Thursday, May 30, 2013

Simply Delicious Amish Cooking, by Sherry Gore

A great collection of the best Amish recipes from Pinecraft, Florida (a village in the heart of Sarasota) put together by Sherry Gore. It has hundreds of easy and delicious recipes, complete with pictures. Also, alongside of the recipes, 'Simply Delicious' offers cooking and baking tips, and true stories about Amish life, weddings, birthdays, celebrations, and even accidents taken from the author’s column in the Amish newspaper, The Budget. Cook with author Sherry Gore and her friends from Pinecraft while sharing stories about love, life, family, friends, and God’s providence and faithfulness.

As I read 'Simply Delicious', I felt like I was cooking at home with my mother, my grandmother and my favorite aunt. You are not just cooking, and you are not doing it alone. You’re in your kitchen sharing recipes and stories; sharing tips and little nuggets of wisdom; learning how to cook and learning a little bit about history, and different places, and people. This is not just a cookbook; it’s a history lesson about the Amish and their community in Pinecraft. It’s also full of their humor, their wisdom and their sense of family and no-nonsense way of life.

But it is most definitely a book about cooking. Some of the recipes are those wonderfully made-from-scratch semi-decadent Amish dishes. Comfort food at its best, and very simple, like the Red-Skin Mashed Potatoes (mouth watering), Chicken Pie (sooo good), Parmesan Pan Bread (full of flavor), and Pizza Crust (…homemade pizza, enough said!), among many other recipes that are pretty common, but here they have an Amish twist. Other recipes are semi-homemade, like the Monkey Bread (which calls for refrigerated biscuits), and this was not what I expected, but, on the other hand, it shows how the book can be used by those who don’t have much time to prepare a full meal from scratch. It has alternatives, and that is a very good thing.

I also loved how the recipes were written: just like my mom would write a recipe for me. For example, when the Cooked Chocolate Pudding recipe (my family’s favorite dessert at the moment) says, “Pay attention, because this happens quickly.” A very candid way to write a recipe that made me smile while making it because it is not written dryly. Since these recipes are written by everyday homemakers or cooking enthusiasts, their wording is very familiar, very easy to understand and to follow. A few recipes, however, don’t include all of the measures (like the amount of cinnamon, butter and brown sugar for the Cinnamon Rolls’ filling), so you have to go with your taste.

The tips included are very useful. The tip on the substitutions for different types of flour was wonderful, as well as how to keep brown sugar soft (a big help for me). Also, the different tips on cooking seafood, among a few others, were very helpful, and made this cookbook a great addition to my kitchen for my everyday use.

Many recipes are written with a large family in mind, since Amish families are usually pretty big. So for a family of three, like mine, there was a lot left over, which meant that my father, my mother and my sister got to enjoy them also. And isn’t that exactly one of the purposes of Amish cooking and, therefore, this book? To share your meals, your stories, your lessons learned, and the goodness of God with your family and friends.

5 out of 5 stars

*I received a copy of this book from Zondervan through The Christian Manifesto in exchange of an honest review.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Beautiful Reflection

This past Saturday, I went to the store to buy new clothes. I grabbed a few dresses, a shirt and a pair of jeans and went into the fitting room to face the dreaded and unmerciful full length mirrors.

For the first time in a very, very, VERY long time, I saw the reflection of my body and thought it was just beautiful. I loved the curves, I loved the form, I loved its size and I loved its softness. Nothing was firm, or tight, or toned.

My stomach looked kind of full, round even and fluffy, but it bore a child safely and secure for 39 weeks, enduring each strong kick, each swift movement, almost four years ago; a beautiful healthy, happy boy.

My legs and thighs are bigger, rounder and flaccid with the ever presence of some cellulite and a few stretch marks, but they run after a child and with a child every day, whenever he wants to play, and they are the perfect size for when my son hugs them when he's scared. There, he feels secure.

My arms look and feel soft, with no perceivable muscle tone or structure; not at all sculptural. But they hold a child every day. They hug him tight never wanting to let go. They pick him up, they carry him and he trusts they will not let him fall down.

And it's all beautiful. It's all soft, round, fluffy and flaccid, but firm and strong enough to bear a boy, to run after and with a boy, to hold a boy, to play with a boy, to kiss his pain away, to take his hand and make him feel secure, to lift him up and help him reach new and wonderful heights, to tell him each day how much I love him... Most of all, my heart is strong enough to hear him say he loves me back.

So after a very long time, and maybe even for the first time in my life, I looked in the mirror and loved that reflection, and felt content, happy and moved. This is what God has graciously given me: innumerable blessings in the form of a child and because of him.