Pig Stomach and Easter Eggs: A Guest Blog Post from Marian Beaman

This week, we have the honor of sharing a post by Marian Beaman. All images and content belong to Marian and can be found in her original March 6, 2013 post on her blog, Plain and Fancy.

My Mother loved her kitchen with a spiritual passion and was happiest at the altar of her stove, cooking or baking. We’d hear her off-key voice singing “Heavenly Sunlight” or “Keep on the Sunny Side” as she fixed breakfast while we dressed and braided our hair for school.

Her mother, Sadie Landis Metzler, died when she was nine, so Ruth, the oldest daughter of six, was the mini-mom milking cows and peeling potatoes before she went to school. Later, she was hired out to help another farm wife, who taught her to cook, instilling a love for fresh or home-canned ingredients with PA Dutch recipes.

Mom and Pig’s Stomach

These days when I fly home from Florida, we make a feast of her famous homemade soups (vegetable & chicken corn) and other dishes, including pig stomach. It sounds horrible, like goose liver or pickled pig’s feet, but it’s considered a delicacy at her house.

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There are other names for this dish: hog maw, Dutch goose—but pig stomach is the name we grew up with. Basically, a nicely rinsed stomach from a pig is stuffed with a pound of sausage, 8 large diced potatoes, some onion, and sprigs of parsley cut up in tiny pieces, then all ingredients oven-roasted.

MomPigStomach     MarkPigStomach

Mom’s stand-by side dish is peas & carrots for color, celery in season, and something fruity for dessert like her gelatin fruit salad, a recipe passed around among the relatives.

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Her Salmon Casserole is also a favorite at her table. There are variations of this recipe in Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter. Scottdale, PA: The Mennonite Community Association, 1972 (16th printing). My Mom’s own recipe is quick and hearty.

 

2010_Mother Longenecker_Baking Salmon Loaf_6x4_300Salmon Casserole: Ingredients:

1 can red salmon

1 pack or more of saltine crackers, crumbled

butter, 3 – 4 pats

Snipple up (break into small pieces) salmon from the can. Place a layer of crushed cracker crumbs on the bottom of a greased 2-3 quart casserole. Alternate layers of salmon with crumbled crackers, adding a little salt and pepper as you go. “Top off with a few hunks of butter,” she says.

Chocolate-covered  Eggs: Peanut Butter and Coconut, a treat every Easter in the 50s

Peanut Butter Eggs

1 lb. butter + 2 lbs. peanut butter  + 3 lbs. 10x sugar  Mix ingredients together and form into egg shapes, about 1 1/2 inches diameter.

Coconut Cream Eggs

1/4 lb. butter + 8 oz. cream cheese + 2 lbs.10x sugar + coconut to taste (8 oz. bag) Follow instructions above.

Coating: l lb. of semi-sweet chocolate melted. Mother would melt a pound of semi-sweet chocolate by sinking a cup of chocolate into a pan of boiling water; you may want to use something more up-to-date like a double boiler for the melting process. As the chocolate melted, she shredded in some paraffin for a glossy finish to the coating.

Mom made the candies by resting each egg on a fork, dipping it into the chocolate, and then using a knife to scrape the drippy chocolate off the bottom of the egg. Pure heaven!

What family favorites do you associate with a particular holiday? How have you adapted the recipes to your own table?

 © Marian Beaman

Be sure to check out the rest of Marian’s wonderful posts at her blog. 

10 Mennonite- and Amish-Style Restaurants that Promise to Impress: Part 1

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!

 

Das Dutchman Essenhaus

Where is it? Middlebury, IN

What do diners say about it? Jocelyn T. says on Yelp, “If you don’t get the noodles, you are missing out.”

What makes it famous? Cheesy potatoes, apple butter, the belove
d noodles, and the family-style dining option.

Want to try it on your own? Try the homestyle noodle recipe on page 124 of Mennonite Community Cookbook!

 

Anna Mae’s Bakery and Restaurant

Where is it? Millbank, ON

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.

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Yoder’s Restaurant

Where is it? Sarasota, FL

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.

Shady Maple

Shady Maple Smorgasbord

Where is it? East Earl, PA

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.

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Keep your eye out for Part 2 of our list! And again, comment with suggestions or your own favorite restaurants in this genre.

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To buy your own copy of Mennonite Community Cookbook, visit the MennoMedia store.

 

 

 

Vintage Potluck Dishes (Adapt-a-Recipe to Make Healthier)

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)
  • Christmas Party (needs no explanation, right?)
  • Funeral Foods (foods often served for family dinners at memorials or funerals)
  • Do the Can-Can (Mystery Tin Can Swap)
  • 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.

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Rice Vegetable Souffle from Mennonite Community Cookbook, p. 129, prepared by Beth Nealon.
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Chicken Curry from Mennonite Country-Style Recipes, prepared by Jerilyn Schrock.
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Dried Corn, Mennonite Community Cookbook, p. 154, prepared by Angela Burkholder.
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Scalloped Corn, Mennonite Community Cookbook, p. 151, prepared by Cindy Miller.
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Butterscotch Squares, Mennonite Community Cookbook, p. 282, prepared by Melodie Davis.
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Banana Tea Bread, Mennonite Community Cookbook, p. 12, prepared by Vica Shindyapin.
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Blueberry Muffins, Mennonite Community Cookbook, p. 16, prepared by Barbara Finnegan.
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Deluxe Chocolate Marshmallow Brownies, Mennonite Country-Style Recipes, prepared by Lois Priest.
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Luscious Cherry Cheese Pie, Mennonite Country-Style Recipes, prepared by Kimberly Metzler.

(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 Month and 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!

Directions: Send via Facebook, or by email: mennocooking@mennomedia.org. Our hashtag for all stuff related to the cookbook is #mennocooking.

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**Don’t have a Mennonite Community Cookbook? Buy the new 65th anniversary edition here!

**Sign up to get our free emails announcing each contest, with fascinating inside stories of Mary Emma Showalter, and more.

Winners (drawn from entries received) will get their choice of these popular cookbooks in paperback, each a $20-$30 value! Simply in SeasonMore with Less, Extending the Table,Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations, OR Saving the Seasons. Our goal is to get you cooking, sharing and talking about Mennonite Community Cookbooks and all the many fine books for sharing food and faith from Herald Press!

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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).

Managing editor, Melodie DavisMelodieDavisBlogPhoto

Honoring the Amish & Mennonite Pie Tradition

“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.IMG_6431

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 MennoniteCommunityCookbook_2015coverfollow, 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 flourIMG_6429

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.

 

IMG_6425Pastry (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.

 

Benblog image 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. 

Things I Learned from Mary Emma Showalter Eby — by Rob Eby

A Tribute to His Mother

May 11, 2003

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.MennoniteCommunityCookbook_2015cover

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.

Rob-singingSummertime-Rebirth-1972
Rob Eby, singing “Summertime” as a member of Rebirth band, 1972.

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.

Rebirth-James-Rob-Dean-circa1972
James Krabill, Rob Eby and Dean Clemmer, circa 1972, in Rebirth

 

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.”

MaryEmma-IraEby-wedding-family-Dec1960Edited
Phyllis, Ira, Rob, Mary Emma, and Eleanor, on the day of Ira and Mary Emma’s wedding, 1960.

 

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.

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The 65th anniversary edition of Mennonite Community Cookbook is available from the MennoMedia store, Amazon, and many other bookstores and websites.

5 Tasty Menno/Amish Cooking Blogs You Won’t Want to Miss

Mennonite Community Cookbook is all about bringing people together around food and celebrating the Mennonite and Amish traditions of quality cooking. Here is a collection of Mennonite or Amish food bloggers that have inspired us in their commitment to similar goals.  In no particular order:

Hopeful1. Hopeful Things: Blogging with the intent to inspire

Who’s cooking? Hope, a stay-at-home cook from Virginia. Her commitment to her family and God shine brightly throughout her blog, as do her gifts in graphic design and photography. Read her bio here.

Why we love it: Hope has us head-over-heels in love with her stunning photos of mouthwatering dishes.

Don’t miss: Fried ham with onion gravy, a recipe that appears in Mennonite Community Cookbook. Onion and white bean gravy sounds just too good to miss!

 

Home Joys2. Home Joys

Who’s cooking? Gina, a Mennonite cook with a big family and a strong commitment to God. The blog’s attitude is summed up well in its tag line: “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.”

Why we love it: While food is a central component to the blog, Gina includes many helpful posts about gardening, family life, and her Mennonite background. She also includes a section filled with her favorite posts – what a great feature! Find that list here.

Don’t miss: We loved Gina’s creative use of zucchini in this zucchini crust pizza. A must try for an overflowing garden!

 

3. Jennifer Murch

Who’s cooking? Jennifer Murch, who lives with her husband John and their children on five acres near Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Why we love it: We’ve already shared Jennifer’s great story telling and cooking abilities in her guest post feature on the blog. Her sensibility and terrific photography contribute to each of her posts.

Don’t miss: Jennifer recently added a recipe for Lemon Cheesecake Morning Buns that she made on a blustery Virginia snow day. They look simply divine.

Mennonite Girls Can Cook4. Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Who’s cooking? 10 Mennonite women from across North America.

Why we love it: The step-by-step instructions of a huge array of recipes have kept this blog beloved by many. We also love that the bloggers have a strong commitment to giving back to others. Find out about their last projects, funded by 100% of the proceeds of their popular cookbooks, on their website.

Don’t miss: This recipe for stuffed peppers has us drooling! If you can’t get enough of these Mennonite cooks, check out their two stunning cookbooks here.

 

Lovina's Amish Kitchen

5. Lovina’s Amish Kitchen

Who’s cooking? Lovina Eicher, an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight.

Why we love it: This blog is a great resource for learning about traditional Amish cooking, with many stories and updates about Lovina’s community included.

Don’t miss: This ham and bean soup sounds perfect for a cold February day. We can’t wait to see what else Lovina has cooking!

 

We can’t have found them all – what blogs should have made our list? Let us know what you think in the comments!

 

 

Benblog image Mast is a writing intern for MennoMedia and Herald Press. He studies English and Writing Studies at Eastern Mennonite University.

The Artist Behind Mennonite Community Cookbook: Naomi Nissley

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We’ve given a lot of attention to Mary Emma Showalter in recent weeks with an article in The Mennonite about how she came to compile Mennonite Community Cookbook, our own blog post “What Would Mary Emma Say,” and ongoing tidbits on the Facebook page. Newspapers are running stories about the cookbook’s revival as well.

NaomiNissleyArtist Naomi Nissley

But a second major player in the success and look of this famous cookbook was artist Naomi Nissley.

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Both Mary Emma and Naomi were relatively young and new in their fields—in fact both were still graduate students as they worked on the book. The great part is that Naomi’s husband Alexander “Sandy” Limont is still living and happy to talk about the book, and has been most helpful in our research into the history of the book, the covers, and the artwork. I was able to ask him and Naomi’s brother some questions about Naomi’s life and process in working with Mary Emma in creating the signature look of Mennonite Community Cookbook.

Naomi went to Eastern Mennonite College for a time and her brother Lowell Nissley felt sure that was how Mary Emma was acquainted with Naomi and her artwork. He recalled that Naomi was offered the opportunity to receive royalties from sale of the book, but took a cash payment instead: likely a big mistake considering the longevity of the cookbook. But as a grad student she likely  needed the cash. He recalled Naomi as being self-depreciating but very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work on a cookbook of this scope. She couldn’t have realized at the time it would become the work for which she was most well known.

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Naomi worked in careful concert with Mary Emma, corresponding back and forth. In one case, a detailed letter from Mary Emma gave gentle nudges toward tweaking drawings to better match Mary Emma’s considerable vision and opinion.

LetterMaryToNaomi_sketch

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A grandmother, perhaps, at her spinning wheel

The drawings included the ordinary things of daily life, the quotidian (double click on any of these to get closer up),

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A woman kneading dough in a huge bin
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A grandmother at her cook stove

 

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A picnic on a farm

 

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A vegetable garden

 

and much more. Many were on-the-spot sketches drawn from Mennonite communities in central Pennsylvania.

P1060453Naomi’s professional bio includes that she dreamed of becoming an artist as a child, and studied painting and drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). She enrolled at additional art and graphic schools and her work was exhibited by invitation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Yale and Rutgers Universities, and Tyler School of Fine Art, in addition to PAFA and others. She once wrote about her work, “For me art is a constant dialogue between experience and artistic creation.”

Her husband Sandy was also an illustrator and graphic designer. He worked as an art director for an ad agency for a number of years. They were married for 55 years until Naomi died in 2010 at age 91. She was a member of the Highland Presbyterian Church in Lancaster and the Germantown Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

MennoniteCommunityCookbook_2015cover

All of Naomi’s drawings that were used in the original 1950 cookbook are used in the 65th anniversary edition, published in February 2015.

Today I touched a bit of this history. In the humble way of an amateur blogger and photographer, I headed over to Eastern Mennonite University’s Menno Simons Historical Library, where I had made an appointment with the special collections librarian, Simone Horst, to haul out boxes of these framed and matted prints from the archives. Neither she nor I were sure when and why they were framed. Perhaps they were for a special display and celebration that happened at the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville, Pa., while Naomi was still living, when she was asked to sign copies of the cookbook for those who attended.

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The drawings are even more delightful in person than reprinted in the book. Perhaps we’ll have to work on getting these intriguing glimpses into heritage and history on display somewhere again.

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We’ll continue to share more behind-the-scenes stories, photos and looks that you won’t find anywhere else. So do share this with any of your friends who are Mennonite Community Cookbook aficionados so they can sign up to receive our periodic blog posts!

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Did you ever meet Naomi Nissley? Have a copy of the cookbook signed by her?

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Don’t miss the new edition: A great gift for any fan whose own copy likely looks like this.MarianThomas

Melodie Davis, Managing Editor

Guest Blog Post from Jennifer Murch: Christmas Corn

This week, we have the honor of sharing a post by Jennifer Murch, a cook and blogger who has worked with Mary Emma’s cookbook many times throughout the years. All images and content belong to Jennifer. Find her gorgeous blog at jennifermurch.com, where this post was originally published in December of 2009. 

This past week I cooked supper for a homeless shelter. I had never done anything like this before and it semi-freaked me out. Cooking a meal for company gets me in a tizzy, but to cook a meal for 20-30 people, transport it into town, and then serve it and clean up afterwards? Whew! It about threatened to put me over the edge. (Well, okay, not really. I managed fine. But I was anxious. I’ll admit that much.)

Several years ago our town started a shelter for homeless people. This program differs from other, more common, programs in that it is the downtown churches that host the homeless, usually for a week at a time. The host church is in charge of providing the space, volunteers, and food for the guests, and last week it was our church’s turn to host. Usually people will work together to prepare different parts of the meal and then serve it. But me? Ho-ho-NO. I decided I could handle it all by myself with just—get this!—Yo-Yo Boy and Miss Beccaboo to help me out.

No wonder I get in a dither over these things; I’m forever totally over-estimating my capabilities.

But I had my reasons for being so stoic, my precious little reasons. The first was that I didn’t want to coordinate food with a whole bunch of people; many times it’s just easier to do things in my own crazy way, sink or swim, and I like being in charge. My other reason was slightly more noble: I wanted Yo-Yo and Miss Beccaboo to be central to the evening’s events because this little supper making/serving deal was to be a big part of our Christmas festivities … because in our house we don’t do Christmas gifts.

Our decision to scrap the gifts came about when Yo-Yo was two years old. He had a huge pile of gifts that year, generously given to us by different family members, and I watched, fascinated, as my little blond-haired-though-still-mostly-bald baby grabbed and tore and shrieked and grabbed for more. There was a glint in his eyes that I hadn’t seen before, and, quite honestly, it alarmed me.

Around the same time one of my friends, a woman with children much older than mine, told me about how her youngest son turned into a greedy little brat come Christmas morning. No matter how much they emphasized that Christmas was not about getting gifts, they couldn’t seem to get the point through the kid’s tough skull.

Those two incidents (and probably some others that I don’t recall) clinched the deal for me: Christmas gifts would not be a part of our holiday tradition. We would focus on other things like playing games (a huge sacrifice for me since I hate playing games), buying chickens and pigs for needy families in underdeveloped nations (via MCC or Heifer International), decorating the tree, visiting with friends and family, reading good books, and, of course, baking lots and lots of Christmas cookies.

Naturally, my nice little decision to nix gifts hasn’t been as clear-cut as I make it sound. Life never really is. Friends and family members give us Christmas gifts and we’re not so hardcore that we tear off the red and green paper and rewrap them in pastel flower prints and make the kids wait till May to open them—no, no, no, we savor each gift that comes our way.

Then there was the whole issue of Santa Claus. No matter how many times I told my kids there was no Santa Claus (come ON kids, use your heads! do you REALLY think a fat old man could squeeze down our chimney? and even if he did, how would he get out of the stove, huh? he would TOTALLY burn to a crisp if he ever tried to pull such a stunt!), they insisted he was real. Finally we just gave up and played along.

On Christmas eve the kids hang up (thumbtack, really) stockings (they have morphed from Mr. Handsome’s white tube socks to old cloth bags to the official-looking decorative stockings that I scavenged from a thrift store) on the wall by the wood stove, set out a plate of cookies for Santa, and write him a letter before going to bed. Then Mr. Handsome and I eat the cookies, write a reply letter, and fill the stockings with candy and doo-dads. Come the twenty-fifth, we blast Christmas music, gorge on candy, eat a huge platter of cookies for breakfast, play games, and read seasonally-appropriate stories. Joy and sugar highs abound.

However, now that the kids are older it was time to illustrate the second part of our no-gifts equation: that we don’t only forgo our gifts, we give gifts to others. (I don’t count choosing geese and goats from a catalogue in my category of “felt” giving; it is way too far removed for the kids to truly grasp the concept.) So one morning last week I played some of these videos for them, and then I explained that this meal I had been working on was one of our Christmas gifts and that they were going to be a part of it by coming along to help serve the food and wash the mounds of dirty dishes. They were dubiously agreeable.

Earlier Miss Beccaboo had helped me to cobble together the menu:

Me: I know I want to take baked corn. What else do you think I ought to make?
Miss B, almost without thinking: Sloppy joes, and green beans.
Me: Yes, that would be good. And I could make something with potatoes.
Miss B: And applesauce.
Me: And some sort of dessert.

But then the day before The Day, Harold, the coordinator from our church, told me that kids weren’t supposed to be present at the shelter because a number of the guests were sex offenders. “But I don’t think it would be a big deal if the older two came as long as they stayed in the kitchen and didn’t mingle with the guests,” he said.

Oh dear. Was I being foolish if I took my children? I mentioned to the kids that there was a rule that I hadn’t known about (I did not explain the reason for the rule—couldn’t quite figure that one out), and they were upset—apparently they did want to do this project. After more thought I decided it would be okay to take the kids as long as Mr. Handsome was there to be their bodyguard and ensure that they felt needed and useful (in other words, were doing their work). Then Harold called back to say that he had rounded up a couple more volunteers and that it really would be okay if the kids came, so all was set. We were still on.

Thursday morning came. I panicked that I wouldn’t have enough food (I always do this—it’s par for the course), so I turned two more pounds of burger into sloppy joes. I thawed and iced the cakes. In the afternoon I baked the potatoes and then smooshed them into a large crock pot. I heated up the sloppy joe meat and smooshed it into another large crock pot. I cooked the green beans, put them in yet another large crock pot, and drizzled browned butter over top. I made three large pans of baked corn. The kids brought jars of applesauce up from the basement. When Mr. Handsome came home, he loaded the crock pots and foil-covered pans into wash baskets; the kids cradled the cakes in their laps.

Harold met us at the door and gave us a tour of the makeshift shelter: three rooms had been filled with cots and blankets. While it felt right to see our Sunday school rooms transformed into something so basic and useful, it was also deeply disturbing. The people who would be sleeping in those beds did not have homes.

Then the guests came in and it was time to eat. I stationed myself behind the serving table and slapped burger meat into buns as fast as I could. Nelly, Harold’s wife, stood beside me dishing up the potatoes and green beans. The guests hesitated when they got to the corn, bending over to peer at it more closely and inquiring as to what in the world it was.

“That is baked corn,” I said, my bossy-mother instincts taking over. “It’s good. You’ll like it. You must try it.” I must have been pretty convincing because almost everyone obediently scooped a bit of corn onto their plates.

One man asked, “Is that an old Mennonite recipe?”

“Why, yes!” I exclaimed, totally surprised. He went on to tell me that back during the Civil War the Mennonites ate a lot of what they called corn pudding, something similar to my baked corn recipe.

Almost everyone came back for seconds, and some came back for thirds and fourths. They loved the potatoes and meat, but the thing they commented about the most was the corn. “That corn is good,” they said, mystified. I crowed triumphantly, “I told you you’d like it! Eat more, there’s still another pan back.” And they did. One woman even requested a bowl so she could fill it with corn for a snack later on.

And that, my dears, is what I call the ultimate compliment: when people, total strangers, mind you, taste the food just to be polite (or to get me off their backs) and then actually hoard it for later. How gratifying.

Baked corn, anyone? And, Merry Christmas.

Baked Corn
Adapted from the Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter

2 tablespoons butter 
1 ½ tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper
1 cup milk
2 cups corn (frozen, fresh, or canned)
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, add the flour and stir well. Immediately (the pan is still on the burner and you don’t want the roux to scorch) whisk in the milk and stir till it bubbles and has thickened a bit. Add the salt, sugar, and corn and heat through. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly whisk in the beaten eggs (the corn is hot and can cook the eggs if you’re not careful—no one wants bits of scrambled eggs in their baked corn).

Pour the corn into a greased, square (8 x 8) glass pan. Grind a bit of black pepper over the top. Bake the corn in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until set, the top is puffy in spots and has a couple (little) cracks, and the edges are lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4-6 side servings

 

Jennifer Murch lives with her husband John and their children on five acres near Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she (kinda-sorta-maybe) homeschools the kids, gardens, bakes, and reads. You can find more of her musings and lots of recipes on her blog jennifermurch.com.

An Invitation to the Table


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The spread at the rehearsal dinner for my brother’s wedding in 2013.

The release of the Mennonite Community Cookbook Monday got me thinking about my own background in Mennonite cooking. My grandparents’ house, just a mile away from where I grew up in Goshen, Indiana, has been an extension of home for as long as I can remember, and at the center of our home is food.

While Dad could whip up a mean stir fry and Mom was famous for her oatmeal dinner rolls and chocolate crinkle cookies, through my childhood it was Grandma and Grandpa Mast who were at the center of my food universe. They have helped with rehearsal dinner salads and roasts for my brother and cousins’ weddings, baked muffins for open houses, and hosted countless “Tuesday-night dinners” for anyone in town. Their hospitality and cooking abilities are both traditions I hope to maintain.

I have always regarded Grandpa as the king of breakfast. I can’t recall him breaking a yolk on an over-egg, even as he stacked it on a pile of Canadian sausages and pepper-potato hash. Whenever I’m back in town, I find my way over for a breakfast at some point, and I’m never disappointed.

My family enjoying our new aprons, made by my loving grandparents (front and center.)
My family enjoying our new aprons, made by my loving grandparents (front and center.)

Grandma can often be found in the kitchen as well, up to her elbows in her latest culinary project. She cans and bakes with as much ease as most of us breathe, and her basement pantry and freezer stores are testaments to her prowess: pickle jars, homemade ketchup, and canned peaches line the walls while frozen strawberries, blueberries or some extra gingerbread men saved for a surprise visit from a great-grandchild threaten to overflow the freezer.

My grandparents stick to some of the traditional Amish or Mennonite recipes which they grew up with, both coming from the Amish church. They also try new flavors and recipes from their favorite cooking magazines and shows. They have a shelf full of cookbooks that always seems to grow as more folks continue to experiment with and share their favorite recipes.

As a kid, it was easy to take this kind of culinary mastery for granted, as it was all I knew. And while it’s always a blessing to have great food to share, the best part of cooking is the community it builds, which is what Mennonite Community Cookbook is all about – creating family dinners, church potluck meals, or a gift of Christmas cookies. Food is about the relationships it helps create.

My brother and his wife after their engagement announcement.
My brother and his wife and raspberry cream pie (!) after their engagement announcement.

Looking at my brothers and me, it’s easy to see how this tradition of food and community has affected us, both in work and in relation to each other. Our best memories are formed around the table, with fork and spoon in hand.

In the coming weeks, we will share a number of stories, from both our blog writers and guest posts from others that involve Mennonite cooking and community. If you have interest in contributing, tell us your stories in the comments or send us an email about a blog contribution. You can also leave your story via voicemail using the tab on the right side of the page. If you’re interested in purchasing the Mennonite Community Cookbook, check out this link.    

Benblog image Mast is a writing intern for MennoMedia and Herald Press. He studies English and Writing Studies at Eastern Mennonite University.

What Would Mary Emma Showalter Say?

What Would Mary Emma Showalter Say?

By Melodie M. Davis

We’re having a blast—with Mary Emma Showalter’s mammoth cookbook rolling out again Feb. 2 in its 65th year! No retirement party for Mennonite Community Cookbook, no siree, Bob. We want to keep this brainchild of Mary Emma’s cooking for another 50 years, at least!

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This is what a shipment of 8000 pounds of cookbooks looks like!

So what on earth would Mary Emma say if she were still living? She lived long enough to know about computers and the Internet and online marketing—but she wasn’t around when Facebook first launched on college campuses across the land and then, quickly, became the go-to social media of choice, even for those in the 65+ age bracket (and now mostly abandoned by the college-age crowd). She would be amazed to know she’s on Twitter and Pinterest and yes, even Instagram, a bit.

But would she be supportive of these newfangled marketing efforts?

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Artist Naomi Nissley, left, and author Mary Emma Showalter inspect the first printing of Mennonite Community Cookbook, 1950.

I’ve gotten to know her a bit through all my research in the past year–in office files, interviews, the archives at Eastern Mennonite University Historical Library, talking to relatives, the husband of the illustrator, friends, and combing endlessly through past articles that she wrote or that were written about her (and you’ll hear more about all these in weeks and months to come). But there is one incident that tells me perhaps she would be a little put off at first, maybe even a little aghast, and then she’d dig in and do whatever needed to be done to help see her baby reach new audiences, new generations, new cooks—even though cooking has changed so MUCH in the last 65 years.

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Mary Emma serving tea–reprinted from The Way We Are: A Celebration of 75 years of Eastern Mennonite College.

That incident is told in the back of the new 12-page historical section for this book. So of course I can’t spill the cookies here, but it does have to do with baking lots and lots of cookies. Right at the end of the semester, when grades were due from professors, and what she, as head of a college home economics department, told the PR firm who requested the Mennonite cookies. And what they told her back.

If you love the cookbook or are fascinated by vintage Mennonite cooking or adapting recipes for your tastes today, or admit to being a bit of a foodie or love a good Mennonite potluck meal or reunion, you’ll love the stories in our new edition.

Mary Emma did put her foot down in response to certain promotional stunts. You’ll find that story too.

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Gravestone of Mary Emma Showalter Eby near Broadway, Va.

I’ve been in her former house. I’ve talked to her grad school roommate. I’ve devoured a historical piece about her written by a colleague. I learned she had a great sense of humor. I’ve cooked from her book. I’d love to take people on a Mennonite Community Cookbook tour and drop by her gravesite or at least pass by the outside of the home she lived in, where the original photographs for the cookbook were taken.

MaryEmmaShowalterHomeParkView
The home Mary Emma was living in when the original Mennonite Community Cookbook food photos were staged, using beloved heirloom antique family dishes and place settings.

I don’t know for sure how she’d feel about the new edition and all the social media we’re going for here: the contests with weekly cookbook prizes on fun themes. I think they’d give her pause and then she’d say, if it keeps the book alive, if it keeps people eating more purposefully and meaningfully, go for it.

That’s just my take.

What do you think?

I know one thing. Mary Emma would have LOVED to see these photos below and hear the thoughts and memories so many people associate with their copy of Mennonite Community Cookbook. Below are just some of the cookbook covers sent or posted by fans and readers.

And before we lose you, if you want to get a copy of the new edition at a great 25% discount, for just $18.74 until Feb. 2, act fast, and go here, or call 800-245-7894. (Discounted price will appear in cart until Feb. 2, 2015.)

And get cooking to enter the current contest showing one of your fav recipes from Mennonite Community Cookbook: two drawings will be held, one this Friday Jan. 30, and one Feb. 6. More info here! Entries to be featured here on the blog in the future. Thanks!

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The remains of food stylist Cherise Harper’s mother’s #MennoCooking cookbook.

 

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The well used cookbook of Alma Unrau, head of customer service for Herald Press and MennoMedia.

 

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The still shiny copy of Sylvia Hertzler Saunders, which came from her grandparents in 1976 as a birthday gift.

 

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Wilma Cender shared the backcover jacket for the cookbook, which she received for a bridal shower gift from a special aunt and cousin.

 

DorothyFriesen
From Dorothy Friesen: This copy belonged to and was heavily used by a gay Mennonite couple in Chicago, who, not welcomed in the church gave it to me in the 1980s.

 

SueStuckey
Book belonging to Sue Stuckey, who says she’s excited to see the new edition!

 

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Amy Hertzler says: “My favorite cookbook! It was a Christmas gift from my great aunt, Florence E. Horst, in 1978.”

 

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Marian Thomas’s shot of “my beloved old friend.”

 

MelodieDavisBlogPhotoBlog post by Melodie M. Davis, managing editor for this edition.