Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Not Washing Dishes: A Tribute to My Mom

By Mary C. Tillotson
Image by Sarah Korf

Once upon a time, when I was a child, my mom made impossible pie for dinner. One of my siblings asked why the quiche-like food was called "impossible pie." (We were too young at the time to have "quiche" in our vocabulary, and that may have been the reason.)

"Because it's impossible to make anything better!" my brother piped up.

"Or because it's impossible to make anything worse," I grumbled.

My poor mother. Despite my picky eating and just plain not eating, I learned a lot of important life lessons from her, many of them regarding food. For example, whenever my dad cooked, she'd say, "Marry a man who's as nice to you as your dad is to me." (I did.) I also learned things like "Don't eat soap" (I don't), and, most importantly, "Don't wash more dishes than you have to."

My mom is a master at this last one, as you'll notice from her comment on my chili recipe a few months ago. She's amazing. This isn't something every woman gets to learn from her mother, so I thought I'd share her secret here and show you exactly how it's done. (She'll probably leave a comment that will eliminate one more dish. Just watch.)

Some general tips: Cutting boards double as plates when you're just having a snack -- especially if it's cheese and crackers or a sliced apple. Meat can be cooked in a saucepan before adding spaghetti sauce. And the only reason not to mix measured ingredients right in the measuring cup is to support the mixing bowl industry.

For the real demonstration, I'll make impossible pie (which I like now -- it's funny what adulthood does to you), after which I'll only have to wash the following:

one cutting board
one knife
one one-cup measuring cup
one four-cup measuring cup
one fork
one 8x8 pan

Here's the recipe:

1 C meat (cooked, chopped)
1 C cheese (shredded)
1 C vegetables (chopped)
Layer that in a greased pie plate, 8x8, or 9x9.
Then, mix the following together and pour over top:
2 C milk
1 C jiffy baking mix
4 eggs
Whatever spices seem appropriate

Bake at 350 for half an hour, or until it's golden at the top and a knife comes out clean.

I like that this recipe is flexible. I usually make it pizza-themed (pepperoni, ham, sausage, half cheddar and half mozzarella, green pepper, onion) or breakfast-themed (ham, sausage, cheddar, green pepper, onion). This time, I used precooked ham, cheddar, green pepper, and red onion. I also didn't measure everything at exactly one cup.

Watch carefully to see how it works:


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Laura! If you go with a pizza theme, you can lay tomato slices on the top after you've poured the batter in -- just do one layer. I did that once because I had extra tomatoes, and it was good!

  2. Sweet heaven.

    You've saved my dinners. Forever.

    We live at a Camp, so I've got access to lotsa leftovers. Always. And I've come up with several uses for all that leftover food (meat, especially- I cut up the cooked leftovers and freeze it to use later for chicken stir fry, casseroles, you catch my drift) but THIS! THIS!

    I can do anything with this! The combinations abound! The leftover possibilities are endless!

    (I'm thinking that by the end of next summer, I'll have 93-million frozen Impossible Pies in my deep freeze, ready and waiting).

    You have no idea how excited I am. Maybe you do. With all the caps and exaggeration and exclamation points. But SERIOUSLY. SERIOUSLY.

    1. Glad to hear it! I usually stick with a brunch theme or a pizza theme, so let me know if you come up with any other good combinations. In the kitchen, I'm really terrible at thinking outside the box, so I'd love to hear your ideas!


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