Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cook Book Returns Again: The Sequel's Sequel

The title of today's cook book has been featured three times already, and even the exact same cover has been featured once before.

You know that means it's time for another little regional cookbook with weird recipes from a church or women's club.

This time, Cook Book: Favorite Recipes from Our Best Cooks (ca. 1979) is from the United Methodist Women of Worthington United Methodist Church.

They offer the kinds of recipes that made me dread church potlucks as a kid. Few things are more terrifying than being cornered by an old lady with a gleam in her eye, handed a plate full of unidentified foodstuffs, and implored to try and guess what she's force feeding you.

If you guessed raspberry Jell-O full of stewed tomatoes and topped with horseradish sour cream, you were correct (but having to eat the damn stuff made you a loser regardless of your guessing ability).

It also has some of the potluck offerings that may have seemed benign at first glance, then made you regret wasting plate space if you actually tried it....

Reading this, I thought Pineapple Cheese Ball would be one of those dessert cheese balls that comes surrounded with graham crackers or wafer cookies. Yum! Then I saw the green pepper and minced onion, and realized I was mistaken. This would have been surrounded with Ritz crackers and presented as a savory cheese ball, and then I would have been grossed out by the pineapple bits inside, the way I was when I accidentally tried a bit of pineapple pizza. I love cheese balls, and this could have been great if it chose the sweet OR savory route, but this version... well... it's very vintage.

There was one trend I could get behind as a kid forced to attend church potlucks.

Honestly, I liked plain old broccoli just fine as a kid, but still... There's not much better than getting to be self-righteous when mom asks if you got some vegetables by pointing out that big mound of broccoli. Never mind that it's so coated in margarine (or maybe butter if you're lucky!), cheese, and Ritz crackers that the green is barely visible. It's still broccoli, right?

One other thing I love about this book is the old-fashioned, make-do notes in it. I'm no fan of pickles (well, except for one very violent pickle), but the notes for this recipe make me love it anyway:

"May be frozen in regular freezer containers or inexpensively in cottage cheese containers or margarine tubs." That just makes me smile, remembering rummaging through grandma's fridge and never knowing what might be in the cottage cheese tub. Maybe cottage cheese. Maybe fresh carrot or bell pepper sticks. Maybe the remains of some green beans that she's reheated three times already and is still trying to finish off.

You want them? She'll heat them up right now! It would be really nice to get them out of the fridge! (This is the cue to make your exit...)


  1. Freezer pickles! We found a winner in the creatively named "Cook Book". In my family, we used ricotta containers for leftovers. I'm going to be smiling all day!

    1. You must have been fancy with your ricotta instead of cottage cheese! :-)

  2. I always wonder why people chose the recipes they submitted to these cookbooks. For example, I'd be surprised if the "try and guess salad" EVER got a single compliment. And yet, Hazel chose it for the book. Was she attempting to start a food trend (that was doomed from the beginning)? Or did she have an awesome sense of humor and took pleasure in imagining that someone, somewhere, would be persuaded to taste that "salad".

    1. I suspect Hazel just loved feeling tricky because she couldn't find anyone to guess correctly. It never occurred to her that nobody ever said anything GOOD about the salad because she was so focused on whether they could figure out what it was. I like your idea about her having a wicked sense of humor much better, though!

  3. Green beans only reheated 3 times. Last time I went to grandma's house there was greasy, gray fried zucchini with cheese that she kept trying to pawn off on me. It had to have made more than 3 trips through the microwave by the time I saw it... Of course she has her own version of try and guess salad which is why I come armed with a bag of groceries when I visit.

    1. That is the only way to visit! Of course, being veg helps since she has no idea what to do with that. She's relieved not to have to think of anything.