“My motto is cooking in 15 minutes or less. Almost everybody goes to family reunions or church dinners, and it’s good to have a simple dish that dazzles everyone,” said Pulaski Senior Center Director Barbi Tate at a casserole tasting held at lunchtime Monday.
The point of the center’s event, said Tate, “Is, ‘Let’s all have fun,’ but also these are some different casseroles you might take to socials, family gatherings, something like that. We tried to keep them simple, with not too many ingredients.”
Tate’s assistant, Marion Wojcik, did the actual cooking, a total of six kinds of casseroles: two meat, two vegetable, and two dessert. Sheets with the recipes, plus additional casseroles the seniors were encouraged to attempt on their own, were handed out before lunch began.
Wojcik, who has worked at the center about five years, usually does the cooking for center events. “I think Barbi and I decided we were going to go for inexpensive and minimal ingredients. That way it would be easy for everyone and not very expensive. “I’ve been cooking the whole time I’ve been here. I love it.”
Seniors reacted with enthusiasm and appetite to the dishes. “I don’t know what I’m eating, but I know it’s good,” said Margaret Sullivan.
“I don’t think I can make a choice,” said Darlene Covey, sampling from her plate.
The meat casserole choices were beef and biscuits versus chicken and broccoli; the chicken and broccoli won by a large margin. So did the corn pudding, up against a potato casserole, and also an apple dumpling casserole won significantly against an apple caramel cake.
Despite the division of winners and losers, nobody had anything bad to say about any of the dishes. “If it’s food, I’m gonna be here,” said Robert Morris, standing in line for the casseroles.
His wife, Barbara Morris, added, “We usually come play bingo at least once a month.”
Linda Cox, a senior who has been coming to the center for eight years since her husband died, said of the center, “I love it. I live alone, and it’s an out for me, to get out around people my age, eat with ‘em. We do a lot of eating,” she laughed. “I have to sit there in the doctor’s office. ‘Why is your cholesterol so high?’ ‘I don’t know!’”
“Do we all agree they were good?” asked Tate after the vote was in. Her answer came in the form of applause, followed by continued dining and conversation.