Forty years ago, my dad bought an Easter gift for my mother. It was only a few months before their wedding day and so he chose the perfect gift for any young Mennonite bride - the Mennonite Community Cookbook.
So when I was asked to review the new 65th Anniversary edition of the Mennonite Community Cookbook, I thought that Easter week was the perfect opportunity to give you a chance at this classic cookbook.
The Mennonite Community Cookbook was compiled by Mary Emma Showalter. She combed through old Mennonite cookbooks and favorite recipes from Mennonite cooks throughout the country to gather over 1,100 recipes.
I was worried that this new edition would have changed the cookbook I remember in my mother's kitchen. But no fear. I opened up the pages and felt like I was visiting an old friend. The creamy white pages, the font style, and every single recipe were still there. A few updates were made to the measurements to bring it to modern standards. The photos were also updated (though there are only few photos). The original photos are included in the back with historical information about the cookbook.
But the best change is the spiral binding. Now the book can lay flat. My mother-in-law, who said that she has had the Mennonite Community Cookbook since her marriage 55 years ago, has many loose pages in her copy. If my cookbook lasts 55 years, I think the spiral binding will hold up well.
I was particularly glad they retained the ink drawings along with Mary Emma's chapter headings. I remember reading through this cookbook as a girl. Each chapter begins with an explanation of grandmother's cooking. Sixty-five years later, Grandma is not great-great-grandma and her cooking is even more unknown to us.
The first thing I did when my copy of the Mennonite Community Cookbook arrived was to go to my mom's house and flip through her copy of the cookbook. I noted the markings she had in her cookbook and made notes in my new copy. Mom usually marked the recipes that she tried with her comments. Some recipes had marks from doubling or tripling the recipe - such as the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. That is one of the first recipes I remember making as a girl so she had underlined some of the directions to make it easier for a new cook to follow. Other recipes, such as Pig Stomach, included the date she served it and details such as "made three stomachs with five pounds of sausage for Dad's birthday for 20 people."
Now I'd like to take a look at my grandmother's copy of the Mennonite Community Cookbook (Do you have it Jenny?) and see what notes she left in her cookbook. And maybe, someday, my own copy will be treasured by my own granddaughter.
I had to go to the bread section, of course. There I found, besides all the normal bread recipes, an old colonial Virginian recipe for a batter bread called Sally Lunn. It required no kneading. The batter was dumped into a bundt pan and the result was a similar to cornbread and a wonderful addition to a meal of soup. (Just a note: the bread recipes in this book call for fresh yeast cakes. I successfully substituted 1 T of instant yeast for 1 yeast cake.)
After my daughter made the chocolate chip cookie recipe that I remember making (and they tasted just the same as I remember) she chose a pie to make. This Funny Cake Pie had a gooey chocolate layer on the bottom and a cake topping.
I found some recipes like candied sweet potatoes and mashed potato cakes that I don't remember my mom using a recipe. When I asked, she said that she made them by memory the way her mom taught her - but likely Grandma had got the recipe from this cookbook. (And if you are wondering, those of you who know that I didn't grow up Mennonite, my mom grew up Mennonite so I do have a Mennonite Grandma.)
Some of the other recipes I've enjoyed trying since I had the Mennonite Community Cookbook are Corn Soup with Rivels, Porcupine Balls, and Beef Pot Pie. What struck me when looking through this cookbook is the basic ingredients required for most recipes. I love recipes that call for ingredients already in my pantry. I told Ed that some of the recipes call for a whole chicken - not a rotisserie chicken picked up at the store, or even boneless, skinless chicken breast! For the gardener/homesteader, this is old cookbook would have an advantage over some modern cookbooks with their exotic ingredients.
Order your own copy of the Mennonite Community Cookbook at Amazon or from the publisher. You can check out their other excellent cookbooks such as More With Less, Saving the Season, and Simply in Season.
I was given a copy of the Mennonite Community Cookbook to share with a reader. To enter the giveaway, write a comment telling what you remember your grandmother cooking. (If you are reading this by email, please click over to the blog to let a comment.) Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you.
If you want an additional opportunity, mention this giveaway on any social media site and include a link to this post and tell me about it in the comments.
This giveaway is open for one week and is open to anyone with an United States and Canadian mailing address.
*This Giveaway is Now Closed*
Thanks to Herald Press for giving a review copy and giveaway copy. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. This post contains affiliate links.