April 22, 2009

House of Tater Tots

I don't recall eating very many Tater Tots when I was a child. Perhaps I've just blocked the memory. Or, perhaps my Mom didn't have a copy of the Ore-Ida Generation Gap Gourmet (not dated, 16 pages) recipe booklet. This booklet looks like it may have been published in the 1970s, so it's also possible I was already in charge of my own meal planning, (in which Tater Tots played no part).

This is a cute little die-cut cookbook with the cover in the shape of a house. A good-sized house at that. The booklet cover measures approximately 7 x 11 inches, although the pages inside are only 5-1/2 x 7 inches. It's illustrated inside with the same cute cartoon-type drawings found on the outside. The booklet is subtitled "Ore-Ida's Guide to Foods That Turn Offspring On".

I have eaten my share of frozen french fries, however, and a goodly amount of frozen hash brown potatoes too. But they didn't involve recipes. Insert potatoes in pan of hot oil and fry. Who needs a recipe for that?

An ex-sister-in-law (who could cook decently, if nothing else) used to fix a casserole made with sour cream, cheese and frozen hash browns for family get-togethers. I remember that as being pretty good, although I've not had it since she disappeared from our lives many years ago. It seems she took her recipes right along with my grandmother's quilt when she left.

The front half of the booklet is aimed at providing parents with tips and information on teaching their children to eat right. How this fits in with Ore-Ida frozen potatoes that must be deep fried before serving, I'm not sure. They mysteriously don't mention anything about this.

Remember the post I did some time ago about the Meat Loaf Train? Food in the shape of trains must have been a popular way to win over children who were fussy eaters. This booklet has a train too. A Tater Train. It's made out of Ore-Ida Shredded Hash Browns and ground beef and stewed tomatoes. Unfortunately, there's not a color picture so we can compare the finished Ore-Ida Tater Train to the Worcestershire Sauce Meat Loaf Train.

Here's a potatoe casserole recipe found inside this booklet:


3-1/2 to 4 cups frozen Ore-Ida Cottage Fries
1/2 cup frozen Ore-Ida Chopped Onions
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil an 8-inch square baking dish. In covered skillet over medium heat (350 degrees), cook Cottage Fries and onions in broth until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. In medium bowl, toss cheese, flour, salt, pepper, dry mustard and cayenne pepper. Arrange half of potato mixture in bottom of baking dish, top with half of cheese mixture; repeat these two layers. Sprinkle with paprika and dot with butter. Bake 35 mintues. Makes 4 servings.

The last page tells some of the different frozen potato products that Ore-Ida was producing when this booklet was published. There were three varieties of Tater Tots--Plain, With Bacon and With Onion). Pixie Crinkles, Golden Crinkles, Dinner Fries, Cottage Fries and Golden Fries. Shoestrings. Potatoes O'Brien, Whole Peeled Potatoes. Shredded Hash Browns. Southern Style Hash Browns. Country Style Dinner Fries.

The selection back then was as overwhelming as it is now.


At 7:04 AM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Same here - no tater tots growing up. I am intriqued by the idea of a hash brown casserole, though. While I like breakfast potatoes, the fried, shredded potatoes are the best!

At 5:49 PM CDT, Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

We never had Tater Tots when I was growing up, either. Don't know if it was my mother's way of trying to keep us healthy, or whether she simply didn't know how to cook them!

At 4:17 AM CDT, Blogger Rochelle R. said...

That is a cute book. I think tater tot casserole is a well known dish. The recipe shows up in lots of community cookbooks. My late friend used to make it often for her family. Some times I have them with fish sticks. Not a very high class meal :)

At 5:57 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - I wonder if the casserole would taste as good as I remember or if it would seem too rich now. I think it was much better than the one they serve at Cracker Barrels restaurants.

Lydia - I often wish my Mom were still around so I could ask her why she didn't serve this or that.

Rochelle - Yes, the recipe's a favorite in the community cookbooks. Re: High class meals--at my house I'm still occasionally serving Salmon Patties, canned peas and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. ;-)

At 8:41 AM CDT, Blogger P-Dot said...

Not sure if they even had Tater Tots when I was growing up but they wouldn't have been served. Only really healthy food was ever put on the table.
Now my table, totally different thing. I have cooked with Tater Tots for years. They were a special treat for my 4 boys while growing up. I had a Firehouse Casserole recipe that was topped with them.
And BTW I still make the hash browns and sour cream for meals with meat like ham because I make awful scalloped potatoes.
So there is another one of my deep dark secrets revealed.....

At 11:27 AM CDT, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

OMG I must! have that book. Not for the tater tots or the recipes for that matter just because I so LOVE die-cut booklets. I've never seen that one before Kathy! You lucky girl:)

I've never had a tater tot in my life. Oh yes, I've seen them quite often. They just look so...totty!

Thanks for sharing, now I must check out the train book.

At 3:45 PM CDT, Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Hi Kathy,
Just wanted to give you a "heads up" on a post I'm doing tomorrow (May 4th) It's going to include a free cookbook give-away. I can't say much about the book yet but I think you will like it. It's not a food company book however, it is peppered with history and newly published.

At 6:01 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

Thanks Louise! I will check it out.


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