Celebrating community - with corn and spinach
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA, Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Tuesday, 11 June 2013 08:30
WALBRIDGE - Dianne Dolan's not holding back.
|Dianne Dolan with her Spinach Salad, personal favorite for hot summer meals. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Her all-time best recipes are enclosed in the pages of the Walbridge Community Cookbook, released in celebration of the village's current centennial year.
"Some were mine, some my mom's, and some (belonged to) my ex-mother-in-law who just recently died," Dolan said of the recipes she submitted for the large cookbook just published in time for Mother's Day distribution.
The cookbook is one component of the gala celebration of 100 years since the village's founding in 1913. The major event will take place the weekend of July 4-6.
Those already planning their cookout and potluck contributions for the combined village- and Independence Day-bash would do well to make either of the two dishes Dolan is sharing with Cook's Corner readers today, both of them among her cookbook cache.
The dish for which she is best known in her own family and circle of friends is her corn pudding, which some cooks call corn casserole.
"It's one of mom's recipes that I always made, but I bumped it up a notch."
Yes, there are the traditional cans of creamed corn and regular corn. But instead of the saltine crackers or other similar starch source, this little gem of a recipe creatively calls for Jiffy corn muffin mix.
Then, Dolan added her own stroke of genius.
"Instead of the sour cream, I substituted French onion dip."
Since the first time Dolan modified the old family favorite with the flavor-filled dip "nobody wants me to go back to sour cream. There are no leftovers when I use the French onion dip."
The other cookbook recipe Dolan has chosen for today's Cook's Corner is a personal favorite for hot summer meals. It's her Spinach Salad.
"It's kind of a BLT in salad form" with modifications that include "picking up the tomatoes as an ingredient in the salad, and including the spinach instead of lettuce. It makes it more colorful and taste-full."
The recipe first belonged to Marilyn Lohmeyer, Dolan's former mother-in-law, but it's now become a favorite for no less than four generations.
"My grandchildren just ate it up" when Dolan served the salad to them, "so then my daughter-in-law had to pick up the recipe. It was the only way she could get them to eat greens," Dolan said of the 17-, 15- and 10-year-olds in question.
And that brings us around to the real reason Dolan offered so many of her most treasured family recipes to Lake Township trustee Melanie Bowen and other organizers of the cookbook, which ended up a generous 76 pages in length.
"My deal was, I would buy copies for my granddaughters, so it's all there in one place - three generations of family recipes."
Dolan ordered 10 cookbooks, with copies going to her daughter, two daughters-in-law and all six granddaughters, plus one for herself.
"I'm a Walbridge transplant," said Dolan, but her devotion to the village is deep.
Born in the Genoa-Martin area, her family later moved to Oregon, where she graduated from Clay High School in 1973.
"I've been here (in Walbridge) since the late 1970s, early '80s. I liked it and decided to stay."
It was a good place to raise her children, boy-and-girl twins who turn 40 this year. "It was supposed to be a single birth," but those twins surprised even Dolan's obstetrician.
Now that the Walbridge Community Cookbook is in everyone's hands, Dolan is mentally revisiting some of the gems she had to leave out.
"My husband Jim got mad that I didn't put my macaroni salad in the cookbook. Everybody loves it, but I don't measure anything" in that recipe. "You can't measure it, and I won't, because it's the taste and the feel of the dressing" that count.
"When you're mixing it, when it sounds squishy you know you've got enough dressing on it," Dolan explained.
"I always cook it up for large groups. I cook 10 pounds of macaroni at a time," another good reason why it's not in the cookbook.
The corn pudding, spinach salad, and of course the macaroni salad have been made often over the years for VFW events.
"My husband is commander of the VFW Post 9963 Walbridge, so whenever we have had potlucks I've been known to make corn pudding for those."
Another group who've sampled lots of Dolan's goodies are a circle of her girlfriends who gathered for a singular reason.
"We used to have Desperate Housewives night at my house."
The ladies would meet at 8 every Sunday night for appetizers and wine plus the broadcast of the wildly popular prime time show with distinctly soap-operatic overtones.
One year the five regulars decided to have International Night, "where we put different nationalities into a hat. We'd draw one out and everybody had to bring a dish, whether main dish, appetizer or dessert" reflecting that country's cuisine.
"That was the most fun. And then the show went off" the air. "And we haven't been able to find anything comparable."
1 (17-oz.) can whole kernel corn (undrained)
1 (17-oz.) can creamed corn, (undrained)
1 8-oz. container French Onion Dip
1 stick butter, melted
2 eggs (beaten)
1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
Mix corns, butter, eggs, French Onion Dip and muffin mix together. Pour into greased casserole. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
For lighter version, substitute Sour Cream for French Onion Dip.
1 pkg. Baby Spinach
1 box Penne Pasta
1 Red Pepper, sliced
6 slices Bacon, crumbled
1/4 c. Parmesan Cheese
2 T. Cider Vinegar
1 T. Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. garlic
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/4 c. Olive Oil
3 drops Tabasco Sauce
Mix together the spinach, cooked pasta, red pepper, bacon and Parmesan cheese in large bowl. Mix dressing together and pour over top of spinach mixture. Serve immediately.
Last Updated on Friday, 14 June 2013 11:45