the most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. the original meal has never been found. – calvin trillin


hotdish there was a time

years ago

when there was not much money

but lots of imagination

and my three growing daughters

and so

the special casseroles were born

along with their legends

jewel of the sea

(tuna, old noodles, mushroom soup, peas and crushed potato chips on top)

‘it’s what the mermaids eat.’


(same as the recipe above, just sub in chicken in a can for the tuna)

‘the crunchy bits on top (stale potato chips), are the special part of this secret recipe. it’s what the farmers eat.’

cowboy roundup 

(cut up leftover hot dogs, beans, cheese, ketchup, mustard)

‘it’s what the cowboys eat on the trail, during the big roundup.’

just mix everything together

make something new out of them

turn them into a collage of food

give it all a name

create a story

bake it for a while

until it bubbles

scoop it out

eat until full.

‘yes, you can mix green beans, onion soup and ketchup,

it’s one of the most popular casseroles in the world.

not everyone gets the chance to eat this’

and we ate

and we were full

though there was

a bit of rebellion

and some questions

and organized sentinel duty

at times

‘let’s take turns standing by mom when she makes the chili.

 make sure she doesn’t put anything weird in it. 

don’t leave her side for a minute. 

you’re the youngest, you go first.’

yet we all lived to tell.


happy mother’s day

to my three daughters

who are all now mothers themselves

and wonderful cooks

and to all of the

other mothers out there

and those who now have

or have had mothers

and mother figures

in their lives

may you always find a way to feed your brood

with creativity

with whatever food you have


with much love.


images: googleimages,


53 responses »

  1. Your “Jewel of the Sea” we called tuna casserole. I loved it. My Mum was not a very good cook – although I was always well fed – she was wonderful at many things, just not cooking. One day she made Tuna Casserole and had it in the oven when we realized she had used a plastic mixing bowl as a pan. It was very artistic with swoops of melted plastic all around and over the casserole. We did manage to salvage most of the casserole.

    Happy Mothers Day!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. WE HAD COWBOY STEW!!!!!! Hamburger, beans, mustard, a touch of brown sugar. And one of my all time favorite meals. No matter what I did to make it, it never tasted like moms. I wrote a post about it. Loved it. 🙂 Happy mother’s day Beth. To you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a fine tale of love, imagination, tolerance and culinary toughness, Beth. Your names and explanations for the casseroles are spendid. I think this should be a movie. You can make it into a screenplay, right? Happy Mother’s Day, to you and your three H’s. ❤ May the leftover history forever delight you.

    Liked by 1 person

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