Tom and I can never say “no” to a food challenge. If you dare us to eat that chocolate-covered grasshopper, we eat it. If you tell us we can’t finish that sandwich, we finish it. And if you send us a crazy vintage recipe, we make it.
No one knows this better than Mimi from 1972: The Retro WW Experiment, Yinzerella from Dinner is Served 1972, Erica from Retro Recipe Attempts and Brian from Caker Cooking. When they sent me an email asking if Tom and I wanted to be part of a cookbook challenge, our answer wasn’t just “Yes”, it was “Why haven’t you sent us a recipe already?”
The theme of this challenge is one that I was really excited about. The name of the game this time around was Church Lady Casserole Challenge and I couldn’t have been happier. Especially because it didn’t have any gelatin in it. I’ve about had it with gelatin, thank you very much.
So, the Church Lady recipes were submitted. Numbers were drawn. Assignments were given. And it was time to start cooking.
And it turned out that we had Erica to thank for the recipe we were sent: Sausage Apple Noodle Casserole.
This lovely thing is from Festival ’77 Garden of Eatin’ (the Parish Cookbook of the by Church of the Ascension, Virginia Beach VA), and was written/contributed by Georgia Perron. Erica was especially taken by the way Eve is depicted giving Adam an apple pie on the cover of this book. Charming.
Well, this time we aren’t frying up a bunch of liver and then pulverizing it in a blender, so we really don’t have much to talk about.
Except one thing.
What exactly is a Church Lady Cookbook?
They are, quite simply, the compilation cookbooks put out by churches, schools and organizations everywhere. They are simple, usually contain no or very few photos, and are sold for charity purposes. The recipes in these cookbooks are sent in by members of the church (Or school. Or organization.) and are usually typed (with a typewriter) but can also be handwritten. They are divided into simple categories, usually without an index, and bound with a spiral or stapled together.
They are also some of the best cookbooks out there.
If you think about it, no one was about to send in a recipe they thought was less than stellar for their entry into their church’s cookbook. Oh no. A compilation cookbook was a homemaker’s time to shine. A lot of the time the recipe titles are things like, “My Best Meatloaf” or “Edna Perkin’s Famous Chocolate Cake.” This was not the time for Edna Perkins to use her second best cake. She was going to send her absolute best cake. The famous cake. The one that is going to sell cookbooks.
More than likely, Georgia Perron submitted this casserole because her husband and children liked it the best, or because she got the most compliments on it when she served it for bridge club, or because she would regularly bring this casserole over to sick or mourning households.
Compilation cookbooks are a great way to see the culture of an area, the most popular ingredients of the time, and who was the best baker in Middle of Nowhere, Texas, 1955.
Granted, that doesn’t always mean that ALL recipes in any given compilation cookbook are actually good. Some people might have strange tastes, some people may be too dependent on the can opener, and some people, God bless them, just can NOT cook.
And now it’s time to find out if Georgia Perron can cook.
“It tastes like salt”.”
“Really? Is it bad?”
“No. It’s plain. Tastes like noodles. With salt and nutmeg on them. But not bad at all.”
The Verdict: Good
From Tom’s Tasting Notes:
Tastes like a mix of sausage, salt, egg noodles and some occasional applesauce. Actually, it really isn’t applesauce-tasting so much as it tastes like nutmeg. Bland, but not bad at all. Flavors mix well. Oddly, when we reheated this casserole it tasted like a McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin without the egg. Strange.
If you want to see what everyone else made for the challenge, be sure to head over to their blogs!