Our Favorite Recipes
Our Favorite Recipes collects recipes from the parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Arcadia, Wisconsin. Like most church cookbooks, this appears to have been a fundraiser; organized and published by the St. Ann’s Altar Society, the parish’s women’s auxiliary organization.
Arcadia is a small community tucked away in the western hills of Wisconsin, a half hour’s drive from the Mississippi River and halfway between Eau Claire and La Crosse. At the time this collection was published Arcadia had just over 2,000 residents, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help was one of two prominent Catholic congregations.
The cookbook itself contains precious little information about the community beyond the names of parishioners. As one might expect for a small, rural parish there appear to be several prominent families and extended families represented. The surnames overlap considerably with prominent townspeople, such as then-mayor Roman Feltes.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help closed its doors in the early 2000s, but there are remnants of what once was. A thrift store with the OLPH name operates nearby, as well as a secondary school. The church building was purchased by the local historical society and was reopened in 2011 as a museum.
Remarkably, the local historical society has plans to republish Our Favorite Recipes sometime in 2021. As of this writing there’s no firm timeline or release date, but anyone interested in acquiring a copy can inquire here.
Our Favorite Recipes contains well over four hundred recipes, nearly two-thirds of which are for some sort of sweets. The section devoted to Icings and Frostings occupies more pages than the Soups and Vegetables section. Even the recipe for Fried Fish contains the instruction to “fry in deep fat or Crisco, smoking hot as for doughnuts”. A time-traveling me would be right at home with these folks.
The Main Dish section is comparatively small and heavy on casserole-type dinners and various Chow Mein/Chop Suey recipes, rounded out with meat loaves, pork chops, and meats in barbecue sauce.