When I was a kid we were poor. Like welfare, food stamps, free school lunches poor. I am not ashamed of this, it helped form the self-reliant and frugal person I am today.
I remember standing in line with my mother for assistance and noting that the other women and children in line did not look much like me but that was more observation than shame (Oakland CA, where we lived in the early 1970’s was predominantly African American). I remember my mom using food stamps when they were still paper coupons and not a plastic card, and shopping at the “Dented Can Store” when you could get 10 cans of corn for a dollar and who cared if they were dented? School lunch tickets were my normal.
Again, it was all ok with me because my mom was a really good cook and most of the time we ate well. There were exceptions; I still loathe liver and onions, and I remember many a beef stew that was more vegetables than meat (as a 6-year old I was mortally offended by turnips). I am fortunate in that I never went hungry as too many children still do.
One of the frequent dishes in my mother’s repertoire was a dish she called “Good Crud”. It’s a cross between a chili and a hamburger casserole and it’s both delicious and easy on the wallet. My mother never met a recipe she didn’t alter and this was no exception. The original was given to her by my father’s mother in the ’60s, name and all. It became a staple in our house. But the name still makes me cringe with embarrassment in a way the food stamps never did.
When I moved away to college, the recipe for Good Crud was in my little 3×5 index card box along with all the others I’d written down, and I made it often, much to the delight of my roommates, my boyfriend, and even his roommates. But I never wanted to call it by it’s given name and would offer it up with a quick, “Here, eat this…hamburger-corn-bean thingy…“, thrusting a steaming bowl into their hands.
I haven’t made this for a while but recently found myself with some leftover sauteed corn kernels and the rest of the ingredients on hand. It’s not hard to keep what you need for this dish in your pantry and freezer. Granted, today’s ingredients are a bit updated, but the hearty goodness in a bowl has not changed. It’s also still a frugal dish; I calculate the cost at under $1.50 a portion and that’s with some organic ingredients from places like Costco (for the ground beef) and Trader Joe’s (organic tomatoes, beans, fire-roasted corn, etc). If you shop the sales at any regular supermarket it could be less.
Nor has my embarrassment over the name changed with the years. I still found myself saying to my husband “I’m making this hamburger corn thing for dinner” and he said, “oh, you mean Good Crud?” Sigh. Yes, he was the boyfriend in college and remembers it well.
With a deep breath, I’m saying it loud and proud, here is the recipe for my mother’s Good Crud.
((whispers)) But if you have a better name suggestion, I’m all ears.
Heat a 4-6 quart soup pot and add the ground beef. Break it apart so that it starts to cook.
Add the diced onions and cook until the onions are soft. Add the minced garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
Stir in the can of diced tomatoes and then add the kidney beans and corn. Stir in the water.
Mix in the chili powder, cumin and BBQ sauce and bring to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Or, if the pot and lid are oven safe, place in 350 degree oven and cook.
Taste and adjust seasoning and salt prior to serving.
*Addition to original recipe.**Change to original recipe. For the corn, I changed from canned to frozen kernels, specifically a fire roasted kind they sell at Trader Joe's which are really flavorful and sweet with a bit of char.I think this dish would also work well in a crock pot, though I have not tried it.