This week, we are continuing with the second* of our three-part series on the easy-to-make food theme. Allen and Kiki should be happier with the recipes for this week, at least with the first one, which really is made with tuna.
By the way, Allen and Kiki didn’t want to bother to pose for all the pictures, so we thank all those kitties who agreed to pose in their place.
“Did I hear you say ‘toona?’” Allen was looking up at me with interest.
“One of today’s recipes has tuna in it, Allen. ”So, while we’re making it, we can probably put some of that tuna juice in a bowl for you and Kiki to lick up.”
There’s kind of a story behind today’s sandwich. A long time ago, starting back in the 1930’s, a cartoonist named Chic Young drew a comic strip called Blondie. It told stories of Blondie and her husband, Dagwood Bumstead. Dagwood liked to get up in the middle of the night and make himself a humongous sandwich, with meats and cheeses and several pieces of bread and who-knows-what-else. It was famously known as a Dagwood sandwich.
“Around the time that I was a child, in the 1940’s, an unknown person created a sandwich made in a bun, and in a takeoff from the famous sandwich-maker Dagwood Bumstead’s name, named it a Bunstead Sandwich.”
“Kiki was rubbing against my leg. She leapt up on the counter and asked, “And this Bunstead thing has toona in it?”
“It sure does. It’s quite easy to make, and tastes something like what is these days called a Tuna Melt.”
Now both cats were on the counter. “Well, let’s get on with it,” they said. “We’ll help.”
I pulled over a couple of chairs. “How about you two watch from the chair instead of the counter?”
They grumbled a bit, but jumped down.
Here’s what you’ll need ~ a drained 7-ounce can of tuna. (My mother always called it tunafish, and she liked to use the white albacore tuna, which was in those days always packed in oil. I prefer the chunk light, packed in water. I suspect that it really doesn’t matter much which kind you use. In fact, you could probably substitute cooked or canned chicken for the tuna.)
I heard a little comment from down below. “You’re planning on saving some of that for us, right?”
“Of course, I’m going to give you a little bit.”
You’re going to need a few additional ingredients ~ 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped; 2 Tablespoons of sweet pickle relish or chopped sweet pickles; and 1 cup of cheese, cut into cubes (I use Velveeta because it melts so easily, but you can use any kind of cheese you want as long as it melts well.) Other optional ingredients, depending on what you like, are: 3 Tablespoons of chopped fresh or dried onion; and/or 3 Tablespoons of chopped red or green bell pepper.
You’ll also need ½ cup of mayonnaise, 8 hot dog rolls, and 8 squares of foil. Hmmm…I guess there’s nothing magic about using hot dog rolls, other than that they are easy to bite. Other kinds of rolls would probably work, as well as sliced bread, or, actually, even tortillas or pita bread.
“The first step is to make the filling. As I pulled back the lid of the tuna can, I had all I could do to keep the cats from jumping back onto the counter. “Here,” I said to them as I drained the tuna liquid into a little bowl and set it on the floor. “Lap this up and enjoy that good toona flavor while I’m making the sandwich.”
That worked. Both of them enthusiastically lapped up the goodies as I got back to the task at hand.
“Mix together all the ingredients except the rolls. If you want, add salt and pepper to taste. This mixture could keep in a tightly closed container in the frig for a couple of days if you don’t want to use all of it right away.”
“Why would you put all that stuff in with perfectly good and delicious toona?” they asked. Obviously, it would be quite easy to please the cats without going to much trouble.
I think humans would like it that way,” I told them. “But I saved out a bit of tuna for each of you. A little bit of canned tuna should be safe for you to eat.” I placed the pieces of fish on their plate.
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. You remind me again that humans eat weird things.” Allen nodded his head.
“When you are ready to make the sandwiches, preheat the oven to 350⁰, then fill each hot dog roll with the prepared salad. Close it and wrap it in foil. Then place all the foil-wrapped sandwiches into the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Unwrap and enjoy your Bunstead. lunch. Or, if you are a cat, munch the pieces of toona in your bowl.”
Sometimes, on a cold or stormy day, I like to eat soup. “Come and sit with me, Kitties, and I’ll tell you an easy way to make soup.”
“Don’t you just pull the little tab on one of those cat food cans and pour it into the bowl?” asked Kiki.
“That might work for cats, but I think humans might prefer something else. This soup is made with beef broth.”
“Well, we might like that, too,” Allen assured me.
“You might,” I replied. The basic recipe is super-easy. There are just 3 ingredients – a can of beef broth, the same amount of tomato juice, and a handful of slaw mix or shredded cabbage. Cook until the vegetables are done.
“Sometimes I also throw in some noodles or rice or frozen/leftover peas.”
“Maybe you could just give us the beef stuff before you add the extra things,” they said.
“Hmmm…Maybe. This soup has many variations. The broth would probably work in another flavor, too, like chicken or vegetable broth. If you don’t have any tomato juice, you can use tomato sauce or tomato puree or chopped tomatoes.”
“Maybe you could put in some meat or fish,” Allen suggested hopefully.
“Actually, you could brown some ground beef with chopped onion and salt and pepper or brown some meat balls, and add that to the soup. I sometimes make meatballs with ground beef, and put a cube of cheese in the middle of each one. Some chunks of a mild white fish would probably be another good addition. That was a great idea, Allen.”
I took off for a minute to answer the phone.
Back again. SPAM call, and not the kind of SPAM you could put in the sandwich or the soup. Kiki was looking at me.
“How about toona?” she asked.
Oh, my, not again…”I don’t know, Kiki. I guess you could try anything to see how it tastes. I like tuna, but I think I would prefer it in a different recipe.”
Allen and Kiki were wandering away to play with their little furry mousies and other toys. “Be sure to call us, Mom, when you have some more goodies for us to taste,” they called.
So I hope we’ve left you with a couple of ideas for fast and simple foods to make when you’re busy doing other things and just need a little meal in a hurry. I like the soup served with a dollop of sour cream on top, or some crisp croutons.
It might be even be nice to serve a bowl of the soup along with one of the Bunstead sandwiches. Add an apple or a tangerine or some grapes, a little dish of cut-up fresh fruit — apple or pear, banana, orange and dried cranberries comes to mind.
Time to go back in the kitchen and get those cheesy sandwiches out of the oven. We hope you have a joyful week. We have one more diary of easy recipes to come. Next week we’ll look again at some sweet things to make. The kitties aren’t so much into sweet things, but I’m sure they’ll be there to help with their suggestions.
*Oh, yes, in case you missed the first diary in this series, here’s the link:
Please stay well, and have a happy week. Farewell for today.