Think, Eat, Be Healthy

“Mary Meade’s Country Cookbook” Review

Roasted vegetable terrine with mushroom sauce, garlic mashed boniatoe and sauteed vegetables

“Mary Meade’s Country Cookbook” by Ruth Ellen Church is full of great American food recipes that work just the way they are written.

“Mary Meade’s Country Cookbook” is a different kind of book review for Think, Eat, Be Healthy. I usually review newly published books about health and/or food topics providing the latest information. But “Mary Meade” has been my favorite cookbook for thirty years and was first published in 1964.

The author of this cookbook, Mary Ellen Church, spent more than twenty years at the Chicago Tribune newspaper as food editor. All of the recipes in “Mary Meade’s Country Cookbook” were kitchen tested and previously published in the Tribune’s food column. At 376 pages, there are more than 600 delicious recipes from America’s heartland.

The recipes in this book are from a different time. Food was still at least mostly being grown organically by small local farmers. People still expected to cook if they wanted to eat, not have a corporation cook their meals for them. Food meant fresh meat or fish or vegetables and there were few ingredients labels because there was only one ingredient. Use those ingredients in these recipes today(yes, they are still available) for real whole food health.

Mary Meade's Country Cookbook

The illustrations in “Mary Meade’s Country Cookbook” are adorable and suit the book admirably.

Mary Meade is my “go-to” book for American “real” food. Nearly every recipe in the book qualifies for the healthy whole food diet. The few that don’t are baking recipes that use only white flour.

But the baking recipes in “Mary Meade”s Country Cookbook” are just outstanding.  This is the only cookbook I have ever owned that every baking recipe worked the first time exactly as written. And they are recipes of superb staples such as ginger snap cookies, biscuits, pound cake, muffins, dinner rolls, corn bread, and cinnamon rolls. The Swedish tea ring might be the single best sweet bread recipe ever.

Hearty and light entrees are also covered thoroughly. From beef, chicken, lamb, veal and wild game to vegetables, grains and beans, anyone can find an “all-American” meal in “Mary Meade’s Country Cookbook. And though the disclaimer in the front of the book says these are not gourmet recipes, they are certainly delicious and suitable for any family or guests.

Mary Meade's Country Cookbook

No credit is given in the book to the illustrator.

I also love the recipe variations in this cookbook. Ruth Ellen Church includes alternate ingredients and adjustments to get the most from every recipe for every occasion. There is even a section on “this and that” to make use of scraps and trimmings, oddball pieces of meat and leftovers.

This book is long out of print. I found my first copy while browsing a small used book store in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My wife and I used it so often that multiple blocks of pages detached from the binding and the pages were worn and dog-eared. Several years ago my wife asked for another copy for her birthday and I found several for sale on Amazon. The edition I bought was published in 1993. If you like to cook and want to explore true American recipes, fare made with real, whole food, it is well worth tracking down a copy of “Mary Meade’s Country Cookbook” to add to your kitchen shelf.

Mary Meade's Country Cookbook

I don’t think these lambs know they are on the menu.