Sorrento Soup (adapted from Smart Shopper’s Cookbook, 1972)

Sorrento Soup is a hearty tomato-vegetable soup perfect for a crisp, autumn weeknight, one of a dozen or so excellent soups in Loyta Wooding’s 1972 Smart Shopper’s Cookbook.  While ostensibly written for budget-conscious homemakers in the face of rising food prices, Mrs. Wooding’s background at Betty Crocker kitchens lends a sense of company-friendly sophistication to……

Chicken Cutlets with a Swiss Cheese Crust (Nebraska, 1987, adapted)

Chicken Cutlets with a Swiss Cheese Crust is a tasty fried chicken dish suitable for weeknight cooking.   The whole chicken and cheese thing isn’t normally appealing to me, but I had been craving fried chicken like crazy when I came across this recipe.  I was also looking for an opportunity to use my new meat……

Cheese Grits with Tomato Gravy (adapted from The Black Family Reunion Cookbook, 1991)

The Black Family Reunion Cookbook (1991) is a glorious cookbook compiled by the National Council of Negro Women.   The recipes honor NCNW’s founder, Mary McLeod Bethune, and commemorate the organization’s annual Black Family Reunion Celebration, which honors “the historic strengths and values of the Black Family.”  The recipes are peppered with stories of Ms…….

Chili Wheat (Oklahoma, 1978, adapted)

Let’s be honest – Chili Wheat is not a particularly appetizing name for a supper dish.  It sounds like it ought to be a snack food or some kind of hipster breakfast cereal.  Or maybe even a bad joke.  The truth is more mundane:  think Chili Mac but with wheat instead of macaroni.   To understand……

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……