Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Yummy Recipe

Last week I was in the kitchen with my nearly vintage Mennonite Community Cookbook (1978) creased open to page 155 where I checked out the recipe for sautéed (Okay, I’ll admit, it’s fried!) egg-plant. Hours later when my new and improved Mennonite Community Cookbook arrived in the mail, I quickly turned to page 155, and behold there was the same egg-plant recipe contributed by Mrs. Hubert Pellman, wife of one of my favorite English professors at EMC. No, I didn’t use the new cookbook because I didn’t want to splotch it up. But when I switch over I’ll enjoy the spiral notebook style of binding and other updates on the new edition.




Here I substituted olive oil for lard.
Here I substituted olive oil for lard.

Blurb from the Old Mennonite Community Cookbook: First published in 1950, Mennonite Community Cookbook has become a treasured part of many family kitchens. Parents who received the cookbook when they were first married make sure to purchase it for their own sons and daughters when they wed.

The Mennonite Community Cookbook, 1950 – 2015

Dubbed the “grandmother of all Mennonite cookbooks” author Mary Emma Showalter compiled favorite recipes from hundred of Mennonite women who brought their recipes directly from Dutch, German, Swiss, and Russian kitchens. A “dab of cinnamon” or “ten blubs of molasses” have been translated into standard measurements. Fine pen & ink drawings of the pie shelf in the springhouse, outdoor bake ovens, the summer kitchen recall cookery in Grandma’s day.


You can buy the book here, or go to their MCC Facebook page and enter to win the cookbook. As of this date, there are drawings for free books every week.

Mennonite GIrls Can Cook

Also produced by MennoMedia (Herald Press): Mennonite Girls Can Cook, volume 1 and their second volume, Celebrations.


This book required collaboration from 10 authors (cooks and writers) all but one from Canada. Names like Friesen, Wiebe, Klassen, and Penner suggest their southern Russian (Ukrainian) roots.


Their Celebrations cookbook, on special for Mother’s Day (half-price until May 9), is a collage of recipes, of course, and meditations of faith celebrating milestones such as birth, marriage, and holidays illustrated with first-class photographs. Some surprises: a mini-pizza recipe faces one for homemade potato chips. Pages later, a lattice-topped grilled apple recipe followed by Borscht and Zwieback (first cookbook).

The authors emphasize “hospitality over entertaining” and “blessing rather than impressing.” Appropriately, the Celebrations book’s end-leaf posts a copy of Old Hundred, Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow. Best of all, royalties go to nourish children around the world. You can follow them on their blog, Mennonite Girls Can Cook, which attracts 7000 views daily.

Short History

Many Mennonites (Anabaptists) who live in the USA have Swiss roots, but fled to Germany to escape to religious persecution. When William Penn offered them rich farmland in Pennsylvania, these folks, my ancestors, immigrated in the 1700s with hopes of adapting their love of the land and family tradition to the New World. Similarly, Canadian Mennonite forebears fled western Europe and religious persecution to live in Russia from where they immigrated to Canada escaping political upheaval.

Tie-Dye Rainbow Cake!

I can’t wait to make the tie-dye rainbow cake with Jenna or one of the grand-boys, and soon! (Pages 60 and 61 in Celebrations)


Your turn: Are you familiar with either cookbook? Do you have a favorite recipe or cookbook – or do you just “wing it”? Thank you for sharing your thoughts here!

Coming next: An Orphan Speaks on Mother’s Day


38 thoughts on “Mennonite Girls Can Cook

  1. My tummy’s rumbling reading and viewing… all those lovely ladies at table, with what looks like a cheesecake? And that rainbow cake … o my Marian! What a lovely book/s to have knowing that meals are made with love and a blessing rather than impressing and that royalties are used for undernourished children.

    I wing it all the time … I like a dab of this, a bit of that, a lot of that eg butter (a good balsamic vinegar is a lovely addition to anything) … oh heavens I’m starving.


    1. After your marathon writing spree, you deserve to indulge. Cheesecake with strawberries or raspberries sounds delightful. I have a friend who orders dessert first. Last time at dinner she had a slice of key lime pie before her entree. “Life is short,” she says and means it! Thanks for being a first responder today, Susan.


      1. Thanks Marian, I sometimes also order pudding first. What I want to know is : what dessert is on the plate where those lovely ladies at the table are in the photograph???


  2. What fun, Marian! I love cookbooks, old and new. I love to just sit and flip through them, even though my usual cooking style is more of the “winging it” method. I have a bunch of community cookbooks, but nothing like these. (Did you know there are community cookbooks from the 19th century that were fundraisers, too?) I have to show the rainbow cake to my daughter–she’s having a rainbow theme for her wedding. 🙂


    1. I want to hear more about community cookbooks from the 1800s used as fundraisers. Your current research sounds simply fascinating to me.

      There is gel dye in my kitchen cabinet for the rainbow cake. I can’t wait to experiment with one of the grandkids. What’s not to like about baking and art! Of course, I want to hear if your daughter latches onto the idea of a rainbow cake. If it’s slathered in white frosting, guests would be drop-jawed during the cake cutting ceremony. Ha!


      1. Maybe I will do a post on community cookbooks. It’s not part of my current research, but I did discover some good ones when writing my History of American Cooking.

        I don’t think my daughter is actually having a rainbow cake for the wedding. She’s having someone make a cake–I don’t remember what they decided on. Her fiance is not a dessert person. I’m thinking though of surprising her with a rainbow challah at the rehearsal dinner.
        Please report back on your rainbow cake!


  3. Wow! That rainbow cake is wild. I love cook books and cooking, but my problem is being gluten and mostly sugar free, I can’t use most of the books available. I do a lot of winging it and making recipes my own.


    1. I know you do. We enjoyed your festive recipe the night you cooked for the CincoChincoChiques! You are a wonderful cook and avid gardener as your recent posts attest. I hope my readers will click on your link here and get acquainted with you.


  4. Everything looks delicious Marian. I have used a recipe where you bake the egg plant, and it is just a good as fried. Of course it is in Vancouver WA, along with the rest of my life. Enjoyed the article, and your grandchildren will love making the cake, especially Jenna.


  5. Well, Marian, you won’t be surprised to know that I have both these books on my shelf. And we make a variation of that eggplant recipe in our cast iron frying pan: eggplant sauteed in olive oil and soy sauce. That’s pretty yummy too.


    1. I like the idea of tweaking the eggplant recipe with an Asian flavor. Next time I buy eggplant, I will dab some soy sauce into the olive oil in my cast iron frying pan..

      And the “Celebrations” cookbook – wow! Even if you never cooked a single recipe from this book, the meditations and photographs alone would provide nourishment for soul and spirit. What a rich heritage, I am sure you will agree. Thanks, Shirley.


  6. I don’t have my own copy of the MCC. My oldest aunt has the one that was my grandmother’s, well actually her daughter has it now as that aunt has died now. My mother never had one…she always used the Better Homes and Garden cookbook (red and white plaid cover) and I have that now…the pages are so brittle they break, so I don’t even use it. I have 2 newer versions of it an I use those a lot. I have access to the MCC through our library; it’s the older version 1950.

    I use many different cookbooks. I usually buy a cookbook as a souvenir of a trip some where. I have lots of church cookbooks. I’m more of a cookbook reader. When I do decide to make a recipe I almost always change something. I write many notes into my cookbooks. I also like to collect recipes of a dish I have had at a potluck or someone’s home, so I always have notecards to write on along with me.

    Exact amounts and ingredients are not important to me. I just mix in whatever I can find in the refrigerator or freezer and garden lots of times, to use up leftovers or bits and bobs of stuff. Except in baking where I will stick to correct measurements, though I may substitute ingredients.

    As for the rainbow cake? Not for me…I don’t like using all that artificial stuff in my food. If you want to color it with chocolate, no argument on that!


    1. Well, you are certainly a cookbook connoisseur. I’m with you on fudging on exact amounts and ingredients. Baking recipes are a little touchier though.

      It’s nice to see you here again. Thanks for stopping by, Athanasia.


  7. What a lovely article and great recipes I’ve always enjoyed all the meals at Mom’s and Bosslers Church. All people happy and serving each other. Great times. I can look at a recipe but I can’t follow one. It never comes out right, so I measure by looking. When you do your eggplant add sesame, oil, garlic a little bit of ginger soy sauce and Accent seasoning and you’ll have a great Thai dish.


  8. What a wonderful cookery book . Something that you can pass down to the family . The rainbow cake is a delight .
    Have you heard of Delia Smith in your corner? Her books tend to have been my bible over the years.
    One of the reasons for that is the recipes work . I have a trillion cookery books that look beautiful just to browse at their spender but try cooking from them …most of it goes in the bin . Delia ‘s work and I use them again and again .
    If I can’t think what to cook my husband or son say ‘What about that salmon with lime etc ‘
    Yes it’s another Delia concoction


    1. Thanks for dropping the Delia Smith cookbook idea; I have not heard of her and will have to check on it. I love how your son or husband will make suggestions about menu choices. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to come up with what to make for dinner. Right?


  9. My mother-in-law taught me to like eggplant, something I had never eaten growing up.
    The rainbow cake is amazing! There’s a white cake mix in the pantry calling to me now and I want to get some coloring gels. You probably make your white cake from scratch.
    I agree, it’s so nice to have those go-to cook books. Mine are several UMC, camp and school collections with tried and true recipes.


    1. Thank you for the cookbook report, Georgette. I suspect you are a mighty good cook.

      No, I will not make the white cake from scratch but will use a mix and will report on the results (most likely). Thanks for checking in here!


  10. Marian, you probably remember my post from last November when our electricity went out (due to a snowstorm) just as my daughter was preparing to bake a rainbow cake for her one year old, which we ended up trying to bake in the woodstove. I think your grandchildren will have a grand time helping you with it and even if it doesn’t look as perfect as the one in the cookbook (as our example shows), the fun is the point, right?


    1. Yes, I do remember that post, but I clicked on your link anyway to “refresh.” You’ll probably get a report on Facebook or this blog. It won’t be perfect, but it will be a memory, a story.


  11. Marian — Can a person gain weight reading about delicious recipes? I’m pretty sure I just gained 5-pounds in the last few minutes, and now I’m hungry, to boot!

    That rainbow cake is a doozie — when you make it with one of your grandchildren, I hope you’ll photograph the adventure and share it with us — your readers.

    You asked, “Are you familiar with either cookbook? Do you have a favorite recipe or cookbook – or do you just wing it”?

    I’m not familiar with either cookbook, but I can well imagine they’re extremely popular!

    When we’re invited to someone’s home for a meal, I usually whip up a batch of my WORLD FAMOUS, TO-DIE-FOR deviled eggs. I can’t give you the recipe (because I’d have to kill you), but I’ll give you a tiny hint — the recipe involves horseradish, dry-roasted-lightly-salted-cashews, and fresh-from-the-garden parsley.

    When we invite people to our home, we usually set up a “bar” of some type: build your own baked potato, build your own burrito/taco, build your own pizza, build your own salad — you get the idea. If it’s a breakfast invitation, we typically do a build your own omelette.

    A “bar” gets our guests into the kitchen and removes any/all formality — our kind of hospitality!


    1. Too funny, Laurie. All my recipes are calorie-free unless ingested- ha!

      If I’m ever a guest at your house, I’ll be expecting deviled eggs with the mix of flavors which I enjoy: horseradish, cashews, and parsley.

      Your Build-Your-Own-Meal Bar sounds ideal. Eating is a communal activity and you and Len make the most of it. You are the Hostess with the Mostest, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I have given Mennonite Girls Can Cook as a gift a few times. It is a great cookbook. I have a couple of favourite recipe books that I use on a regular basis and brought with me to Spain. Now I hope I can get the ingredients. I can always improvise if need be.


    1. I love the idea of a Mennonite cookbook in Spain, very ecumenical!

      The “Celebrations” edition is wonderful because of the meditations, photography, and recipes of course. It would make an ideal wedding gift. Thanks so much for commenting, Darlene.


  13. Interesting facts here Marian. My husband came from a small farm town an hour west from Toronto, dubbed “Mennonite Country”. Although he isn’t one, many of them helped work their family farm and many recipes were shared. I have inherited a copy of the ‘family recipes in a folder from my husband, which his sister’s made copies for all the siblings to pass on. To be honest, I haven’t made anything yet from the recipes because of my special diet and many of those recipes are pretty heavy on carbs, although sound yummy. Hence, my hub isn’t getting any of those goodies from me, so he’s always happy to indulge when we go visit his relatives. 🙂


    1. Thank you for describing your connection to Mennonite country where the cooks like using butter and starchy stuff. Truthfully, you are better off without the high calories. As for your husband, this may be an extra-curricular indulgence you might approve of – ha!


Thank You for Leaving a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s