Thursday, February 24, 2011

Creamy Ham Towers

I began to call this a "vintage" dish, but then thought that perhaps that made it sound as if it had been around for a while, gathering dust, like me.  No, actually this recipe comes from a vintage cookbook.  I'm told that vintage is anything that dates back to the seventies, which, I suppose, would make me a Classic {sigh}.  That thought alone pretty much makes me want to throw myself on the floor, but I digress...

Back in the day, young women used to have something called a Hope Chest (a term, according to Wikipedia, used primarily by Midwestern and Southern U.S. women).  It wasn't literally a chest (although it could be), but more a collection of household items gathered by women in the anticipation of marriage.  In High School my girlfriends and I had a ball collecting such things for our "Hope Chests" which really amounted to plastic storage boxes that we kept under our beds.  Any time we'd spot a special deal, we'd alert the other and as a consequence, pretty much ended up with boxes of the same things. We embroidered tea towels that I doubt any of us, to this day, have ever used, collected dishware, pots and pans, and cookbooks.  The '70s were a decade of lots of rewards for shopping, banking, buying gas, etc.  Upon opening up my first savings account, I got a two-slot toaster for free (into the Hope Chest).  For buying gas (at 35¢ a gallon) I managed to collect an entire set of NFL glassware (ditto), and each week I'd go to the grocery store, buy $5.00 worth of items to make myself eligible to purchase one in a series of Better Homes and Gardens Cookbooks for $1.99.  The toaster, glassware, and dishes are long gone, but I still have the cookbooks and use them to this day.  The recipes are simple, generally call for on-hand ingredients, and while not gourmet fare, are great comfort food.

Feeling nostalgic yesterday (read: old and tired) I pulled out the cookbooks and ended up making a favorite dish called Creamy Ham Towers.  A friend joined us for dinner (and the Mizzou basketball game) and loved the meal, that also included broccoli, a side salad, and rice pudding for dessert. It made me smile to get such high praise for something so simple, but then any time you want high praise for cooking, invite a single man to dinner.

This recipe comes from the book called Make Ahead Meals, the page of which I'm sharing below.  Look to the right and you'll see a recipe for Oriental Beef Casserole, another make-ahead family favorite.  If the spatters are any indication, this book is well-used. I've not yet tried the Ham-Vegetable Strata.

Photo by Robert Redenbaugh

This is linked to Foodie Friday.

Modern women may want to add this gem to their cookbook collection.
Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 15th Edition (Better Homes & Gardens Plaid)


Lyndsay Wells said...

Pattie!!! I have every single one of those cookbooks and have never tried this recipe - am going to because it looks amazing. I even have the diet cookbook, I think it's called "Slimmers" and the make ahead.

Thanks for the blast from the past. I loved collecting things for my hope chest. I also had something called a trousseau tea the day after my wedding. Great traditions...

My Dream Canvas said...

Thank you for the lovely comment on my blog. Loved your story about Pride and Prejudice...lucky you :-) You have a great blog!!

Diane said...

Yummy! This is making me hungry!

This post made me laugh out loud. Being a southern girl, I too had a Hope Chest. Mine was a little different, though. I just hoped someday that I would have a chest. Even an A cup would have made me happy! : )

I loved all the cultural references that definitely put us in the vintage catagory. But that is not a bad thing. I look at the world in which my 20 year old daughter is growing up, and I am thankful that I grew up when I did!

Thanks so much for visiting my new blog and leaving such a kind comment!

Anonymous said...

You are too funny. I really identified with this post and have used those cookbooks over and over again. I have never made this particular dish but will give it a try.

Unknown said...

Yummo! Your opening photo is amazing! Very tempting.


From the Kitchen said...

The photo is way too realistic--I just want to take my fork and dig in. It really does look delicious and the photo is outstanding. I'm just trying to hone my food photography skills!!


Meg Luby said...

yum! yum yum yum! i love this, going to make it soon! what a great, comfort, dinner!

Amy said...

This is one delicious creamy ham tower! Sometimes, the classic is the best. :) Thanks for sharing.


Gone-ta-pott said...

I just love this post. It was a lot of fun reading and reminded me of my own hope chest that I had as a kid. I actually still have my large cedar chest which actually looks like a mini casket but it does sit proudly in the bedroom. It now holds treasures of the past instead of dreams of the future.