Food That Really Schmecks* by Edna Staebler is a collection of Mennonite country cooking recipes. Edna Staebler was a journalist who in the process of writing a story befriended a Mennonite family. She began collecting their recipes and put them out in a book. It is a down home sort of cookbook, conversational in tone and the recipes all could be classified as "comfort food". These recipes range from desserts to fruit/vegetables, breads and meats all with copious amounts of butter, eggs and sugar. There no pictures but wonderful descriptions and asides about each recipe. Many of the recipes have notes like "the best thing you could do to a potato", "an omelette that will cover your bones" or "serve hot hot hot". It is sort of like reading someone's old family cookbook, complete with marginalia. There are tips on making vegetables, sauces and bread which as quite helpful, but you should be forewarned that some of the recipes call for things like "butter the size of an egg", a moderate oven and suet. You'll need to guess about bowl size, how long "awhile" is and when to add spices. I don't want to dissuade you from buying the book, even if you don't make the recipes, it is a fascinating peek back in time and into a culture different than our own. I honestly read most of it like I would a novel.
It was hard to decide on a recipe to make. Many of the recipes are on the, let's say heavy side, or called for ingredients that I didn't happen to have on hand. After much deliberation, I decided on the above recipe and it turned out very well. I never would have thought of shredding and baking carrots but it was a good, easy side dish. The ginger gave it a bit of a zip and amazingly the carrots stayed slightly crisp even after 45 minutes in the oven. A easy, no fuss side dish. When I have more time, I'd like to make some of the breads and rolls in the book, she provides lots of variations that sound intriguing.
This is a part of the A Day That Really Schmecks round up. Check out all of the posts over at Cardamon Addict on January 15th. Thanks to Jasmine for coordinating the event and to the publishers for sending me this book to review.
*Okay, I have to admit, part of the allure of this book is the title. We have had great fun trying to work "schmecks" (which means "good" to the best of my knowledge) into casual conversation.