"We are going to focus on LIFE for Katya. I believe, one day, she will amaze the world."

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Friday, March 22, 2013

Texas Hash

Among my childhood memories, there are not that many memories that stand out well to me of good food and fellowship in detail.

But I have one that I would like to tell you about tonight.

I think I was around 5th grade. School had started for the year, on a warm late summer day in Kentucky. It was traditional to have the first day of school be a slightly shortened day, ending around noon.My parents, and the parents of the family newly moved in next to us, had determined that it would be a good day for the children from the two families to practice our walking skills by hiking literally over the mountain back to our homes. This consisted of a very warm and interesting hike firstly over a portion of a prarie type grass ground that was an old strip mine, as the crickets and grasshoppers chirped and buzzed as we distrubed them,  and then up, up and still higher up into the hill and into the trees. We then followed an old animal trail up and down and around till we at long last (nearly an hour later) descended the steep mountainside through towering pine trees and cow pies from the cows who grazed there. Down, down and down  we went, jubilant at the thought of finally some cold drinks for our parched and sweaty bodies--and FOOD!

We dashed through the barn yard at the bottom of the hill, crossed the bubbling crick, and then stopped at the neighbors house, to drop off our friends, only for them to see a note on the door directing them to head with us up to our house. So, yet again, we walked up another steep hill, landing at last at the door step of the tiny little mountain home we lived in at that time.

There was the new neighbor lady, beaming at her children and at us, and she and my Mom had fixed a tasty feast for us all! I have no memory whatsoever of what else was on the menu that day--being late summer, probably garden things like corn and fresh, juicy slices of tomatoes. But I certainly **DO** remember the good old "Texas Hash" that our neighbor lady had prepared and brought! I thought it was one of the most delicious things I had ever eaten. And I took seconds as I recall.

To this day, Texas Hash is a food that evokes warm and happy memories for me, and even though my children don't have any such specific "first memory" of it, they too find it a comfort food.

Over the years, we have increased the recipe so much that I don't even use the recipe any more, cooking to "look" and "taste", but I shall share the original with you, along with a few things we do.

First of all, the recipe is found in my much-worn Mennonite Community cookbook.

2 large onions
3 T fat
2 Green Peppers, Chopped
1 pound hamburger
2 cups canned tomatoes
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 Tsp chili powder
1 1/2 salt
1/4 pepper
Fry minced onion and green peppers in fat until onions are brown. Add hamburger and fry several minutes. Then add tomatoes, rice, and seasoning. Pour into a large casserole. Cover and bake at 375 F for about 50 minutes. Serves 8.
Now, for our changes--we fry the burger, and when it's about 50% fried, we pitch in the onions and green peppers. That means we omit the extra fat. We also prefer canned tomato juice rather than canned tomatoes. We use brown rice and cook a bit longer.

We always fill our big blue pan (10.5 by 14 3/4 by 2 and 1/4 inches) and there are rarely any left-overs! We like to serve it with applesauce, and green beans. The flavors all are so good together, we think.

And there you have it--Texas Hash!

Oh--and the other VERY great thing about this dish?? You can make up extra, slid it into a gallon sized freezer bag, flatten it out nicely, freeze on a cookie tray, and then pull out and easily thaw and reheat if you are having a crazy day. It's also good to hand off to a new Mama to pop into her freezer for the day she just absolutely can't find time to fix anything else!


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