Often referred to as “the western equivalent of the clambake,” the milk can dinner started out as a popular way to feed a crowd in the old west. To prepare the meal, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, Polish sausage, onions, and corn on the cob are steamed over an open fire. Once a year, in Hancock County, you can try it for yourself at Tuttle Orchards.
To be honest, before I started serving on the Hancock County Historical Society (HCHS) board a few months ago, I had never heard of such a thing. Phyllis Kingen, who also serves on the board, started the tradition in Hancock County in 2008. She first discovered the recipe in a 1994 Taste of Home magazine, which she still has. (This is a fact; she showed it to me!) Intrigued by the idea, she started preparing the dinners for special gatherings, and when the HCHS was looking for a way to raise funds a few years ago, she suggested they give her specialty a try.
“The first year everybody was skeptical,” she said, but the event has brought in over $1000 for the organization for the past three years. Since the dinners began, she has accumulated four milk cans. These can be hard to find, so she takes extra special care of them so we can enjoy this unique event once a year in Hancock County.