Tuesday, April 26, 2011

California Girls Can Cook Too!

if they have the newly arrived and highly anticipated cookbook Mennonite Girls Can Cook. I bought it last week when it hit the shelves, not because I need another cookbook, but because I am addicted to shiny pages of food pictures and riveting text about edibles (and life!)

Lovella Schellenberg is a local lady who posted a recipe for Paska ((Easter bread) on her personal blog in 2007. Friends and relations started comparing notes and blogs and recipes and realized a shared love for delicious "Mennonite" style food. The result? A shared cookery blog and now a book!

Actually I lied earlier. I do need this cookbook. It contains recipes for food that my husband has been requesting since we got married 35 years ago. I grew up in San Diego with an extremely healthy-food conscious mother. Our school lunches consisted of meatloaf sandwiches on whole wheat bread, applesauce and wheatgerm cookies, unlike our friends who unwrapped a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread supplemented with a twinkie. Confession: I LONGED for a twinkie. But I digress.

As we embarked upon the happy state of matrimony, my husband started using words like "sticky buns" and "gravy" and "those iced cookies that taste like peppermint". None of those items were part of the healthy food plan that my mother subscribed to. Despite my best efforts, I have never felt like a "Mennonite cook"; more like a transplanted city girl who has bought dozens of cookbooks, tried hundreds of recipes, and found a small modicum of success. The bestselling Mennonite Treasury of Recipes was a great help as was the More With Less cookbook. But there were no pictures! And I'm very visual!

Well, help has arrived. This beautiful hard cover not only contains lovely, detailed recipes and close-up pictures of the finished product but it also tells stories. Ten ladies have included short tales of family and hospitality, as well as their tried and true tips. AND, there are gluten-free recipes! One of the cooks has celiac disease, so she includes some of her favorites.

I bought the book just in time for Easter weekend. I immediately looked for those baking ammonia cookies and for broccoli salad, which I adore. I found both!!! I am so happy. And I will tell you where you can buy baking ammonia. Windmill Deli at the corner of South Fraser Way and Clearbrook Rd in Abbotsford. There, free info.

Book sale royalties will go to feed hungry children, so if you need the added incentive to drive straight to our store and buy this book, there it is. What a stellar idea for a gift for Mother's Day! For a new bride! For your sister in Montana! For yourself just because it is so much fun to read like a novel.

I can't wait to try Sauteed Red Cabbage or Green Bean Soup. I may still hear those words, "Wow, this tastes just like my mom's recipe!"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Staff Picks

Take a look at what several of our staff are reading and recommending:

Linda - Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews is an amazing book!  This is my current favorite. I loved it because I really like reading fiction based on Bible characters. Job is not often written about, probably because it would be too depressing! But this book made him a real person and helped me understand the circumstances that he went through."

Also from Linda - "Another favorite fiction book is Love Me Back to Life by  Missy Horsfall which shows a realistic portrayal of the healing process from sexual abuse in the family setting."

Bonnie - "My favorite book right now is called Heaven is for Real about a little boy at death's door during a serious surgery. He reveals over time, after recovering, that he actually spent some time with Jesus in heaven.  It is the most genuinely encouraging story coming from the sweet lips of a 4 year old who could not possibly have known of such details of heaven had he not visited it himself.  It gives me such joy and hope for my loved ones who are suffering from terminal health issues.  Their bodies will be completely restored and I am so excited for them to experience all that awaits them beyond the pearly gates (which by the way are described in this book!)"

  Jacelyn says "It's a rare book that will have me actually chuckling out loud, but Jenny B. Jones accomplished the feat...with all three books in her series about a spoiled New York teenager who gets plunked down on a farm in Oklahoma.  Jones' writing is witty, clever, and snarky enough to keep you coming back for more.  The Charmed Life Series includes So Not HappeningI'm So Sure, and So Over My Head.  For more hilarity, visit www.jennybjones.com/blog. (She sings! She eats! She posts funny videos!)
 
Rick writes enthusiastically about An Eye for Glory by Karl Bacon - "This is a deeply spiritual, compellingly realistic, profoundly disturbing book about the American civil war. The main character starts out by volunteering for what he considered would be a brief struggle to get rid of slavery and set his country on the path to righteousness. The senseless slaughter and banal stupidity and futility of a soldiers life, gradually wears down his soul. By the time the war is over, he is an empty shell, devoid of the faith and hope that is so essential to a meaningful existence. The story of how God orchestrates his redemption is one of the beautiful features in this book that is so full of death and destruction. The character development is excellent, the writing is top rate and the writer knows his subject very well. An amazing book, but not for some wanting a fluffy, "feel good" story!"