Even at a young age I was drawn to the pages of a cookbook. My mother had several but the one I loved best was a huge book that must have had close to 600 or more pages It was called the Homemakers' Cookbook and Guide to Nutrition (click the link to see pictures of the pages and cover) and I never tired looking though its pages. The foods looked so elegant and I suppose strange to what my mother normally put on our plates. It was published around 1946 a few years before I was born, but to me it was an old book; anything from the 1940s was ancient to me.
My fascination with the book never waned and, as an adult, whenever I was at Mom's apartment for more than an hour I'd look for the cookbook and start browsing through it well-known pages. I'd sit and re-read the recipes I'd read dozens of times, look at the pictures and read the nutrition section noting the differences in what was nutritionally acceptable then and now. Every now and then I'd copy a recipe that I'd like to try but over the years most of those disappeared as well.
I always wanted the book but never took it like some of the other cookbooks. Maybe, because of its size I thought it would have been more like theft if I took it. Of course Mom would have let me have it but I never asked. But I wish I had taken that book because it's now gone forever (unless my sister took it). No, she didn't take it, just kidding. I may have to buy one I saw on Amazon or Ebay, unless someone wants to give it to me for my birthday. ☺
This Pecan Loaf is one of the surviving recipes I copied from the book but never tried it until today. The original recipe said, "Beat eggs. Mix all ingredients together. Bake in loaf pan 45 minutes." Or that's how I shortened the directions when I scribbled out the recipe. I decided to sauté the celery and onions to soften before mixing them with the other ingredients because in my experience onions and especially celery can be almost as crunchy cooked as raw and in this roast they should be cooked. And as the recipe calls for 3 cups of milk I knew the bread crumbs needed to be almost bone dry to absorb all that liquid so I used stale bread to make the crumbs. I also further dried the crumbs in a warm oven. Actually, I would first start with 2½ cups of milk as this is sufficient unless the bread crumbs are rock hard.
When warm, this loaf is very soft and custard-like in texture but tasty with the celery flavour. When cold, the loaf slices nicely for sandwiches.
2 cups finely chopped celery
1 small onion, chopped
¼ cup melted butter or oil
1 cup finely chopped pecans
2 cups very dry whole wheat bread crumbs
¼ cup chopped parsley, fresh or freeze dried
2½-3 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon savoury or Italian seasoning (my addition)
½ teaspoon hamburger or steak spice, to taste according to how much salt has been used (my addition)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pan spray or grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan or 8x11½-inch baking dish. If you would like to serve the loaf out of the pan, line with parchment paper so it will easily remove to your serving platter.
Over medium heat, sauté chopped celery and onion in the butter or oil until soft. Let cool. In a large bowl beat eggs. Add the sautéed celery and onion and all remaining ingredients. Start with using 2½ cups milk as you don't want the mixture too sloppy. Let sit several minutes to let the ingredients absorb some of the liquid. Pour in the prepared pan. It will be very full so if you wish you may use two smaller pans.
Bake the 8x11½ -inch pan 45 minutes or until set and golden brown. The loaf pan may take as long as 1 hour.
Sauté the celery and onions in the oil or butter until softened.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. To the beaten eggs, add the sautéed vegetables and all remaining ingredients. Remember to use only 2½ cups of milk and then add more if needed.
As you can see the mixture is quite wet. Let it sit a few minutes so the crumbs can soak up some of the liquid.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for at least 45 minutes. As you can see I've put some of the mixture in a small loaf pan.
Bake the Pecan Dinner Loaf until set and golden brown.
Serve the Pecan Dinner Loaf with mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables.
Tasty and delicious!