Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Baptist Casserole

I am a regional marketing manager. I am the worship leader and choir director at my church. During the summer, I help my mama take care of some of the homes my dad's company manages. I just came off of our VBS week where I conducted the opening and closing worship services each night - Monday through Friday - 5:00 - 9:00. We just interviewed a new pastor. I have a wife, a daughter (who is rotten to the core) and a house whose lawn deserves more time than any one human can afford. I have a dog that is the single most demanding and high-maintenance creature on the planet (aside from my mother who has no idea that she's going to have to dog sit next week.)


I'm coordinating the production of the single greatest cookbook in the south. That's right folks, Long Avenue Baptist Church is producing a cookbook and it's about time!!! My church has the single largest ratio of great cooks of any place I know. This past Sunday was a dinner on the grounds, pot luck luncheon, covered dish bonanza. I have never seen so many crushed Ritz crackers in my life! And the butter.....oh the butter, on top of everything. For a moment, I imagined I was at the marriage supper of the lamb - AND THERE WAS FRIED CHICKEN. Well, every good southern christian knows that there will be fried chicken in heaven. Along with, potato salad, collard greens, cornbread, creamed corn, chicken casserole and pound cake.

As I was loading my plate and I gazed upon the culinary expanse, I realized I made a terrible mistake - I had a piece of fried chicken on my plate. Not just any piece, but the biggest hormone-injected chicken breast imaginable. Now, this typically would not be such a big deal. The monster chicken breast was taking up major real estate on my plate. I think I moved it around about four times; sticking it on top of casseroles and salads and veggies. Why did I do this?

I'm no rookie at a church lunch. I've been raised in church, I know how to work the table. I know that it's imperative to have a partner on the other side of the table so you can help one another. My partner was, of course, Sarah. Who some how got left in the dust. She was on the slow side. I was behind a vegan, so you know she wasn't stopping until she got to the salads at the end. She had to bypass all the casseroles and ham and pot roast and veggies cooked with bacon - thank god.

By the time I got over the fact that I made a terrible mistake with the chicken and knew I couldn't put it back because the chairperson of the social committee, who monitors the buffet line like a guard at Alcatraz, would try to have me arrested for putting the chicken back, (I'll have to blog about this lady some time. This woman looses sleep over the arrangement of her slices of buffet ham on an oval platter. I can hear her now, "Why can't the platter be a circle??? This oval is ruining everything! I just can't deal with this...........someone please bring me doilies to separate!!!!") I made it back to my seat and I realized that this should all be documented in a cookbook. My church is over 60 years old (I think) and has only ever produced two cook books. The last one was over 15 years ago.


So, I decided to coordinate this grand production. The money that is made will go to aid our mission trip to Brazil in 2010. It's so expensive to go there and the work we do is so necessary. We help build things, administer medicines, conduct revivals, bring clothes, all sorts of things. We've never been able to send more than four people because the cost is so great. We target villages on the Amazon River. Villages whose residents have to walk for HOURS to get anything they need. It's a sad, sad place and they need us there.

I'm hoping that we can raise about $5,000 off of the sale of the cookbook. That would almost pay for one person to go, which would be great.

So, the recipe collection begins this Sunday. I think the book is going to have about 250-300 recipes. I don't want there to be too many because that becomes almost too much. I want solid, go-to recipes. Recipes that DO NOT include the following ingredients:


I want Brenda Mize's chicken salad (and anything else she makes), Diane Pitts' cakes, Kerry Johnson's shrimp salad, Karen Seay's sweet potato casserole, June Mize's creamed corn (or do I really want to know those ingredients?), Barbara Whitfield's carrot cake, Kevin LaCivita's breads and doughs, Doris Ford's red velvet cake......

Is that too much to ask? I think not!

Fundraising for the event has already started and I think we've raised over $2,000 so far. The books should be ready by late summer / early fall. If you're interested in buying one ($15), please leave a comment because we're already receiving requests for copies - I'm telling you, this book is going to be MAGIC! I'll put your name on the list and contact you when they're available.

***Shameless plug alert!***

Also, if you'd like to make a donation to "Mission Brazil 2010" please leave a comment and I will give you the mailing address to the church. Trust me, if you could see the looks on the children's faces, you would donate.

Ok, need a cookbook? Leave a comment!!!