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.
(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!
**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 Season, More 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!
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).