Country Kitchen: Food Memories in Community Cookbooks

Country Kitchen: Food Memories in Community Cookbooks

By Mary Emma Allen

Often we're asked to participate in cookbook projects organized by our church, a community organization, a nursing home, a literacy association, or some other group as a fund raising project. When you participate in these endeavors, you'll help your organization or cause, see your name and recipe in print, and leave memories for your family.

Recently I realized I have food memories in several community cookbooks in my collection. These books include recipes contributed by my mom, my mother-in-law, my aunt and myself, along with friends of my childhood.

It was enjoyable to see our names and recipes in print when the cookbooks were produced. However, now that my mom, aunt, and mother-in-law are no longer living, I appreciate these cookbooks for the memories they evoke.

Mother's Church Cookbook

I remember my mom's excitement when she asked me for contributions to the "1974 Poughquag Cookbook", compiled by members and friends of the church she attended. I was living halfway across the country but responded to her request with a recipe for Apple Cake.

Now as I browse through Mother's copy, well-used with stains and drops of batter, I come across names of friends from the town (Poughquag, NY) of my youth. A best friend's mother contributed recipes. She was a great cook and meals at her home were fun times.

I see a recipe of my aunt's which brings back memories of visits to her home and the family get-togethers we enjoyed there. Another lady was one of my Sunday School teachers. Her Poppy Seed Cake topped the list of my favorites at community suppers.

Parish Potpourri

My mother-in-law was thrilled when her favorite recipes appeared in the cookbook compiled by her church called "Parish Potpourri." She knew of my interest in food and cooking so gave me a copy as a Christmas gift that year.

This, too, is a treasure because of Mum's recipes. Browsing through the cookbook evokes memories of Mum's excitement at being published, stories of her friends who contributed, and new recipes she tried from the cookbook when we visited.

Nursing Home Collection

"Family Favorites Cookbook" brings back memories of my mom's days at the nursing home. Although this could have been a sad time in our lives as she journeyed through Alzheimer's, I have fond recollections of visits with my grandchildren to bring my mother happiness.

For this cookbook, recipes were collected from residents, their families, and the staff. Contributors' favorites and the stories accompanying them leave a legacy for friends and future generations of family. I felt honored when asked to write the introduction for this cookbook

If you have community cookbooks in which family members have contributed recipes, stop a moment and write down the memories connected with them. Save the cookbooks as part of your family heritage.

Try this SAUSAGE/MACARONI CASSEROLE - Cook one 8-oz. package elbow macaroni in salted water about 8 minutes; drain well. Brown 1 pound bulk sausage and drain off excess fat.

Sauté 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/2 cup green pepper strips in 2 tablespoons sausage fat. (Or spray frying pan with spray butter.) Stir in 3 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Slowly add 2 cups milk; cook over low heat, stirring until mixture has thickened. Add 1/2 the sausage and 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese. Combine this with the macaroni.

Pour into a greased casserole. Top with remaining sausage and 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 25 minutes, until heated through and top has browned.

Article (C) 2004 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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