As many of you know, hotdish has become my favorite aspect of becoming Midwestern. Not only is it a delicious meal, but the word itself epitomizes the unique quarkiness that I love about the local culture. When I posted Try the Hotdish, requesting recipes to make my first hotdish, it quickly became one of my most commented posts. What was great about the comments was not only did I receive a flood of hotdish recipes, but also hilarious comments about what “hotdish” means to people. Nearly a month later, I still receive a comment or two a week with a new hotdish recipe to add to my growing repertoire. My biggest fan (my mom) even mentioned I had so many recipes I should make a cookbook. Being the stubborn daughter I am and more focused on finishing up the semester as best I could, I laughed and changed the subject.
As the holiday season approached, I began to stress about what to get my family and friends for Christmas. Not only am I on a very limited grad student budget, but I also am spending Christmas in Fargo which means shipping all my gifts to people on both sides of the country. As I began to ponder what to get, I remembered what my mom had suggested. There were a lot of recipes, and what better way to give my family a taste of the Midwest then by literally giving them and opportunity to taste a piece of the Midwest (with some assembly required)?
Over the next few weeks (during my procrastination from writing final papers) I pulled together a 20 page cookbook using an online book program. However, I didn’t want to just include recipes. I felt like to really get the full effect of hotdish, I needed to include quotes from commenters about what a hotdish really was. Examples included:
“Casserole & Hotdish are easy to tell apart. Casserole is served in a casual setting when you still need to impress (eg extended family & friends over for casual dinner). Hotdish is served in very casual settings, when there is no need to impress, or when large quantities are needed (eg children, potlucks). The same recipes are used for both. Either is acceptable for immediate family, church basements and tailgater, depending on your level of insecurity.”
“A hotdish is the most beautiful Norwegian girl you have ever met at a church pot-luck dinner in Grand Forks, or elsewhere. Makes a casserole look rather uninteresting. Besides, you can’t marry a casserole.”
With the cookbooks completed, I mailed them off to far reaches of the country. It didn’t take long before a few family members called me about their Christmas present (I come from a family of impatient individuals when it comes to waiting to open Christmas presents). They loved it! My sister even took it to her office in Oregon and showed it to a transplanted Minnesotan who began to reminisce about home. I couldn’t have been more pleased that hotdish brought cheer and a greater understanding of the unique culture that is the Midwest to those unfamiliar with it.
So thank you again to everyone who submitted recipes. You truly helped make my holiday giving a success. Merry Christmas!