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As a tradition, Pennsylvania Dutch cooking feeds the body as well as the soul. Richly nutritious, this food can quickly become a celebration.
Amish and Mennonite cooks most often work from scratch. They have at hand the basics, and their tutors have been their own mothers and grandmothers. So they draw upon the fruits of the farm and the "feel" and experience only a seasoned cook can teach.
Two characteristics of these people's lives have shaped their eating: traditionally, they have worked hard physically, and they have chosen a disciplined life. Because of their intense labor, they have eaten heartily and heavily. And, although restrained in their choice of clothing, home decor, and use of money, and little entertainment, they have celebrated extravagantly around food.
Many Pennsylvania Dutch mothers show their affection more easily with a cherry crumb pie or hamloaf rather than with hugs and kisses. Food, in this setting, belongs to some of the warmest human experiences-- family reunions, going to Grandma's, making ice cream on a summer evening, getting together to can and freeze.
Young Amish and Mennonite cooks face a new challenge-- how to maintain the love and celebration this food offers, while eliminating some of its calories that were less troublesome in a more physically active time. But together these cooks are refining the old dishes for today. This food has always sustained physical life while nurturing community life. There's no reason to believe that should change now!
Here, then, are the old favorites, newly tested and tasted for everyone's use.
-- Phyllis Good and Rachel Pellman, Editors
Sample Chapter Breads
A warm, moist, pungent smell through the house. A steaming loaf of bread just lifted from the oven. It's bread baking day!
Once a weekly chore, bread is baked less frequently these days. But the old choice of recipes are easily dusted off on a cold winter day or for a special holiday meal.
Thoughts of cinnamon rolls, glazed doughnuts, and corn pone will make any child hungry for home. For these foods are rich in flavor and affection and warm memories of big kitchens full of love.
Bread baking is a practiced art. Procedures aren't usually written down: instead they're learned at mothers' and grandmothers' elbows. So we asked some experienced bakers to explain their methods. Then our testers tried them and refined them for everyone's use. These are traditional recipes. And delectable!
Sample Recipe Bran Muffins
Makes 12 muffins/
1 cup bran
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
1 cup raisins
2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Combine all dry ingredients. In separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients.
2. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients, mixing only till moistened.
3. Fill muffin pan about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
"They're healthy-- and the kids love them!"