Family Heirloom Cookbook – Corn Chowder

It’s called the The Casserole Cookbook (© 1952). My mother-in-law Irene cut her culinary teeth on that book, learning to cook by following its simple, easy to use recipes and menus. Looks like she picked a good teacher – over half a century later, it’s listed by Saveur as one of its favorite cookbooks.

Over the years, the recipes in The Casserole Cookbook became Mr TBTAM’s family’s standards. Recipes like Shephard’s Pie, Pastistio, Veal Marenga (Irene substituted chicken livers in that one), Onion Soup, Meatballs Stockholm, Charleston Shrimp and Rice Pie, In a Hurry Baked Salmon (silly name, apparently delicious), Creamy Macaroni au Gratin (that’s Mac and Cheese to you and me), Spare Ribs, and the delicious soup I tasted last weekend – Corn Chowder.

I can’t say that I married Mr TBTAM for his mother’s cooking, but it sure sweetened the deal. And even though I have had 22 year’s worth of Irene’s cooking, I have never quite gotten over the envy I feel when I imagine the meals I missed by not growing up in that family. I don’t blame my Mom, who had to get dinner on the table every night for 9 kids, but let’s just say that Hamburger Helper was one of our family standards…

A few years ago, Mr TBTAM’s sister Nancy somehow convinced Irene to give her the Casserole Cookbook, and she’s been hoarding it ever since. If the condition of the book is any evidence, I’d say she’s been using it almost as much as Irene did. The paper cover is gone, as is the frontispiece and much of the introduction.

But who cares? What’s left is pure gold – recipe after recipe of tried and true standards, all easy to make and all delicious. Many, of course, have been tweaked and updated by Irene, and her handwritten additions and modifications make Nancy’s edition priceless.

We’ve been talking for years about how to get the recipes to all of us, but no one seems to have the time to type them all up. But today, I checked the web and there are 7 copies of the book out there – 6 on Alibris and 1 on E-Bay. Enough for Irene, myself and Mr TBTAM’s sisters, with a few leftover for my family. Now I just have to borrow Nancy’s copy so I can add in Irene’s modifications.

You see, some parents want their kids to have the education they missed, or the house they could never afford, or the freedoms they never had.

I’m just making sure my kids don’t miss out on the food.

Southern Corn Chowder (from the Casserole Cookbook)

Nancy made this in a cast iron stock pot, and it was delicious! It’s a great way to use frozen leftover corn. Of just buy frozen corn and cook it before using. If you don’t want to use the pimento, use red instead of green peppers. Add a diced carrot for even more color.

1/4 lb salt pork (It’s healthier these days to use olive oil)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp chopped green pepper
2 medium potatoes, cut into cubes
3/4 cup diced celery
1 1/2 cups boiling water (I like to use chicken stock)
1 cup whole-kernel corn, cooked
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk, hot
2 tsp butter
2 tsp flour
1 tbsp chopped pimento

Cut pork into small pieces and fry slowly until crisp in a 3 quart Paris-style casserole (I have no idea what this is – ?La Creuset) Add onion and green pepper and cook 5 minutes. Add potatoes, celery and boiling water or stock. Cover and simmer slowly until the potatoes are tender. Add corn, seasoning and evaporated milk.

Melt butter in a small pan and blend in flour. Gradually stir into the chowder, stirring and cooking slowly until thickened. Garnish with chopped pimento. Serves 4.

6 Responses to Family Heirloom Cookbook – Corn Chowder

  1. Alibris is a wonderful place to find missing books! I have a ‘casserole’ cookbook – now I have to go see if it’s the same one!
    My mother didn’t do hamburger helper – too expensive, but she only had about 15 things she regularly made – cooking was a job. She was a good cook, just had no wish to expand…

  2. I had a very similar experience with a really obscure book called Horton’s Recipes. It’s been out of print for 50 years. My mom was a genius with that cookbook.

    I finally pried it away from my sister earlier this year. I typed up all the old favorites into Matilda’s Cookbook Software by to make a family cookbook. I suppose I broke a lot of copyright laws–but after 50 years I suppose Horton must be dead anyway! He won’t sue me!

    Anyway, I printed up a copy of my own cookbook for myself, and then passed along a couple to some of the ladies in my Red Hat group. I hadn’t thought about it beforehand, but once you go through all the work to type up the recipes, it’s not much more to just hit “print” a couple times more and give cookbooks away as gifts.

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