I’ve been reading this book for about a week and a half. During that time it has been extremely hot here in northern California – upper 90s and 100s. While my body has been hot, my mind has been on the Amish farm, imagining their life in all this heat. Only thing, is I know Indiana heat can be worse than what I’ve been suffering. They have all that humidity and it doesn’t cool off at night.
If I were an Amish housewife with no indoor plumbing or electricity, I would be a miserable, whiny, grumpy person. I would want to take my horse and buggy into town and hang around inside the air-conditioned stores. Of course, at some point I’d have to go home and fire up the wood or kerosene stove to cook meals for my family. By then I’d be beyond whiny.
If Elizabeth Coblentz is a whiny-wumb, it doesn’t show. She is The Amish Cook and the author of this book. In it she tells of life among this northern Indiana Amish community. Elizabeth married, raised eight children, sewed all their clothing (treadle sewing machine), helped at slaughter and milking times, planted and harvested a large garden and then put away all that food for winter (via canning or cold-celler storage). In her spare time she managed to write a weekly column (by hand) for the Amish newspaper.
Mrs. Coblentz’s weekly columns contained news about her family and her local community. She talked of the garden, the weather, weddings, funerals, and other important events, as well as meals and food preparation. She always included a recipe at the end of each column.
A collection of these columns and seventy-five of the recipes have been published in this book. Since so much of Elizabeth’s life centered around food, the book is divided into meal chapters. There is Breakfast, Dinner, Supper, Desserts, and Sundays and Special Occasions. In addition there are nearly eighty stunning photos, some two-page spreads like this one.
Each chapter takes the reader through what happens at that time of day the chapter covers. I liked reading about all the various foods fixed for each meal. It was generally very hardy. Some of the recipes were new to me but many were quite familiar.
The chapter on Special Occasions had a list of the food (and amounts) they cooked and served at one of Elizabeth’s daughter’s wedding. It was staggering. It must have taken an army of women to carry that off. I liked that some foods are only served at weddings.
This book is a delightful visit with Elizabeth and her community. This past week as I tried to put myself into her life, I developed a tremendous respect and admiration for Elizabeth and the women of the Amish communities. As I’ve thought about their life I shake my head and say, “I don’t know how they do it.”
The truth is, I do know how they do it. It’s a way of life that is infused with a tremendous faith in God and the acceptance of whatever comes their way. They live a life of gratitude and set a wonderful example.
I first heard about this book from Staci. She told me I would like it and she was right. Thanks Staci. Read Staci’s review at her blog: Life In the Thumb. Last week JoAnn also reviewed this book and you can read her review at one of her blogs: Lakeside Kitchen.
I borrowed this book from the library. It’s also available at Amazon. (I’m an Amazon Associate.)
The Amish Cook: Recollections and Recipes from an Old Order Amish Family by Elizabeth Coblentz and Kevin Williams. Photography by Laura Smith. Published by Ten Speed Press, 2002.
Talking about food is a regular feature on my blog and others as well. Visit Beth Fish Reads for other bloggers who are participating in Weekend Cooking.