Sunday, March 26, 2006


This year West Bend is celebrating its Sesquicentennial. The preparations have been going on for at least two years, but the frenzy of getting the town ready for the celebration started really cranking up in '05. I have tried to keep myself aloof from most of the activities as I am not a native West Bender. But, since this is a really small town and they do need all the help they can get, I did volunteer to help put together the cookbook that is being published for this event. I think it will be really interesting - especially if you or your family lived in West Bend. You can find more information about the cookbook and all related Sesqui activities on their website, which I have linked to above.

This weekend I have been busy proofing the recipes from the publisher. This entails going through each of the 800-some recipes printed and comparing them to the original submitted recipe to check for mistakes and/or misspellings. (I didn't do all 800! I only did about 100 or so.) Since I was forced to read each recipe word-for-word I was struck by how the instructions differed from generation to generation. Generally, the older the submitter, the fewer the instructions. I think they just assumed that you would know what to do with the ingredients they gave! For instance:

Boston Salad
Submitted by Jean Balgeman Shey

1 small pkg. orange jello
1 small pkg. lemon jello
2 or 3 bananas
1 can crushed pineapple (2 cups)
1 can mandarin oranges
1 can apricots drained

1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbl. flour
1 egg

Cook and cool and add small container of Cool Whip.

Dissolve jello in 3 1/2 cups boiling water. Add rest of ingredients and put in 9 x 13 pan.

And this is just the recipe I copied (because I want to try it this week). There were others that were even more vague. (By the way - I AM going to buy the cookbook too. Just in case anyone was thinking I was "stealing" Ms. Shey's recipe!)

It started me thinking about my post regarding the "dumbing down" of cooking terms. We "older" citizens just know what to do with the ingredients listed. But I wonder if some of the younger purchasers of this book will know. Most of the younger submitters gave detailed, step-by-step instructions with their recipes. It was kind of annoying, actually. I'm sure they copied it exactly how they found it, but come on! I know how to turn my oven on!

When we closed the nursing home in 1986 I "inherited" the recipe box. There were many, many hand-written recipes in there, written on index cards or scraps of paper. Most gave scant instructions, like the following:

Escalloped Potatoes & Corn
(This looks like my MOM'S handwriting!!!!!)

3 potatoes
1 c cream corn
2 c milk
1/2 lb. sausage

Alternate potatoes and corn. Add milk, sausage, salt and pepper. Bake 1 hr. 350.

There you have it. Would you know that you're supposed to brown the sausage first? Or how to cut up the potatoes so they cook in an hour? I do, because I've cooked potatoes before. But would a 20-something working mother know? I wonder.

This cookbook should be interesting. Some of the recipes I've seen look fabulous, if for no other reason than they've been handed down from generation to generation. I can't wait to try them! And, while I'm at it, I think I'll give Mom's recipe a try too.


Ivonne said...

Wow Sally!

This sounds like such an exciting event and the cookbook sounds awesome. Will non-West Benders such as myself be able to buy a copy???

Sally said...

Absolutely! I'll save you a copy.