Sometimes it’s fun to see how long you can go without grocery shopping…

Canned Creation #1: Ambrosia
Yesterday we got a surprise invitation to a casual barbecue. The request to bring a side dish/salad got me into a cookbook-thumbing tizzy, as we had no fresh vegetables or fruit in the house to speak of (just a couple of lemons and limes for cocktail purposes). We do however, have a shelf of canned goods that included cans of coconut milk, mandarin oranges, pineapples, and mangoes. The canned mangos were bought a very long time ago for some purpose I cannot fathom. In fact, the mangoes were in the cupboard for a year at my old apartment, packed into the boxes that sat at my parents’ house for that great while, and unpacked here to sit some more.
At almost every family potluck of my childhood, my late aunt made ambrosia salad, and her coconut/mini marshmallow/fruit concoction was the only kind of salad I could bear to eat. I didn’t have any shredded coconut or cream on hand, but I did have coconut milk. None of my cookbooks (including The Joy of Cooking) said whether coconut milk would thicken if whipped, so there was only one way to find out – experiment. As it turns out, coconut milk will thicken a little if whipped for a good few minutes, although it will not coat beaters or form peaks like whipped cream. However, it will thicken a little more if chilled. I’m not sure if adding sugar has anything to do with that. Anyway, to make it salad-y, to the whipped coconut milk I stirred in a can each of pineapple chunks, mandarin orange slices, and the aforementioned mangoes. Unfortunately, the orange fruit and white marshmallows in white goo did not make the most appetizing looking thing to eat. I had the idea perhaps that I could dress it with with a few leaves of roughly chopped mint and a sprinkled of grated lemon peel, but eck, no. The salad went garnish-less, and we took it to the barbecue in hopes someone would chance it – it did taste good, after all – even I am not such an accomplished food stylist.
Donovan ate a few helpings, mostly out of pity. Regrettable food.

Canned Creation #2: Tuna Casserole
This recipe, my favourite tuna casserole, comes from Diane Clement’s Zest for Life cookbook.
Anyway, I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately so I wanted to make this, my favourite comfort food that can be prepared with whatever tends to be laying around in the kitchen cupboards – ie can of tuna, can of mushroom soup, can of sliced mushrooms. Here ya go:

1 1/2 cups of uncooked macaroni
Can of mushroom soup
3/4 cup of milk
handful of fresh chopped dill (feel free to cut a few leaves from my herb garden, locals)
2 tablespoons cooking sherry
Salt n’ Pepper, to taste
1 – 2 hardboiled eggs, sliced or chopped
Can of sliced mushrooms
Can of tuna
3/4 cup of fresh bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of melted butter
1/4 cup fresh grated Parm cheese
Pinch of paprika

1. Boil a pot of water and cook macaroni. Drain, etc.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. In bowl, beat together the mushroom soup, milk, sherry, dill, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. In an ovenproof casserole dish (ie Corning Ware), pour in 1/3 of the pasta, layer in 1/2 of the tuna, mushrooms and eggs, pour the next 1/3 of the pasta and the other 1/2 of the tuna, mushrooms and eggs. Pour in the last 1/3 of the pasta, and pour over the whole works the mushroom-dill mixture.
5. For the topping, mix together the bread crumbs, melted butter, Parm cheese and paprika. Sprinkle it over top of the casserole.
6. Bake the whole shebang in the oven for about 30 minutes until it’s all golden and bubbly. Yum.

Always recycle.