A casserole is always a good idea, according to South Carolina writer Anne Wolfe Postic.
Credit: Anne Wolfe Postic

I ate a lot of casseroles as a child. (Didn't we all?) Mom had her favorites, including Chicken Divan, Turkey Tetrazzini, and some kind of tuna thing. Looking back, I think the Tetrazzini may have been made with chicken? But a little alliteration never killed anyone. Neither did a casserole, as far as I know.

I have some of Mom's recipes and they're delicious, even when they get weird. Her Chicken Divan has curry powder, water chestnuts, and cheddar cheese. How 70's is that? And somehow it works.

That's the thing about a casserole. Whatever you throw in there, it tastes good and everyone loves it. A casserole helps you win friends and influence people! As your budget remains more or less the same, but the number of the people at the table grows, you learn to produce a consistently decent casserole.

But I wasn't satisfied with consistently decent. What I wanted was a formula, two formulas actually: one for a casserole, just a general one, including whatever ingredients are in the fridge, and the second for a made-from-scratch canned soup replacement. Nothing against canned soup, I just don't usually have it when I need it. I did it! (Am I the only parent who, even though my youngest "baby" is ten, mentally follows "I did it!" with "We did it! Hooray! Lo hicimos!"? But I digress.)

Another fun thing about a casserole is you never know which one will become a family favorite. On a recent random Tuesday, our fridge, which the kids swore contained nothing to eat, yielded the ingredients for a satisfying casserole. I've now made that same casserole with leftover beef, chicken, and pork—and they all worked. It doesn't have a good name yet—the best I can come up with is Tex-Mexi-Cackalack-erole and that's awkward in so many ways. Help me name it?

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Anne Wolfe Postic is a freelance writer living in South Carolina with her husband, their three sons, and a fluffy white dog. She travels with relish (and often a jar of Duke's mayonnaise). She cooks her feelings and invites people over to eat them. Anne writes and blogs about parenting, etiquette, healthy eating, home cooking, and traveling. She recommends taking all of her advice with a huge chunk of salt.