Thursday, October 7

The Art of the Visiting Dish

Since Monday I've done nothing but cook, visit the funeral home and drink my weight in ice tea. There isn't a problem God can throw at you that can't be fixed with a homemade meal. We were out to save the world one chicken, spaghetti, squash, broccoli ... casserole at a time. Really there isn't any ingredient in this world that can't be turned into an decent visiting dish - as my mother would call it - by adding a pound of cheese and can of cream of something soup.

Now, if one is going to be visiting people in the wake of a tragic event, the best place to find great recipes for covered dish offerings is in old church cookbooks. I'm certain that women's church groups have been publishing cook books since Gutenberg invented movable type, at least I think that's when my mother's favorite cookbook was published. Its a great book. Really, it has some great dishes and ingredient lists mentioned in its pages. The thing is, this particular book leaves one wondering what you are suppose to actually do with the ingredients.

I'm not sure how I lived for 28 years without ever actually looking at the pages of this book. I know I have helped my mom cook with it for many years... I just never noticed that every recipe lacks instructions. For example, the recipe for Squash Casserole reads:

You will need 4-6 yellow squash, 1 onion, 8 oz. sour cream, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 package bread crumbs, and graded cheddar cheese. Combine all ingredients top with extra cheese and bake.

No, I didn't leave out a step. That's it. Now, most people are going to just assume that you need to chop the onion and chop and boil the squash before adding the other ingredients. I say most people because my oldest sister, the Ditsy Pre-school teacher, didn't assume that. I don't call her a ditz for my amusement, its just a simple fact. Luckily, as my brother-in-law so helpfully pointed out, the women in my family are unable to do anything alone so there were plenty of people on hand to yell... STOP... CHOP! before something went majorly wrong. I had to concede that the non instruction on oven settings for the "...and bake" part a little unsettling. However, it stands to reason every visiting dish is made to be baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


The Bug said...

LOL! We have several church cookbooks & they are fun & a little scary to cook from. You're right about the 350 degrees for 30 minutes thing. Although don't be too hasty about what you assume people know - I would know to chop everything but I'm not sure I'd know to boil the squash first - I'd just put it in there raw. Heh.

Katy said...

Since it was baked, I'm not sure that boiling the squash is a must, but yeah... I'm not sure how you cook a squash whole in a cassorle.

Jo said...

I'm sorry to hear about your uncle Jack.

That recipe made me chuckle. I have read recipes like that before. I think the writer assumes we are supposed to know what to do with all the incredients. It actually looks pretty good... :-)