Friday, January 9, 2009

Hadden Goop - the ultimate comforting culinary craziness

When I was young (how A.A. Milne!) my mother would attempt to use up leftovers in creative ways. Thus, the term "Hadden Goop" was born. There were endless variations on the theme, depending on what had been recently prepared and how popular items were. We were required to eat three bites of everything on our plates, something I rebelled against at the time but now appreciate for giving me "free range" tastebuds. Very thankfully, our dog Elfin (who taught me how to swim) learned the fine art of skulking underneath the table with her mouth open, ready to receive any and all vile tidbits.... Anyway, I digress. There are four basic components to a "goop": a starch (rice, potatoes, couscous, pasta, bread), a protein (tofu [renamed toadfood by my kids], eggs, tuna, chicken, etc.), veggies (peas, green beans, broccoli, etc.), and a sauce (the old stand-by cream of mushroom condensed soup, a roux, white sauce, sour cream, etc.)

A favorite was "Tuna Goop." Now, you can get creative and use leftover seared tuna (although, it is to be admitted that "leftover" and "seared tuna" seem not to fit very well together!), wild rice, etc. but good old low end "tuna goop" is a big favorite in our family and when it is cold and icy outside and you've had a long day at work, just begs to be served for dinner. There's something really perversely satisfying about opening a few cans, boiling a little water, and having a satisfying (if humble) one dish meal ready in 20 minutes or less.... So, get out your cans of tuna, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a few frozen peas or leftover veggies, and a half box of pasta, and you're on your way to comfort food nirvana. I like to soak my opened and drained can(s) of tuna in a teaspoon of lemon juice - it kind of cuts the "can" taste. Add some capers, grated cheese or curry powder to elevate the concoction a little! You can also throw the concoction into the oven, sprinkle some bread crumbs and spray or drizzle some oil on, and brown under the broiler to get that oh so desirable crust.

What leads to the desire for Hadden Goop? The frigid New England winters, which some of us enjoy more than others....

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