Where's Aunt Hattie when you need her?

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11/17/2009 7:43 PM

11/17/2009 7:45 PM

I don't have an Aunt Hattie.

But a friend of mine does, and she says Aunt Hattie makes the most incredible food. In fact, one of Aunt Hattie's dishes — corn casserole — is so wonderful that everyone who tries it can't help but like it.

Everyone but me, that is.

Could be I used the wrong size pan. Could be I used the wrong cheese. But the casserole — which our testers loved — turned out so-so for me.

I picked the recipe because I like the idea of having an Aunt Hattie. My friend says Aunt Hattie is 91, had 10 children and lives in Tennessee. She tends her own garden. How's that for spunk?

I also thought the dish seemed quick and easy, perfect for Thanksgiving Day.

Shopping would have been easy, if I had remembered to put the items on our weekly grocery list. I didn't, and my husband ran to the store at 6 p.m. (Somehow, this strikes me as something Aunt Hattie would have done, so I don't feel so bad).

Prep was simple; mix everything up in a bowl. What threw me was the part of the recipe where you transfer the mixture to a baking dish. What size baking dish? Should it be deep or shallow?

I chose a deep, square one with flowers on the rim. I thought it looked Aunt Hattie-ish.

While it may have looked lovely and old-fashioned, it wasn't the right vessel to cook the casserole in. Next time, I'm using a 9-by-13 inch pan.

After 40 minutes of baking, the mixture was wet and soppy in the middle. I put on the cheese and cooked it for 10 more minutes. Still wet, still soppy. I should have drained the corn.

We ended up eating the edges of the casserole, which my husband thought were delicious.

Me? I would have liked a little more zing. I used cheddar, but perhaps sharp cheddar would do the trick.

Even though I didn't love the recipe, I am still in love with the idea of an Aunt Hattie.

Bee staff writer Kerry McCray can be reached at kmccray@modbee.com or 578-2358.

What The Testers Had To Say

We tried out this recipe on a group of family and friends at a recent gathering. They loved it! There was not a speck left in the pan. It is so simple to make, and we already had all the ingredients. Plus, it is just as delicious cold.

— Mike Moon, Oakdale
    

This is easy on the budget. I used nonfat sour cream and margarine to cut the calories a bit. A garnish of snipped chives added flavor and looked nice, too. My husband loved it. I made this casserole a second time and added garlic powder and chopped chilies, which gave it some zip. It was a good side dish with baked ham.

— Jan Gibson, Modesto
    

I was hoping this would be something like a corn soufflé or a very corn-filled corn-bread-type dish, but it turned out more like cornmeal mush. And not in a good way. I cooked it even a bit longer than the recipe called for and it still was soft and mealy. Maybe it was the type of baking dish I used. An 8-by-8-inch square pan might have been better than the 1¾-quart casserole dish I used.

— Sandy Loya, Modesto
    

I thought it was bland and boring, but my guests disagreed. They liked the sweetness, where I would prefer the addition of jalapeño peppers and extra-sharp cheese. It's very simple to put together and I baked it in a 10-by-7-by-2-inch pan for 40 minutes (until a toothpick came out clean in the middle) and then added the cheese and baked for five more minutes. This casserole would be a good accompaniment for almost anything.

— Ann Waldron, Sequim, Wash., formerly of Modesto
    

This recipe is a nice change from ordinary corn. It is kind of like a bread pudding and kind of like a soufflé; my husband even referred to it as liquid corn bread. It was dense but fluffy, and everyone wanted more of the crispy, cheesy crust. Our test recipe didn't say to drain the can of kernel corn but I assumed that I should. Easy to prepare and served six with no leftovers. It went great with a roast.

— Karin Reenstierna, Modesto
    

I found this recipe to be a bit sweet, and served the leftovers on day two with salty split pea soup. This is a simple recipe to keep on hand if you are looking to jazz up corn bread. Also, I couldn't help but add a little extra cheese topping — a half cup didn't seem like quite enough. It was well received by our guests and by my husband.

— Ann Griffith, Modesto
    

Aunt Hattie has a really easy recipe, but I wish she would have told us whether to drain the whole-kernel corn and what size of baking dish she uses. I decided to drain the corn because I figured it would be really soupy otherwise, but I kept the juice just in case. The batter looked just right with the juice left out, so I stuck with that.

— Francia Stanton, Modesto

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