“Heritage Recipes from Homeland Center” cookbook recalls family gatherings


To celebrate the special role of food in the care, sheltering, and gathering of people since 1867, Homeland has released a commemorative, 150th anniversary cookbook, “Heritage Recipes from Homeland Center.”

The 86-page, hardbound binder features 185 recipes contributed by Homeland Center board members, residents, volunteers, family members, staff and friends. Each recipe is as flavorful as the memories they conjure.Phoebe Berner for resized for website min

“Homeland has thrived for 150 years by sticking to our core mission of providing excellent care, and by embracing change,” said President and CEO Barry Ramper II. “Enjoying food as we celebrate special occasions and go about our daily lives is a constant at Homeland, so it’s only appropriate that we mark our anniversary with a cookbook where the main ingredient of every recipe is love.”

Homeland resident Phoebe Berner’s recipe for Lemon Cake Pudding represents a group of friends who met for shared dinners at each other’s houses for 50 years.

“We’d play cards and have a cocktail first,” she said. “Some moved out of the area, so some other people came into the group. Some got sick and died a little early. So then there were other substitutes. It just kept going. We were very close friends.”

Over the years, Berner became known for her lemon desserts, which “go with so many things,” she said.

“One of the fellows said one night, ‘Well, what kind of lemon dessert did you bring tonight?’” she recalled. “We all were pretty good cooks. In those days, we really did eat at home most of the time. We enjoyed it.”

Homeland Board of Managers member Gail Holland contributed 10 recipes, many from an 80-page cookbook she compiled when her grown daughters kept asking for recipes to their favorite dishes. Her recipes are no-fail and easy to cook, like the seven-ingredient cheeseburger pie.

“My grandchildren love that cheeseburger pie,” she said. “It is so easy and so inexpensive. You always have those ingredients in the house, so you don’t have to go running out for them.”

Holland volunteers her time to Homeland because “they really do care about their residents.”

“They all try very, very hard to meet the residents’ needs,” she said. “I walk around the dining room and talk to people, and they’re truly happy. They love it. That’s heartwarming.”

Resident Jim Phillips contributed recipes from his “journey with food.”

He first learned to cook when his mother, blind due to glaucoma, would talk him through the process of making dinner. Serving in a religious order for a time, he learned to cook for 140 retreat guests every weekend.

Jim Phillips resized for website minTime among “beans and rice environments,” such as counseling teens in New York City and with a Mennonite church community that couldn’t always afford meat, taught him how to make nutritious and flavorful but budget-conscious dishes like his Russian vegetable pie. His cranberry relish recipe recalls the “directed pot luck” holiday meals he organized for single friends when he lived in Hershey.

Almost anything, including cooking, can become a ministry, Phillips believes.

“Food has a two-fold purpose,” he says. “There’s a physical purpose of strengthening your body and maintaining your health, but there’s a spiritual purpose. It represents the fact that God provides, and the provision doesn’t always come the way you think it will. It becomes a means to build community.”

Winnie Reese’s contribution, Bert’s Pumpkin Bread, recalls her friend Bertha, who was part of a group that got together over pinochle – “no money. Just fun.”

“She was a dear, dear friend,” Reese says. “The recipe has become sort of a keystone to all of our meals. Any special meal or dinner, somebody always manages to make that pumpkin bread. It’s the most delicious pumpkin bread.”

Resident Anita Anthony’s submission for Mother’s Ranger Cookies was passed down from her mother, Viola Mangold. Anita’s daughter, Susan Anthony, recalls that the cookies were easy to make and came in handy.

“You make a bunch of cookies for the family, but you also make some for the church, and for those who were ill,” she said. “You could make a lot of them without a lot of trouble and give a ton of them away.”

The ranger cookies – Anthony doesn’t know the origin of the name – are crunchy and “not really sweet.”

“Mom was always big on having tins of cookies,” she says. “She had her little tins and her bigger tins. This was the cookie that everybody seemed to like.”

Even Brussels sprouts, once maligned but now making a comeback, have a place in the Homeland cookbook, with the Creamy Brussels Sprouts submitted by Board of Trustees member Jeff Mattern and his wife, Shari Mattern.

“As a kid, Brussels sprouts were so horrible,” she says. “When I came across this recipe, I made it one evening, and we fought over the leftovers.”

Shari prefers using fresh Brussels sprouts she buys in stalks from a local farm market. The surprise ingredient is nutmeg.

“It’s not something you think about putting in, but you can’t skip it because it does make a big difference,” she says.

The cookbook, which makes a great gift, also features a history of Homeland, current and archival photos from its culinary scene, and helpful hints for preparing and serving the dishes in each section. Recipes are organized by appetizers and beverages, soups and salads, vegetables and side dishes, main dishes, breads and rolls, desserts, cookies and candy, and “this and that.”

Cookbooks are $25, with proceeds helping provide benevolent care for Homeland residents whose resources have been exhausted. To purchase, call the Homeland Development Office at 717-221-7885.