My mother-in-law Janie recently celebrated her 80th birthday. Her health is declining and her memory is faded, but we are blessed to still have her in our midst and we treasure those moments when she seems to engage with us and enjoy our company.
The occasion made me remember a little notebook of recipes Janie gave to me at my bridal shower. It is filled with Hursh family favorites-all written down from her own memory and 60 years of housewifery. I thought about all the cookbooks I’ve tried since beginning this blog-all the family recipes I’ve tasted that were not from my own family. And I decided to do some family recipes from my notebook, as a tribute to Janie. They’re all typical 1950’s Midwestern cuisine-heavy on meat, potatoes and butter and severely lacking in vegetables! (Eat a salad as a side dish!)
The first is the Breakfast Dish. I’ve actually lightened this one up a bit by using whole grain bread, and turkey bacon, reducing the amount of cheese and eliminating the salt and the STICK OF BUTTER that Janie says should be poured over the mixture before baking. I have made it the original way and it’s just too greasy and salty for my tastes but… to each his own! In the Hursh family, this is typically served on holiday mornings because it has to be made the night before and let to “soak” overnight in the refrigerator, making for an easy yet hearty breakfast.
1 package of bread, crusts removed
3 cups of milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup shredded cheese
1 package ham, or cooked sausage or bacon, chopped into small pieces.
Place bread into 8×11 inch pan in overlapping layers. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and them combine them with the milk, spices and cheese. Pour that mixture over the bread and then top it with the cooked meat. Cover and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.
In the morning, place the casserole in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Bake one hour or until the middle of the casserole is cooked through and a toothpick comes out clean. Serve and enjoy!