What I Really Think About When I Cook
Basic Scrambled Egg Casserole
Makes 4 or 8 servings, depending on what you consider a “serving”
- 1/2 or 1 can condensed cream soup. I both love the convenience and abhor the commercialism of canned condensed soup. It’s a marvel of modern kitchenery and a wonderful time saver — and perhaps even “dish-saving,” given my cooking skills. It also reeks of failure, an inability to master such simple skills as making a cream sauce, the ingredients (and fat content) of which I don’t even want to know.
I use it all the time.
- 3 or 6 ounces of shredded cheese. Make it Swiss if you will be serving unimaginative people who prefer blandness or use pepper jack for spiciness or use up whatever’s left in that drawer for perishable things — the one that seems to encourage mold, despite its purported freshness-preserving purpose.
- 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter or, if your cardiologist insists, margarine
- 6 or 12 eggs, beaten slightly, if you can manage to stop without getting carried away by the cadence, by the sweet release of whipping something into submission
- 1 to 2 cups of chopped vegetables, fresh if you have the patience to clean and chop, or frozen peas if you need to be done with it and want to claim the whole thing is nutritious because it has “vegetables.”
- 1/2 to 1 cup of crumbled cooked protein. Tell your cardiologist it’s all white meat chicken or tofu, if you must, but know that the result will never be as savory as when prepared with smoked sausage
- 1/2 or 1 cup of cashews or substitute canned French-fried onions if these evoke, as they do for me, childhood memories of mom’s awful goulash made palatable by smothering it with something reliably tasty from a can
Do not preheat oven — a recipe step I always appreciate because I usually forget, anyway. Or, I turn it on and get sidetracked, burning up electricity and fomenting climate change while I try to remember what I’m supposed to be doing. Where was I?
In a medium or large bowl, stir together soup, cheese and herbs; set aside, but put it someplace the cats won’t be tempted to lick the bowl. Ask me how I know.
In a skillet, big or small, depending, melt butter or that undesirable substitute for true satisfaction, margarine, over medium heat, if that burner setting is working today, until a drop of water sizzles on it. You may choose to wear gloves and a heat shield if your personal “drop of water” tends to be a flood.
Add eggs, vegetables, meat to skillet, then cook for 5 or 15 minutes, or until the eggs are set, but still glossy like that 8×10 head shot you spent a fortune on and never got you a job.
Fold in the soup mixture, which is not the same as folding towels, by the way. Not at all.
Spoon into a baking dish, either 9″x5″ loaf pan, for the smaller recipe, or 12″x7″ baking dish, for the larger — or whatever you find that’s relatively clean.
Cover (and please consider the awful environmental impacts of plastic wrap when you choose your covering, unless that’s all you have, then go for it because no one needs another guilt trip).
And refrigerate 2 to 24 hours, or for however long it takes you to remember that this concoction is still in the fridge.
Uncover and bake in a 350F (175C) oven for 30–40 minutes, depending on chosen size, or until heated though. Important note: Do not poke your finger into a sizzling casserole. Use a cooking thermometer or your best guess instead. Trust me on this; it will save you from a lot of unwelcome and irritating questions later.
Sprinkle casserole with cashews or French-fried deliciousness and bake 5–10 minutes longer.
Remove from oven and remember to turn off the effing thing this time! Our climate rests in your hands.
Above all, remember that cooking is meant to be a joy, so if this recipe doesn’t spark any joy, then Marie Kondo says you should toss it.