Last week I was in the kitchen with my nearly vintage Mennonite Community Cookbook (1978) creased open to page 155 where I checked out the recipe for sautéed (Okay, I’ll admit, it’s fried!) egg-plant. Hours later when my new and improved Mennonite Community Cookbook arrived in the mail, I quickly turned to page 155, and behold there was the same egg-plant recipe contributed by Mrs. Hubert Pellman, wife of one of my favorite English professors at EMC. No, I didn’t use the new cookbook because I didn’t want to splotch it up. But when I switch over I’ll enjoy the spiral notebook style of binding and other updates on the new edition.
Blurb from the Old Mennonite Community Cookbook: First published in 1950, Mennonite Community Cookbook has become a treasured part of many family kitchens. Parents who received the cookbook when they were first married make sure to purchase it for their own sons and daughters when they wed.
The Mennonite Community Cookbook, 1950 – 2015
Dubbed the “grandmother of all Mennonite cookbooks” author Mary Emma Showalter compiled favorite recipes from hundred of Mennonite women who brought their recipes directly from Dutch, German, Swiss, and Russian kitchens. A “dab of cinnamon” or “ten blubs of molasses” have been translated into standard measurements. Fine pen & ink drawings of the pie shelf in the springhouse, outdoor bake ovens, the summer kitchen recall cookery in Grandma’s day.
Mennonite GIrls Can Cook
Also produced by MennoMedia (Herald Press): Mennonite Girls Can Cook, volume 1 and their second volume, Celebrations.
This book required collaboration from 10 authors (cooks and writers) all but one from Canada. Names like Friesen, Wiebe, Klassen, and Penner suggest their southern Russian (Ukrainian) roots.
Their Celebrations cookbook, on special for Mother’s Day (half-price until May 9), is a collage of recipes, of course, and meditations of faith celebrating milestones such as birth, marriage, and holidays illustrated with first-class photographs. Some surprises: a mini-pizza recipe faces one for homemade potato chips. Pages later, a lattice-topped grilled apple recipe followed by Borscht and Zwieback (first cookbook).
The authors emphasize “hospitality over entertaining” and “blessing rather than impressing.” Appropriately, the Celebrations book’s end-leaf posts a copy of Old Hundred, Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow. Best of all, royalties go to nourish children around the world. You can follow them on their blog, Mennonite Girls Can Cook, which attracts 7000 views daily.
Many Mennonites (Anabaptists) who live in the USA have Swiss roots, but fled to Germany to escape to religious persecution. When William Penn offered them rich farmland in Pennsylvania, these folks, my ancestors, immigrated in the 1700s with hopes of adapting their love of the land and family tradition to the New World. Similarly, Canadian Mennonite forebears fled western Europe and religious persecution to live in Russia from where they immigrated to Canada escaping political upheaval.
Tie-Dye Rainbow Cake!
I can’t wait to make the tie-dye rainbow cake with Jenna or one of the grand-boys, and soon! (Pages 60 and 61 in Celebrations)
Your turn: Are you familiar with either cookbook? Do you have a favorite recipe or cookbook – or do you just “wing it”? Thank you for sharing your thoughts here!
Coming next: An Orphan Speaks on Mother’s Day