Read an Excerpt
What Does this Cookbook Contain?
This cookbook is a collection of those dishes that go back as far as 80-year-old members of the Amish church can recall or discover in hand-written "cookbooks" which belonged to their mothers, and that are still prepared today, either in the old-fashioned way or by an adapted method. These foods are ones that were--and still are--eaten (perhaps now in a modified form), in eastern Pennsylvania, most often in the Lancaster area. It was in that general community that the first Amish settlements took root and grew. Although Lancaster gave birth to many daughter colonies, it is today the second largest Amish community (Holmes County, Ohio, is the largest).
Typically those hand-written and food-spattered cookbooks included only ingredients without any, or only minimal, reference to procedures. Furthermore, the measurements were far from precise! Most Amish folks recall that their mothers seldom consulted a cookbook anyway. Experience kept their skills polished. In keeping with the Amish tradition of living as extended families, an elderly mother or aunt was usually nearby to offer help.
The Best of Amish Cooking contains old recipes, but they are written to be understood and used by those without the benefit of these people's history or the presence of an experienced cook. Recipe sizes have also been adapted, in most cases to yield six to ten servings.
Throughout the book, pronoun references to the cook in Amish homes are consistently of the feminine gender. That was done deliberately, since in Amish society, roles are clearly defined. Women are solely responsible for food preparation, apart from butchering and related processes such as drying and smoking, certain gardening chores, and making apple or pear butter. A man who carries primary responsibilities in the kitchen is a rare exception.
Here, then, is the possibility of making good food--not fancy, but substantial; more hearty than delicate; in tune with the seasons.