A Dilly Casserole Bread Revisited - No. 240
Bake-Off memories plus a few thoughts on having a change of heart
IN LATE SEPTEMBER OF 1960, the morning after Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy appeared in the first on-camera presidential debate, Leona Schnuelle of rural Nebraska was baking bread at the Grand National Bake-Off in Washington, DC.
Months earlier she had submitted a contest recipe for Dilly Casserole Bread made with her homemade cottage cheese and told her husband Frank that the cheese would be the secret ingredient and win her the $25,000 first prize.
She was right.
This Dilly Casserole Bread is meaningful to me because it was one of the first yeast breads I baked in my own kitchen. Between the Layers subscriber and friend Lou Ann reminded me of the bread earlier this year and sent me her mother’s recipe from the Belle Meade United Methodist Church cookbook.
I thought wistfully back to a time before bread machines, when all bread recipes were hands on and working the dough felt meditative. It still does.
You forget about hurricanes, wildfires, shootings, and even political charades. As many of you know, my state of Tennessee has been in the spotlight regarding a special legislative session that we had hoped would work toward sensible gun legislation. It was a non-event and a frightening display where a speaker of the house cut off those who wished to speak, wouldn’t allow mothers to hold posters, and brought in a force of Tennessee State Troopers to quell the rabble-rousers. (This same speaker is under scrutiny for living outside his district and billing taxpayers $78,000 in per diem expenses.)
It isn’t the first time all eyes have been on the Volunteer State. In 1920, an East Tennessee representative named Harry Burn changed his vote to ‘’aye’’ in a crucial vote ratifying the 19th amendment and granting American women the right to vote. His mother had asked him to do so in a letter, and in spite of resistance from his colleagues and the powerful Jack Daniels liquor lobby, he had a change of heart.
In my hometown today, the Covenant School shooting has begun to change hearts.
Black mothers have grieved for a long time over gun violence in their neighborhoods. Now young white mothers (and dads and grandparents) in a conservative Christian school that was the scene of the tragic March shootings where three children and three adults died have pushed for gun reform. And they find it’s the young African-American representatives Justin Jones (Nashville) and Justin Pearson (Memphis) who are more willing to listen to them than a closed-minded supermajority.
To see the above exchange between Rep. Justin Pearson and Covenant mom Melissa Alexander caught on TV cameras and replayed on Instagram, warmed my heart. I will be curious if it blossoms into a movement of compassion as the resilient Covenant parents seize this providential opportunity to spread love in the midst of tragedy.
I know. I’m an optimist. Many have said this is making national news because the Covenant shooting occurred in a white school in an affluent area of town. And it’s not the first time, so if change can’t come after Sandy Hook or Uvalde or all the other towns in America that have been scenes of gun violence, why Nashville? I’d like to think it’s the same stubborn determination causing a stalemate at our state capital that just might influence safer gun laws. These fired-up mothers just will not take ‘’no’’ for an answer. Nashville is pulling together on this one.
Back to the Bake-Off and Dilly Bread
While the late Nora Ephron described the Pillsbury Bake-Off in a 1973 essay for Esquire as “like being locked overnight in a bakery—a very bad bakery,’’ no doubt the Pillsbury Bake-Off, first known as the Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest, for better or worse, has shaped what America has baked.