This Cheesy Broccoli Bake Recipe comes to us from my grandmother’s sister in law, Lettie. You can barely make it out on the hand- written recipe card for Broccoli “Lettie’s recipe”, but if you squint you’ll see my grandmother’s handwriting on the back of a piece of Guaranty Bank note paper.
Guaranty Bank is “Alexandria’s Oldest Bank” and was founded in 1966. I’m betting this recipe circulated sometime in the 70’s.
I wrote about my grandmother’s prized sorority cookbook here, but it’s where I turn to whenever I’m missing her the most and wish I had her advice. Something about thumbing the pages, seeking out her recipe notes, and ear marked pages comforts me when there are things beyond my control.
I grab the recipe, head to kitchen and pretend to have a conversation with her about why she liked that particular dish so much. Or what we should add to it, change it up to our liking. My grandmother really wasn’t much of a cook, but her strength was in story telling and advice and I miss it dearly.
We are living in a crazy world right now. With every step you take, and around every corner, there is so much uncertainty, despair, and heartache. I haven’t talked about it much on the blog, because my blog is about happy and recipes but I’ve been volunteering with the CASA organization as an advocate.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate.
Basically I volunteer with families, foster parents and the department on behalf of the children who have been taken into state custody.
Last week, I had my first face to face conversation with a homeless person. A well-spoken young man with surprising manners answering “yes mam” when asked about his situation, living in our city…..on the streets and spending his evenings in a boarded up shed. Without air conditioning. Or electricity.
I knew going in that I would be dealing with people from much different walks of life than my own. I was prepared for hardship and unique situations. I’m not uneducated in knowing that homelessness and poverty exists in our community. I’m not naive in thinking that these situations don’t affect children.
What I didn’t know however is how to be prepared for a candid conversation with a father, trying to hang onto a job, adamant about not living in a shelter, and speaking about being homeless like it was just an everyday conversation we were having.
I’m not allowed to speak about the mother, but you can imagine she’s another stressful situation.
I lose sleep over these people who were strangers a couple of weeks ago, desperate to try to figure out how to help without enabling. It’s a delicate dance.
To distract myself, I pulled out the cookbook, made the handwritten recipe for Lettie’s broccoli and whether you choose to believe me or not, it’s as if my grandmother was right there with me saying “he’s doing the best he can do at this time, your focus in on the children. He’ll figure it out”.
Ask my father or uncle. Anytime you were facing adversity, made mistakes, or simply needed someone to listen to you, my grandmother comforted you with “honey, you did the best you could do at the time” before gently guiding you in an alternate direction and inadvertently giving you the confidence to do even better.
It pains me that this guy doesn’t have someone like her on his team, and maybe, in some sort of weird way, it’s why I was assigned this particular case.
To encourage. To be a friend. And….to make broccoli.
- 1 package broccoli (16 ounces)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1 stick of butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 medium jar Cheese Whiz (* I used 8 ounce because it's all they had)
- 1 cup rice, cooked
- 5 eggs
- Ritz crackers (a handful or so, crushed)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion, water and flour. Stir and cook until well combined and thick. Add the Cheese Whiz and stir well. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the broccoli and the cooked rice. In a small bowl, beat the eggs then add to the broccoli mixture. Transfer the contents to a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Top with the crushed cracker crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly and the crackers begin to turn golden brown.
A couple of notes/changes I made to the original recipe: I decreased the amount of butter, as well as the amount of broccoli. She says “2 pkgs broccoli”, but didn’t specify size and I’m not a huge broccoli on its own type of person. I also added a cup of rice. Again, mainly so I’d eat it.
My husband thoroughly enjoyed it and I choose to believe that if it was handwritten specifically as “Lettie’s recipe” that there was a conversation back in the day having had the broccoli, then requesting the recipe.
Do you have any handed down recipes that remind you of someone special?