Book Review: The Authentic Amish Cookbook*

This book was very much a curiosity read and turned out not to be quite what I expected. The Amish are a religious group I know very little about, beyond the fact that they dress modestly, and live a simplified life, free from the shackles of modern technology.

The book itself is a mixture of recipes supplied by members of this community,  passages from the bible and spiritual quotations. In many respects, it’s designed to be more than your average cookbook. It’s very much food for the soul not just the body.

There are two hurdles for the non-US reader to face when using this book. Firstly, the U.S. weights and measures system, which you will need to convert to the UK system. The second, is the use of certain ingredients that aren’t readily available here in the UK. This latter issue just means finding the nearest equivalent ingredient. However, some products are available online, if you want to be truly authentic. Although they can be a little pricey.

The recipes themselves are fairly straightforward to follow and in some instances offer several variations of the same dish by a different recipe donor. Possibly the most surprising thing to me throughout the book was the use of processed and synthetic ingredients, such as, instant potato flakes, Graham crackers and Jell-O. Ingredients I’d never expected to see as I’d always assumed that the recipes would be very traditional. Basically, I’d assumed it would be full of ideas that had been passed down through the family line, but in many respects, it has a very modern feel about it.

This book was very much a mixed bag. I liked the uniqueness of its style – scripture and religious snippets intermingled with the recipes. It’s a book that stops you and gets you thinking. It has the feel of a book that wants you to interact with it. Maybe even add your own thoughts and notes to it in the margins.

Although there were one or two recipes I did want to try, I have to admit, I’m quite a fussy cook. I like to know exactly what I’m eating, and although I’m not averse to using the odd shortcut ingredient, some of those used in the book just made those recipes sound unappetising. In that sense, I was a little disappointed with the book. Would it have a place on my bookshelf? To be honest, I’m not sure if it would. As much as I enjoyed its originality, it’s not a book that would get an awful lot of use in my home. For all its variety there just wasn’t enough in it I’d actually want to try.

Book info: compiled by Norman & Marlena Miller | Harvest House Publishing | March 2015 | 256 pages

Source: Netgalley

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