My son returned home from college last week and in celebration, I prepared what has become a favorite family dish—Swedish meatballs. But, not just any Swedish meatballs. This recipe comes from a recipe book that is near and dear to my heart — the Edina Baptist Church Cookbook 1977.
What’s so special about this cookbook? I’m so glad you asked! Here are FIVE reasons I treasure this vintage cookbook from Edina, Minnesota circa 1977.
REASON #5: The recipes are awesomely retro. If you have ever wondered if down-home cooking in the 70s was similar to today’s fare, the answer is no. The women who gathered their favorite recipes for this book were intrigued by modernities like frozen veggies, canned goods, processed cheeses, and instant this-and-that.
Some of the recipes we will most likely never attempt, because they are just too salty or sweet or rich, but we do have a couple of family favorites. These include Sharon West’s Swedish Meatballs, which we just had this week, and Lora Holzworth’s Tater-Tot Hotdish, which is a real Minnesota treat.
The book also boasts a wide-array of Jello-based desserts that instruct cooks to add things like marshmallows, cucumbers and mayonnaise! I occasionally serve these because I remember my mother preparing them. When I serve them, it’s almost like having her there at the table. I even have a Tupperware mold just like the one she had!
REASON #4: It includes delightful words of wisdom. This is my husband’s favorite part of the book. And often, when I serve those Swedish meatballs or that tater-tot dinner, he will bring the book to the table so he can read those little bits of wisdom aloud to us. It always adds laughter and joy to the meal. A couple of our favorites include:
“Out of the mouth of babes come words we shouldn’t have said in the first place.”
“A pint of good example if worth a gallon of advice.”
REASON #3: The book oozes community spirit. Turning the pages is like going down memory lane. There are so many names I recognize – friends of my mother’s and mothers of my friends. And as I read through the recipes, and what each chose to include, I remember community gatherings where many of these recipes were served. Most especially, I remember the church potluck that was part of every Wednesday night when I was in first and second grade.
REASON #2: The artwork is by my mother! My mother doesn’t have a single recipe in the entire book. I’ve checked thoroughly. She was an amazing artist, however, and the fine women who created this book recognized her gift and asked her to do the artwork for each section of the cookbook.
Keep in mind it was the 70s and the printing capabilities for a church cook book were pretty basic. The entire book is type-written, for example, which adds vintage charm. And my mother hand-printed the lettering for her pages and designed her illustrations in black and white. Here are a couple of my favorites:
REASON #1: If not for the some of these cooks, I might not have written MY TENDER HEART BIBLE or any of my faith-based books! When we moved to Minnesota in the fall of 1975, we were not Christians. My family didn’t really believe in anything. But, God was at work through the women in this cook book. Two, in particular, stand out. A woman named Susan Anderson, who lived down the street from us, invited my mom to go to the large women’s Bible study held weekly at Edina Baptist Church. That Bible study was taught by an amazing woman named Sharon Cooper.
The teaching and fellowship were amazing and my mom’s heart was stirred. Soon, not only was my mom attending Bible study, we were all going to church. I started attending things like Sunday school and Vacation Bible School, and Wednesday Night AWANA (which was always preceded by that potluck!) Long story short, over the course of the next couple of years, my mom, my dad, my sister and I all accepted Jesus into our hearts. Our lives were forever transformed.
In the fall of 1977 we moved away to Paris, France. Around the same time Edina Baptist changed its name to Grace Baptist and then it became Grace Church. In 1987 our family moved out of Minnesota altogether. And sometime after that Grace Church changed locations from Edina to nearby Eden Prairie.
And in the “time flies” category, it has been almost 50 years since the cook book released. But, the impact of those women who gathered those recipes and boldly shared their faith with my mother remains remains strong as ever. In fact, if not for God’s loving hand in prompting those women to minister to my mom, thus planting the seeds of faith in my heart as well, I probably wouldn’t be the writer I am today – one who writes books that minister to young families like my newest release, MY TENDER HEART BIBLE! I am forever grateful and in awe at how God works through us and those around us to bring us closer to Him. May He bless you this week!
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