Sunday, April 21, 2013

Homestyle Cooking

 I have a bookshelf filled with cookbooks, but there are two that sit right about my Kitchenaid.  Simply in Season, published by Herald Press, is one of them.  I recently discovered that Herald Press had also published a cookbook titled Mennonite girls can Cook and a second Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations.  

I was blessed with a chance to look through these two cookbooks and try out some new recipes.  I started with Mennonite girls can Cook.  In the forward, I discovered that all author royalties from the cookbook
will be donated to charity to feed hungry children.  The cookbook was compiled by a group of mennonite women who came together with their favorite family recipes.  These are everyday type of cooking recipes.  The table of contents shows that it will tackle breakfast, soups and salads, suppers, breads, and desserts.  This is a very "homestyle" type of cookbook.  The recipes are filled with comfort foods that you'll recognize.  From the breakfast section, I made the Blueberry Crumb Muffins.  My girls do not like nor eat blueberries.  But, eat these muffins they did!  In fact, Sami requested them the next day again when we had run out.  She was so disappointed that I set about making another batch.  They tasted like bakery or restaurant blueberry muffins made at home.  Next, I made the broccoli salad recipe.  I have to admit that I altered this recipe a lot.  I found the recipe far too sweet for my tastes so I cut the sugar in half and added some small cubes of cheese (1/3 cup).  It wasn't specified whether the onion should be red or white so I stuck with white, but decreased the amount called for by about half just to be safe.  The salad was very good and a friend and my mom both gave it high praise when they were called upon to taste test it.  The rest of the cookbook contains a lot of recipes that you'd find in restaurants in Pennsylvania Dutch country.  There's a mixture of older comfort foods and new ones.  

I was impressed that there were so many gluten free recipes included.  I appreciated the one page discussion of celiacs and gluten free foods at the back of the book.  I hadn't understood why some oats are gluten free and why others are not.  The explanation here is that some oats are grown in fields where wheat has recently been grown, hence a chance of contamination.  Hmm...  interesting.  

If you like Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, you'll really like this cookbook.  There are great pictures and a good variety of recipes.  I know the blueberry muffin recipe will be a permanent part of my repertoire from now on.  Scattered throughout the cookbook are also short devotionals.  I read a few and enjoyed the thoughts these women had to share.  The thoughts in Simply in Season are shorter and quicker to read, but I still enjoyed the thoughts of these women--which are essentially part of their testimonies of what God is or has taught them.

The second cookbook in this series is coming out in May.  It is titled Mennonite Girls Can Cook
Celebrations.  The women came together this time with their favorite "special" recipes.  There are recipes for holidays, outdoors, birthdays, weddings...  My mom and I both enjoyed looking through this cookbook.  I started out with the Chicken Cordon Bake and my mom fixed the tomato rice soup.  I added steamed cauliflower to the Chicken Cordon Bake and was very pleased with the result  I wanted to get a little more vegetables into my family!  My mom made the tomato rice soup and was satisfied with the result, although she felt the soup was quite tomatoey.  My husband, on the other hand, just opened it up for lunch today when he discovered it and had a hard time putting it away after one bowl.  I also fixed the Ham and Cheese Pinwheels.  These were a complete hit with my kids.  There are not many recipes that I get an unequivocal thumbs up on from all three kids.  But, I did with these!  They are little ham and cheese rolls that are baked and look like pinwheels.  Normally, you'd have to buy crescent rolls to make rolls like these, but the dough was quite easy to make and the rolls turned out well (albeit not as pretty as the pictures since I'm not very exact in my cooking).  My husband thought these rolls would be awesome for kids' birthday parties.  

Like the first cookbook, there are many gluten free recipes (which are better labeled in this cookbook!).  I'm excited to try the baked rice pudding the next time our gluten-free friends are over!  There are also many pictures for all of the recipes.  Pictures make cooking so much more appealing!

I think what's fun about this cookbook is that it made me want to make "pretty" food.  Most of the time I am just concerned with making good food fast--as fast as I can.  I whiz around my kitchen.  But, sometimes I want to enjoy cooking.  I want to slow down and make something that tastes good and looks good, too.  I was happy with the pinwheels (even when they didn't turn out as pretty as the picture) because they were fun and I did slow down while making them.  I am very excited to try the swan cream puffs.  My mom has made cream puffs for years and I thought that the swan idea was just one more little step that looks doable.  

I'm glad I had the chance to try these cookbooks.  I know they won't be ones I will pick up all the time like Simply in Season, but I know that they will definitely be used.  I think the pinwheels will be a good addition to my son's birthday party in two weeks and the swans will definitely be added to my daughter's birthday party in the fall!

Please note that I received complimentary copies of these two cookbooks for review from Herald Press.

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