Sunday, May 15, 2011


Mom told me that “It’s time for an agonizing reappraisal of things” is something that Aunt Betty used to say, so it is with thoughts of her that I post her tamale pie recipe.  
It is an old fashioned sort of recipe, with lots of cans of this and cans of that. This is Aunt Betty’s recipe as it is. Sometimes I use fresh tomatoes and I usually increase the amount of milk a bit. I also like to use lots of fresh corn, boiled for about 10 minutes and then cut off the cob, because I like the crunch that it gives. You can also add some garlic, diced hot peppers, and feel free to use your own fresh toasted and ground dried chilies with ground cumin added instead of chili powder. Occasionally I’ll serve it with enchilada sauce, or “chili gravy”. Topping it with cheddar cheese is nice, too, though after an agonizing reappraisal of things you may want to be light handed with the cheese.

This makes a large casserole. The measure that I use for a smaller casserole are in brackets to the right.

1 lb bulk sausage (well seasoned) ~ that would be home-made chorizo! [1/2 lb]
1 lg onion, chopped [1/2 lg]
¾ c milk (or more) [1/2 c]
¾ c ¾ c yellow or white corn meal [1/2 c –red cornmeal is nice too]
1 small can corn niblets [1/2 c]
½ c canned tomatoes, chopped [1/4 c]
½ c ripe olives, pitted and halved [1/4 c]
1 T chili powder (or more)

Fry sausage broken into small pieces, loosely. Add onion and brown all.
Add all other ingredients and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Transfer to casserole and bake for 1 hour, covered, in medium oven [a smaller casserole takes less time].


  1. How interesting that Mother picked up the expression "agonizing reappraisal" from Aunt Betty. Years ago, I read that the Secretary of State under Dwight Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles, declared in Paris in 1953 that if the French Assembly did not approve the European Defense Community treaty "that would compel an agonizing reappraisal" of basic United States foreign policy." I always thought that Mother read about that statement in the Washington Post, or otherwise heard about it, and adopted it that way. Or maybe Aunt Betty and J.F. Dulles both picked it up from someone else. "Agonizing reappraisal" is commonly used in this household, by the way. It's such a descriptive expression. Now I'll think about Aunt Betty, too, when I use it. ;o)

  2. How interesting! Perhaps it was a more commonly used expression back then...