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!"


  1. Charming post, BW! I'm so glad you found that baking ammonia. :)

  2. OH! I forgot to mention that House of James will welcome the authors of the cookbook at a book signing and taste testing event on Monday May 9 from 7-9 pm.

  3. I read this post aloud as we keep one eye on the Canucks play. You did such a wonderful book review for us Becky. I smile as I remember you as a young bride off to the mission field. I had no idea that you had grown up in San Diego and had your willowy figure from eating your mothers subscribed menu. Very fun read!

  4. I'm so proud of these gals! Beautiful.

  5. Customers are loving the book Lovella! It is so much fun to see people picking up 2 or 3. You have obviously met a need!
    hmmm...love that "willowy figure" description - perhaps my mother's ideas were very wise!

  6. Becky... I loved reading your review! I also remember you from way back then...skinny, tall, red head moving to Indonesia as a new bride.
    You have a such great way with words. Thank you.

  7. Becky, thank you for wonderful review on our book. I too remember you and your husband heading out to the mission field.....you had the warmest heart and i always knew that those who's lives you touched would know the love of Jesus. You are one of the welcoming faces that make HOJ a great place to shop. Loved the story of your mom's care in making sure all things healthy went into her family....fun read!

  8. Hi Becky,

    It's been fun to reconnect through our parents, who have all passed away..but I enjoyed working together with Loren at ACTS/TWU and catching up with life. We spent six weeks in the jungles of Kalimantan with your family. Exciting and worthy of many changes in my own heart.
    Thanks for making this beautiful tribute to our team of MGCC.

  9. I can wholeheartedly assure all of you that it is my pleasure to write about your outstanding creation. Not just a cookbook, it's a primer for all women everywhere who long to live for Christ, their families and others. I was reading it last night for a few minutes before I went to sleep and it was all I could do not to hop out of bed and start cooking! You probably need to start on Vol 2. How about Mennonite Matrons Can Clean?

  10. Loved this post Becky! And of course the cookbook too!


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