As if a full Sunday was not enough, we also attended church on Wednesday nights, which was prefaced by Wednesday Night Supper, an evening where the church ladies took over the kitchen, whipping up every comfort food imaginable. From fried chicken and biscuits to meat sauce laced spaghetti and homemade potato rolls, these self-taught chefs created an array of decadent concoctions that often ended with a spread of homemade cakes and pies divine enough to make the angels weep.
You see, as true Southern Baptists, there isn't whole lot we're allowed to do. Booze is off limits as is smoking, fornicating, non-secular music, even dancing, but there's one action that is completely acceptable-- eating, and we do a heck of a lot of it, often in large, self-indulgent quantities.
From all-you-can eat ice cream socials (a child's dream) where attendees are encouraged to taste their way around thirty or so flavors to the ubiquitous church potluck where ladies and gents brought their "best of the best" often consisting of an array of cheese balls, three-bean salads, deviled eggs, cream of mushroom soup-laden casseroles, bacon-laced BBQ beans, and no less than at least five variations of potato salad, with each version being touted as the only one worth eating, we Baptists devoured it all, happily oblivious to the number three deadliest sin: Gluttony.
Speaking of sinful, don't even get me started on desserts. There was much sugar to be had: buttermilk pies, fried apple pies, bundt cakes made with 7-UP, cinnamon rolls dripping with powdered sugar icing, chocolate chunk cookies, peanut butter fudge, and of course, some gooey goody that always involved gelatin. Jell-O salads spiked with pineapple bits, graham crackers, bananas, whipped cream, maraschino cherries, nuts, even rice, pimientos and crushed pretzels would find there home somewhere along those long fold-out tables.
We came, we saw, and we ate.
Let's face it, church food is some seriously tasty stuff. Made from the gentle, caring hands of many-a-church lady, these are recipes to be savored, cherished and hopefully passed along to future generations, no matter what their chosen religion might end up being, because when it comes to food and fellowship, sometimes it's best to let the cooking do all the preaching.
Got a favorite food memory or recipe? I'd love to hear from you.
Church Ladies Circle Salad
This salad might seem an odd combination with its mixture of diced pimentos, cream cheese and pineapple, but trust me, it's an immaculate amalgamation of sweet, savory and crunchy. The church ladies love to serve this salad with side of Ritz crackers to enhance its salty sweet combo.
2 (3-ounce) boxes lemon gelatin
2 cups boiling water
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
3 to 4 tablespoons diced pimientos
1/2 cup lightly crushed pecans
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Dissolve your gelatin in boiling water. Let it stand a few minutes and then add cream cheese so it will partially melt into the gelatin. It's ok to leave a few cream cheese chunks in there. Add in your drained pineapple, pimiento, and pecans. Mix well and refrigerate just until it starts to set. Then, stir it again. Whip up your whipping cream and fold it into the gelatin mixture. Throw the whole thing into a baking dish and stick it back in the fridge until it sets up. Cut into squares and serve chilled.
From, "White Trash Gatherings: From-Scratch Cooking for Down-Home Entertaining" (Ten Speed Press, 2006) Pin It Now!