As I mentioned in my reactivation post, it has been our great good fortune to make many new friends since we relocated back to our home state. We returned, in large part, for the golden friendships we knew, but we have been blessed with many silver as well. Among these are a gorgeous and hospitable married couple who happen to be Champion Entertainers. This year, they hit a new high, throwing a Midcentury Potluck Party for Hallowe’en. The invitation encouraged 1960s-era costume and dishes based on Jell-O and mayo (maybe even together).
With nothing in my closet that I deemed appropriate, I scoured consignment shops until I found a mint green skirt suit, which I wore with pearls and heels (of course). As for my potluck contribution, I eschewed Jell-O for the savory; I knew I’d be able to rustle up an obnoxiously creamy deep dish from the Recipe Box. As I leafed through the cards behind the “Casserole” tab, there was this:
I always envied that effortless cursive.
It had me at “Supreme.” How perfectly retro. I don’t ever remember my mother serving this; how many other culinary delights are tucked away in that Box, awaiting discovery? There’s no provenance here, no indication of the recipe’s source. What would prompt her to copy this out? If she saw it in a magazine, why not just clip the page? (Not knowing intrigues me; and not being able to ask saddens me. )
2# zucchini. Trim ends; do not peel. Cook in salted water until tender. Drain well and mash.
1/2# bulk sausage
1/4 C chopped onions.
Cook sausage + onions together until meat browns, stirring occasionally to keep meat separated.
1/2 C cracker crumbs
1/2 C Parmesan cheese (reserve part for top.)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 pinch thyme, rosemary, garlic salt, salt + pepper to taste.
Add crumbs, cheese, eggs, + seasoning to sausage + onion along with mashed zucchini.
Turn into greased 9” pie plate or baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350˚ for 40-45 minutes.
I freely admit that boiling the unpeeled zucchini until soft and then mashing them sounded gross. But the eggs, cheese, and cracker crumbs turn this into a gratiny baked delight. Being vegetarian, I made it with fauxsage and it was really quite tasty. Despite the hyperbole of the name, it wasn’t quite over-the-top enough to attain Squash Supremacy. But I would make it again.
Not surprisingly, the party was a GAS! There were candy cigarettes and Manhattans, go-go boots and big waved hair—even a Marilyn look-alike. One of the highlights was a recitation by my beloved of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “DADA WOULD HAVE LIKED A DAY LIKE THIS” ending with a cigarette flicked to the floor. And let me tell you: people went to great lengths to outdo one another with sculptural Jell-O, moulded meat products, and sweet-savory dishes (like meatballs with grape jelly) that were all the rage 50-odd years ago. This astounding Super Supper Loaf ran away with the prize for Best Presentation (of course there were prizes).
|The artfully retro table.|
|The winning Super Supper Loaf.|
As we stood around the table, martini glasses in hand, I spoke of making the Zucchini Supreme and feeling close to my mother as I read through the recipe in her beautiful cursive (that capital Z!). A fellow partygoer (another wonderful newer friend) said, “I actually met your mother once.” She attended the College where my father professed English literature for forty years and had been to my parents’ home, where students were frequently welcomed. I told her that my mother would have liked her a lot—and Bets would have, too: a bighearted Midwesterner studying to be a librarian, Friend would have quite a lot in common with my mom.
So as it turns out, Midcentury Potluck is the catalyst for my return to blogging. I owe my gracious hosts for far more than candy cigarettes and en epic evening.