Thursday, March 13, 2008

"No Farther Away Than Your Can-Opener!"

IMG ham sandwich BHG 1961

That's how far away a good meal is, says the Better Homes and Gardens Casserole Cook Book (1961). Hmm. Well, the last time I checked, my can opener was in the silverware drawer. So it might be more accurate to say that a good spoon is no farther away than my can opener. And judging from the recipes - Pizza Hash, Chipped-beef Chow Mein, and something called Hurry Supper Bake (which sounds less like a meal and more like what I mutter to myself as I stick things in the microwave) - well, I don't know. Maybe they ought to rethink what exactly is no farther away than my can opener. There must be something else nearby. A can, perhaps? Maybe it could become a meal. Depends on what's in that can. And what happens to it once we open up that can.

For example, here's what might happen if you opened up a can or two of devilled ham. I guess they mean the Underwood stuff, does anyone else remember that? It came in teensy cans that had a paper wrapper, I don't know why. My mother stuck some of it between white bread slices and called it a sandwich. But we can do so much more with it than that! Behold:

Ham Sandwich, Spring Style

8 thick slices enriched bread, toasted
Prepared mustard
2 4 1/2 oz cans devilled ham
8 thin slices (about 3 1/2 inches square) sharp process American cheese
2 10-oz. packages frozen asparagus spears, cooked and drained
1 recipe Jiffy Mustard Sauce [note: this is 1/2 cup mayo and 1 1/2 tsp. mustard, low heat, combined - got it?]


Trim off crusts, then spread toast lightly with prepared mustard; spread generously with devilled ham. Top each slice with cheese. Cut toast in half, diagonally. Place on baking sheet and heat in hot oven (400 degrees F) 3 to 5 minutes, or till cheese starts to melt. Arrange on platter with hot buttered asparagus; serve with warm Jiffy Mustard Sauce. Makes 8 servings.

Now they recommend that you set the toast triangles to look like little cheesy sails, riding in a sea of buttered asparagus, with a rivulet of sauce running down the middle. I have no idea what this nautical theme has to do with ham, or cheese, or sandwiches, or buttered asparagus. Or spring. The spring thaw? Flooded riverbanks?

Also, when you up-end what is essentially a tuna-melt (only with ham spread), it is most likely to fall off the toast. And then where would you be, nautically speaking? You'd be at sea, that's where. Up the Jiffy Mustard creek without a toast sail, me hearties! Yo ho ho!

Oh, and Happy Pi Day. Have a piece of deep dish apple, or some pizza, listen to Don McLean sing that long song about American Pie. And may your meringue toppings never weep!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I notice that not one ingredient in that list is what I'd call "real" food - it's all processed and "enriched". Oh, I SO must go try this...