Mennonite Community Cookbook is all about how to make dishes on your own, but we also know how fun it is to spend an evening with friends or family at a restaurant. This compilation of Mennonite- and Amish-style restaurants (which is, by no means, exhaustive) might give you some hints at restaurants that are cooking in the tradition of Mary Emma Showalter. Some of these were crowd-sourced through our various Facebook pages. Let us know your additions in the comments!
What do diners say about it? Yelp reviewer Stephanie K. says, “Incredibly delicious baked goods and desserts, kind-hearted staff and servers and my favorite – the broasted chicken!”
What makes it famous? Many reviewers mention the famous broasted chicken as well as the collection of baked goods – especially the pies. It will be even more famous after it appears on Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here!” TV program.
Want to try it on your own? Mary Emma didn’t include a broasted chicken recipe in her collection, but you can find a roast chicken recipe on pages 98 and 99.
What do diners say about it? Meghan R. says on Yelp: “Delicious, filling comfort food with huge portions and great prices!”
What makes it famous? Customers seem most pleased with the peanut butter cream pie and the biscuits with sausage gravy. Yoder’s was also featured in the Travel Channel’s Chowdown Countdown of the top 101 places to eat in the USA!
Want to try it on your own? Mary Emma’s book can help you make your own biscuits – just check out pages 12 and 13.
What do diners say about it? Justyn W. describes his experience at Shady Maple on Yelp: “Basically any breakfast item that really matters was there and in large amounts.”
What makes it famous? The outlandishly extensive buffet is Shady Maple’s big draw. With tons of options to choose from, guests can find some Pennsylvania Dutch classics like mush, scrapple, and meat pudding.
Want to try it on your own? Macaroni and cheese is a sure find on most Mennonite/Amish buffets or in homes. Mary Emma lists one on page 122.
Keep your eye out for Part 2 of our list! And again, comment with suggestions or your own favorite restaurants in this genre.
Do you like to cook from vintage cookbooks? The staff located at MennoMedia/Herald Press offices in Harrisonburg, Va., recently had a “vintage potluck,” preparing dishes from two now-classic Mennonite cookbooks, Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter and Mennonite Country-Style Cooking by Esther Shank (both Shenandoah Valley, Va. natives, by the way.)
We enjoy a once-a-month potluck on various creative themes. Here’s a partial list from this past year:
From the Garden (vegetarian)
Wish I Was There (foods from travels)
It Came From Beyond (any way you want to interpret that)
I Know It’s Only Soup & Roll, But I Like It (soup and breads)
Old Menno’s Cupboard (Recipes from vintage Herald Press cookbooks, focusing on Mennonite)
Isn’t that a great list? You got it here–free–to use with your small group, Sunday school class, or office! We brainstormed this list at a staff break. Management’s dictum related to potlucks is: no sign up sheets, no planning, involve the least amount of staff time possible.
But we have fun and eat well.
Last week for our vintage “Old Menno’s Cupboard” theme left the entire office smelling like a church fellowship hall. My personal favorite? Dried corn. That was the dish I requested every year for my birthday dinner. We dried the corn ourselves. Angela Burkholder, whose family also dries corn, brought the dish. Yum.
I’ll leave the dishes all a row here like at a potluck so you can enjoy them vicariously.
(Let us know how enjoying these dishes vicariously worked out for you. And contrary to what it looks like here, we have some awesome male cooks on staff who usually bring a dish.)
BUT! You might notice there are mostly main dishes and desserts here. No salads. No fruits really, except in desserts. And that could be a valid criticism of Mennonite Community Cookbook in 2015. You can find a few reviews on Amazon that worry about health consciousness in this cookbook.
That was vintage cooking in 1950 and earlier, when many of these recipes were popular and passed from cook to cook, from family reunion to church potluck to informal coffee or tea time in kitchens. Everyone knew how to prepare straight up vegetables, canned fruits, or simple salads, and so did not have, or use actual recipes for those items. I’m happy for how we eat in 2015.
And as Mary Emma points out in the introduction to her “Meats and Meat Dishes” chapter in Mennonite Community Cookbook, “The people who lived in houses that were inadequately heated, and who were up doing chores before the peep of dawn, required a heavier diet than we need today.” Grandfather butchered a beef on shares with a neighbor, six hogs, plus chickens as needed. “With such a bountiful supply of meat, it is no wonder that Grandmother’s menu could include scrapple for breakfast, meat potpie for dinner and fried ham for supper.”
And so we invite readers and fans of Mennonite Community Cookbook to submit your adaptations of these or other old family recipes to make them healthier for today’s families. March is National Nutrition Monthand we’d love to share your healthy recipe on this blog, and our Facebook and Pinterest pages. Enter this contest by the end of March!
While we’ve begun featuring great food photography in our cookbooks, these photos could have definitely used some stylin’ as in the lovely food photography over at Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog. But trust us. Mouth-watering good was the word here, in spite of any deficit in the photos (hastily grabbed by yours truly).
“Apple pie without some cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.” The words of my grandmother, Fanny, come back to me as I sit down to a thick slice of homemade pie. Her theory never appealed to my taste buds, but I remember the adage every time I eat my favorite dessert.
Growing up in a Mennonite home with two grandparents of Amish background, pie-baking was quite a serious affair. Pre-made pie crust was an affront to the dessert; totally homemade was the only respectable option. Raspberry cream, mincemeat, fresh peach, and, of course, apple, were just a few of the pies that would adorn holiday tables or create stunning wedding desserts.
I’ve written here about the influence my grandparents’ cooking has had on my life. But I’m in a new capacity here. Instead of occupying my usual role as grandson, the consumer of all the goodies my grandparents provide (including pie!), this time I am also the producer: the flour-covered counter and delicious apple-cinnamon aroma perfuming my kitchen are the testaments to my work.
I jotted down the recipe from a heavily-used copy of the infamous Mennonite Community Cookbook. The ingredients, like so many tremendous recipes in the book, were simple and easy to find.
The recipe I used was simple and easy to follow, a pattern readers of Mary Emma Showalter’s book would surely expect. The Mennonite Community Cookbook blog and Facebook page has already received many stories from past readers who recall the book as a treasured shower gift,a constant cooking companion, or an heirloom passed down from a relative.
I didn’t have a “normal” pie dish on hand, so I used a cast iron skillet. The original recipe also leaves the top crust as an optional addition – since I had plenty of dough available, I opted to include more of the flaky pastry. The more the merrier in this dessert!
Here’s the recipe for the dough and filling, as found in Mennonite Community Cookbook:
Apple Pie (contributed by Mrs. Edison Gerber, Walnut Creek, Ohio)
3 cups diced apples
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg
2 tablespoons rich milk
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
Pastry for two 9 inch crusts
Mix apples, sugar, flour and spice together until well blended.
Place mixture in unbaked crust.
Add rich milk and dots of butter over the top.
Place strips or top crust on pie as desired.
Fasten securely at edges.
Bake in hot oven, 400 degrees for 50 minutes.
Makes 1 (9 inch) pie.
Pastry (for a 9-inch double-crust pie)
2 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup shortening
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold water
Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
Cut shortening into flour with a pastry blender or two knives.
Do not overmix; these are sufficiently blended when particles are the size of peas.
Add water gradually, sprinkling 1 tablespoon at a time over mixture.
Toss lightly with a fork until all particles of flour have been dampened.
Use only enough water to hold the pastry together when it is pressed between the fingers. It should not feel wet.
Roll dough into a round ball, handling as little as possible.
Roll out on a lightly floured board into a circle 1/8 inch thick and 1 inch larger than the diameter of the top of the pan.
Ben Mast is a writing intern for MennoMedia and Herald Press. He studies English and Writing Studies at Eastern Mennonite University. A version of this post originally appeared on Amish Wisdom.
Robert Eby is the son of Ira Eby, who married Mary Emma Showalter after his first wife, (Rob’s mother), died. Mary Emma courageously stepped up to nurturing her instant family, and Robert, who was 11 years old at the time of the marriage, shares some fond and some less fond memories in this tribute he delivered at Mary Emma’s memorial service on Mother’s Day, May 11, 2003.
Before I give my formal presentation of my reflection and tribute to Mother, I’d like to add my anecdote to the many stories about the Mennonite Community Cookbook. When I traveled throughout the country and had occasion to visit in Mennonite homes I often saw a copy of the Mennonite Community Cookbook in the kitchen somewhere on the shelf or on a counter. On one occasion when the hostess realized that I was the son of Mary Emma Showalter Eby, the editor of the Mennonite Community Cookbook, she brought out her cookbook and had me autograph her copy. So somewhere in the United States there’s a copy of the Mennonite Community Cookbook with my signature in it.
When Dad announced to me, his 11-year old son, his intention to marry Mary Emma Showalter, I responded enthusiastically. It appeared that there were at least two personal benefits: Number one, she drove a 1959 Chevrolet Impala stick-shift, a Chevy Impala—I was impressed with that. And secondly, she was a teacher and I thought, “Oh good, she can help me with my homework.” So the first benefit, while seemingly important to a youngster, held only temporary significance. Shortly after I had learned to drive that stick-shift, my parents sold it and bought a Buick automatic shift. The second benefit proved to be more enduring. Beyond assistance with school-related homework, Mother contributed to my educational experience in multiple aspects.
One appropriate title for this reflection / tribute could be, “Things I learned from Mary Emma Showalter Eby.”
Mother may, unintentionally, have learned some things from me as well, particularly in the area of child rearing. During the initial phase of our relationship it appeared that, besides teaching by the textbook, preparing meals by the cookbook, and living by the Good Book, she also attempted conducting child behavior management by the parenting book. Occasionally when I dared to protest her disciplinary actions, she would reply, “The books say . . .” and then proceed to relate what she had extracted from one of those books. And I don’t remember if I ever stated it aloud, but I thought to myself, “Well, whoever wrote those books never met me!” As far as I was concerned those books were long overdue for wholesale revision!
But as we became better adjusted to one another, however, I heard nothing more about the books. Perhaps Mother gradually recognized a place for latitude in her approach to parenting.
Along with Dad, Mother endeavored to instill in me a strong work ethic. Mother believed in starting one’s work early in the morning, or early in the day at least, to allow sufficient time for relaxation afterward. However, in order to reach that point of completion, it was necessary to execute each task with, as Mother phrased it, “with dispatch.”
While I do not consistently adhere to that philosophy, I certainly aspire to it.
Mother also believed in the quality of a task well performed. In my adolescence, one of my warm weather assignments was weeding and edging flower beds—a job I detested! More than once when Mother observed my mediocre work she stated, “What is worth doing, is worth doing well.” To that I retorted, “Well, this isn’t worth doing!”
I must have taken at least a decade to apply that principle of doing well, for it certainly did not reflect in my academic work. From grade school through college, I held minimal concern for academic achievement. I often remarked that I did not allow my studies to interfere with my education.
Mother coaxed, pleaded, scolded, and challenged me, and also reminded me that I was performing below my potential. Only during graduate school did I begin to prove the potential that Mother knew I possessed all along. The former reprimands gave way to encouragement and support.
Mother generously gave of herself and of her goods, as Catherine [Mumaw, who also gave a tribute] has already related. Mother also expressed her generosity through hosting and entertaining. As I assisted her with meal preparation I learned proper table setting and food service. One of various ways that Mother helped her guests feel at ease was her conversational skills. She seemed able to engage nearly everyone in conversation regardless of topic or field of interest. Mother utilized the art of strategically placed questions to lubricate interpersonal interaction. Her anecdotes and stories seasoned the verbal exchange, which seemed to complement her well-seasoned food.
Mother often hosted people from other countries and those who were in church-affiliated service abroad. From my exposure to those persons I gained a deeper appreciation for the richness of cultural diversity.
Mother and Dad’s souvenirs, photos, and accounts of their international travels also contributed to the expansion of my worldview. In a sense, I received a mini cross-cultural experience without leaving home. Mother’s affinity for nature and the arts seemed to further expand my horizons and heighten my awareness of beauty. Simply by being in her presence I learned to identify the variety of flowers, trees, and shrubs as well as the birds that either lingered or passed through the area. I gained greater appreciation for artists and the unique characteristics of their works.
It is possible that I may have been instrumental in the expansion of some of Mother’s horizons—most likely beyond what she would have anticipated. With the British invasion of the U.S. rock music scene in the 1960s, Mother received an initiation to the advent of the counter-culture revolution in which I participated.
At first she resisted the longer hair, the alternative attire, and hard-driving, screaming electric guitars. I doubt that she ever learned to embrace that kind of music that I loved to play. However, it seemed that Mother came to accept my passion for performing. She and Dad eventually attended some concerts that my musical groups presented.
As Mother and I grew older and I became a more responsible adult, most of our overt conflicts dissipated. Our relationship evolved into more of a friendship. During the eight years prior to my moving out of state, I enjoyed my frequent visits with my parents on Sundays and occasional evenings. As I entered their home, Mother usually greeted me with a smile and a cheery, “Hello!” And following our visit as I took my leave she would say, “I’m glad you could come.”
When Mother consented to marry Dad, I wonder how aware she was of the implications of taking virtual strangers into her home. It must have been a high stress transition from single professional to married professional with the additional responsibilities of an instant family of four.
At that time I was oblivious to what difficulties Mother may have been experiencing. In retrospect I acknowledge and admire her for her courage, fortitude, and love.
And so on this occasion, and on this Mother’s Day, I make this tribute with gratitude to you, Mother, teacher, friend. You must have considered what you did worth doing. And you must have considered what you did for me and others worth doing. For you did it well!
I thank you, Mother, teacher, friend, and I wish you safe passage.
The 65th anniversary edition of Mennonite Community Cookbook is available from the MennoMedia store, Amazon, and many other bookstores and websites.