Nothing says as much about classic Americana (as in the culture found in the south, the midwest, etc. as opposed to New York-New England or California) as the Church Fundraiser Cookbook. Often a gift from a grandmother, who was on the committee that helped raise funds to publish the books to sell, these are full of recipes that we all know by heart without needing a cookbook. But I love them.
I was up to visit Kat of 3 Bedroom Bungalow again yesterday, and discovered that she had a few of these classic cookbooks, including a brand new arrival. I sat down to page through, and was immediately carried back to a totally different time and place. It does not appear to matter much that Kat and I are from different parts of the US, and that the places of our birth were separated by well over a thousand miles. The recipes are almost all the same.
Now what’s amusing about these recipes is the set of ingredients thus contained. Most of them have been designed for pantry staples, and in a few cases freezer staples. But they admittedly do not rely much on fresh produce, which I admit I did not see much of (aside from lettuce leaves) until I was an adult. But to me, that’s okay. And to the visiting Brit who wants to complain about the “convenience” foods that make up a large proportion of the ingredients list: at least these dishes were assembled at home, in the kitchen, by mom or dad or grandma or grandpa. Yes they may have some shortcuts and some ingredients you’re not used to, but I still would rather have this than a pre-packaged sandwich or an M&S microwavable meal.
I’ll not bother with methods or amounts, just ingredients. See if any of these ring a bell.
- Mexican Bean Dip: refried beans, taco seasoning, cream cheese, shredded cheddar. (Add green onions in the more sophisticated version, as well as perhaps jalapenos, ground beef fried with onions and even salsa or taco sauce)
- Fruit dip: vanilla, sour cream, cream cheese, sugar
- “Salad”: pistachio pudding, cool whip, canned crushed pineapple, pecans, marshmallows
- Soup: cream of mushroom soup, frozen broccoli, velveeta
- Casserole: ground beef, onions, cream of celery soup, canned corn, tater tots
- Dessert: jello, fruit cocktail, cool whip, cottage cheese
- Wreath: crescent rolls, cream cheese, diced ham, diced bell peppers, broccoli florets (fresh produce!)
- pigs in blankets: crescent rolls, sausages
I could go on for days. Really, I could: whole cookbooks worth. But I think you get the drift. Simple, semi-homemade foods. Mostly originally from recipe books published by people like Jell-O and Pillsbury. American classics.