What’s Cooking, Grinnell?

Ann Poor Cary ’81

In 2017 President Raynard S. Kington approached the Alumni Council with the idea of creating an Alumni Community Cookbook. The project’s inspiration came from a 1975 Grinnell alumni cookbook, which talked about the role food plays in building community and creating space for people to set aside their differences and engage in fellowship. Whether forging lifelong friendships in the dining hall or attending summer alumni picnics, potluck dinners, or happy hours, Grinnellians have a history of coming together around the table.

So, what are you having for dinner tonight? Have you tried any new dishes offered in the cookbook? What are you taking to your next alumni potluck? Tell us at magazine[at]grinnell[dot]edu, subject: cookbook. Photos welcome.

The current cookbook was a collaborative effort involving many participants from the Grinnell College community. The Alumni Council targeted a release date, found an Iowa company to print the book, and issued a request for recipes throughout the College and alumni communities. Development and alumni relations staff created a webpage and form for recipe submissions, and the Pioneer Bookshop agreed to sell the book in the store and online.

The request for recipes went out, and submissions came in from alumni, faculty, and staff. The goal was to collect at least 150 recipes. We received more than 230 from alumni classes spanning more than 50 years. The council wanted to tie in the first cookbook, compiled by Charlotte Cathcart Maselli ’29, with the new one, so we featured some recipes from the original edition, including Maselli’s recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms Parma (Page 27 of the new cookbook).

The book also includes brief reminiscences about our culinary experiences at Grinnell. I fondly remember “steak night” and chicken Kiev. Sunday night, however, salmon croquettes were the featured menu item, which caused many of us to flee into town for a sandwich at the Peppercorn Deli, a meal at the Longhorn, or a pizza from Pagliai’s.

When Nancy Garrett Logan ’59 was at Grinnell, the town didn’t offer a lot of restaurant choices or fast food options, so she and the other women in the Loose Hall basement cooked. Try their Loose Hall Girls’ Stew (Page 121). Brigham Hoegh ’08 writes about a special friendship with Jingsheng Sheng Wang ’08 that began in the First-Year Tutorial and was enhanced by cooking Mapo Tofu (Page 53) many times together at Grinnell. Alyssa Manz ’13 sent in her dairy-free Avocado-Lime Matcha Pound Cake recipe (Page 204) that substitutes avocado for butter. She writes, “Isn’t being different what Grinnellians are best at?”

The Alumni Council took on the alumni cookbook project with the idea that it would help promote communication among alums and foster the sense of community. It prompted Edward Senn ’79 to contact Mary Knuth Otto ’63 about her Maine Seafood Bake recipe (Page 33). Although he got the seafood ingredients he needed at his local farmers’ market, he wasn’t sure which type of sherry to use. Mary says it was a fun and spontaneous phone call that only happened because of the cookbook.

The cookbook forges a link between Grinnellians from many different generations across the globe. At Commencement this year, graduates received a copy as a gift from the Alumni Association. Many of the parents appreciated the practicality of this gift, but we hope our newest alumni will appreciate it as a “welcome to the community” gift.

That je ne sais quoi that connects Grinnellians is made stronger by gathering around the table.

Share / Discuss