Gumbo and rice were delivered to my home before nightfall of the day Momma died, and the task of moving my mother’s possessions from her apartment at the assisted living facility were capped by a dozen assorted Krispy-Kreme donuts. Mom passed away due to complications related to kidney and liver failure. She was 83 and a slightly built woman, but she had lived a productive, powerful life.
A tradition in many cultures, homemade food is brought to the home of the bereaved family to convey support in the time of loss. In the American South that I grew up in, this was also a tradition. When my grandmother passed away in 1969, the ladies of her Sunday School class inundated Mama’s home with all varieties of casseroles, breads, roasted meats, vegetables, cakes, pies, and snack foods, while their husbands brought fifths of bourbon and scotch to my grandfather. Classic recipes included green bean casserole, Kraft macaroni and cheese, spinach and rice casserole, and all types of cakes.
Spinach Rice Casserole
Spinach, herbs, and Parmesan cheese, make this easy baked rice dish both flavorful and colorful. This is a nice alternative to potatoes, and it’s delicious with steak and sliced tomatoes or a tossed salad.
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 1/2 to 5 cups chicken broth
2 cups long grain rice, uncooked
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 ounces coarsely chopped spinach, about 4 cups
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, thyme, chives
1 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese, about 4 ounces
Salt, to taste
Heat oven to 400°. In a medium saucepan or sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until onion is wilted. Add 4 1/2 cups of chicken broth and continue cooking until it comes to a simmer.
Put the rice in a colander or mesh strainer and rinse with cold water; transfer to a lightly greased 3-quart casserole and stir in the broth and onion mixture. Bake, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes, or until liquid is almost absorbed. Remove from oven and stir in the pepper, spinach, herbs, and Parmesan cheese. Add salt, to taste. Add a little more chicken broth, if needed. Cover and cook for 5 minutes longer. Stir to fluff and serve.
French’s Green Bean Casserole
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
3/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 (9 oz. each) pkgs. frozen cut green beans, thawed*
1 1/3 cups French’s Original or Cheddar French Fried Onions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2 -qt. baking dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup French Fried Onions. Bake at for 30 minutes or until hot. Stir. Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 min. until onions are golden.
Contributed by Rebecca S. Orfila