Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Elizabeth's Rice Pilaf

Elizabeth's Rice Pilaf


1 lb. pork sausage
1 large onion
½ bunch celery
1 medium green bell pepper
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup uncooked rice (not instant)
4 ½ cups boiling water
2 pkg. Lipton chicken noodle soup
1 6 oz. pkg. slivered almonds

Cut vegetables and fry with sausage until tender and brown. Set aside.

While vegetables and sausage are cooking, pour rice and soup mix into boiling water. Stir until soup mix is dissolved, cover and cook over medium low until rice is tender and all liquid has been absorbed.

Add vegetable/sausage mixture to rice and stir to combine. Add almonds. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, where neighbors weren’t next door but ‘down the creek’. Yet we formed our own kind of neighborhood. One where folks looked out for one another. Each family had challenges that come with living in a rural mountainous area where the major employment came in coal mining or on the railroad. Some people managed to rise to what the rest of the country would describe as middle class. Most barely scraped by. Yet we didn’t think we were poor. Life was just the way it was and to most of us (children) we were living just as comfortably as the next family.

In our neighborhood (or as we affectionately know it as ‘on our creek’) lived the Adair’s. A family of school teachers, they lived in a large and rambling two story house that had, at one time, been a boarding house. Sometime during my late teens and early adult years, both brothers died, leaving the younger one’s widow alone. I always called her Ms. Adair but to my parents she was simply Elizabeth.

In addition to their family home, the Adair’s owned a small cabin on a private lake a couple of hours drive away. Dad & Mom visited with her there from time to time and it was there that I first tasted this delicious dish. Actually, I think it is probably the first time I ate a savory rice dish. It was love at first taste! I remember thinking that I would love to have seconds or third helpings, but good manners kept me from asking. My mother did ask for the recipe making it possible for us to enjoy it again and again.

As I have been going through my recipes to share on Tasty Tuesday, I have found much more than lists of ingredients and how to put them together. I have been rewarded with memories of days gone by, memories of family and friends and happy times shared.

Sharing food is a big part of community. But if all we share is the experience of sitting down before a plate of food and eating it we have missed the best part of community. You see it is not simply sharing of food that creates and extends our legacy; it is the telling of our stories.

So I hope you’ll come along with me as I tell you some of my story, the parts that I am remembering and savoring once again as I look through my recipe file. For it is in the telling of my story that you will get to know me better.

I look forward to hearing your stories too and encourage you to tell them to your spouse, to your children, to your friends. They are beautiful threads in the tapestry of your life.

Happy cooking and story telling,

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