Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Virginia O'Farrell's Tuna Casserole

Today marks eight years since we lost our Mom.  It seems much longer some times, and other times like it was just yesterday.  I still want to pick up the phone to call her, and then have to remind myself that I can't do that anymore.  That's always a tough realization.  I used to call my mother pretty much every day.  Now and then, when a particular day had been difficult, she'd intuitively know, asking "What's the matter?" which, of course, found me disintegrating into an emotional puddle, when only a mother's words could understand and help.  On the other hand, she was a very funny woman and made us all laugh, often.  She used to brag about her "10-beat flutter" in swimming, or that she earned "best legs" in high school.  She used to reenact her cheer-leading moves in our kitchen.  My mother hated being referred to as "she" and would say, "Who's she, the cat's mother?"  I often hear her words coming out of my mouth.  Almost every day, I say something and realize that it is hers. Often, I don't know what the phrase means; I just know it's right, fits, seems appropriate, and works.  The other day I said someone was "fit to be tied."  Now really, what does that mean?  It's a mom-ism, and I will devote a future blog post to such gems.

I credit my mother with my love of cooking.  It's not that she loved it so much herself; she didn't, but she was so enthusiastic for my efforts, encouraging me all the way.  There are little things I will always remember, including her advice, "Clean up as you go" which has made cooking much less a chore than it might be.  The other piece of advice was "Make sure you have all your ingredients before you start."  This, after she had to run to the grocery store mid-recipe to get something for me,  like cornstarch or vanilla extract. 

I've written before about the tuna casserole my Mom used to make for us.  We loved it.  It was a simple recipe with canned tuna, canned mushroom soup, and Pennsylvania Dutch noodles.  She never added peas, cheese, or other things I've noticed other recipes call for.  Hers was simple and very, very good.  I've never given you the recipe, so today I share it with you.

Virginia O'Farrell's Tuna Casserole
(I love you, Mom)

2 cans tuna, drained and flaked (she used Chicken of the Sea)
2 cans Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
1 1/2 soup cans of milk
1 bag Pennsylvania Dutch Noodles, cooked and drained
salt and pepper
Plain bread crumbs

Buttered casserole dish - a large one

Stir together tuna and soup until well combined.  Add milk and stir until very well combined.  Add a few shakes of salt and a few shakes of pepper.  Dump drained noodles in casserole dish, stir in tuna/soup mixture.  Make sure it is all mixed together well.  Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs.  Drizzle with a little melted butter.

Bake at 350 degrees F until it is bubbly and the bread crumbs begin to brown. 



  1. What a nice tribute to your Mom. She sounds a lot like mine! Even the Tuna Casserole recipes are almost identical :-) Praying that the memories that surround you today fill you with peace.

    Anne P.

  2. Thanks so much, Anne. I appreciate that.

  3. I just found your site and LOVE it! I feel an instant connection to you. I lost my Mom in 2001 and much of what you wrote reminds me of my Mom. I also grew up in upstate NY (Saranac Lake) I now live in Easthampton, MA and my best friend lives in Hatfield, MA and I love to cook thats how I happened upon your site. I too hope you find peace in your memories.

  4. I'm so grateful for your comments. You are exactly the reader I'm hoping to reach, the one who feels that universal connection and a common thread even though we've never met. There are a lot of us out there living fairly parallel lives! Hope you come back and read more, often!