Possibly the Worst Recipe Ever

I’ve lately rediscovered the Treasury of Tennessee Treatsa cookbook put out by grandmother’s church, Keith Memorial United Methodist in Athens, TN. It was first issued in 1957, and my copy is the revised version from 1962. It is so battered that the index, long detached from the binding, is stuffed into random pages throughout. The two pages of pecan pie recipes look like a Jackson Pollock painting.

The book is a testament to small-town life of the late 1950s and early 1960s, when time-honored but time-consuming ways of cooking were slowly giving way to modern convenience foods. There are many gems here–black bottom pie, dozens of lovely cakes, wild goose with apple and sweet potato stuffing, quail pie, chili, stew. But you can also see how cooks like my grandmother were being seduced by the siren song of convenience foods, luring them down some dark paths lined with canned asparagus and cream of mushroom soup.  

The recipe below represents the worst excesses of the era. It’s hard to imagine a combination more hideous than marshmallows, jarred pimento cheese, and Maraschino cherries. But the cooks of Athens, TN, must have been fascinated by the exotic wonder of this salad–which contains real whipped cream only, I am sure, because Cool Whip was not invented until 1966.

I have serious doubts that anyone from Los Angeles ever made this. My guess is that it was some Southern cook’s way of getting back at a snooty California relative.

Los Angeles Salad

1 1/2 lb. marshmallows
Small can crushed pineapple
10 Maraschino cherries
1 4-oz. glass pimiento cheese
1 cup whipping cream

Mix cheese and whole can of pineapple. Add cherries and juice, and marshmallows, cut in small pieces. Whip cream. Add to mixture. Place in ice tray four or five hours. Serve with mayonnaise.

Prosciutto and Roasted Cantaloupe

Fred and I had our second conjugal visit last weekend. He had kindly bought prosciutto and cantaloupe for me for our lunch snack on Sunday, and he sliced the cantaloupe himself and took the prosciutto out of its wrapper. I was very proud of him.

As we were cleaning up and he was throwing out the cantaloupe seeds, he asked, “Could we roast those? Like pumpkin seeds?”

I laughed and laughed. “Cantaloupe is a melon!” I squealed. “Like watermelon! You don’t eat roasted watermelon seeds.”

I laughed some more. I even laughed as I started to post this.

And then I looked on the Internet and found that apparently you CAN buy roasted watermelon seeds and that cantaloupe is actually a squash. And this Indian dish, Gond ke Laddu Laddoo Ladoo, uses seeds from cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkin, but since it’s intended for nursing mothers to help their babies’ brains get bigger, I have my doubts about whether or not it’s something I’d want to eat.


I was also proud of Fred when he was approved by the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta for ordination on Saturday. He stood in front of the few brave souls who’d toughed it out to the end and thanked them for their friendship and support, and couldn’t go on because he got choked up. Of course everyone thought it was great. When it was all over he said to me, “I couldn’t believe I got so choked up”–this from the man who cried for about two solid hours during our wedding.

He is truly wonderful.