An Ode to Casseroles: A Pyrex Pan, a Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup, and a Revolution.

casserole art
Illustration by Mary Woodin.

In the current issue of D Magazine, I wrote this essay on casseroles. The inspiration of the story is my mother, Jo Nichols. She passed away last year but she left me with fond food memories. The strongest being the casserole. Have a safe and restful weekend and hold your loved ones close.

My mother grew up in the rural area around Estelline, Texas, a tiny town located halfway between Wichita Falls and Amarillo. The backyard of her small wooden house was filled with chickens, goats, pigs, and a couple of cows. On the west side of the house, there was a large vegetable garden. My grandmother would walk out back around 3 pm, wring the neck of a chicken, and pluck out the feathers, while my mom and her sister harvested tomatoes and okra for the evening supper.
She escaped Estelline in the late 1940s and headed to Dallas. She married my father in 1950, and, just before I was born in 1952, they moved into a house near Churchill Way and Forest Lane, in what was then Far North Dallas. The mess that is now the LBJ Freeway was a vast prairie where my friends and I rode horses.

Stay with me.



4 comments on “An Ode to Casseroles: A Pyrex Pan, a Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup, and a Revolution.

  1. I usually always have broccoli in my freezer and I buy one rotisserie chicken a week for quick suppers and my daughter’s lunch, but occasionally I will layer the broccoli and chicken and mix up that magical concoction of mayonnaise, cream of chicken soup, cheddar and parmesan cheese, lemon juice and a heaping teaspoon of curry powder to recreate my mom’s Chicken Divan – it takes me back.

  2. Have you read The Train to Estelline? It’s a lovely novel about a school teacher early in the 20th century.
    I can’t remember the author, but she was local.

  3. Kraft French dressing brought back a lot of memories! I loved it on our iceberg and tomato salad. I have to say I haven’t had it since I left home but that was a nice memory.

  4. My sympathies and condolences for your mother’s recent passing. Campbell’s certainly changed the map for comfortable fast food with their cream of mushroom soup. In college the cafeteria did not serve Sunday dinner. On many Sunday’s a few of us would gather for potluck dinner. There was always a Campbell’s based dish and it was always scraped clean.