Did you know?
Today is National Drive-Thru Day!
A format of service first utilized in America (believe it or not), drive-thru shopping isn't limited to fast food. Banking, postal, and pharmacy operations have long used the method. Consumers can even get married or pick up beer in a drive-thru! But that's not all. There are dairy, grocery, and funeral drive-thrus. I'm not sure I understand attending a funeral from the distance and safety of my vehicle, but people do.
God bless the Free Enterprise System!
I remember the day I saw my first drive-thru dairy bar. We were traveling from North Carolina to Carlyle, PA for a car show. Pennsylvania is an interesting place. The eastern end of the Keystone State is very congested, with urban powerhouse Philadelphia locking down the southern side of the eastern border, while the northern tip seems to blend in with upstate New Jersey, which teems with many suburban commuters heading to New York City every day, among other points around the Megalopolis.
This extreme eastern corridor doesn't, however describe the majority of Pennsylvania. Dotted with several reasonably contained urban population centers, the bulk of the state is very rural, and in fact known for it's high quality dairy products. Based in the southeast, Hershey PA is a mecca for statewide milk delivery. Despite a 4th grade education, Mennonite Milton S. Hershey built his chocolate empire in 1903, establishing yet another blockbuster American company in an age just beginning to see government interference. Squeezing himself between the landmark antitrust legislation acts of the late 1800s, and early 1900s, Hershey was free to be as successful as he wished. He established himself as the dominant confectioner in the region and went on to become a driving philanthropist. A fascinating personage, Hershey's business not only patronized Pennsylvania dairy farms, but was -and still is- dependent on them to produce high quality, rich milk, effectively spreading the wealth far and wide. Hershey, PA is today not just a Milk Mecca. It's a world-class vacation and resort destination. When you visit, you'll find the rumors are true: the air does smell like chocolate.
There are plenty of dairies in Pennsylvania not selling milk to Hershey, however. Many sell directly to consumers through retail outlets like the ubiquitous PA drive-thru dairy bar. I was in my mid 30s before I saw my first cruise-in creamery. A tiny building, an enormous milk bottle nearly dominated the roof that overhung the drive-up windows on each side. Available dairy options included not just milk, but sour cream, ice milk, ice cream, and cheese. Block cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese and cheese curds.
I never met a cheese I didn't like. (Except for one example I found in France which was wrapped in leaves, bound in twine, and alarmingly hairy) I could live on the stuff, and consume it nearly every day in some form or another. I've worked as a cheese marketer, as well as for a local artisan cheesemaker, cutting, wrapping, and brining hefty rounds in large tubs of salty solution. Happy days.
I found today's recipe in the wrong tab section. As I move through the summer, I exhaust my recipe cards each day. So I'm forced to dig deeper in the fringes for surprises, like this morning's Scalloped Cheese.
I know. You're drooling already, aren't you?
I had forgotten about this recipe entirely. It's utterly simple and gorgeously delicious. I copied it out of The Revised Rumford Complete Cookbook. That's Rumford, Rhode Island- another great foodie state- copyright 1939, back when no one apologized for serving real food to their families.
A light soup and salad alongside this terrific, historic dish would create a wonderful, complete family meal, for mere pennies, if you made your own bread and grew your own produce. The options are limitless. Take a page from Milton's book and do it your way.
The Rediscovered Recipe Box #39- Scalloped Cheese
4 slices stale bread, cut into dice
1 cup grated cheese
1 pint milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Put the bread and cheese into a baking-dish, in alternate layers, until the dish is about two-thirds full. Beat the eggs and add to the milk with the seasoning- not forgetting that cheese is sometimes quite salty- and pour over the cheese and bread. Bake half and hour in a moderate oven.