A Collection From the Past – The Church Cookbook

It’s a walk down memory lane for me. 

Fifty pages of print held together with black plastic spiral binding lay before me.

Years of use helped release its front cover from the “hinges” of page fellowship. But that didn’t prune any value from its worth. Even without its glossy outer cloak, the collection still contained an unforgettable treasury for this born-of-the-prairie girl.

This epistle of community history served as a potpourri of pages of which sheets of paper did not hold words about fancy vacations or notable awards. Nor did the black font contain reminiscing of special celebrated childhood occasions.

Dear Readers, the flashback to my childhood days included people–more notably women—neighborhood women whose responsibility was to care for their home and family.

Today’s baking chat focuses on their humble contributions to our village church cookbook and the personal rewards it must have brought to each lady of the Menoken Methodist Church.

The High Accolade of Baking

One might say that the celebrated digest’s entries of ingredients and mixing methods were given to this compendium as special gifts from the heart. At a time when homemaking was not rewarded for the high accolades it deserved, the achievement of knowing that one’s cooking and baking skills were worthy of publication had to have been a “busting-my-buttons” moment. Let the glowing spotlight shine on each lady!

Take, for example, Peggy Owen’s recipe for Devils Food Cake. What a gift to the community when that recipe was included in the cookbook! To the delight of all, her hallmark recipe had been baked and brought to most community dances, programs, and potlucks. My mouth still waters at the mention of it!

Mrs. Anderson’s Sour Cream Frosting conjures a rich decadent topping on Mrs. Lux’s Super White Cake. Don’t forget the sprinkling of English walnuts on top!

Noticeably were multiple recipe contributions of Mrs. J.C. Pfeiffer—my mom. She selflessly provided numerous pie, cake, and candy recipes that received high accolades whenever they were made! My personal favorite, Dear Readers—Caramel Frosting, but only when Mom would spread it over the top of a freshly-baked “Peggy” chocolate cake! Mmmm, our house smelled divinely!

A Great Catch

Perhaps, you noticed how women identified themselves over 60 years ago. In contrast to a woman of the 21st Century, women of that era proudly signed their names as “Mrs.” Certainly, what cooking and baking acclaim was achieved by each “Mrs.” in the community gave honor to the “Mr.” of the family for his great “catch” of a skilled wife.

The names Poor Man’s Cake, Crumb Pie, and Eggless Milkless Butterless Cake each tell a story of a homemaker’s culinary creativity that was necessary to meet the challenge of making more out of less.

My church cookbook could have been assembled as a fundraiser. I cannot remember. More than likely, it was.

However, what I do remember, Dear Readers, is that this little village church planted within our farming community united the people. We worshipped together on Sundays while lifting our voices to sing the hymns of old. Friends and neighbors taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, cooked and served church suppers, and made cosmetic improvements to weather-worn shingles and blistering painted boards of the steepled ediface.

My walk down memory lane was inspired by a long-ago published church cookbook. And yet, the words within this book would only have been letters on pages without the faces and recollections associated with each recipe.

Those with the title of “Mrs.” as identified within its pages are not alive today. That’s why my torn and tattered keepsake is cherished.

Perhaps, for one reason or another, you have a favorite church cookbook that takes you into the land of reminisce. Enjoy the journey, Dear Readers!

It goes without saying that a cookbook is a collection of recipes. However, the Menoken Methodist Church Cookbook went beyond the norm by including this note of inspiritment: “REMEMBER—The church needs you and you need the church EVERY SUNDAY.”

NiNi