Monday, November 19, 2012

Book review - The Amish Family Cookbook

The Amish Family Cookbook
by Jerry and Tina Eicher

Published by Harvest House Publishers
October 2012

I requested the digital edition of this book from NetGalley and received it in June.  I enjoyed it so much that as soon as it was released in the UK, I headed straight over to and bought a "real" copy of my own :-)

 I have pored over this book, chuckled over this book and enjoyed every single page. It is more than just  a cookbook; humorous stories about the Amish are scattered throughout the book and on every double page spread there is an Amish proverb.  On the pages which tell us how to make Chicken Fajitas, Spanish Rice and Chicken and Ham-Stuffed Manicotti, is this gem:

"To admit I was wrong is but saying I am wiser today than I was yesterday."

Many Amish cookbooks are collections of Amish recipes which have been collated by "Englisha" writers. This book consists of Amish recipes handed down from their families to Jerry and Tina Eicher, both of whom were themselves born and raised in Amish families.

We learn which recipes are special favourites of their own family, and the particularly hearty breakfast recipes are a special delight, though I think they will need to be reserved as very occasional treats for those of us who have a more sedentary lifestyle.

Many recipes can be prepared ahead and served later in the day or the next day, and have obviously been developed over the years to fit in with the particular constraints of a traditional Amish lifestyle.  Some convenience foods are included; this is not a "You will prepare every dish the hardest way possible" type of cookbook and the shortcuts are generally highly practical and sensible, The determined cook can easily do things the hard way if so desired......... with the possible exception of marshmallow fluff, which is an essential ingredient in making Jerry Eicher's favourite peanut butter spread !

So, what is in this cookbook? The chapters include:
  • Appetizers and Beverages
  • Breakfast
  • Cakes
  • Candies
  • Cookies and Bars
  • Desserts
  • Grilling
  • Main Dishes
  • Pies
  • Quick Breads
  • Salads and Gelatin Salads
  • Soups and Sandwiches
  • Vegetables and Side Dishes
  • and last but certainly not least, Yeast Breads.
There are recipes for venison as well as more commonly used meat, and I can think of at least one of my friends who might well be interested in trying some of those out soon.

Several recipes mention Velveeta cheese, which I have not been able to source here in the UK, but am assured by expat American friends that British Red Leicester cheese is a good alternative. Marshmallow fluff is fairly widely available here, but I have not been able to find an alternative for Miracle Whip yet, nor  refrigerated packs of buttermilk biscuits. If anyone can suggest one, or a UK source for cartons of frozen juice concentrate, I would be truly grateful!

I really do love the fact this is a spiral bound (comb-bound) cookbook, so it will happily stay open and flat when I am busy cooking. It doesn't have glossy photographs, but it does not need them - the book speaks for itself.

If you visit the publishers, and click on the Google preview at the bottom of the cover photo,  you can browse through the book and even download a chapter !
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elizabeth said...

sound fun! but Velveeta cheese in an Amish cookbook? I am a bit shocked at this one - as this is a highly processed cheese that many would not even say is real... however, it still sounds like a good book - esp. the bread baking part!!! :)

Sarah in Indiana said...

In most cases, you could simply substitute mayonnaise for the Miracle Whip. I do, all the time, and I can easily purchase Miracle Whip, I just prefer mayo. Miracle Whip is sweetened, however, so if you want to the recipe to be more authentic you might add some sugar as well--maybe a teaspoon per 1/2 cup of mayo? (If it's a sweet dish already, I'd probably skip the additional sugar)

Sorry, no tips on the other elusive American ingredients.

Sarah in Indiana said...

Oh, and Miracle Whip is lower fat than mayo, so if you have "light" mayonnaise, that would probably be more like the original, too.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Sarah, thank you *so* much for this information! I had no idea how to overcome the lack of Miracle Whip in the UK; now I can try even more of the recipes :-)

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

I suppose we all eat some junk occasionally :-)

Interestingly, the Red Leicester cheese, which is apparently a good substitute, is a traditional "real" cheese much like cheddar, but crumblier in texture and with an orange tinge.

Sarah in Indiana said...

Glad to help.