10 August 2010

10 August - Saint Lawrence; Missouri; Wheel-spoke Casserole

Feast of Saint Lawrence, patron of cooks and the poor, a deacon who suffered martydom in Rome, probably during the reign of Valerian in the 3rd century.  Tradition says that he was entrusted with the goods of the Church and with distributing the alms collected for the poor.  When the local government official ordered him to produce the ecclesiastical riches in his charge, he pointed to the great crowd of crippled and destitute people and said that they were the treasures of the Church (he could also be the patron saint of the passive-aggressive types).  For that, he was roasted to death on a gridiron.

Today is a good day for a barbecue, in honor of Saint Lawrence.

On this day in 1821, Missouri was admitted to the Union as the 24th state.

Missouri was the Gateway to the West in the 19th century.  The Santa Fe Trail took traders from the Missouri River southwest to New Mexico starting in 1821; miners and settlers used it to get to the gold fields of Colorado.  Emigrants to Oregon Territory left from the same place and headed northwest along the Oregon Trail, many of them jumping off for the Mormon settlements of Utah and the Mother Lode of California.  The Texas Road / Shawnee Trail led from St. Louis and other towns along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers south to Texas.

Every year in the early spring, hundreds of wagons would arrive, buy supplies for the trip, and set off in long trains so dear to the heart of western movies.  Of course, some got only as far as the western border of the state, before their drivers decided that such beautiful land shouldn't be in their rear-view mirrors, so to speak.

So, in honor of all those wagons, here is a recipe for WHEEL-SPOKE CASSEROLE:
cllipart courtesy FCIT 
First make 3 cups of hot cooked rice (1 cup of regular white rice in 2 cups of water will make 3 cups cooked; omit the salt).

Lightly brown 4 minute steaks. Cut into strips about 2-3 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide.

Mix the cooked rice with 1 packet of onion soup mix and 2 tablespoons of butter; put in a shallow 1-1/2 quart baking dish.  Arrange the steak strips on the rice to resemble the spokes of a wagon wheel (and if you've never seen a wagon wheel, check out the graphic above).

Pour 1 (4 ounce) can of mushrooms and with its liquid over top of the casserole.
Bake in 325 ° F oven for about 30 minutes.
(Recipe originally found in Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 1)