Homeland Center’s Comfort Food Cookbook

Recipes to Curl up with This Season

You want comfort food? Here’s Bacon Swiss Dip. Buffalo Mac ‘n Cheese. Lasagna Rollups. Green Chili Casserole. Meatloaf and Potatoes. Homemade Salisbury Steak.
Maybe the Pretzel Strawberry Salad eases your conscience by at least sounding healthy (if you ignore the pretzels, butter, sugar, cream cheese, strawberry Jello and Cool Whip).
As for the Creamy Brussels Sprouts, Shari Mattern will tell you that the first time she made them, “we basically fought over the leftovers.”

Enough comfort foods to warm a long, dark winter practically tumble off the pages when you open Heritage Recipes from Homeland Center. Published for the 150th anniversary of the renowned Harrisburg retirement community, the cookbook is filled with recipes submitted by residents, staff and volunteers.

Mattern, wife of Board of Trustees member Jeff Mattern, contributed those Brussels sprouts. The secret ingredient? Nutmeg.
“It’s not something you think about putting in, but you can’t skip it, because it really does make a big difference,” she says.

The idea of cookbooks as fundraisers probably goes back to the Druids, but this one is sprinkled with love. Homeland was founded in 1867 by a group of women determined to create a haven for Harrisburg’s destitute Civil War widows and orphans. Since then, a unique, all-female Board of Managers has worked in conjunction with the Board of Trustees to give Homeland its home-like feel, doing everything from scheduling fun events to arranging fresh flowers for the dining room tables.
“It looks so homey, and it’s very classy,” said Mattern. “There are loads of good feelings when you walk in the door.”

The recipes in the cookbook convey that feeling, reflecting decades of meals and gatherings around, say, the Bacon and Egg Brunch Casserole, Peppery Scallops, Oven Beef with Burgundy, and Poppyseed Chicken. Resident Winnie Reese’s recipe for Bert’s Pumpkin Bread, named after her dear friend Bertha, recalls a group that gathered for pinochle.

“The recipe has become sort of a keystone to all of our meals,” said Reese. “Any special meal or dinner, somebody always manages to make that pumpkin bread. It’s the most delicious pumpkin bread.”
For those who want an updated spin on their comfort food, there’s Chipotle-Honey Pork or Orange Soufflés suitable for side dish or dessert. Directions for the Crab Cakes with Smokey Onion Remoulade occupy an entire page, unlike the many dishes that require only six or seven ingredients and a few simple steps.

Now you’re thinking: What about dessert? Conclude your comfort food-a-palooza with the Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Cinnamon Roll Cake, or One Pan Wonder Chocolate Cake. Impress guests by flourishing the Vanilla-Basil Meringue Nests with Strawberries. Fire up the Weber for the Grilled Pineapple with Vanilla-Cinnamon Ice Cream.

For the holidays, Heritage Recipes has got you covered. It makes a great gift, and the Lemon Snowflakes, Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread and Noodle Kugel seem made for holiday traditions. Resident Anita Anthony submitted Mother’s Ranger Cookies, from a recipe passed down by her mother. The crunchy, not overly sweet favorites are easy to make, and they come in handy, said Susan Anthony, Anita Anthony’s daughter.

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

The 86-page, hardbound binder with 185 recipes also features a history of Homeland, current and archival photos from its culinary scene, and helpful hints for preparing and serving dishes. Sections 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” including smoothie recipes and a snack made of oyster crackers flavored with Hidden Valley salad dressing mix.