Tag Archives: cooking

116. Green Bean Bundles of Love (and Thanksgiving)

22 Nov

Among the many reasons I’m thankful for my sister-in-law, Karen (most important of which being my incredible nephews Tray, Luke, and Josh), green bean bundles rank pretty high on the list. Since she and my brother, Louie, married when I was fairly young, I can’t remember what all we feasted on in the years before her tasty bundles and sweet potato casserole. Except for my mom’s dressing, half oyster-laden and half without. Did I mention that Mom and Louie were the only ones who’d eat the oyster variety? Oh, don’t get me to digressing…

Green bean bundles bring together three of Southerners’ favorite spices–salt, sugar, and pig–in one delicious, bite-sized morsel. Yes, y’all, I realize some folks might not think of pig as a spice, but once they spend a day or two south of the Mason-Dixon line they’ll most likely come around. After all, it’s the secret (or not) ingredient in everything from black-eyed peas and collard greens to cornbread and pie crusts.

I should warn you that A. green bean bundles are a bitch to make and B. they make a mess you don’t even want to look at, much less clean up, but they are worth it. I promise. Don’t just take my word for it. As part of my mission to spread a little Southern hospitality around Seattle, I’ve brought them to many a Thanksgiving gathering and there are never any leftovers. Like ever, y’all.

Oh, but you might want to keep the recipe a secret, seeing as some folks might freak out about the copious amounts of butter and sugar involved. Perhaps issue a word of warning to those with sensitive arteries.

I’ll give y’all the basic recipe, but you’ll want to scale up, depending on the number of folks you’re feeding and how hungry they are. I reckon this serves about six or eight at the most.

Start with two cans of whole green beans. Not the fancy French cut kind. And not actual fresh green beans. I know, fresh green beans taste way better than their distant relatives in the can, but they just don’t work for bundles. I have tried and failed, just to save you the trouble.

Open the cans and pour out all the bean juice. I like to put the beans in a bowl, but you can pick them out of the can if you don’t want to mess up a dish.

Meanwhile, take a package of bacon (whatever kind you like) and slice the whole thing into thirds. You may be tempted to stretch it out by cutting the bacon strips into fourths, but try and resist the urge to make these less decadent. You’ll thank me later.

Line a baking dish with aluminum foil, unless you want Pyrex soaking in your sink for a week.

Now, pick up a small bundle of similar sized beans (about 4 or 5), wrap it with 1/3 a strip of bacon, and secure it with a toothpick. Place the bundle in the baking dish. Keep doing this until all the green beans and bacon are wrapped. Or until you are tired and can trick somebody else into doing the work. (You may not want to trust children under six, but by a certain point you may cease to care how they look.) Note: fit as many as you can into one baking dish. They may appear to be too crowded, but there will be shrinkage.

After you’ve got all the bundles bundled, it’s time to dress them.

Melt 3/4 stick of butter (6 tablespoons), then add 1/2 cup brown sugar, a little garlic powder and some salt and pepper. Then distribute the mixture as evenly as possible atop the bundles.

Oh, I forgot to tell you to preheat the oven to 375 degrees. So once that’s done, cover the pan with aluminum foil and pop it in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Your cooking time may vary, just be sure that the bacon is cooked through and the whole thing looks caramelized.

Many years back, my sister decided that making the bundles for our whole family was far too much trouble. She does a deconstructed version called Green Beans, Unbundled. Basically, she just takes all the ingredients, throws them in an electric skillet, and stirs occasionally till they reach maximum caramelization. This is the way to go if you’re pressed for time, or if you accidentally wind up with French-cut green beans because the person you sent to the store buys the wrong thing even though you specifically told them NOT to get the French cut kind. Hypothetically, of course.

Remember when I said y’all should resist the urge to make them less decadent? Well, you can get away with using the less fatty center cut bacon and maybe even reducing the amount of buttery, sugary sauce. However, whatever you do, don’t go and try to make them healthy.

Refrain from altering the recipe to include:
Turkey bacon (or worse, veggie!)
Splenda
Light margarine
Or heaven forbid, all of the above.

My sister once encountered this abomination at her very own Thanksgiving table. It may have been the one and only time there were left-over bundles. LOTS of left-over bundles.

My very first Thanksgiving away from home, I wanted to recreate the family feast but hadn’t a clue where to start seeing as I had previously been responsible for only the sweet potato casserole portion of the meal (thanks again for that recipe, Karen).

My mom sent me a handy Thanksgiving preparation guide, which has been indispensable over the years. Whenever I pull out the photocopied pages of her recipes and read her description about how to do the dressing and such, I can still sense her with me, as if she’s looking over my shoulder saying, “Make sure your turkey has been out of the freezer for at least two days” or “Don’t forget to toast the pecans.” Of all the things I’m thankful for–and there are far too many blessings to count–I’m glad I had my mother with me to share the first 37 years of my life. I only wish she could’ve stuck around for 37 more. If only to hear what she had to say about those “healthy” green bean bundles…

I’d like to dedicate this post to Karen’s mom, Betty Glen, who died just last week. I couldn’t thank her enough for bringing Karen into the world to become part of our crazy (but well-fed) family.

Green Bean Bundles, Karen Holloway
2 (16 oz.) cans whole green beans
1/2 cup brown sugar
Bacon
3/4 stick butter, melted
garlic powder
salt and pepper

Cut bacon strips in thirds (or half). Wrap around small bunch of green beans and secure with toothpick. Place in foil-covered pan. Make a glaze from the butter, brown sugar, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Pour over beans. Bake covered at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

115. Crisco–It’s Digestible, Y’all!

9 Nov

Surely this can’t be true, y’all. I’ve expounded on 114 topics and have yet to discuss Crisco? In my defense, I’ve lived outside the South for nearly two decades and have encountered this Dixie staple just about as often as I’ve seen folks back home wearing sweaters in July. (Not counting anybody in my sister’s house where the air-conditioner’s always set to “Arctic.”)

I’m happy to note that during my time as an expat, I’ve never once had a run-in with Crisco’s ugly step-sister, Butter-Flavored Crisco. While friends and longtime readers probably already know this, I feel I should mention that I’m vehemently opposed to butter-flavored anything that doesn’t derive said flavor from actual, made-from-cow-milk butter.

Don’t forget to add Crisco!

Oh, but I must fess up and admit that this wasn’t always the case, as evidenced by a recipe I ran across the other day. (Part of my ongoing family recipe collection project–after 10 years, I’m still in phase 1.) I found a chocolate-chip cookie recipe that called for Butter-Flavored Crisco, which I’d attributed to myself! My shock and horror was twofold: A. That I’d once considered BFC an appropriate ingredient and B. That I’d copied the recipe from someone and slapped my name on it, seeing as I “wrote” the recipe long before I started baking as a professional hobbyist.

Whoever I fed those cookies to, I apologize. My bad. My very, very bad.

But back to Crisco, regular flavor. As far as I know, Crisco mainly serves two functions in Southern kitchens: deep frying and pie-crust making. That’s why you’ll often find a photo of crispy chicken or a double-crusted pie on the can. I can see how picturing just a glob of Crisco on the label might be detrimental to sales.

White wedding:
courtesy of Crisco?

Some folks even substitute Crisco for part or all of the butter in frosting and have the nerve to call it “buttercream,” but I try not to think about such unpleasant things. I know people will argue that it looks/holds up better, so let’s just agree to disagree. When it comes to food, I choose flavor over beauty every time. And for the love of Pete (whoever he is), please don’t use clear vanilla flavoring just so the frosting will be as white as the bride’s dress. Most likely, she’s not that pristine herself. But I’m not one to gossip.

Recently, I listened to a podcast that talked about the history of Crisco (not for research or anything, just because I’m nerdy like that). Turns out that two factors greatly contributed to its invention: Sinclair Lewis and the light bulb. The popularity of Lewis’ The Jungle (an expose on the meat packing industry disguised as a novel) made folks a bit leery of lard with passages such as:

They worked in tank rooms full of steam, and in some of which there were open vats near the level of the floor…. their peculiar trouble was that they fell into the vats; and when they were fished out, there was never enough of them left to be worth exhibiting, sometimes they would be overlooked for days, till all but the bones of them had gone out to the world as Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard!

Yum! And the light bulb? Thanks to that handy invention, Procter and Gamble’s candle sales were flickering out, and they had an abundance of cottonseed oil nobody knew what to do with…

Until! A German chemist named E.C. Kayser showed up with a ball of fat he’d concocted in a lab. Yes, folks, this was the start of hydrogenation.

From Better Homes & Gardens, December 1934

After a few failed attempts at naming the product (“Krispo”–trademark issues; “Chryst”–um, maybe not, y’all), P&G settled on Crisco, an abbreviation of crystallized cottonseed oil. The ad guys knew better to tout this as some sci-fi food-like substance. “From our lab to your table!” Nope, they played off folks’ fears of accidentally ingesting uncle Bob and pushed the healthy, all-vegetable angle. Ads featured recipes and benefits galore: flakier crusts, lighter cakes, less expense, all natural, and my favorite “It’s digestible!” Really, y’all, they used that one a lot.

100 years later and folks still rely on Crisco for frying, baking, greasing up
pigs at the fair and whatnot. As Loretta Lynn told us in the 80’s “Crisco’ll do you proud every time!”

Do you use Crisco? Tub or sticks? What for? Please keep it PG, people.

Photo credits: Crisco can circa 1970 by RoadsidePictures, Flickr Creative Commons; cookie dough by Sara R, Flickr Creative Commons; wedding cake by Graceful Cake Creations, Flickr Creative Commons

105. Sausage Balls–Way Tastier Than They Sound

10 Apr

If you’ve never encountered a sausage ball in the wild, you might think of this delicacy as something one would find atop a mound of spaghetti, but you would be mistaken. A sausage ball needs no accompaniment. It’s complete in and of itself, seeing as it contains three major Southern food groups: meat, cheese, and bread.

Sausage balls couldn’t be simpler to make (unless some ingenious person comes along with a heat & serve version). After all, there are only three ingredients: sausage, cheese, and Bisquick. Even so, there’s no real consensus among Southerners as to the ratio of said ingredients. Even amongst my closest friends and family the battle lines are drawn.

Our designated sausage ball maker used to turn up with perfect sausage balls every time. (Which, consequently, is how she came to be our designated sausage ball maker. Word of caution: Refrain from bringing anything especially delicious to a party unless you have the means and motivation to bring the same dish to every subsequent party in perpetuity.)

All was well on the sausage ball front until our S.B. maker took up with someone who was firmly ensconced in the small & greasy camp. Imagine our surprise (and disappointment and complaints) when she turned up again and again with sausage balls that were practically Bisquick-free. Why, Sandy, why?

We suffered through this for years seeing as nobody else could be bothered to step up and take over. Yes, sausage ball making is relatively simple, but it requires copious touching of raw meat. Also, you’ve got to purchase a gigantic box of Bisquick (there’s no small or even medium size), which will take up precious cabinet space for months or even years. Sure, the makers of Bisquick claim that it’s multi-purpose, but I’ve rarely seen it used for anything besides sausage balls or perhaps “homemade” Red Lobster cheddar biscuits.

“But do you NEED Bisquick?” one might ask. “Couldn’t you just use flour?” Oh, no, you absolutely could not. There’s not a brand of flour on the market that contains the all-important ingredient: partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil.

As far as I know, they have yet to start selling containers of that over by the Crisco. And, no, Crisco isn’t the same thing. It’s a unique blend of oil, fully hydrogenated oil, and partially hydrogenated oil. Yum!

My sister finally caved and started making her own version of sausage balls, which through the mystery of evolution became piggies. These still contain the requisite meat, cheese, and bread, but there’s no need to come in contact with raw meat, only meat juice from the cocktail weenies. Though I’m not sure which is worse.

What do y’all think? Do you prefer sausage balls, piggies, or some other meat/cheese/bread concoction that doesn’t involve touching unpleasant food or food-like substances?

Photo credit: Sausage ball photo courtesy of Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake, one of the best-named blogs ever!

103. Banana Pudding–Over-Ripe Fruit at Its Best

3 Apr

Southern banana pudding by Evil Shenanigans

One of the perks of being the child of a Southern Baptist preacher (besides, of course, having your most embarrassing childhood antics immortalized in sermons) is that folks occasionally show up at the house with food.

I would never admit to rating congregants based on the quality and frequency of their culinary gifts. But if I were to do such a churlish thing, the winner would be Donnie of the aforementioned chicken and dumplings. First runner up in the (imaginary, y’all) savory category goes to Vicky J.’s lasagna and garlic bread. However, Vicky takes first prize in the dessert category. “There’s a dessert category?” Does bacon come from pigs? (Surely, no one will argue that bacon can also come from turkey. That’s not bacon. That’s a travesty!)

Yes! We have no bananas...

Anyhoo, Vicky breezes past the competition with her banana pudding. Those of y’all who’ve never had banana pudding may be wondering how such a dish could ever win (an imaginary!) dessert contest. There’s not even chocolate in it, and nary a nut to be found. You might think of pudding as something only old folks, hospital prisoners, and people lacking tastebuds would eat. Oh, no. You’re probably thinking of banana-flavored pudding (or more often, chocolate-flavored, still no nuts).

Banana pudding is an entirely different creature. First of all, it starts with actual bananas. Not just any old bananas (or worse, new!). They should be slightly riper than you’d like with cereal, but nowhere near banana bread territory (or smoothie for Seattle folks). The other key components are pudding and Nilla Wafers.

Pick the middle one.

What makes Vicky’s banana pudding so delectable is that she has the optimal balance of ingredients. Some folks are stingy with the wafers. Some skimp on bananas. But Vicky’s banana pudding features an abundance of everything so that every time you dip the spoon, you get pudding, banana, and wafer all at once. (Anybody who eats with me on a regular basis has likely noticed that I’m a big fan of the “perfect bite.” It takes a bit longer to eat in this persnickety manner, but it’s worth it.)

When I went down to Memphis to welcome my newest nephew, Eli, my sister gave me a very important assignment (and if y’all know Jenna, you know how fond she is of giving assignments). She had Paula Deen’s banana pudding recipe and wanted me to whip up a batch and bring it to the hospital so she wouldn’t be forced to ingest institutional chocolate-flavored pudding or worse, green-flavored Jello.

One of the steps in Mrs. Deen’s recipe is to mix together a block of cream cheese with a can of sweetened condensed milk. I was tempted to stop right there and eat the whole bowl, but I feared the wrath of my sister and thus persevered.

Rather than use the traditional Nilla Wafers, Paula goes all fancy (and spendy) using Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies. I’m not sure they’re an improvement, but my tastebuds are heavily influenced by nostalgia, so I could be wrong. I’ve also heard of banana pudding made with Nutter Butter cookies, but haven’t tried it because I’d hate to end up on A&E’s “Intervention.”

While I’d never turn up my nose at Paula’s banana pudding, I’ll note that it IS made with boxed pudding mix (though thankfully NOT banana-flavored). I’ve tried my hand at a variety of banana pudding recipes over the years and my favorites are the made-from-scratch variety. Like my PerfectBite™, homemade custard takes a little more work, but it’s worth it. The next recipe I’m trying is from Evil Shenanigans, pictured at top.

What’s your favorite banana pudding recipe? Or if you don’t cook, where’s the best place to order it?

101. Cream-of-Something Soup

27 Mar

I don’t know whether or not anyone has ever heated up Campbell’s cream-of-anything soup and actually eaten it straight. In a bowl. Maybe with some bits of saltines (or oyster crackers for the fancy folks). I, for one, have never done this. Nor have I witnessed it or even heard urban legend-ish tales about people who’ve done it. See, where I come from, cream-of-whatever soup isn’t actually soup. It’s an ingredient. I mean, you might as well dig in to a bowl of flour or down a shot glass of butter.

So how did cream-of-something soup become such a Southern staple? In a word: casseroles. I’m pretty sure casseroles existed before canned soup, but I can’t imagine how. Surely folks didn’t make homemade soup and then toss some combination of chicken and pasta or green beans and crispy onion rings into a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish to make a casserole. I mean, if you’re making homemade soup, well, wouldn’t that be considered a meal unto itself? And now that I’m thinking about it, how on earth did folks make green been casseroles before they started selling those onion rings in a can? Maybe some of my more seasoned readers can shed light on this mystery. I’d hate to have to do research, and by “research” I mean check Wikipedia.

If you’ve ever been to a dinner on the ground (or the non-denominational event known as a “potluck”), you’ve likely seen all manner of casseroles, most of which involve chicken. If there’s anything Southerners like almost as much as fried chicken, it’s casseroled chicken. But we don’t stop there. We’ll happily eat casseroled vegetables, too, as long as there’s cream-of-something soup involved (and also meat of some sort). And, of course, there are dessert casseroles, but thankfully, they’re mostly soup-free.

I can see now that the topic of casseroles is far too broad for one blog post (seeing as I was about to expound on the sweet potato casserole marshmallow vs. crunchy pecan topping dispute), so I’ll stick to discussing only those involving cream-of-something soup.

One time, a friend was telling me about one of her relatives who became quite indignant upon arriving at a potluck and discovering that someone had “stolen” her recipe for chicken and rice casserole. I said, “You mean that same chicken and rice casserole that every Southern person has known how to make since birth?” She said, “Precisely.”

For the benefit of folks who don’t have the recipe embedded in their DNA, here is my mom’s version, which she credited to one of her sisters. Apparently, providing vague directions is a genetic trait.

Chicken Dinner (Geneva)

Chicken breasts

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1 large onion, chopped

1 stick butter

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice

1 1/2 cans water

salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together and place in a large baking dish. Place chicken breasts on top and pat with butter. Bake at 325 for 3 hours.

I have made this dish many times over the years, but have yet to produce anything that tastes nearly as good as my mom’s version. It might have something to do with the vague directions or my inability to wait three hours for dinner to cook. Then again, it might have to do with all the tinkering I’ve done trying to make it healthier and/or a smaller serving size.


I do not recommend:

Using 98% fat free cream-of-something soup

Using only the cream-of-chicken soup

Using only the cream-of-chicken and cream-of-celery soup

Using skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Omitting the onion

Using only ½ a stick of butter

Adding way too much salt

The last time I made this, I followed the recipe (such as it is) exactly (except for jacking up the oven temperature to 450 or so). Still wasn’t as good as mom’s, but better than any previous attempts. And for the first time ever, I had half a casserole in the freezer. It was almost like having funeral food, except nobody had to die. Yay!

I’ll have more to say on casseroles later, but I just have to tell y’all that during my time in Seattle, I’ve attended not one, but TWO casserole potlucks. Which is two more than I’ve ever attended in the South, but I reckon that’s because at Southern potlucks there’s no need to add the word “casserole” to the invitation. It’s implied.

What’s your favorite use of cream-of-something soup?

Photo Credits:
Cream of mushroom soup ad available from Bamboo Trading, Chicken casserole from Campbell’s, Cream of chicken soup ad available from A Glass Collector.

82. Rotel Dip–Just Add Fritos

1 Mar

Seeing as this Dixie delicacy has come up in conversation here in Seattle twice in as many weeks, I reckon I’d better get to writing about it. (And folks think I’m not hip to the zeitgeist.)

The folks who make the dip’s title ingredient (diced tomatoes and green chilies in a can) call it “RO*TEL” but I don’t believe in adding asterisks to names. Also, for most Southerners the “dip” is implied, so I will stick to the vernacular and henceforth refer to the dip of cheesy goodness as simply “Rotel.”

Rotel is about the easiest dip you’ll ever make. Even my six-year-old nephew could do it, if he were allowed to cook with actual heat. For now, he is content with such concoctions as “Chocolate, Cheez-its and Applesauce Delight” or “Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Water Surprise.” What do you dip in Jackson’s dips? He recommends chocolate.

Here’s the recipe for Rotel: Take a brick of Velveeta and add a can of Rotel. Heat and serve. We also like to doctor up the dip with some ground beef or sausage (pre-cooked!!). And it’s best to make Rotel in a Crock-Pot so you can keep it warm. Cold Rotel is frightening, my friends. Just remember to turn the heat from high to low before guests arrive. There’s nothing worse than lifting a lid off the Crock-Pot to discover a crusty, burned cheese-like substance. Well, except being the one who has to clean that mess up.

With the pasta sauce!
Sure, that makes sense.

A few years ago at a Christmas party, I encountered Rotel in which the traditional Velveeta had been replaced by CREAM CHEESE. WHY didn’t I think of that? It would have saved me hours spent on grocery store scavenger hunts trying to determine where they’d stashed the Velveeta. You’d think they’d put it in the dairy case with the rest of the cheese, but I think store keepers have this sadistic need to remind folks that Velveeta is a “cheese product,” not actual cheese and therefore does not require refrigeration. Honestly, if I hadn’t grown up eating Velveeta, I don’t think I’d touch the stuff. And now, thanks to cream cheese, I don’t have to.

Ok, then, moving on to what all may be dipped in Rotel. I, myself, do not stray too far from the classic Fritos (though I prefer the newfangled “Scoops” variety, which greatly improves the dip to chip ratio). Some folks prefer tortilla chips, which are fine (just not as good as Fritos). There might even be some folks tempted to dip crudités in Rotel. But who invited them?

Potato chips and Rotel are an iffy combination. To my mind, most potato chips are too flimsy to stand up to a meaty Rotel, but could probably handle the cheese-only variety.

Whatever you do, don’t serve Rotel with Cheetos or any off-brand cheese puff. This is overkill. Also, Doritos should be avoided, if at all possible. In an emergency, you might could get away with the nacho cheese flavor, but Rotel plus “Cool Ranch” is a recipe for disaster.

Photo Credits: Rotel and Velveeta pic by Adam Kuban, Flickr Creative Commons, Velveeta in pasta aisle pic by Frazgo, Flickr Creative Commons

80. Community Cookbooks (The Braille Version of Food Porn)

26 Feb

In a world of celebrity chefs, popular food bloggers and recipe sharing sites, y’all might be surprised how many Southerners still consult rinky-dink, fund-raising cookbooks put together by their local church or community organization.

Not even the Baptists consider perusing food porn a sin, nevertheless, you will find none in the pages of these DIY spiral-bound cookbooks. What you will find is good, old-fashioned recipes handed down through generations of Southern cooks. While some folks had the good fortune to work alongside grandma, learning how to make fried chicken or caramel frosting, many Southerners (myself included) did not. With these books we can at least learn how to make SOMEbody’s grandmother’s famous chicken and dumplings.

In “Florence Favorites” compiled by folks at the First Baptist Church in Florence, MS, you’ll find recipes like:

Mama Hazel’s Texas Nut Bread
Tristin & MeMaw’s Cookies
My Mamaw’s Oatmeal Cookies
Granny’s Rolls
Aunt Eloise’s Coconut Cake

And, of course, you can’t put out a local cookbook without adding at least one of these gems:

Recipe for Happiness (Page 82, if y’all are following along)

2 heaping cups of Patience
2 handfuls of Generosity
1 heart full of Love
dash of Laughter
1 head full of Understanding

Sprinkle generously with Kindness. Add a dash of Faith. Mix ingredients well. Spread over a period of a lifetime and give large portions to everyone you meet.

Contributed by Cindy Godfrey

I think her portions might be a bit off. What Southerner only adds a dash of laughter? What Baptist only adds a dash of faith? I think Cindy should have added a caveat: Your results may vary.

The amaretto's thataway!

When my sister was flipping through the book, she noticed a page where one of the recipes had another recipe glued on top of it. Obviously, a post-printing correction. But what could have gone so wrong that every copy had to be corrected by hand? They used industrial strength glue that couldn’t be peeled off, but if you squint, you can see that “Tropical Fruit Slush” covers a recipe for “Amaretto Punch” contributed by Janie Cook, who is obviously a heathen trying to sneak demon liquor into a Baptist cookbook! The nerve!!

I love how these cookbooks have 8 or 10 recipes with minute variations for Southern staples like corn bread or pecan pie. Have they no editors? At least the Baptists filtered out the racy Southern recipes for “Better than Sex Cake” or the dessert folks call “Sin,” which turns out to be the exact recipe of the dessert my family calls “Chocolate Stuff.”

Lazy Man, take note: THIS is a peach pie!

Sometimes the recipes don’t offer much in the way of explanation, such as:

Lazy Man Peach Pie

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
milk (to form dough)

Stir peaches into dough (part of juice). Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

The person who contributed this one was indeed a Lazy Man, but I suspect he might be a Drinking Man, as well.

The original Bells Best features a section toward the back cryptically called “Men’s, Microwave.” It ranks just about “Salads” and “Vegetables.” Probably the sections are in alphabetical order, but it seems a little suspicious to me.

Best I can tell, “Men’s, Microwave” features recipes contributed by men, along with three microwave recipes that nobody could figure out what to do with (Microwave Fudge, Hamburger Vegetable Medley, and Microwave Rice).

The men’s recipes include such delicacies as: Hobo Casserole, Deer Meat Supreme, Fried Crappie, Dump Cake (which tastes better than it sounds) and, inexplicably, Quiche.

A couple of years ago at Christmas, my nephew Jackson gave me a cookbook called “A Child’s Plate” that was a fund raiser for his kindergarten. One of the main recipe contributors was my sister, Jenna, who included dishes we learned from our mom and our two wonderful sisters-in-law, Karen and Kay. I have to say that I’m proud to see our family’s recipes printed in an actual cookbook. Even if it is one of the low-rent, spiral bound kind.

Photo Credits: 1. My paltry collection of community cookbooks, 2. “Devil’s Punch Bowl” by Aura Beckhofer-Fialho, Flickr Creative Commons, 3. “First Prize Peach Pie” by Alanna Kellogg, Flickr Creative Commons, 4. The cookbook that made my family famous.

Do you have any community cookbooks on your shelf? Which ones? Do you still use them?

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