(ROCKWALL, TX – Nov. 4, 2018) As the temperatures begin to drop, my appetite tends to lean towards cozy, comfort foods. In looking for a recipe that would fit that desire, I stumbled upon an old McLendon-Chisholm Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary Cookbook. It looks to be from around the mid 70’s. The pages were typed with a typewriter then copied onto colored construction paper and bound with two large metal rings.
The book has recipes from women all over Rockwall County noting each recipe they’ve contributed with their name and where they live. The pages are trimmed with names like Ouida Springer and Grace Hartman, both from Rockwall and both of which have RISD elementary schools named after them now. Ouida submitted her Apricot Salad calling for orange Jello and 7-Up in the ingredient list, while Grace’s recipe for Congo Squares has instructional steps such as “when removed from oven place a newspaper over pan.”
The simplicity and era-specific details in the recipes lend the cozy feeling I was looking for without ever even touching a spoon. The recipes in this book are from a time when you couldn’t Amazon Prime a hard-to-find ingredient to your front door. You used what the local grocer had available and the tools everyone had in their home to prepare it. Finding a newspaper to place over the pan for cooling would probably be harder than finding a fancy cheesecloth in someone’s kitchen drawer these days.
After thumbing through the book several times, Simple Beef Stroganoff contributed by Mrs. Glenn Cross of Royse City is what I decided to make. It is as the title states – simple. You can adjust the ingredients to respect a more health conscious diet or you can keep them as they are and enjoy it just the same. Mrs. Cross gave the option of serving over noodles or rice. I went with the more traditional choice of noodles and added a salad and green vegetable to balance it out.
By Melissa Tate of Rockwall. Melissa is a freelance food writer and owner of Photo-Wagon mobile photo booth. She also helps her husband run their family farm, Tate Farms, and event center, Summerfield at Tate Farms. They are currently managing the Smirl Chapel Relocation & Preservation Project. Find Melissa on Facebook or Instagram at @melissatatetx to follow the adventures. Headshot by Kelly Alexander Photography.
Also, check out the recipe for Cooking with Ease: Easy Peach Cobbler here.
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