The Deliciously Dirty Pages – Cooking For A Crowd

This is the latest installment of the feature on JustMelanieW.com to showcase old, tried and true, family favorite recipes handed down through the generations. And where are they found? On the dirtiest, most stained pages of beloved old cookbooks.

These aren’t The White Pages. They aren’t the Yellow Pages. They are the Deliciously Dirty Pages, where good cooking and memories of great cooks are forever preserved.

This writer has a collection of old cookbooks, ranging in age from 40 to 70 years old, which were used by her mother. She kept the cookbooks and has beautiful memories of making those favored recipes, as well as spilling ingredients on the pages.

The theory is the dirtier the page, the better the recipe.

Each Wednesday, JustMelanieW is featuring these culinary wonders, sure to still please because they have been made many times with great success – again, identified by being on the dirtiest pages of these archival hard copy treasures.

We would also love to share your family favorite recipes from your own Deliciously Dirty Pages. Just send them to mel@justmelaniew.com. And if you want to share pictures of the end product, or your family making it, or a picture of the dirty cookbook pages where the recipes were found – please send those my way as well!

Some of our greatest memories come from the kitchen . . . and those Deliciously Dirty Pages.

This week’s featured recipes: Cooking For A Crowd

This week, as my hands ran over the crinkly pages of the old St. John’s cookbook, I ran across the section where the Christian Mothers included the very details recipes they used to create large meals for all kinds of church events – like funerals, fundraising breakfasts, picnics and after-church luncheons.

Over years of experimentation, these women came up with the best methods and ratios when cooking for large crowds. They knew what worked and didn’t work – and once all that was figured out, they made sure to write it all down so generations would remember how to keep doing it.

So many funeral meals at St. John’s was of the same menu – meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. Those dinners were wonderful because those women really knew how to use electric roasters, big baking pans and just the right recipes. On those pages are their scientific methods. So if you find yourself in a situation where you need to make a massive amount of food and you can’t find a caterer . . . the Christian Mothers of St. John’s Catholic Church in rural Clearwater made sure to chronicle the secrets.

Meatloaf for 150 people by Margaret Shavilk

25 pounds of hamburger

7 ½ pounds of sausage

1 ½ pounds of crushed crackers

40 eggs

½ cup salt

2 tablespoons of pepper

1 ½ quarts of milk

1 quart tomato juice

Ketchup, at least 1 large bottle

Onions according to taste

This should be blended with juice or milk. Bake at 350 degrees. If baked in 9×13-inch pans, the baking time is about one hour but adjust time according to the pan size used.

 

Scalloped potatoes by Margaret Shavlik

30 pounds of potatoes, pared and cubed. Place in two electric roasts and cover with water. Bring to a good boil and cook partially. Stir without breaking potatoes. Remove some of the water. Add ½ pound box of crushed soda crackers and ½ cup of onion (blend onion and water in blender and then measure), 1 quart cream in each roaster. Use the same water you have drained off to cover potatoes if cream doesn’t cover. Add ½ tablespoons salt to each roaster before they are done. Cook at 325 degrees about two hours.

 

One of the best aspects of fundraising breakfasts at St. John’s were the breakfasts where we ate little smokies’ and these oddly-sort-of-runny scrambled eggs which were scrumptious:

Scrambled eggs in electric roaster by Margaret Funk

16 dozen eggs

6 quarts milk

8 cups butter

Season to taste

Heat milk and butter, using low heat (300-350 degrees). When melted, add whipped eggs. Stir occasionally with pancake turner. Don’t overcook. Don’t stir too often. Serves 100-120.

This recipe is the one used for St. Ann’s breakfast, they note.

 

And then there were the St. John’s picnics where we all ate potato salad and sloppy joes, before all ages played softball in the back acreage:

Potato salad for 50 by Mary Funk and Mrs. Vincent Thiele

5 cups diced eggs

15 cups diced potatoes

Mix in blender:

½ cup milk

2/3 teaspoon prepared mustard

¾ cup onion, diced

1 ½ teaspoon salt

3 2/3 cups salad dressing

Pepper

2 tablespoons pickle juice

Blend well. Pour over potatoes and eggs. Refrigerate over night.

 

Multi-purpose barbecued hamburger mix by Sharon Hupp

4 pounds hamburger

4 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 cups celery tops, chopped

4 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 12-ounce bottles of ketchup

Pan fry hamburger until all redness of meat disappears, stirring to mix well. Put in electric roaster. Saute onions, garlic and celery in fat. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. Simmer 20 minutes. Skim off excess fat. Use as filling for hot buns. This freezes well. Serves 40.

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