Tuesday, February 28, 2012

When is Dinner "Lunch" and Supper "Dinner"?

 Have you ever debated this question? I remember that, as a child, only the meal we ate at school was called "lunch." As in, "Are you eating lunch in the cafeteria today?" So I was confused when I heard people refer to dinner as lunch or supper as dinner. My mother finally explained that some people called it that way but she couldn't say why. It never sounded quite right to me and I guess it didn't to her either.
When I was young, my mother's father owned a small grocery store. Gramps did not leave the store at noon to come home and eat "lunch." Rather, he came in to enjoy the largest meal of the day prepared by my grandmother, Nannie. He sat down to a meat and 3 vegetables, bread, and sometimes, dessert. After resting for a bit, Gramps returned to the store, fortified for the rest of the work day. The evening meal, or supper, was a lighter repast of leftover vegetables from lunch, a sandwich, or crumbled cornbread in a glass of buttermilk.

 In our home today the midday meal is called "lunch" and the evening one"supper."  There is one exception....Sunday dinner, the meal served after church. It is, hands down, my favorite meal of the week. I love all that the words imply...good food, time with family, lively conversation.

 Until a few years ago, my mother-in-law was the cook for Sunday dinner with my occasional contribution of a dish or two. Now the pleasure is mine. On most Sundays, you will find the Gunn family gathered around our table, laughing, talking, and catching up with what has happened to one another since the last Sunday.  It is a special time made even more so when Marie and "B' join us.
Of course, Sunday dinner is more about being together than it is the food served. Nevertheless, I really enjoy preparing dishes that are Gunn family favorites, such as, a recent meal of stuffed green peppers. This is a dish my mother-in-law often made when she was able to cook and I attribute this particular recipe to her.
It really doesn't matter what you call the meal or the day of the week it is served. Even the simplest food can become special and memorable when family gathers around the table. And a compliment such as,"this tastes just like Mama used to make," is worth more than a mink coat and feels just as good!

Sallie's Stuffed Green Peppers
4 medium green peppers
1 lb. ground beef
1 small oinion, chopped
1 cup cooked white rice
2  8oz cans tomato sauce
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
shredded sharp cheese

Cut off tops of peppers and remove ribs and seeds. Drop in boiling water to cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes until slightly tender. Drain well. Brown ground beef and onions together. Drain off fat. Mix in 1 can tomato sauce, rice, and seasonings. Pour other can of tomato sauce evenly over bottom of baking dish. For four peppers an 8 in square pan should do. Place peppers on top of sauce and stuff with meat mixture. Top with cheese and bake at 375 until cheese melts and peppers are done, about 15-20 minutes. Spoon sauce from pan over peppers when serving.

**Nan's notes: I usually have some meat mixture left over which I put in an ovenproof dish, top with cheese and bake along with the peppers. Son John thinks I do this just for him!
Also, the peppers used in the photograph above were especially large so I cut them lengthwise and stuffed with the meat mixture. It worked very well.

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fast Fish and Friendly Folks

Hello friends! I am sorry to have been so long in adding a post to Our Friend Oven. My days are so very busy and, while I am doing a lot of cooking for my family, it is not always worthy of sharing with you. You know how it is. Sometimes a girl is fortunate to just get something on the table to hold body and soul together until time for the next meal!

Today's recipe is a favorite and quick go to dish when time is short. You can use any type of skinless fish fillet. I use tilapia because I buy bags of individually frozen fillets from Sams Club. It is so easy to take out the number pieces you need for the meal and the filllets thaw quickly.

The recipe for Heavenly Fish Fillets came to me from dear friends who live on the Georgia coast, Fred and Mary Alice Newlin. Back in the "good ole days" of pharmacy, representatives from drug manufacturers made calls on pharmacies, taking orders, picking up out of date bottles, etc. We saw these people so often they became friends. "Mr. Fred" was one such friend. Being an avid fisherman, he often had photographs of his latest catch and loved to share them with us. I am not sure exactly how it all came about, but hubby accepted an invitation from Mr. Fred to come down to his house and do some fishing in the intercoastal waterways. Hubby took another friend with him and they had such a good time that a lasting friendship was forged with the Newlins.

Sometimes the wives and children would accompany the hubbies on their trips down to fish with Mr.Fred. We would stay at the house with "Miss" Mary Alice who thrilled the children by making homemade play dough. The Newlins did not own a television but that didn't mean we got bored there. There were plenty of toys to occupy the kids while Miss Mary Alice shared her latest craft project with us ladies. When the guys returned home with their catch of the day, Miss Mary Alice would have supper on the large round dining table. Holding hands around the table, Mr. Fred would say the blessing, ending with a hearty "Amen, and we pass to the right!"

It has been years since we have visited the Newlins. I still remember the quiet, peaceful setting of their home on Jericho Island and how they opened it and their hearts to us. Every time I prepare Heavenly Broiled Fish from the recipe written in Miss Mary Alice's own hand, I think of those dear, sweet people.

Heavenly Broiled Fish
2 lbs skinless fish fillets
2 tablesoons lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped green onions with tops
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash liquid hot pepper sauce
Place fillets in a single layer in a well greased baking pan, such as a cookie sheet with sides. You can line the pan with aluminum foil to make cleanup much easier. Brush fillets with lemon juice and let stand for 10 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients. Preheat oven to "broil" and broil fish 4 inches from heat approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Remove fillets from oven and spread cheese/butter mixture evenly over fish. Return fish to oven and broil 2 to 3 minutes until fish flakes and is lightly browned.
*Note: number of fillets and amount of topping can be adjusted for number of servings desired.

Happy cooking,