Even before President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Highway Act that created the interstate system in 1956, Americans ventured out on road trips. In the early 1950s, they piled into the Mercury Monterey (nicknamed “the bathtub”), the Lincoln Cosmopolitan, and the Ford Victoria. Two Ford Motor Company publications, the Ford Times and the Lincoln-Mercury Times, ran articles that steered drivers to “famous” roadside taverns. The Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places (1950) collects recipes from these taverns in a book.
This isn’t highbrow fare: Walpole Woodchuck Relish (cabbage, peppers, and sour pickles) from the Walpole Inn in New Hampshire; Beefsteak and Kidney Pie from the Fox and Hounds Inn in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Marshmallow Dressing from the Nut Tree in Vacaville, California. Yet there’s something appealing about the lack of pretension and the sheer variety of places (at least two in every state). The color illustrations looked similar to the Dick and Jane children’s books from that era.
Still recovering from the pie and sweet potato excesses of Thanksgiving, I wanted to make something simple this week. Green Rice from the Country Kitchen in Colorado – basically, rice and vegetables baked in a light custard – worked well as a side dish or a vegetarian entrée, though it looked more orange than green. Best of all, the book spared me stop-and-go Boston traffic. The road trip came to me.
The Country Kitchen’s Green Rice (1950)
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 red or orange bell pepper, diced [optional – I added it because it was in my vegetable drawer]
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup ground or finely chopped parsley
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch baking pan.
- In a saute pan, heat the olive oil or melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper (if using) and saute until the vegetables are soft. Set aside.
- Place the rice and parsley in a mixing bowl. Add the milk, salt, Worcestershire sauce, cheese and eggs. Stir to combine.
- Stir in the sautéed vegetables and mix thoroughly.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden on top and the custard is cooked through.