Schwartie’s Potatoes + News!

Classy chicken & Schwartie's potatoes 1

What a week, guys. I don’t even know where to start. I started the week with Jamie Oliver in London, then flew back for a midweek dinner party at Rouge, where it was announced that my pals Sue, Elizabeth and I would be the next generation of the Best of Bridge ladies.

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For those of you who are not Canadian, or Western Canadian, and may not be familiar with BofB, it was a group of Calgary ladies who played bridge together and, back in 1975 on a weekend trip to the cabin, came up with the idea to write and self-publish their own cookbook. Their first hand-lettered, coil-bound book was a hit, and turned into a series – one that fed most families in Western Canada throughout the eighties. I grew up in the same neighbourhood, and was friends with some of their daughters, and have memories of sleepovers at which the Bridge moms would be testing recipes. Everyone in our community used the books and supported their endeavour – which included convincing the bank loan officer to give them a loan without requiring their husbands’ signatures, and loading copies of books into their hatchbacks and driving to bookstores (and drugstores and department stores) to convince them to buy a few copies. They truly were the first to introduce me to the concept of self-publishing, and it’s no exaggeration to say they inspired my career path early on.

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Fast forward to today and they’ve sold 4 million books and have become Canadian icons – their signature polka-dot ruffled aprons (they’d come up with a new matching set for each book) are in the Glenbow Museum. There are four of the original 8 ladies left – Mary, Val, Joan and Helen – and they’re in their seventies, ready to retire. And they’ve trusted us to carry on the brand. And so chef Jamie and the good folks at Rouge hosted a dinner party featuring some of the most iconic Bridge recipes – Hamburger Soup, Christmas Morning Wifesaver, Classy Chicken, Schwartie’s Potatoes (named after a family friend), and Butter Tarts. It was crazy awesome. I cried, and not because of the wine + jetlag.

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Although this has been in the works for months, it was all made public at the party – which triggered a flurry of congratulations and happy Bridge memories for which I’m eternally grateful – and so I had to share here, with a few recipes that we (truly) still make today. Classy Chicken continues to be my Dad’s favourite meal, and Schwartie’s potatoes is the sort of casserole that requires no actual cooking skills, just stirring and sliding into the oven – it could be made with fresh potatoes, or with some cream in place of the soup – whatever combo you come up with, it’s like scalloped potatoes without all the work of thinly slicing, nor risking your fingertips on a mandolin.

Classy chicken & Schwartie's potatoes 1
Classy chicken & Schwartie's potatoes 1

Schwarties Potatoes

Recipe link

  

May 23, 2015

From Enjoy! by the Best of Bridge - the only change I made is to sometimes reduce the tins of soup to 1, and add more Parmesan on top - because you always need a cheesier top.

  • Makes: Serves 8-10.

Ingredients

2 lbs. (1 kg) frozen hash brown potatoes

2 cups sour cream

1-2 cans mushroom soup

1/2 cup butter, melted

grated onion, to taste

salt to taste

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1Thaw potatoes slightly. Mix potatoes, sour cream, mushroom soup, butter, onion, salt and cheddar cheese in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

2Sprinkle Parmesan on top and bake at 350F for 1 hour.

Makes: Serves 8-10.
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30 comments on “Schwartie’s Potatoes + News!

  1. Meaghan
    May 23, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I burst out laughing reading your post today because I just ate a “wifesaver” casserole for the first time this morning (made by someone else; I had never heard of it before), and both the potato casserole and fancy chicken bring back strong memories of family parties. I had no idea these were recipes from the Best of Bridge but clearly they have made an impact throughout Canada. (I live in Ontario!) Congratulations on joining the team!! Maybe you will add some new classics that my own children will one day remember with fondness:)

  2. Lorrie
    May 23, 2015 at 9:13 am

    This is exciting news! I have all of the B of B cookbooks and many of their recipes are still family favorites. Look forward to you and your team’s spin on this brand.

  3. Melanie
    May 23, 2015 at 9:50 am

    I could see why you would have tears! I would have them for you too! So amazing! Linking to previous generations and such influences on our lives is so, so important and so very meaningful!

  4. Heather
    May 23, 2015 at 11:46 am

    What great news! My mom still has a BoB cookbook – I think the very first one. If I remember correctly that’s where she got the recipe for hamburger soup which was a staple when I was growing up. And still is. I’ve never made anything with the cans of soup because that doesn’t appeal to me so much – how does that taste?

    Anyhow I’m very excited a bout this news! congrats!

  5. Carol S-B
    May 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Oh, this is so big. Wow! Congratulations, Julie. Your team will be awesome. (but do you have to learn how to play Bridge?)

  6. Allison
    May 23, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    congrats Julie – you are the perfect ambassador to continue this tradition!

    My Christmas morning would not be complete without Schwartzies and Land of Nod cinnamon rolls. Thanks to the wonderful ladies who made this possible.

    Two years ago I went digital and got rid of every cookbook in my house EXCEPT my collection of Best of Bridge (and my One Smart Cookie). I use these books probably one or two times per week.

    Can’t wait to see the next instalment (have you designed the aprons yet?)

  7. Linnea
    May 23, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I grew up the same as you…Classy Chicken and hung out at the home on the Elbow River at a Best of Bridge homeowner! It’s still my go to cookbooks….
    Linnea

  8. Linnea
    May 23, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    What a honor to take over this wonderful cookbook… Being Canadian and lived in the S.W Calgary.

  9. Donann
    May 23, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Julie a huge accomplishment! I personally am not a natural cook so have turned to these cookbooks and your blog site for years to get through every cooking episode in my life. I can’t thank you enough and now look forward to many more gastromic delights from my kitchen.

  10. Gail
    May 23, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Congratulations……I am so very excited to hear that the tradition continues. I, too, have all the BoB cookbooks. Every member of our family has a fav. From Aces for my brother to Classy Chicken for my daughter. Look forward to seeing what TNG comes up with. :-)

  11. Margaret@KitchenFrau
    May 24, 2015 at 6:57 am

    Congratulations, Julie! I have all the Best of Bridge cookbooks, too. I remember they were the cooking bibles when we lived in Calgary in the 80’s, and it seemed like every staff party and snack day at the school where I worked included at least one or more delicious dishes that came from these great books. My copies are splattered and stained and much-loved. You’ll be an amazing next-generation B of B lady/chef/author! I’m so excited to see it all continue.

  12. Mia
    May 24, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Congratulaations Julie! I am so incredibly happy for you.

  13. Michael
    May 24, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Omg, omg. Best of Bridge is ICONIC! In my family, we used to fight for the browned edged of the Schwartie’s potatoes. And by fight, I mean fight dirty. This is fantastic news, and I can’t wait to buy copies of the new book for everyone I know. When will it hit the shelves?

  14. 911shazza
    May 24, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Congratulations. What a truly special honour. You are my go to website for recipes I know will be successful at our altitude etc. You are a perfect fit for this, and I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with!!

  15. Laurie from Richmond
    May 24, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I’m so glad to hear this! You’re the best one to help keep the tradition going, Julie. :) Imagine being in London with Jamie Oliver! What a coup! And the books top it – imagine meeting Jamie Oliver and it’s not even the biggest news!

  16. christine
    May 24, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Julie, When I moved to Calgary in 1984 we were invited to a dinner with some friends of my husband’s. Our hostess made every item that night out of the BOB, a cookbook this Ontario 24 year old transplant had never heard of. We were enjoying the pre-dinner cocktails and our hostess had a few too many and went to bed before the first course. I jumped in to help with the end of the dinner prep, finishing up the classy chicken and the schwarties’s potatoes. My taste and my cooking has evolved over the years, in no small part due to the many things I learned from the BOB and many, many things from you. I am thrilled for you, and for all of us!

  17. Laura
    May 24, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Julie, Congratulations. I have held on to my BOB cookbooks, splattered pages and all. It’s wonderful to hear there are plans to keep the tradition going. Hamburger soup is a family favourite and the cheddar olive puffs a Christmas must have. Delighted to know you are part of this.

  18. Lana
    May 25, 2015 at 8:10 am

    OK. The Classy Chicken recipe is one that is a family favourite since I was a teen and I don’t think any of us knew it was BofB recipe! Someone wrote it down for my Mom and I think it’s just been known as “Colleen’s Chicken”. “Schwarties” has been a brunch staple for my family as long as I remember, too, altho I knew that was a BofB recipe. You mentioned Hamburger Soup which is a fav for my own husband and children, and Wifesaver was our Christmas Morning tradition as I was growing up. Also- PAVLOVA is a beloved one. I am so THRILLED that you are the next generation of BofB. HURRAY! What an honour!I can’t imagine anyone better for the job :) xoxox

  19. Corine
    May 25, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Congratulations!! How exciting!

  20. shelby
    May 25, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Julie, Congratulations! You deserve this honor. I stumbled upon your blog about a year ago and every recipe I have tried for my family has been a smash hit. Thank you. Being from Portland, Oregon I had never heard of the Best of Bridge nor of the Bridge Ladies and their polka dot aprons, what an inspiring story. You will hold the torch well. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

  21. kickpleat
    May 25, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Congratulations, Julie! I remember finding a best of bridge book at the thrift store when I moved to Vancouver and I picked it up because it seemed so very western Canada. Yay!!

  22. Jocelyn Colquhoun
    May 25, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Julie I’m so happy for you! You are the perfect person to carry the torch. Both my husband Alec and I came into our marriage with the Best of Bridge books. I think I married him because he made me some great dinners from those books! I was so impressed! Wonderful news.

  23. Heather
    May 25, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Congratulations!! My aunt gave me the “Best of the Best” 10 years ago as a wedding shower gift. I was so excited to see all of my childhood favourites in one spot!! Its the one cookbook I recommend for anyone just getting into cooking.

  24. Kari McTavish
    May 25, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    That is fabulous news! I’m in my forties and I use the Best Of Bridge cookbooks almost daily! They are a permanent fixture in my kitchen. I have most of them! They are very user friendly and I always have the ingredients that the recipes call for on hand. My mom and aunts have used their recipes for many years. I’m so excited that you will be carrying on the tradition!

  25. Bonnie
    May 26, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Hamburger Soup is still one of my family and friends’ most requested recipes!!!
    It doesn’t have a very appealing name, granted, but it tastes fantastic!!!

  26. Bernice
    May 26, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    hmmm. At first thought I didn’t think I had eaten any food from the BoB series but ‘Schwartie’s Potatoes’ were at every potluck and family gathering while I was growing up…I just didn’t know they had a name!

  27. Patti
    May 29, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Agree with above,from the west,lived in Calgary,have all BOB cookbooks,among my favorite,well used. So happy to have found Julie,recipes and her style!
    Thank you,look forward to more great recipes and ideas!

  28. Michelle
    May 30, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Congrats! I am so thrilled with this news! Best of Bridge has always held a special place on my mother’s recipe shelf (and now mine). You’ll do an amazing job of carrying on the legacy!

  29. Trudy
    June 9, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    What a delightful coincidence to read your post as I sit here with my mug full of B of B Hamburger Soup. Such very good memories of reading through the recipes with my sister in Sherwood Park or my sister-in-law in Saskatoon, trying to decide which recipes to try this time round. We all have our favorite recipes from the series that we continue to make to this day. Dinners and neighbourhood potlucks were always delicious thanks to The Best of Bridge Ladies. Congratulations and best wishes to all the Ladies, originals and newcomers!

  30. Anita
    June 16, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I still make Wifesaver and Cup-of-Everything cookies, but truthfully….I garage-saled all my BoB cookbooks a few years ago because we have had your site as our inspirational homepage for years…and a cupboard full of grease-stained, sauced print-outs to prove it. You’re definately a perfect BoB lady Julie!

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