Monday, October 22, 2012

Anabaptist Cooking

I think it's so interesting that there is this fascination with Amish and Mennonite cooking.  I had a thought about why this might be just now.  I think they are seen as simpler, back to the basics, from scratch cooks--who embody that idea of "wholesome goodness" in their cooking.  I think it is because we romanticize the way of life of the Amish and Mennonites.

That being said, I have been told by many who make treks up to nearby Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that the Amish and Mennonites are good cooks.  Such comments pique my curiosity.  I've had Amish cookbooks before and they have never wowed me.  But, I can't resist trying a new cookbook.  Hence, my mom and I found ourselves trying out recipes from a new cookbook coming out, A Farmer's Daughter: Recipes from a  Mennonite Kitchen by Dawn Stoltzfus.  My rule of thumb is that I must try at least three different recipes from a cookbook before reviewing it.  In this case, we tried the Baked Peach French Toast, the Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese (crockpot option), and the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars.

Here's my take:

1) Cookbook mechanics:  The recipes are easy to read and well written.  Ingredients are easy to identify, common, and labeled well.  It's black and white without any pictures, but the ease of reading the recipes partially makes up for that.

2)  The food itself:  I admit it.  I'm picky.  I have tried a lot of recipes over the years.  Of the three recipes, they were all just okay.  The peach french toast was pretty good for oven baked french toast, but it really wasn't anything special.  The "creamy" mac and cheese was not "creamy" at all when make according to the author's crockpot directions.  Finally, the bars were well received by the folks who ate them, but I found fault with them.  The peanut butter was very difficult to spread on the bottom layer and the chocolate chips just wouldn't stick at all to the top!  When I cook recipes from a cookbook I'm reviewing, I want to feel like I'd definitely want to make them again.  I just didn't feel that way with any of these recipes.  They're fine, really.  Competent.  Just nothing out of the ordinary or especially yummy.

Verdict:  If you want from scratch cooking, I have a list on one of the tabs on this blog of my all-time favorite cookbooks and I am a cook who cooks from scratch.  I am coming to realize that I am very picky when it comes to cookbooks.  Reviewing so many over the past four years has made me much more selective about what I recommend and what I consider fine, good, and great cooking.  Sadly, I'd pass on this cookbook.  It's just one I'd rarely pick up.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Revell Publishing.

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