Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thrifty Acres - Community Cookbooks

Hello! I'm a sucker for community cookbooks (in case you're not familiar with the term, it's used to describe the fundraiser-type cookbooks put out by churches, service clubs, PTO's and other organizations). These cookbooks are easily found at garage sales, thrift stores and used books sales like the one the local AAUW chapter had last month. They are usually very cheap. I've paid as little as a dime or less for such cookbooks, and no more than a dollar. 

No matter what the cost, I'm choosy about the dates of these volumes. Any older than the 1950's, the recipes tend to be too vague to follow. Any newer than the early 1980's, the cookbooks start to look too slick. 

One main disadvantage of these cookbooks is that the recipes are often repetitive, and there are whole sections whose recipes sound amazingly bad. It sometimes seems that there had been contests going on to see who could put the most weird ingredients in a casserole or jello mold! 

Nevertheless, there are often real gems as well. One of my husband's favorite muffin recipes came from one such cookbook, and the deep dish pizza that I make as an occasional treat came from another community cookbook. So I will continue to snap these up as I find them. 

Now, I'll highlight a couple of recent cookbook finds:

Being a church cookbook, it wasn't surprising that there were some large-scale recipes, like the one that yielded 15 coffeecakes. I wondered if such recipes had been used for fundraising meals at the church. 

I've never been to North Dakota and had certainly never heard of Monango. It wasn't listed in our Rand McNally road atlas, so I turned to the Internet. Learned that Monango is in southeastern North Dakota - and as of the 2010 census, has a population of 36. That's actually an improvement from the 200 census, when the town only had 28 people. 

Thus, I wondered if the church has much need now for large-scale recipes - or if the church is even still open. Made me a little sad. Nevertheless, it was an interesting cookbook, for there were a couple of things about it that I hadn't noticed in other cookbooks. For example, a few of the recipe submitters had included their home addresses underneath their names. I surmised that these ladies had moved away from Monango but wanted to stay in touch with the folks there. But I've never seen another community cookbook that included one's home address!

The chapter on German cooking caught my eye as well, as it included a number of recipes I wasn't familiar with, like "stirum" (a sort of fried dumpling, it appears) and "blachinda" (or "blagenda"; both refer to a baked pastry with a pumpkin filling). Guess it goes to show that I don't know that much about German cooking. 

This cookbook, alas, suffers from some bad line drawings that delineate the chapters, such as:

I get that the drawing is supposed to depict tomatoes and a head of lettuce (or cabbage,perhaps) - but what are those weird shapes with x's drawn in them supposed to be? And this is one of the better drawings in the cookbook!

From North Dakota, we go to the East Coast:

These are your "favorite hometown recipes" if you're from Frederick, MD. The cookbook was produced by the Ladies' Committee of the Frederick Elks Lodge 684. Given the coastal location, there are a number of mouthwatering crab recipes. Some of the gentlement of the Elks also contributed recipes as well.

And if you look at the top left side of the photo, you can see my bookmark sticking up. That's to mark the page the recipe for Peanut Butter Penuche is found; I want to try it sometime. You see, when I was a kid the mom of the twins in my class always made a delicious peanut butter fudge for classroom parties. As an adult I've looked for recipes that would replicate that candy. I've tried one for peanut butter fudge that comes close and is easy to boot, but it always seems to set up a little dry in texture. My classmate's mom's peanut butter fudge didn't have that dry texture. Thus, the bookmark. 

I have more community cookbooks to show off - perhaps in my next post!



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