Pumpkin Crumble Cake (Oregon, 2006, adapted)

For a home cook I feel like I know my way around a kitchen.  But everyone’s got their blind spots, and mine is baking.  I don’t enjoy it and I’m not good at it, and despite a background in chemistry I’m especially bad at yeast breads.  I can’t even make a decent pizza crust (although……

Funeral Potatoes (California, 1997, adapted)

Funeral potatoes are an almost meme-worthy dish these days, one of the few mid-century canned-soup-and-cream casseroles that’s still aligned with the twenty-first century palate.  I’ve never been to a funeral with refreshments, much less a full meal.  The dreary name presumably stems from a custom of serving them at a post-service family meal, or perhaps……

Spam Puffs (adapted from Sunset Cook Book, 1949)

Say what you will but I’m a big fan of Spam.  No irony, no poverty cuisine voyeurism, no pining for some lost Hawaiian vacation:  fried Spam is a genuine treat for our family.  At any given time we’ll have a half a dozen cans on hand, ready to whip up a quick batch of musubis……

Cheese Apple Sausage Brunch Tart (Wisconsin, 1989, adapted)

One of the things I appreciate most about Ascension Lutheran’s 1989 cookbook is that it devotes an entire section to brunch.  Twelve pages.  Thirty recipes.  And a little bit of everything, not just subtle variants on a breakfast casserole. The Cheese Apple Sausage Tart is a delicious and hearty brunch dish and also checks all……