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Calling All Casseroles — By John Reed

Calling All Casseroles
I attended a homecoming service at a local church this past weekend. A good crowd filled the small country sanctuary, a guest pastor thundered from the pulpit, several musicians shared their talents. And then the main event: dinner.
I’ve had the fortune to travel to every state in the continental US, and many other countries as well. Those who know me understand my passion for food, and will understand I’m well qualified to make the next statement: there are no better cooks on Earth than Southern church ladies. Sure, the men contribute the smoked pork, the bbq ribs, the homemade sausage. But the real secret is the casseroles.
Modern restaurants don’t offer casseroles. The idea of combining multiple foods into a single dish has somehow been relegated to home kitchens, unless you count pot pies from the chicken joints. As good as corn is, it’s somehow better when creamed and mixed with other ingredients.
There are some things I swore I would never eat that are somehow manageable in a casserole. There are probably some things in casseroles I really don’t want to know are there. And so here is the point of this column: what’s your favorite?
Send us your ideas and recipes. More importantly, send us your memories associated with those dishes. Who made it or taught you to make it? My mother and my paternal grandmother each had their special dish that they would make for company or holidays. My mother-in-law combined her California roots with Southern traditions to come up with great recipes.
As we enter the holiday season, traditional family cooking becomes all the more important. Don’t let your favorite concoctions be lost to memory. Share! If you’d rather not see your efforts published here, feel free to send them via email to jcreed57@gmail.com.

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