat...</HomerSimpson>

#21 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 12:45 AM:

What protected static said. I split and clean acorn squash and bake them cut-side down until they're tender, then turn over, put butter and brown sugar (though sausage sounds Very Tasty, I'm guessing you cook it first) in the hole and cook until the toppings brown up.

#22 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 10:29 AM:

Peg Bracken! I was warped in childhood by reading her stuff. She also wrote I Try to Behave Myself and The I Hate to Housekeep Book. There's a chocolate cake in her cookbook that remains a staple of my mother's repertoire, mostly because I ask for it every time I come home. I have no idea what it's really called because when I was 3 I renamed it "Hot Cake."

#23 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 10:39 AM:

O, I know that recipe. My grandmother made me things like this. Very tasty!

#24 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 10:56 AM:

Acorn squash with butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, ham, and pineapple. Mmmmmm. I've never had it with sausage - I'll try that.

#25 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 11:17 AM:

TexAnne: We've got a recipe that started life as "lucerne casserole," the Lucerne dairy company being the creator thereof. My brother named it "three cheese junk" because of ingredients and how it looks (somewhat junky), and "three cheese junk" it remains to this day.

#26 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 11:23 AM:

I wish I weren't at work right now, but taking five minutes to ponder Food That Could Conceivably Go Boom has made this morning much more tolerable. My thanks.

#27 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 11:34 AM:

Next on Mythbusters: Food That Could Conceivably Go Boom!

I think you're on to something, Andrew. They've done the superheated-water-in-the-microwave already, and I think I remember something about Coke cans in a hot car. Have they done the "woman who thinks she's been shot, but it's only biscuit dough" yet?

#28 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 12:01 PM:

TexAnne: I like how you think, and I guess Adam and Jamie would, too, because they've already done the biscuit-dough one! Their verdict: entirely plausible. Indeed, the overheated Coke can was a revisitation of the Biscuit Bazooka myth. I think the general idea was something like, "Okay, but what else can you blow up in a car?"

Man, I love that show.

#29 ::: claire ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 12:02 PM:

Thank you, Teresa, for this post. And thanks to all for the wonderful ideas. I am now armed with several acorn squashes and much stuffing goodies and will happily be cooking for family who is threatening to show up at any moment...


#30 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 12:34 PM:

Moving on to foods that sound like they should go boom.... The original Betty Crocker Cookbook had a variation on baking powder biscuits that made them into little cinnamon rolls. Roll out the dough, spread with butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, roll up, slice and bake. Drizzle with powdered sugar icing when you pull them out of the oven.

My brothers dubbed them Gunpowder biscuits.

#31 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 12:43 PM:

Does anyone have an idea why it's so hard to get any squash over here except butternut and for two weeks in October, pumpkins?

Hmm, all (or almost all) squashes are of American origin, including pumpkins. (The ancient Irish made jack-o-lanterns, but they carved them from turnips, believe it or not.) The word 'squash' is from a native (Algonquian, IIRC) word, influenced by the homographic English verb. Still, being American hasn't stopped the potato from taking hold. Not sure why.

#32 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 01:52 PM:

"...what else can you blow up in a car?"

Ooooh, ooooh! Pick me, pick me! I've got a good one!

Baby bottles.

The bottle in question was filled with soy formula, though I'd imagine similar results would have been obtained with real moo juice. I had been helping a carless friend by schlepping her and her newborn around. In the resultant chaos, a bottle was abandoned on the rear window shelf of my car. I took the car to work and parked on the top level of the parking garage - in the heat of a Washington, DC August.

I came out that evening, and couldn't for the life of me figure out what that white splash was across the rear window. Upon opening the door, a wall of stink extruded from the car like Play-Doh squeezed through your fingers. It may have been a hallucination induced by the odor, but I swear I saw a shimmer as air was displaced by this abomination. Imagine the odor of wet dog mixed with the funkiest cheese smell you've ever smelled, and add a whiff of vomit - then tack on at least one order of stinkitude.

When I came to, what I found in the car was something akin to the gun-in-the-car scene in Pulp Fiction, only with small-curd cottage cheese. A mere quarter of an inch of mostly solid matter suspended in vile yellow fluid remained in the bottle.

The cheesy smell passed in the matter of a week or so; it was about four years before the wet dog aspect of the smell went away.

#33 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 02:04 PM:

protected static: I think you left an 'e' out of 'carless'...

#34 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 02:48 PM:

To 'e' or not to 'e'...

The two states certainly aren't mutually exclusive, and either would suffice for this tale. (Though in her defense, pregnancy does Strange Things to one's brain. Now that I'm a parent myself, I fear the damage is irreversible.)

#35 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 03:03 PM:

TexAnne -- That chocolate cake was, I bet, Cockeyed Cake, all done in the pan you bake it in and, from craving to plate, doable in 27 minutes -- at least, back when I was in training. You sift in the dry ingredients first, draw three groves, and pour vanilla into one, oil into another and vinegar into a third. Since there's baking soda in the dry ingredients it 's quite ridiculously amusing to watch the vinegar hit it. God bless Peg Bracken.

#36 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 05:13 PM:

Protected static: the parental IQ drop is reversible. I speak from experience. My youngest child is now in middle school and I myself have returned to college.

As Mr. Steyn said of the brakeless Land Rover heading up the hill, "Don't worry. It'll come back."

#37 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 05:51 PM:

Fade, I've never had corn beef hash, but if it's fatty enough it would be a good substitute for the sausage.

Paula HM, It's a small patty and it cooks in the four minutes it's in the microwave. The thing about it being fatty is that the squash sort of caramelizes.

#38 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 05:56 PM:

Andrew: Dang, I missed that one! Must...get...DVDs...

rams: The ingredients ring a bell, but we mix it all up in a bowl and then pour it into the pan. We've also begun to play with different vinegars. Balsamic adds a nice richness, while apple cider vinegar sounds better than it tastes.

#39 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 06:47 PM:

TexAnne, yours sounds like this one. No grooves required.

#40 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 07:13 PM:

But the grooves are so slick! Still, this one at least advocates a "well." Well. (27 minutes, I swear.)

#41 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 08:24 PM:

I finish up various risotto-like dishes in large squashes in the oven. They hold well for late guests and emergencies. Also, the guests perk up at the "alien autopsy food".

Occasionally I cook a smallish squash in the pressure-cooker, but squash responds to turning down (or up) the heat *much more slowly* than most pressure-cooker recipes do, so one loses in anxiety what one gains in time. Might Go Boom.

#42 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 09:05 PM:

Thanks for the no-nuker options, y'all... I will have to try this squashian delicacy some day soon.

Syncronicity strikes again. The exploding baby bottle story is ringing my bells at the moment--I very recently had a large milk spill in the back of the car, and have yet to do anything serious towards cleaning it up. It was about a half cup or more of milk pooled in the back seat which, due to all the running around like decapitated chickens we do when we're late for the airport, was allowed to soak in. The smell right now isn't nearly as bad as in protected static's tale, but it does linger. I'm guessing that nothing short of taking the seat out and steam cleaning it will suffice. That or wait 4 years. Bleeeeargh.

#43 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 10:06 PM:

anent "to 'e' or not to 'e'," for some while my brain insisted on rearranging and substituting letters in the final word of the title of this thread. It took me about four re-reads before I realized that no, the title was *not* "Stuffed Squash Dessert".

It could be done, I think, but probably not to the satisfaction of most people. Except, perhaps, as a pumpkin pie variant.

#44 ::: protected static ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2005, 11:17 PM:

Lila: Thank you for the note of hope, though middle school's still a long ways off (we started kindergarten this year)...

Nicole: might I suggest one of the enzyme-based cleansers like "Nature's Miracle"? While it never got rid of the smell entirely, it certainly dulled the edge, much more so than any of the more conventional cleansers we tried.

#45 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2005, 04:04 PM:

Janet: I don't know about that. I think you could do a pretty good Stuffed Squash Dessert if you stuffed it with nuts and spices and honey. Or you could, as you point out, use a winter squash instead of a pumpkin.

#46 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2005, 04:11 PM:

JennR, stuff it with dates!

#47 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 09:44 AM:

Oook. You're right, that would be yummy. Or raisins. Or both.

#48 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 10:59 AM:

And then there is this highly distressing recipe, which falls somewhere between the categories of "sausage meat" and "dessert", though at least the latter is mainly visual.

#49 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 11:14 AM:

Linkmeister: yes, it seems that they're all the same. I dug out my mom's Bracken and compared. Then I made her promise that I'll be the one to inherit them.

#50 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 11:25 AM:

I learned that chocolate one-pan cake recipe from a sack of King Arthur flour. They had a leaflet you could send for that had other similar recipes, like maple walnut buttermilk cake, or a sherry cake.

One can substitute coffee for water in the chocolate cake recipe.

#51 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 01:12 PM:


Truly the end times are upon us.

#52 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 01:27 PM:

Re Julie's distressing recipe

Grated Spam? Just from a practical point of view you'd have to freeze the stuff to get it solid enough to go across the blades!

#53 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 01:51 PM:

I agree with Lila. I can think of no more bourgeois soteltie than the abominations described in that recipe.

#54 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 01:58 PM:

Spamloaf to look like cupcakes? What problem did they have that they needed that? (If they'd left it as individual spamloaf, it would have been much better.)

#55 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 02:06 PM:

Somehow, the oatmeal ingredient is what really gets to me. It's as if on top of everything else, there's a partial morph into haggis.

#56 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 02:11 PM:

Julie L: My mother's standard meatloaf recipe included oatmeal (other recipes use breadcrumbs). It's a binder/extender in that kind of recipe, and I would assume that's what it's for in spamloaf. You don't notice it in the meatloaf recipe; I'm not about to try this one out. YMMV.

#57 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 02:14 PM:

Let's not start a "vilest recipe" contest, shall we? We'd all lose our appetites pretty quickly.

Come to think of it...what with the post-holiday bulge...

No, no.

#58 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 03:24 PM:

Besides, James Lileks has done such a good job already.

#59 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 04:04 PM:

Oh. Guess it would be pointless to highlight this other Spam recipe then....

#60 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2005, 04:17 PM:

Julie L: Looks more like Spam Rodney to me. (Rodney was explained to me as 'a degenerate form of lasagna'. It's hard to get more degenerate than that version of lasagna.)

#61 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2005, 06:45 PM:


My mother's chili:
crumbled, fried hamburger
kidney beans
canned crushed tomatoes

That's it. Notice anything missing?*

My mother's spaghetti sauce:
crumbled, fried hamburger
canned crushed tomatoes

My father claims my mother makes the best chili and spaghetti sauce he's ever had.

*chili powder

#62 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2005, 07:58 PM:

My mother's pollo al pomodoro recipe: chicken pieces, can tomato soup, stock cubes, mixed dried herbs, water.

Serve with boiled rice and yellow vegetable* of choice.

*properly cooked green vegetable.

#63 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2005, 08:07 PM:

In college, I shared an apartment with a couple who got married after graduation. The female of the species had the following meatloaf recipe: press raw ground beef firmly into loaf pan, pour some ketchup on top, bake until uniformly grey (except for the ketchup).

For years afterward, I expected to see a newspaper article with the headline "Young Bride Bludgeoned To Death With Own Meatloaf".

#64 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2005, 09:49 PM:

And here's a link to a Worst...Recipe...Ever? post I put on my own blog a while back. It out-Spams Spam, I say.

(Confession: I actually like Spam, on an occasional basis. Wouldn't want it on a regular basis, even if it weren't so loaded with salt and grease, but sliced and browned in a skillet... it ain't a bad treat.)

#65 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2005, 10:36 PM:

Oh, dear. What have I started? Having done so, however unwittingly, I feel obliged (and why, when that's a perfectly good word, do so many people feel obligated?) to bring this to its ultimate conclusion.

Jenn - I, personally, think that winter squash with honey, nuts and dried fruit would be great for dessert. I'm outnumbered 2-1, though.

I might, however, be able to get The Man In My Life and his brother to eat mirlitons (pronounced more or less "millitanhs"), with stuffing. For some reason, they don't seem to feel those are squash, even though they are.

The traditional New Orleans presentation is

stuffed w/ seafood,

A thing with diced mirlitons, pork, a spare sausage, apples, the Louisiana trinity of onion, celery and bell peppers, and savory, sage, rosemary and thyme was popular enough here that I noted it down for repeats.

#66 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2005, 10:51 PM:

mary: I have a couple of recipes for 'chili sauce' which contain sweet peppers, but no (as in zero) chilis. The one I've tasted is quite good as a relish - it goes well with turkeyburger - and is probably an acceptable salsa.

#67 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2005, 10:59 PM:

julia, sounds like something my grandma would make. Goddess rest her soul but she was a best a workmanlike cook. And it wasn't until I was 13 I realized why her food tasted 'different' (she did haave a couple of decent items, her pot roast and vege was exemplary, but my mom's tasted better)... she almost never, EVER took the cigarette out of her mouth. Except maybe to sleep.

#68 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2005, 08:50 AM:

Mirlitons are squash? Why do they have a dance in the Nutcracker?

#69 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2005, 10:06 AM:

Restaurant sign, seen yesterday in LA:
Mom's Teriyaki
Mexican-American Food

Only in America! (This was a few doors from Langer's Deli, home of some of the best pastrami on rye you'll ever meet. Yes, they do cream soda.)

#70 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2005, 12:40 PM:

Janet, winter squash stuffed with fruit and nuts makes what I consider a healthy dessert. I like to stuff acorn squash with diced granny smith apple, raisins, and nuts (a spoonful of maple syrup is optional, I don't think bread is necessary at all.) It can be a side dish for roast meat, or dessert for a light meal, or a major component of breakfast. Baked apples or poached pears work similarly. But for a holiday meal, most people expect a more festive dessert -- something much more rich, sweet, or elaborate.

PJ, I've never had any kind of spamloaf, but meatloaves made with ground beef and/or turkey can be made in cupcake shape to good effect. I call them "meat muffins," and leave them unfrosted, though I suppose one could do something with a thick tomato sauce. They're great for packed lunches and feeding toddlers.

#71 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2005, 12:56 PM:

Would the dance of mirlitons be one of soldiers?

There useta was a military cap called a mirliton, shaped sorta like an upside-down flowerpot. It was most common, my in-house military historian tells me, in the age of Frederick the Great. The only pics I could find were here
and here.

The second pic is fuzzy, but shows diagonal lines winding downward around the cap. When made of cloth rather than metal, the cap had a long tail that was wrapped around it.

There's supposedly some worn in
picture #16 on this page, but I couldn't get it to expand from thumbnail.

Nope. Further inquiry reveals that Pyotr Ilyich's mirlitons were toy reed pipes.

According to,
which is actually a Wikipedia page, kazoos are a type of mirliton - a musical instrument which uses a vibrating membrane. The latter shows just how many meanings the word has. Including French slang for "doggerel".

Here's another.

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2005, 05:27 PM:

Adriann, it wasn't so much the indivual-meatloaf nature of those 'cupcakes' - I think that's a really neat way of making loaves - it was the lengths to which they went in making them look like cupcakes. Mash-potato frosting, with chive/parsley sprinkles?

The meatloaf my mother usually made used a tomato sauce-brown sugar-vinegar mixture partly in the loaf and partly as a topping, put on before baking. I think that's the sort of topping you have in mind, yes? It's tasty. (It has never looked like frosting, though.)

#74 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2005, 07:03 PM:

I'll see your Spam and raise you... Mr. Brain's Pork Faggots.

I've never tasted them, but they definitely exemplify the British genius for food names guaranteed to drive foreigners out of your restaurant.

#75 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:07 AM:

my individual meat loaf recipe comes from Kraft, but I've modified it various ways with both the preferences of my family and things I think might be good. I have not tried anything that did not get eaten right up and deemed good. I'm not finding the recipe readily on my Mac, I may have printed it out and not pasted it into a Word file like I usually do.

You start with 1.5 lbs of ground meat and 1 box of Stovetop Stuffing. Additional liquid, seasonings etc. to make it how you wish.

It must be midnight, it sounds like a war outside. both fireworks and gunshots (yikes).

Happy New Year!

#76 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:15 PM:

Lila -

It seems to me that the third of three items in the twice-weekly menu is, by itself, enough to cast doubt on their description of the dish as a delicacy. "The family, including Lewis, 13, and Grace, 7, eat faggots twice a week, with mashed potato and mushy peas."

After some searching, I did find a good description of faggots. (Go about halfway down the page, or just search for "faggots".

Hereweith a receipt.

It says that they're traditionally served with pease pudding. Which does sound better than "mushy peas," a phrase which brings to mind those canned abominations.

#77 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 02:04 PM:

protected static: good thought, thanks for it. I think we're actually going to put up with things as-is until Thursday, when the car will go in to the local detailer for a complete interior wash. Not so much of an overreaction, that, when one considers that the only washing that car's insides have had in their 9-year lifespan is the time I spilled unsugared tea on the console and wiped it up again.

mirlitons: that's my grandmother's annual assignment at any family get-together. Mirliton-Shrimp Casserole. I do not have the recipe to share, sadly, but I surmise that aside from the title ingredients there is probably onions, celery, and garlic (my Mom's family seems to suffer from a genetic intolerance to bell pepper, so I grew up on an adulterated version of the Louisiana cooking trinity).

I am going to try the squash thing today, with a mix of things-that-are-in-the-house (cornbread, italian breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, crumbled vegetarian meat substitutes because the fridge is empty of actual meat, turkey fat because no vegetarians are actually eating this, maybe some pecans, definitely some onion and celery and garlic). If I can't get it halved in the raw with a knife, I do own a handsaw.

#78 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 02:14 PM:

mary, you really grew up in Chez Bland, didn't you? If you meet a guy named Raoul, run!

My chili recipe is meatless, but has five different kinds of beans, lots of mushrooms and onions, crushed tomatos, and prodigious quantities of chili powder, along with (shhh!) a tiny little bit of hot Madras curry powder.

It takes hours and hours to cook, because you have let the tomatos stew until they aren't bright red any more. And since I can't eat it anymore...*shrug*

#79 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 07:02 PM:

Xopher: even if you can't eat it anymore, could you provide the recipe please please please? It sounds like a perfect addition to my array of "things to stick into the crock-pot", perhaps absent the onions. (I like onions. Sadly, they do not always reciprocate.)

#80 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 09:18 PM:

mary, you really grew up in Chez Bland, didn't you?

Indeed. My mother never cooked a vegetable that didn't come out of a can. Chicken was boiled until it fell off the bones. She served some hilarious meals. Most of her dishes were hamburger-based, including her "beef stroganoff"--you don't want to know. I liked her meatloaf, though. My father taught high school (English) and she got the recipe from one of his students, a boy who cooked for himself because his mother was out of the picture.

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