Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Remember Community Cookbooks?


If you grew up in a small town like I did, you'll most likely be familiar with the homey spiral-bound cookbooks put out by local church groups, garden clubs, etc., usually in an effort to raise money for their organization. These cookbooks would consist of favorite recipes gathered from members or their friends and family. Chances are, your mother has one or two kicking around the house. Maybe you do too. The thing about the recipes in these cookbooks is that you can really find some gems, especially in the cakes and pastries area.

Why I bring this up is because I was browsing through cookbooks on ebay recently and stumbled upon a motherload of these community cookbooks. I acquired 9 of them in a lot for under $20. Score! They were delivered yesterday and I have to say it was great fun flipping through the different books. Most of the books were published in the 70s. This made me nostalgic for my childhood when I first learned to cook, standing at the sink watching my mother work her magic. Among other things, I was always amazed at how she could peel an entire apple without breaking the peel. I still can't do that.

Below are the names of some of the books I acquired. Some amusing titles. As you can see, it was hip to publish these in the 1970s. Most of them were typeset on a typewriter! Can you imagine?! It does seem that people are still publishing these types of cookbooks but not nearly as much which may be attributed to the fact that being a homemaker and making meals at home became less cool in the 80s. More people were going out to dinner or making meals from stuff in a box. It seems to me that while going out to eat is hotter than it's ever been, people more than ever are into having a nice homemade dinner at home with friends (or maybe I'm just getting old). All I know is whenever I say I'm cooking, it's never hard to find guests. Maybe these cookbooks will come back. I think they should. Everyone has at least one great recipe. Why not share it?

Lynne's Old/New Community Cookbook Acquisitions:
"Our Favorite Recipes: Women's Christian Temperance Union Southeast Division" (not to be confused with the Northeast Division LOL), no copyright
"Sweet Things and Such...from the Land of the Pennsylvania Dutch," copyright 1979
"More of Our Favorite Recipes. Island of Maui," copyright 1973
"Cooking with the Women of Moose - Elizabethtown, PA," no copyright
"Portland Symphony Cookbook," copyright 1974
"Miriam B. Loo's Family Favorites Cookbook," copyright 1977
"Library of Recipes: Presented by The Friends of The Village Library of Morgantown," copyright 1996
"Community Favorites: Strasburg Township Crime Watch," copyright 1978
"Quaker Flavors: A Cookbook by Willistown Friends Meeting, Chester County, PA," copyright 1976

There were many similarities in these cookbooks (doesn't everyone have a cheeseball recipe?). But what was really interesting was finding the unusual ones which seem to be a result of where the participants lived and/or their ethnic or religious backgrounds or influences. Below are a few that stood out as "blogworthy." Although I haven't tried them, I intend to and will report back. If you try any of them, please let me know how they turned out!

Top of Stove Cookies,
Recipe provided by Sarah Moore, Gainesville, GA in "Our Favorite Recipes: Women's Christian Temperance Union Southeast Division"

Ingredients:
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1 stick margarine
2 tbsp. cocoa
2 tbsp. peanut butter
3 cups raw quick oatmeal

These instructions are hilarious!

In large frying pan, pour milk, sugar, margarine, cocoa and peanut butter. Cook until this is boiling. Now time 1 minute or count to 60 as you stir. This is what I do. Remove from stove. Add raw quick oatmeal and stir until all oats are covered with fudge. I simply oil the top of the counter with margarine paper from stick. With 2 spoons, dip with 1 and scrape off with other. Do not make scoops too large. When cool, slip spatula under each one to remove. Oats taste like coconut.

Crabies
Recipe from "Community Favorites: Strasburg Township Crime Watch"
This is a CLASSIC cheesy 70s app. LOVE it. This is a great Super Bowl snack.

Ingredients:
1/4 lb. margarine, soften (you know it's a 70s recipe when it calls for margarine. i'm sure butter would work too).
1 jar Kraft Old English cheese spread
1 1/2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. frozen or imitation crab meat
6 English muffins, split

Mix together all ingredients except muffins until smooth. Then spread cheese mixture on muffins. Quarter muffins after cheese is on. Put on cookie tray and freeze until firm. Broil frozen until cheese is melted.

Misty Meadow Cheese Soufflé,
Recipe provided by Faith J. Hidell in "Quaker Favorites"
(This one seems a bit more ambitious but fun for a special occasion.)

Ingredients:
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/16 tsp. paprika
1/4 lb. sharp cheese
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Scald milk. Melt butter in top of double boiler, stir in flour smoothly. Add hot milk, salt, pepper, paprika and soda. Stir sauce until melted and smooth. Remove from hot water - let stand for 30 minutes. Beat egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Beat egg whites until stiff. Beat yolks into cheese mixture, then fold into egg whites. Pour into ungreased 1-1/2 qt. soufflé dish or heavy casserole dish. Bake and do not open oven door while soufflé is baking.

I stumbled on this little quote below the recipe. Good Stuff:
Quaker husband to wife: "All the world is queer except thee and me, and sometimes I wonder about thee."

And now for something a little more exotic. I've had the following dish at Dim Sum before. Very tasty. Not sure where to get the taro (a root vegetable) but I'm sure I'll track it down. Probably most of this stuff can be found at an Asian Market.

Taro Cakes
Recipe from ""More of Our Favorite Recipes. Island of Maui"

Ingredients:
2 cups diced taro (1/2 inch cubes)
1/2 up chopped dried shrimp
1/2 cup cooked diced pork
1/4 cup finely diced ham
1/2 cup chopped green onions (aka scallions)
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
3/4 cup water
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. scrambled egg

Fry taro cubes in two tablespoons of oil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Combine flour and water to form a paste.
Add all ingredients including taro to the paste mixture.
Grease an eight-inch cake pan and spread mixture in pan. Place in a steamer and steam for 25 minutes.
Garnish with sesame seeds and shredded scrambled egg.


Hope you found these recipes interesting. Next time you think of it, I highly recommend scouring your mom's house or your own bookshelf. I bet you'll find one or two of these great books. Let me know if you find and test out any of the recipes.

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