Admittedly, I believe that most people who know me think I am too busy working and focusing on my job, to know how to cook or let alone enjoying cooking. But, I am here to tell you that these thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I spent most of my childhood in the small Alabama town of Opelika, which is the twin city to Auburn. My father was the basketball coach at Opelika High and so my childhood was surrounded by everything that had to do with small-town America and the activities one finds to do in a small town. That being said, there were certain activities my mother insisted my sister and I be involved in; one was dancing, ballet, tap and jazz classes twice a week and the other was Girl Scouts. My sister and I were very involved in Girl Scouts, and it was up to my mother to see that we filled up our sashes with every possible badge there was to get in the organization. This meant that we worked towards badges during our regular meetings as well as at camp in the summer. Every summer we were carted off to Camp Concharty in Pine Mountain, Georgia. For two straight weeks we worked tirelessly to earn the badges we were supposed to while living outside in the mountains of Georgia. Camp is where I learned to cook on a modified Crisco can with a wood fire underneath that you had to build and keep it burning yourself. Eggs and bacon were practically the only thing you could cook on the small cooktop. Determined to get the cooking badge and after a couple of tries on actually cooking the eggs and bacon, I was successful.
When we returned home after the two weeks at camp and after we started school in the fall, it quickly became my responsibility to at least start dinner when got home from school. My mother worked outside the home and this was one of my chores after getting my homework. Even though I belabored the task at times, I am grateful to my mother for making me learn to cook because it helped me later when I went away to college and it taught me how to fully function on my own. It also kept me out of the fast food lines. So getting back to the title of this post and purpose of this post Southern casseroles; my dad every year at Christmas asks me to cook breakfast on Christmas morning. In taking on this task, I had to find a recipe that would feed our family of 12. I found my Cheesy Bacon and Ham Southern Breakfast Casserole in the 2001 November issue of Southern Living Magazine. It has become a tradition for me to cook this casserole every year. It also is one that satisfies even the pickiest of eaters in my family. Incidentally, to save time on Christmas morning and to make getting to opening presents quicker, I make my casserole a day ahead.
From My Recipe.com
Cheesy Bacon-and-Ham Casserole
Southern Living NOVEMBER 2001
- 1/2 pound bacon
- 1/2 pound chopped cooked ham
- 3/4 cup quick-cooking grits
- 1 (16-ounce) loaf prepared pasteurized cheese product, cubed
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.
Cook ham in reserved drippings in skillet over medium heat until browned.
Cook grits according to package directions. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and butter until melted. Stir in bacon, ham, eggs, and remaining ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until set.
NOTE: Casserole may be prepared a day ahead; cover and chill. Remove from refrigerator the following day, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake as directed.