There are times when I sit down to write a food blog and the doors to the past swing wide open and I am transported back to Berry Road and my childhood so many years ago. This is one of those times. This year, it has been bitterly cold up here in the back of the beyond. We have our share of snow too and these frigid snowy days just seem to demand home cooked comfort food to nourish body and soul. So, I turned to a favorite recipe of my Mom’s. A chicken casserole, so delectable, but so simple. A recipe Clare Ruth, my Mom, fed to her husband, her parents and her 4 kids many,many times over the years. And I fly back to my past and I am hovering up by the ceiling looking down to see…. I am 9 years old standing the kitchen as Mom is cooking. I can actually smell the aroma of chicken in the oven. The kitchen that my Dad and Jack Swank tore out and re-built for our growing family. It’s the middle of winter and I am excitedly trying to pull on wool snow pants and stuff my plastic bag covered feet into boots. Hand me down wool coat from who knows where. Hand knit woolen mittens on strings so I wouldn’t loose them and this strange and rather homely knit hat ( now that I think about it!)with long, long ties and finally, that again, hand knit wool scarf wrapped snugly around my face. Why? Because I am going sledding! Sledding with my brother and sisters and 15 other neighbor hood kids. The Swank kids. The McPherson kids. We are going sledding! Grabbing our hand me down sleds and saucers, we trudge, trudge, trudge across the yards and the fields until we come to our sledding place. Powder Puff Hill! Who named it? Who knows, but we all called it Powder Puff Hill. At the far edge of a neighbors property, we lined up and one by one went sailing down that hill! We were tough little kids and stayed out there until our wrists and our faces were frozen. Then we trudged, trudged, trudged back home where Mom greeted us on the front porch. Armed with a broom, she brushed us all down, top to bottom as snow clung to that old wool until we looked like snowmen. Oh! And the smell of wet wool! 55 years later and I have never forgotten the smell of wet wool. Finally, I am back in the house. Warming up next to the stove where dinner is in the oven and everything, just everything was good in my little world.
And here is Clare’s recipe for her Escalloped Chicken Casserole