The words 'seasonal' and 'local' have become buzz words to all of us concerned with the environment, but they are simply a way of life among the Amish, and gathering the family at the dinner table is s sacred part of that life rhythm to the Amish. In this gentle and beautiful book, the reader feels the joy of their harmonious way of life, of being part of family sharing. Part cookbook and part cultural exploration, the book is beautifully written in anecdotal stories that illuminate the Amish respect for the natural world around them.
Food is a cornerstone of the Amish life. The book is organized around the four seasons, and speaks of gardens (every household has one) of the acceptance that we must butcher animals to live, another aspect of the season's rituals. Spring is the time of "wild welcome" when the perennial plants such as rhubarb, asparagus, onions and dandelions first appear and families gather the wild gifts of nature. The recipes follow suit and you will find dandelions used as salad and preserved as Dandelion Jelly. There are stories of hunting mushrooms, of making a crisply tart Rhubarb Juice or a Casserole of Asparagus. Peas, beets radishes and strawberries come to bloom and there are recipes for all, many speaking of children's participation.
Summer is the time of the garden and you will find recipes for the fertile zucchini plant, such as Zucchini Patties, Zucchini Relish, Zucchini Jam and Zucchini Bars. There are recipes for all of our summer garden crops, such as Tomato Baked Stuffed Tomatoes, Tomato Pancakes, Cheesy Carrot Casserole or Carrot Cake; for Corn Pudding or Corn Casserole,
Autumn yields other crops and you will find recipes for Stuffed Green Peppers, Homemade Grape Juice, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Cookies. Gathering apples in their autumn freshness yields recipes for for Apple Crisp or Apple Fritters. Butchering chicken is both a spring and fall enterprise and there are recipes for Cheesy Chicken Chowder and Chicken Potpie, or for the result of an autumn hunt, Venison Sausage.
In the chill of winter, the Amish gather around their coal-burning stoves to eat hearty meals such as Sausage and Noodle Dinners, or Sauerkraut Supper (homemade sauerkraut, ready around New Year's Day). They celebrate holidays by baking sweets such as Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies or Holiday Fudge and Noel Cookies.
The book offers brief peeks at the Amish life with short articles written by children, with small sidebars of explanation and with the elegant and personal stories of Amish life written by Lovina Eicher. This is a rewarding book to read and one that can inspire more frequent family gatherings and great spirit through the four seasons. One reads and enjoys the silence that comes with reading.
There are beautiful photographs throughout by Betsy Blanton, some of food, others of domestic activities, and many of the landscape so integral to the Amish way of life.