Ramen Salad (Indiana, 2009, adapted)

Instant noodles fuel America.  In 2019, Americans consumed around four and a half billion servings of instant noodles, which works out to about one serving per person per month.  This number is probably appreciably higher among college students and parents of small children.  But ramen is more than just a cheap meal.  Nissin’s Top Ramen……

Becky’s Asparagus (Tennessee, 1996, adapted)

Becky’s Asparagus is a simple marinated asparagus salad.  The titular Becky was a realtor with Tennessee-based real estate company Crye-Leike in the mid-1990s.  This recipe was included in a community cookbook compiled Crye-Leike employees and associates and widely distributed to clients and friends.  This is not a particularly complicated recipe.  It’s a clever blend of……

Frijoles Negros con Sofrito (Cuba, adapted from Buen Provecho, New Jersey, 1995)

Years and years ago my local congregation held a Mexican-themed potluck.  I’m not talking about one of those discomfiting frat parties where everyone comes dressed like Speedy Gonzalez; this was more like large scale taco night.  Potluck dishes were supposed to be Mexican or at least Mexican-adjacent, and we had a members of the congregation……

Betty’s Pickled Pears (Georgia, 1960s, adapted)

In thumbing through my old cookbooks I sometimes feel like I’m reading someone else’s mail.  These cookbooks were meant to be shared among community members, not with the internet at large.  I’m comfortable sharing general details of a church or the surrounding community, but as a general rule I will avoid identifying individual church members……

Tomato Barbecue Jell-O Salad (Georgia, 1960s, adapted)

This is one of those recipes that belongs to another time and place, and probably should have stayed there.   Savory Jell-O salads have always fascinated me, but I don’t get around to making them all that often.  There’s usually a weird crunchy ingredient like celery or chopped nuts that prompts the gag reflex just reading……

Gooseberry Ketchup (adapted from Mountain Memories)

Perhaps the recipes that best capture the spirit of Mountain Memories are the jams and jellies and pickles.  Both the vegetable and fruit chapters are prefaced with memories of sauerkraut barrels in the family cellar, the necessity of storing food through rough winters, and pioneer methods for food preservation.  They rely on local fruits and……

Tennessee Barbecue Sauce (Tennessee, 1978)

I’ve lived out West all my life where “barbecue” means either tri-tip, hamburgers, or some sort of hodgepodge of Kansas City and Texas-style barbecue from somewhere else in the United States.  I’ve traveled enough to realize that this it utter heresy to some folks, where each regional variant is held as the one true barbecue…….

Spiced Cranberry Shrub

A “shrub” is a vinegary fruit syrup, made from roughly equal amounts of fruits, vinegar, and sugar.  Mixed with soda they offer a complex and (usually) non-alcoholic alternative to bottled pop, or can be used as a mixer in more adult beverages.   The basic formula is crazy simple and the variants are endless. Spiced Cranberry……

Tuna Creole, Hold The Tuna (adapted from Tomato Ketchup Recipe Collection)

If I had to distill Tomato Ketchup Recipe Collection into a single recipe it would be Tuna Creole.  It straddles the line between ketchup-as-tomato-sauce recipes and unholy monstrosity, and also stands as a testament to the 1980s weeknight meal.  I suppose someone must still be buying Tuna Helper, but the whole “Tuna with Sauce over……