Grammar Grappler #30: Combine Together the Following Ingredients

Following graduation from Mississippi State University, I moved back to my hometown and worked that summer and fall at my hometown newspaper. One of the most fun projects I contributed to during that time was the Thanksgiving recipe publication.

All of our wonderful community cooks would send their favorite recipes to the newspaper, and we would publish a cookbook in time for the holidays. These often were highly sought-after recipes—the ones you always looked forward to at the church potluck. Certain cooks were known for certain dishes. Readers always wanted Mrs. Griffith’s coveted banana pudding recipe, or to know how Mrs. Cole made those tasty mini cherry tarts. My own mom was known for her caramel brownies and her sour cream banana cake.

My job was to collect the recipes, organize them into sections, and retype them for layout. However, this was once-upon-a-time before email. Contributors would handwrite their recipes and mail them to the newspaper office. Each day I would gather the index cards and the sheets of notebook paper and try to decipher the cursive writing

We developed a style guide for the recipe collection, and I double-checked each entry to make sure we were using T. for tablespoon and t. for teaspoon. We didn’t want some recipes referring to “1 stick of butter” and others “1/2 c. butter.” So, my main task was to edit for consistency. And, there was one phrase I had to edit every time I saw it: combine together. To this day, that phrase causes me to shudder.

Numerous cooks would contribute recipes with wording such as, “Combine together the following ingredients.” And each time I spotted it, I deleted together. Combine together is redundant. It’s simply combine. The same goes for when you hear someone say join together. It’s simply join.

So, in the spirit of this community cookbook, I thought I’d share one of the recipes I contributed. Nowhere in it will you find the phrase “combine together the following ingredients,” even though you pretty much just dump everything into a bowl, stir, and bake.

Spinach Artichoke Spread

1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained, removing all excess liquid

1 c. mayonnaise

1 c. grated parmesan cheese

Dash of garlic powder

Mix all ingredients. Transfer mixture to a greased glass pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until bubbly. Serve warm with an assortment of crackers.


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