Thursday, August 7, 2008

We Sho Do Eat Some Funny Stuff!

People who know me know that when I get stressed or anxious or upset I likes to cook. And then I invite the neighborhood, who likes to eat. It's really a win/win relationship. I've lived 1/2 of my life in Utah for the most part... and other half I grew up in Battle Creek Michigan as a kid.

The Utah traditional meals were Apple Jacks, Frosted flakes, Pop tarts and all manner of Kellogg's breakfast cereals. My daddy worked and retired from Kellogg's and that's how we rolled. I'm STILL a Kellogg's Kids today. I tell you there is nothing like a Strawberry frosted pop tart ice cream sandwich, A mixture of apple jacks & fruit loops or a bowl of Frosted flakes OR Coco Crispy with half/half at midnight :)

We grew up on the typical foods in Michigan... Tuna Noodle Casseroles, Spaghetti, Fried chicken, Macaroni and cheese, Roast beef, Mashed potatoes. Desserts.. a simple bowl of ice cream , chocolate chip cookies or Apple and Peach cobblers.

The Utah tradition of foods is like none other. I'm not saying it's bad, but for sure it's Different. I'll share with you some the traditional favorites:

The most popular is probably the Funeral Potatoes. Mormons have taken scalloped potatoes to new heights with these. You know when someone has passed away and they call and ask... "would you be willing to make THE POTATOES". There's no need in asking "what potatoes." they hand you a flyer with the recipe when you cross the state line so you know. Being a Black Mormon girl, I have to put some SOUL in the potatoes so I don't lose my "Soul Food" card when I venture back into the real world.
There are several variation to Funeral Potatoes but here's the basic recipe... and then I'll add the Soul to it so you can have Funeral Potatoes with SOUL.

8-10 Potatoes cooked, shredded or diced.
couple cans of Cream of Mushroom OR Cream of Chicken Soup
Carton of Sour Cream (abt 2 cups)
Couple cups of Grated Cheese
1/2-1 can of half and half
1/3 chopped onion
crushed corn flakes (abt 2 cups)
9x13 backing pan
Oven Preheated to 350.

I actually don't use the frozen potatoes, or the cornflakes but hey, that's how it goes I guess.
So I boil or back my potatoes with the skins on, then after they cool I peel them and I grate them or cut them up.

I mix the half/half, Sour cream and onion with the Cream of whichever soup I'm using. For the "Soul", I add minced or crushed garlic abt 1/2-1 teaspoon. I let that simmer and get warm so it's smooth but still thick. Then add the potatoes and mix it really well. And then pour it into the baking pan. This next part is where your personal style/taste variations come in. For me, this is the REAL SOUL: Traditional Mormons will use the the cheddar cheese and crushed corn flakes to sprinkle on top. For me, the Kellogg's kid.... I got something to say: DRY BREAKFAST CEREAL SHOULD NEVER BE USED IN CASSEROLES OR ON MEAT AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR "CRUNCH!"
Back to the Soul.... instead of Cheddar cheese on top, I'll use a pepper jack and Colby mixture to add a little bit of "BITE" to it. And then garnish it with Bacon bits. NOT BACOS, people. Fry you up some bacon... (Traditional Mormons, bacon can be microwaved and done in the oven on broil if you watch it closely). Bake for about 30 minutes. Now that is some Mormon Funeral Potatoes with some soul.

OK next we have a traditional dessert called "Better than Sex" Cake. There are a multitude of variations for this dessert. Some aren't even remotely the same. So I'll post the most traditional recipe I can find:

1 package devil's food cake mix
1/2 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
6 ounces caramel ice cream topping
3 Skor or heath candy bars chopped
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1. Bake cake according to package directions for a 9x13 inch pan; cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Make holes across the top of the cake (with wooden spoon handle), making sure not to go all the way through to the bottom.

2. In a saucepan over low heat, combine sweetened condensed milk and caramel topping, stirring until smooth and blended. Slowly pour the warm topping mixture over the top of the warm cake, letting it sink into the holes ; then sprinkle the crushed chocolate toffee bars liberally across the entire cake while still warm. (Hint: I crush my candy bars into small chunks as opposed to crumbs - I like to have pieces I can chew on!)

3. Let cake cool completely, then top with whipped topping. Decorate the top of the cake with some more chocolate toffee bar chunks and swirls of caramel topping. Refrigerate and serve right from the pan!
This is ALSO known as "Prophets Cake" Cuz it was good enough to serve to the prophet and more appropriate to say when people asked what it's called.

Next we have Frog eye salad. IF there's a way to put sugar in something and sweeten it up, Mormons are masters at is.
This is a pasta salad with fruit, coconut, whipped topping and mini marshmallows. I personally don't care for it but it IS a church Potluck Tradition:

1 cup white sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups pineapple juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (16 ounce) package acini di pepe pasta
2 (20 ounce) cans pineapple chunks
2 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
3/4 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package miniature marshmallows
1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1. In large saucepan over low heat, combine sugar, egg yolks, flour, pineapple juice and lemon juice. Stir and cook until thickened. Remove from heat.

2. While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water.
3. In large bowl, combine cooked mixture with pasta and toss to coat thoroughly. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
4. Toss pasta with pineapple, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, marshmallows and whipped topping. Refrigerate.

Now MY dessert is one we call GOUP! (pronounced goop). My Hawaii friends call it "Mormon Fluff Salad" And I think traditional Mormons simply call it fruit salad. Growing up we called it goup cuz we never knew the name for it and you just goup in on your plate. It's sugar shock heaven with all the flavor.

You need 2 cartons of whipped topping
2 pkgs of your favorite Jello. ( I like using the pineapples and orange flavors)
2 cartons of cottage cheese
couple cans of drained pineapple chunks
couple cans of drained Mandarin oranges.

1 Somewhat drain the cottage cheese so it doesn't have so much liquid on it.

Combine your containers of whipped topping and jello powder a large bowl.
Add cottage cheese, pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges.
Mix really well and refrigerate until thick and stiff.

When dessert comes around Goup it on your plates and enjoy.

** can be used with any flavor jello powder and fruit combinations
(peach and mango are my other favorites :)

On another hand, Mormons are particularly known for making Home made Ice cream, root beer, Bread, Freezer jam, and canning our own Salsa and tomato/spaghetti Sauces too from items we grown in our gardens. I thoroughly approve of such madness. It's cost effective and comes in very handy during the winter months. I dare say Utah alone keeps the GE Freezer company in business at LEAST for 2 financial quarter each year. Christmas traditions always consist of jars of homemade freezer jam, or a Canning jar with soup mix( just add water and meat), Cookie mix (just add butter and egg) and a bow tied nicely around the lid.

I must admit I've taken on the roll of making homemade treat baskets for Christmas. I like making the fudge, English toffee, sugar cookies, candy covered pretzels, Cinnamon rolls, french loaf breads and so on for the holiday season. I call it "Christmas Brunch in a basket"

Yup, we Mormons and our food traditions are something else. What I like about it is having the mind set to try different things and make it my own. I guess that's what Mormon cooking is all about. I've had jello cheese cake with strawberry jam on it masqueraded as Strawberry Cheese cake. I've had Dutch oven White cake (or Pillsbury Cinnamon rolls dough) and canned peaches masqueraded as peach cobbler. It's quite interesting to say the least. However you MUST admit pioneers knew how to make meals out of just about anything. Big Props for that, because when those hard times come again... and they will... you wont care if your peach cobbler is made from pop n fresh canned Cinnamon roll dough. You'll just praise the Lord and Pass the food. AMEN!


John Newman said...

Wow! You've nailed "Mormon Food" down pretty well. I'd forgotten all about the corn flakes when I posted my own recipe for funeral potatoes on my food blog a bit ago. I'd never seen "Better than Sex" cake, before. Just looking at the ingredients it sounds awesome.

Tequitia said...

I'm really glad to find your blog! Shout out from VA!

S'mee said...

ho. ly. cow.

I laughed so hard I was crying! Oh man, this was hilarious!

We have a slightly different recipe for 'better than sex', but hey, whatever! For years the family called it "Aunt Mary's Dessert" because of my m-i-l's delicate ears, however the big joke came one day when aunt JILL claimed "sex" as hers and hers alone and that aunt MARY had stolen her dessert. SO now we have "Better Than Aunt Mary's it's really Jill's Sex cake" for thanksgiving and other family get-togethers!

Signe said...

Lol! LOVE the last couple lines! Just have one thing to add...lime jello w/carrots. Possibly the worst ever Mormon food! But I love the others...and I'm def gonna try the potatoes w/soul!

ShaBANG said...

Do let me know how you liked them :)

themeese2 said...

I just have to add that in upstate New York where I grew up, one of the "traditional" foods that showed up at every potluck was baked zitis. But here in Utah, there is nary a ziti to be had! I have a hard time even finding cut zita at the store to make it with, and I have to substitute with penne or rigatoni, which just isn't RIGHT! When Mom passed away this past spring, someone in the ward donated a HUUUUUGE pan of zitis and I was in heaven! There was still a ton left in the fridge the morning I was to leave, and I was so sad to leave it all behind that I had zitis for breakfast that morning.

Funeral potatoes? Never heard of them until I moved here!

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