Apple Betty & Sloppy Joe: Stirring Up the Past with Family Recipes and Stories

Susan Sanvidge, Author, Diane Sanvidge Seckar, Author, Jean Sanvidge Wouters, Author Wisconsin Historical Society Press $18.95 (383p) ISBN 978-0-87020-386-2

This curious collection is one part retro cookbook, three parts family scrapbook. Crammed with childhood photographs and fond family memories, this volume from the four Sanvidge sisters, who grew up in Wisconsin in the 1960s, feels uncomfortably similar to crashing someone else's reunion. Text accompanying a recipe for Ground Beef and Mashed Potato Casserole, for instance, reads, ""Dad didn't like this one at first... so mom would make it only when he went hunting."" Other commentary covers Julie's lousy singing voice, the family bus (""Red Rover"") and vacations at the lake-sweet, but almost entirely irrelevant to any reader looking for background on a particular dish. Not that most recipes invite close examination; the authors excavate largely musty, unadorned dishes like Spamwiches, Tuna Noodle Casserole, Meat Loaf and Twice-Baked Potatoes (the casserole requires a can of mushroom soup, the meatloaf is brushed with ketchup, etc.). Even more bizarre are non-recipes like Cereal in a Bowl (""Make sure there's milk in the refrigerator""). Anyone with a soft spot for mid-Century Midwestern cuisine, or a voyeuristic interest in other people's families, might enjoy this offbeat collection.
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