Does a culture determine what kind of food you eat? Of course it does! For many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes mistakenly called the “Mormon Church”) there is a certain way of cooking, a certain culture.

Mormons celebrate ThanksgivingWhen Mormons gather together for parties, celebrations, funerals, etc. there is usually  food.  At these functions, people sign up to bring various dishes, sometimes with prescribed recipes, and other times “pot luck.” Typically the way it is organized is that when somebody signs up for an assignment they bring a lot of what ever they signed up for, be it a salad, main dish, dessert, or whatever (this idea makes my family dinners a lot less stressful on my parents when they host for their kids and grandkids)!   Because Mormons tend to have large families, many recipes are family-oriented, things the kids will like, and easy on the budget.  Many Mormons use whole grains and other healthy ingredients, and food they have stored for emergencies.

Funeral potatoes
1/2 cup melted butter, plus 3 tablespoons
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
1/2 to 1 cup milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 large bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 cup crushed cornflakes (or Panko bread crumbs)

Mix the 1/2 cup butter, the soup and the sour cream in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, then the cheese and frozen potatoes. Mix well. Put into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Crush the cornflakes and add the 3 tablespoons melted butter. They should be crumbs. Sprinkle on top of potato mixture. Bake at 350 for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes or until the top is well browned.
Meatloaf cakes
An Ann Romney specialty, according to the New York Times (March 12, 2012)

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
4 slices bread crumbled into small pieces or 3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1 large egg
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons seasoned salt

For the sauce:
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

For the meatloaf cakes: Heat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl combine the ground beef, crumbled bread or bread crumbs, egg, onion, lemon juice and seasoned salt. Mix lightly but thoroughly and shape into six small loaves. Space evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce: In a small bowl mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard and spices. When the meatloaf cakes have baked for 15 minutes brush each loaf with sauce and return to the oven. Keep baking until they are 165 degrees in the center when tested with an instant read thermometer, about 20 more minutes. When serving pass additional sauce.
Election cake
This recipe is from Lucille Hassler, of Pine Island. who was born when Warren Harding was president. She was in third grade when Calvin Coolidge was running for the office. Election cake appeared in the White House Cookbook, last published in 1887.

2 cups milk
2 half-cups of sugar
1 cup yeast
5 cups flour
1-3/4 cups butter and lard mixed
2 eggs
1/2 a nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 pound raisins
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Brown sugar is much better than white for this kind of cake, and it is improved by dissolving a half teaspoonful of soda in a tablespoonful of milk in the morning.

Cream shortening and sugar. Warm milk and stir into flour. Mix with the first mixture. Add yeast. Add eggs, well beaten. Beat well and let rise in a warm place overnight. In the morning add raisins which have been floured, and the spices, molasses and lemon juice. Beat well. Put into a buttered and floured loaf pan and let rise until double. Bake one hour in a slow oven at 325 degrees. (Mormon Recipes)

The citizens of the state of Utah consume more Jell-o™ than in any other state, so a Jell-o™ recipe must be included here:

Raspberry Pretzel Salad

2 ½ cups thin pretzel sticks
1/3 cup melted butter
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1 (8 oz) tub of Cool Whip™ or sweetened whipped cream
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 large package raspberry or cranberry-raspberry Jell-o
2 (10 oz) packages frozen raspberries, slightly thawed
1 (15 oz) can crushed pineapple

Melt butter and pour into a 9 x 13’ pan.  Break pretzels in half. Stir with butter and pat into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400◦. Remove from oven and cool.  In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, whipped cream, and sugar.  Drop by spoonfuls on top of pretzels and spread over the top, getting a good seal around the edges.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or more.  Bring water to a boil and add Jell-o.  Cool in fridge until syrupy (while creamed mixture is cooling, about 30 minutes into the hour).  Add slightly thawed raspberries to syrupy Jell-o.  Mix in the pineapple.  Pour carefully over the cream mixture.  Refrigerate several hours or overnight.  Eat within 2-3 days for crisp pretzels (Mt. Mahogany 1st Ward, Pleasant Grove, Utah).

These recipes are just a little expression of the “Mormon culture.” Now we know that Mormons, and Mormon families as a whole, are counseled to be healthy in every aspect. That is why in the Word of Wisdom (a revelation given to Joseph Smith) counsels to not partake of drugs, alcohol, tea, coffee, or tobacco (Doctrine and Covenants 89). But does that mean that we can’t eat some fatty foods or sugary treats along the way? Of course not, there is moderation in all things.

Though food plays a big part of the culture, the most important “food” is the food for the soul—which is found through Jesus Christ. He Himself declared, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35).

I invite you to learn more about Jesus Christ by studying His life in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and by meeting with Mormon missionaries. I am a Mormon and I love being a Mormon—not only for the yummy food, but also most importantly for the goodness that it offers me in allowing me to “come unto Christ” (Thomas S. Monson, “They Will Come,” Ensign, May 1997, 44).

This article was written by Ashley Bell, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

About ashley
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.

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