Recently, I found a recipe in my in-box. This is not odd. Taste of Home sends me recipes daily. For some reason, however, a recipe called Polish Casserole caught my eye. Before all of you clean eating, organic loving, raw produce foodies yell, “FOUL!” keep in mind that we are all, me especially, a product of our upbringing. No self-respecting Adventist ever turned their nose up at casseroles without a good reason.
Here was my dilemma. As I was beginning to make the Polish Casserole, I discovered that I was missing two key ingredients listed in the recipe. Normally, this would be a problem, except that, when you’re a vegetarian you grow accustom to improvising and substituting. I’ve done it before. The issue was that I wasn’t sure at what point I ought to have changed the name of my culinary creation to preserve the integrity of the original? I didn’t have Swiss cheese. I didn’t have Kielbasa. I substituted Muenster for Swiss and Morning Star sausage links for Polish sausage, and as a lesser sin, I used red onion instead of green (if anyone out there reading this is Polish, let me apologize in advance).
As a child, my mom had a dish that she made on a semi-regular basis. She called it Chop Suey. I made a quick, online perusal of Food Network recipes, and determined that what she made was vaguely similar, but not quite on point with Chop Suey’s true intent. I have blamed my childhood Chop Suey experiences for my longstanding aversion to Chinese cuisine in general. This is what I was trying to avoid in my own family.
All of that back story to simply say that I didn’t want to create any lasting ethnic food prejudices for my own children’s pallets. To be safe, I renamed the recipe. What was Polish Casserole became Nancy’s Surprise. It’s sort of like Tuna Surprise without the tuna. 🙂
Stay tuned, our forks are yet to be lifted in this grand experiment with names, cheese substitutions and cooked sauerkraut concoctions.