Memories and Recipes

Today I am thankful for the church cookbook from First Congregational United Church of Christ in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

This was happenstance – one of those little moments in life where you set off to do something trivial (in this case, bake pumpkin bars) and end up reliving your own past from decades ago.

We had a fellowship dinner for church on Saturday night and I was signed up to bring dessert. Since it’s Fall, what could be more appropriate than pumpkin bars? So I dug out the best recipe I have, which is from an old church cookbook that was probably published in about 1990, and made the bars.

The next morning, the cookbook was still on the counter and I started thinking about it and remembering some of the great food in its pages. I flipped through looking for a chicken recipe for dinner, and ended up finding one we always loved, a chicken and wild rice casserole. It was one of our favorites when my kids were little. (And I mean seriously little. I think this cookbook is probably older than my son).

One of the interesting things about church cookbooks is that all of the recipes are contributed by members, and they are usually family favorites. Some of  them are even named after people from the church, such as Cameron’s Favorite Goulash or Sue’s Homemade Bread. As I flipped through looking at the names of people who had submitted recipes, I was reminded about all of these people that I haven’t seen in probably two decades and yet still remember very fondly. I found myself wondering what ever happened to them, hoping they are happy and healthy, and realizing that some of the older folks are probably either very senior or no longer with us. I was sad (again, 20+ years later) in reading the name of Marion Fish, remembering the day that I sang at her funeral.

It was more than just a trip down memory lane. It was a tour through my own past, and through a happy time when we were surrounded by church family and people who cared about us. You see, for all the rhetoric about what religion is or should be, for me it boils down to that – a sense of community and people who would do anything to help each other.

A friend of mine likes to say to our knitters, “You are my tribe.” She’s right, and I’m lucky to have found more than one tribe, willing to take me in, comfort me when times are bad, and rejoice with me when they’re good.

What more could I ask?

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2 thoughts on “Memories and Recipes

  1. Mom says:

    Oh, those old church cookbooks! I too have been making a few dishes from an old church cookbook. I just checked the date – Farnhamville Methodist Church – 1949! I had no idea it was printed the same year I was born. Must have been my grandmother’s.
    We used to print them when we had the print shop along with the newspapers. I have another cookbook that I bought just for the historical interest – it has depression era recipes. I don’t use it much because most of the recipes begin with “take a pound of lard.” One recipe I know I’ll never use. No matter how broke I get, I can’t see me using a recipe the explains how to roast a raccoon! Times were definitely bad during the great depression if raccoons were on the menu. Anyway thanks for the reminder – old recipes bring back memories of good time long ago.

    • mardeeknits says:

      Wow, that is cool. I have one from the Rinard Methodist Church from the late 40’s myself – we found it in the church building when we bought it. I’ll bet the newspaper probably printed that one too…it’s a whole book of nothing but family favorite cookie recipes. I should dig it out and make some for Christmas.

      As for the lard, well that still does make the best pie crusts although I usually buy mine these days. It’s just a lot easier.

      Glad you enjoyed it!

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