Country Kitchen: Menus From the General Store

Country Kitchen: Menus From the General Store

By Mary Emma Allen

As I sorted through mementos my mom had saved, I came across a number of posters containing menus for her general store. For many years, Mother operated a small country store and tried various methods of promoting her products.

After I began writing the "Country Kitchen" newspaper column, she suggested I provide her with weekly menu posters. (She'd been clipping and tacking my columns on a bulletin board, which caught the attention of her customers.)

Menu Posters

My posters (actually sheets of 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper which she tacked to the bulletin board) contained a menu on one sheet and a recipe for one of those items on another. We tried to use foods that Mother had in her store and may have placed on sale that week.

In this country general store, Mother carried the usually groceries, along with hand dipped ice cream, meat to cut and slice, cheese in a wheel we cut into wedges, and fresh baked goods. For different seasons throughout the year, for holidays and special celebrations, she urged me to compile menus and recipes appropriate for the occasion.

I also illustrated the posters. This was before the days of computers and print programs so my lettering and drawings were done by hand. If one of my "Country Kitchen" columns, which ran in the local newspaper, was on the same topic, Mother posted it on the bulletin board, too.

Sometimes she did this on a regular basis and other times it was intermittent. Mother had a busy schedule and I was living half way across the country.

When I saw a few menus and recipes among her accumulated papers, it brought these memories flooding back and reminded me of Mother's country store days.

Sample Menus

For instance, a menu for Easter dinner might be: Baked ham with pineapple glaze, scalloped potatoes, creamed onions, steamed asparagus, tossed salad, with Easter egg cake for dessert. Then I might provide the recipe for Easter egg cake with directions for making a basket decoration and candy eggs on top.

Mother would run specials on ham, canned pineapple, asparagus, and perhaps some other items.

An idea for a busy day meal was: Meat loaf with stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, cole slaw with fruited jello and cookies for dessert. There might be a recipe for meat loaf accompanying this menu.

The specials for the week could be ground beef, stuffing mix, and cookies.

Here's a recipe for BAKED or BUSY DAY HAMBURGERS from the family cookbook. In a bowl, mix together 1 pound ground beef, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 1/4 cup finely chopped onion (if desired), 1/3 cup uncooked rolled oats, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper. (Add more milk if mixture is too stiff.)

Spread the mixture in a greased 9 x 5-inch baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees F. until top is brown and meat done, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into pieces. Serve on buns as you would hamburgers. Or serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

(C) 2003 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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