Early this morning I walked a short distance behind a woman so beautiful I imagined she had wandered off a Hollywood movie set. Everything about her appearance was gorgeous and exotic. Not the type to approach women with a facile come on, I satisfied myself with drifting in her wake enjoying the wafting trails of a delicate fragrance, verbena I thought. Perhaps fortune smiles upon the patient man. In no time at all a sudden gust of wind tore a slip of paper from her hand and sent it spiraling toward me, requiring only a quick jump to the right with extended arm to snatch the paper from its backward flutter.
Hoping for a scribbled phone number, it turned out to be nothing more than an ordinary recipe of some kind. But the woman, flustered for a moment turned in a circle, eyes darting left to right for a glimpse of her wayward square of paper. Only fifteen feet behind, I held up the captured paper to show that it had landed in my hand. And in this way the door to an introduction opened.
I returned the slip of paper and for my leaping catch won a half hour of the woman’s company. I was right in imagining there was something exotic about her. In the most romantic of all possible scenarios, she turned out to be a gypsy girl from Romania with a name straight out of the Brothers Grimm. She called herself Florina. Who am I to doubt that mothers in Romania choose such fabulous names. In another odd twist I learned she was employed as an au pair by a family in Maitland, that they were weekending at the beach and she had been given the morning off. The recipe turned out to be a rather un-Romanian casserole that she found in an American magazine and wanted to attempt. In our unfortunately short time together I at least managed to get the recipe for what I shall call a “Gypsy Chicken Casserole.” Sadly, the story ends with me dining alone on the dish beautiful Florina plans to cook for her host family.
—A very American recipe I romantically call GYPSY CHICKEN CASSEROLE—
3 cups of cooked and cubed chicken breast
1 box of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice, Original Recipe
1 can cream of celery soup
1 bag of frozen French style green beans
1 large onion chopped
1 cup of Hellmann’s Real mayonnaise
1 can of water chestnuts either diced or sliced
1 medium jar of sliced pimento
1 small package of slivered almonds
Salt & pepper
Penzeys Northwoods seasoning (optional)
Cook the rice either on the stove or in a rice cooker. Brown the chicken lightly, seasoned with salt and pepper and if on hand, a sprinkle of Penzeys Northwoods seasoning. At the same time cook the green beans with the chopped onion. In a large bowl mix the cream of celery soup with the mayonnaise, careful to mix it well. Combine the other ingredients and mix well. Fold in the soup/mayonnaise mix continuing to stir until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended. Wipe a 3 quart casserole dish with butter and pour the casserole mix in. Bake it uncovered in a 300° oven for twenty minutes. Remove the casserole, add the slivered almonds, dot the top with butter and return to the oven for ten minutes.
Maybe a green salad and some steamed summer squash or broccoli to fill out the menu.