Who Were Dorothy & Jane? Searching For My Grandparents In 11 Retro Recipes

I hardly knew many of my grandparents.

My parents were the babies of their families. By the time my brother and I were old enough to know our grandparents, they were in declining health or deceased. The one exception was my Grandma Dorothy who lived until she was 94, though she spent her last years in confusion. And sadly, my own mom passed away from cancer two years before her mother Dorothy.

I may not have the opportunity to spend time with my grandparents or mom anymore, but I have a few of their worn and weathered church cookbooks. I feel so connected to them because they contain recipes my mom and grandparents submitted.

Church cookbooks are the best because you know someone didn’t submit a recipe unless it was a family favorite, ole reliable, or worth showing off. I know, because I remember my mom carefully choosing which of her favorite recipes she wanted to submit to her church cookbook.

This week my friend Beth wrote about the beauty of old cookbooks in her post Older is Sometimes Better and I’ll have to agree.

I am going to embarck on a journey to cook all eleven of the recipes my grandmothers had submitted to their church cookbooks.

photo-308I’ve already prepared a couple of them. You can read about how I baked my Grandma Bosson’s Grandmother’s Ginger Cookies  and prepared a cheesy green bean casserole recipe my mom had submitted to a gradeschool cookbook when she was in 1st. grade.

I want honor these recipes by preparing them as closely as possible, even if they don’t sound particuliarily appealing or contain ingredients like canned soups or jello. I’m especially excited about my Grandma Jane’s recipe called Ship Wreck because my mom often mentioned hating it. My brother and I never encountered Shipwreck, but my mom spoke of this casserole with so much loathing that it became legendary in my mind. Imagine my giddiness when I found my grandmother’s exact recipe.

Of all of my grandparents, I knew my Grandma Dorothy the best, but wonder who my grandmother Jane was. I’m hoping I’ll learn more about her. I’m sure we would have gotten along swimmingly because I can tell she loved to cook. We never tried any of these recipes growing up, so this will truly be an adventure.

From Jane Hill’s Kitchen:

  • Frozen Fruit Appetizer
  • Old Southern Fruit Cake
  • Crab Meat Casserole
  • Ship Wreck
  • Ham & Sour Cream Casserole
  • Chicken Marengo
  • Apricot Salad
  • Salad with Cashew Nuts
  • Old Fashioned Cauliflower Salad
  • Pilaf

From Dorothy Bosson’s Kitchen:

  • Hot Crabmeat Sandwiches


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    Oh I LOVE this idea!!! I faintly remember Shipwreck so I wonder if my version is similar to the one you have. I have never made it but I remember it from church pot lucks. What a wonderful way to connect with your Grandmas!!!!

    • Jeni Flaa

      If you ever find a recipe that’s like yours, let me know. We actually made it last night and it wasn’t that bad. I really enjoyed your post the other day. Perfect timing.

  2. Kristin

    Love that you found her recipes! My grandma made us all a recipe book a few years back with all of her favorites. I know I will treasure that for years!

    • Jeni Flaa

      That’s a really nice gift. I think ours left recipe boxes, though I would have to find them.

  3. Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids

    I love this! I’m looking forward to seeing you cook through all of these recipes especially Ship Wrecked – I’m curious and intrigued. And I have to agree, church cookbooks are the best!

  4. Lindsay

    I have a one church recipe book that I received for a wedding shower gift. The best present ever. You are right, they include the BEST recipes.

    • Jeni Flaa

      That’s a wonderful gift!

  5. Renae @Launderlife

    Jeni, what a neat idea to work back through your family’s old recipes. I read a book last year that I think you might like called The Kitchen’s Daughter- if you are a reader, check it out. I’ve never heard of Shipwrecked before but I hope you blog about it if you make it.

    • Jeni Flaa

      Thanks for the recommendation. I love reading.

  6. Cathy

    I am looking forward to hearing about the ham and sour cream casserole. That one sounds pretty tasty to me.

    A few years ago, as I was looking for recipes for my Easter dinner, I spent a lot of time digging through my church cookbooks and decided that it was time for my church to do one. I had fun choosing the recipes that I wanted to submit.

  7. Katey911

    Loving this series, Jeni!

    • Jeni Flaa

      Thank you Katey!

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