Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell – Casserole and Cookies

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By Andy Bedwell

I do not know if church homecomings happen outside of the South, but if you get a chance to go to one, please do so! We always tried to have these events in the summer at our little Eastside Presbyterian Church in East Gadsden. Our service would focus on the families who had come home, and then everyone would enter the fellowship hall where one would see tables of potluck dishes featuring casseroles, mounds of fried chicken, roasts, ham and dishes that you might not even have recognized. The dishes were all homemade by the best cooks that I’ve ever known. Everyone ate too much because you just had to taste everything. I was always fascinated by cooking and by food itself. Preparation of food could be magical in the hands of those little ladies in the kitchen of Eastside Presbyterian.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole
4 cups cooked chicken, diced
¾ cups chicken broth
2 cans of cream of chicken soup (what would we do without this soup?)
1 cup diced celery
2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup hand grated cheese
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 stack saltine crackers, crushed
½ stick butter melted

Mix all ingredients together except the last two. Put in a large flat casserole dish. Mix the last two ingredients and spread over the top of the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Andy’s Note: This is the kind of dish that one would carry to a potluck and it not just be an ordinary chicken casserole. It is so delicious and easy!

Janice Lankford’s Asparagus Casserole
2 cans whole asparagus (save the liquid)
1 can English peas
2 boiled eggs
2 cans cream of mushroom soup plus ½ can
of asparagus liquid
8 ounces hand grated extra-sharp cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Layer asparagus, peas, eggs, cheese and end with soup. This will probably do two layers. Crumble with saltine crackers crumbs on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Andy’s Note: Janice, who married my cousin Barry Lankford of Attalla, gave me this recipe several weeks ago. She said that it had been in her family for years. Every Christmas, Janice makes all of her children one of these casseroles to carry home. My aunt Sue Lankford was one of the best cooks in Attalla, and I think she would be so proud of Janice.

G-R-E-A-T Cookies
2 cups frosted flakes
¾ cup quick oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup Crisco oil

Mix all ingredients. Drop by tablespoon on an ungreased cookie sheet. Leave room between each cookie because they will spread. Bake at 325 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove while warm so cookies will be crisp as they cool.

Andy’s Note: My mother loved for me to make these cookies. She was one of my best critics. When she approved of one of my recipes, I immediately separated it from the others.

Happy Cooking, Andy

“Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell” can be purchased at The Messenger newspaper at 1957 Rainbow Drive and Alabama Gift Company in downtown Gadsden.

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