Our family did a lot of traveling and visiting this summer and, I’m just as pleased to report, a lot of reading. Here’s a sampler:
I also tried for the second time in as many years, and failed again, to finish Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. However, I did stumble upon this passage in the book, which sent me–a Presbyterian who’s consumed and perpetrated many a casserole at a church do–into a hearty chuckle. An ailing Congregationalist minister writes to his son,
Since supper was three kinds of casserole with two kinds of fruit salad, with cake and pie for dessert, I gathered that my flock, who lambaste life’s problems with food items of just this kind, had heard an alarm. There was even a bean salad, which looked to me distinctly Presbyterian, so anxiety had over spilled its denominational vessel. You’d have thought I’d died. We saved it for lunch. (p. 127)
Which brings me to the Sacramento Vintage Cooking Challenge. As part of the Sacramento Public Library’s summer reading program, a challenge was issued to select a dish from Sacramento cookbooks spanning the years 1890-1970, cook it, and send a photo and message detailing how the dish turned out. See the Facebook album for recipes and photos. It seems a winner has already been declared, a beautiful egg salad, so my entry is pretty much moot. But I had fun anyway.
My Jello salad, adapted from Prize Recipes of Rancho Cordova (Church of God Ladies Auxiliary, 1970, p. 4), was a fail. About half the Jello in the fluted mold fell into the sink when I tried to dislodge it.
I made a second one in a less-elaborate mold and it came out in one piece but much squatter than I’d hoped, and wrinkled from the plastic I used to line the pan. Plus it stuck to the plate off-center. It was delicious for sure, but not aesthetically pleasing.
I had also bought a salmon-shaped tin mold but balked at making a salmon loaf that large–I’m not going to any church potlucks until NEXT month, after the Vintage Cooking Challenge is over. So I made a fish-shaped ice cream cake with it for my daughter’s birthday. It turned out way better than I imagined, even though the eyes (mini grapes) and scales (macerated lemon slices) melted down the sloped sides rather quickly. For a few minutes before I served the whole thing in one go, we got to admire it!