Bet that perked y'all right up. I have an anonymous friend who was asked to design a ward cookbook. She can't write about this on her blog without recognition and scandal, so I offered to do it for her.
I don't know when ward cookbooks started, but they are awesome. Once over at Desmama's we came across this old (1920s, Desmama? I can't remember) church magazine for young women. In addition to having really incredibly odd short stories about marital angst and possibly psychoses (for teenagers? Really) it also included recipes. The "international ones" were my favorite. Like, if you added mayonaise or cabbage to something then it automatically became "German."
Nowadays most ward cookbooks include a fair amount of American LDS staples, such as:
casseroles involving much cream-of-whatever soup and cheddar cheese
that one chicken salad with the grapes that you serve on croissants
Dutch oven recipes, including the peach cobbler made with soda
Jello concoctions, which are included in the "salads" section
many rolls and breads
scones, which are actually deep-fried bits of Rhodes roll dough
tons and tons of desserts, including Better than S** Cake
a small vegetable section, which shall be mostly devoted to potatoes
that one punch made with Sprite and lime sherbet
So my friend is volunteered to put this thing together and figures, "Okay, it shouldn't be too bad." Oh, little did she know. In her words, "The head of the project handed out a style sheet to each person who volunteered to type up the recipes. It was very detailed, with the abbreviations for the ingredients and the order that things should go. Except then the typists just chose their own format. So instead of putting the person who donated the recipe after the title, they would just randomly insert that name at the end or even beside the instructions. Awesome!"
So she's spending hours reformatting all of this, people are going to pay to have this book printed, and guess what sort of recipes will be in the final product. This, friends, is where it gets amazing.
Chicken, cooked; heat in microwave
Bottled Alfredo sauce
Combine above ingredients and serve over linguine noodles.
I know, right? Who even knew it could be so easy! Except I have no idea what kind of cheese she's talking about. Cheddar? Feta?
Chicken Pot Pies
Take 2 Banquet Chicken Pies. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Add cheese, salt, pepper and enjoy.
Huh. It doesn't seem like you would need a book to tell you that. I'm pretty sure the back of the box might have served just as well.
Place equal amounts of grape jelly and BBQ sauce in a crock pot. Add little smokies. Eat and love it.
I . . . kind of want to die now.
Cook oatmeal and place in a pan. Chill. Slice and fry in oil. Serve w/ maple syrup.
Blink. Blink blink. Has anyone ever had this??? I'm dying to know about it.
Golden Rod Eggs
Butter toast and pour white sauce over. Squish or chop hard-boiled eggs over the top.
So . . . no word on how one makes a white sauce? At least the first girl was nice enough to tell you about the bottled stuff.
Now, it's not even that these recipes are bad (they are, though). A big problem is just the lack of necessary instruction, or the assumptions that everyone has all the same cooking skills or knowledge that you do. Also there's the part where one of these (frozen chicken pot pie) is not actually recipe, and another one (the chicken alfredo) doesn't really seem like the kind of thing you'd want to be featuring in a cookbook as an example of your skills.
I do think a funny entry, though, would be something like this:
Credit card or cash
Instructions: Open phone book. Using phone, dial the number for pizza delivery service of your choice. Place order, hang up. When delivery person arrives, pay with credit card, cash, and possibly coupons. Enjoy. You didn't have to cook.
So I would love to hear from you, dear readers. What are the craziest things you've seen in your ward cookbooks or at a church (LDS or non) function? Have I missed any of the traditional must-haves?
(image from HubPages)
Update: I just found this old post where I talk about my mom's Alaska cookbook with the moose recipes. You have to take a look.