Georgia, 1960s

Brookhaven’s Favorite Recipes

Brookhaven’s Favorite Recipes is a plastic spiralbound recipe collection from the Brookhaven Methodist Church, now Brookhaven United Methodist Church, in the northeast suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.  Brookhaven Methodist began as a small group meeting in a log cabin in 1922.  They organized formally as Brookhaven Methodist Church the following year and built their first meetinghouse in 1925.   The cookbook features a picture of the “new” meetinghouse, built in 1948, and the educational complex, completed in 1957.  While there have been a series of interior renovations over the year, as of this writing Brookhaven United Methodist still meets in this same meetinghouse. 

Despite a long and august history, Brookhaven UMC remains a “small membership” congregation.  As suburban Atlanta has grown increasingly diverse, the predominantly Caucasian UMC congregations have dwindled in size.   The current congregation includes members of now-shuttered UMC churches in neighboring communities.  While the church may be small in numbers, they work to have an outsized impact on the surrounding community.  The educational complex houses a preschool which serves over a hundred children, and an addiction recovery program open to the larger community.  They have also formed inter-faith partnerships and alliances with local Spanish and Telugu-speaking congregations, and participate in a variety of efforts to provide food and clothing to the poor.

Brookhaven’s Favorite Recipes comes courtesy of Circle Number Four of the Woman’s Society of Christian Service, the local chapter of the churchwide women’s auxiliary.   This kind sisterhood unfortunately failed to include a publication date in the cookbook, but the name of the organization provides our first historical clue of the date. When the Methodist Church and Evangelical United Brethren merged in 1968, the “Woman’s” Society became the “Women’s” Society, which seems more grammatically appropriate anyway.   The next historical clues come from the advertisements, which include a full-page spread for DeKalb National Bank, which was subsumed by its parent company in 1965 to become the Trust Company of Georgia Bank.   The last clue to seal the deal is the publisher, the North American Press of Kansas City, now part of Fundcraft, which was founded in 1961.   We can confidently date the cookbook to the early 1960s.

The Recipes

The recipe selection in Brookhaven’s Favorite Recipes is fairly typical 1960s cuisine, heavy on casseroles and sweets and congealed salads.  There are variants on Coca-Cola Salad , an archetypal American chow mein, and the ubiquitous Harvard Beets.  While most of these recipes would seem right at home in any community, there are a few hints of Georgian flair.  Barbecue sauces, even when they’re poured over casseroles or hamburgers, seem to be thin, sweet, and vinegary.   The same sorts of piquant sauces are also used to flavor vegetables or salads or as a pickling liquid for green tomatoes. 

Selected Recipes

Barbecued Spare Ribs

Betty’s Pickled Pears

Creole Hamburger on Buns

Sandy’s Tomato Barbecue Salad

Tomato Juice Cocktail