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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n06)
Recipes: Then & Now - Community Cook Books - by Douglas Carpenter
posted: Mar. 23, 2007

Recipes Then and Now header

Community Cook Books

I have been going through many of my cook books, especially the ones I have not peeked into for a while. Some favorites - the ones I call 'Community' cook books - are cook books the members of a church or club put together to raise money for a cause. Each recipe has been contributed by a member of the club or congregation. These have been of interest to me lately, because they are just so comfortable.
For some time I have believed these are, in many ways, the best cook books because they are filled with recipes contributed by people who used them. Tried and true recipes, these were good enough to share. These cooks had been perfecting them for some time, and had finalized the recipe to perfection. These were recipes used regularly. The family would sit down to a meal and recognize the dishes placed on the table.
In letting my eyes flow over the pages of these homey collections, I noticed a pattern: many of the casserole recipe treasures use the common ingredient of canned soup. These are recipes from the thirties up to very modern 'gourmet' style recipes. They are all simply utilizing an ingredient familiar to any kitchen of the past 70 years or so. Here is one I thought you might like to see. After the recipe I give you the contributor, the cook book name and who produced it. I hope it will strike your fancy.
On an interesting note, it was in 1897 at Campbell's, when a newly hired chemist named Dr. John T. Dorrance eliminated the water in canned soup. In came the era of condensed soups. The reduction of water lowered the costs of packaging, shipping and storage. This new concept enabling a 10 ounce can of Campbell Soup to be sold for a dime. Don't we wish for those kinds of prices!

Ingredients: Sausage Potato Skillet Meal

1 lb. pork sausage
1 small onion, chopped
4 large peeled, raw potatoes, sliced thin
1 15 ounce can creamed corn
1 ½ cup milk
1 can mushroom soup
Salt and pepper to taste


Slightly brown sausage, then drain off any excess fat. Add chopped onion and cook 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cook very slowly, stirring often, as milk will burn easily. Cook 25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. If using electric skillet set on simmer. You can also use hamburger instead of pork. Serves 6.
Dorothy Roberts, Osceola, Iowa; 'Recipes On Parade'; John L. Lewis Commission Lucas Iowa; about 1960 to 1980

Recipes: Then & Now - Community Cook Books - by Douglas Carpenter
image courtesy of Douglas Carpenter

Douglas Carpenter is an avid recipe and cookbook collector. He has over 400 cookbooks in his library and he has published two cookbooks of locally-collected recipes. He has won sweepstakes and blue ribbons in the Culinary Arts division of the Indiana State Fair. Email your cooking questions to
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