Monthly Archives: February 2011

simple sunday

This Sunday things stayed simple: dinner for Joel, Shawn, Abbey and I. It was a brisk day and we had spent time outside hiking and warm comfort food was in order. Some of the best meals are the ones I think won’t be that great……this was one of them…..

I love my brother and my sister in law… and my boyfriend, well he is the best. What a great way to get ready for the work week! A few hours of cooking, eating Mennonite comfort food, some gin and tonics and good discussion with people I love. I have a lucky, lovely life.

Beef and Biscuit

Beef and Biscuit

Recipe submitted by Mrs. Isaac Good, East Earl, Pa.

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp shortening

2 Tbsp flour

1 cup milk or water

Brown meat, onion and pepper in hot fat. Season with salt and pepper.

Add flour and blend, then add liquid and cook until thick.

For biscuit dough:

2 cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3 Tbsp shortening

3/4 cup milk

Roll biscuit dough 1/4 inch thick, brush with melted butter and spread with meat mixture.

Roll like jelly roll and cut in 1 1/4 inch slices. Place cut slices down in a greased baking pan.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Serves 6-8.

Everybody loved this dish. It was just downright tasty….not that surprising since the women who submitted it is from East Earl, and that’s where I was raised.

For the hot fat I used lard, which I still think was a great purchase, and recommend trying. It probably cancelled out the lean ground beef I used but I think the taste was worth it.

I used milk rather than water for the liquid and the consistency was a bit like hamburger gravy (which everyone was pretty happy about).

So the recipe didn’t actually instruct you on how to make the biscuits (although any good Mennonite women should know how, so I am not surprised it was just assumed). The only thing I really know about biscuit making is not to over work the dough, so I just beat the shortening (lard) and milk together, then threw the rest of the ingredients in and gave the mixer a few seconds. I then got out the dough and handled it just enough to make sure everything would stay together. I think a little extra flour would have helped the roll stay together a bit better. That or letting the meat mixture cool more….it made the dough warm and hard to handle.

If you are a ketchup junkie, this is perfect food for you to go nuts with. I thought horseradish would be nice with the Beef and Biscuit, so I found a recipe that is normally served with meatloaf and made it to go with this dish. It was great. Here it is:

Horse-radish Dressing

Recipe submitted by Mrs. Ezra Long, Sterling, Ill.

!/4 cup thick cream

3 Tbsp grated horse-radish (if you live in Lancaster, go to Longs horse-radish stand at Central Market

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp vinegar

Mix vinegar and salt with grated horse-radish. Whip the cream stiff and add gradually to the horse-radish.

So yummy! Would be good with all sorts of meat dishes. Whip some up!

mashed potato blend

Mashed Potato Blend

Recipe submitted by Nora L. Gross, Doylestown, Pa.

4 cups mashed potatoes

1 cup carrots

1 egg

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp buttered parsley

1/4 cup cream

Mix ingredients thoroughly. Place in a greased baking dish and garnish with buttered parsley.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Serves 8.

makeshift potato masher….


I love carrots and they made this dish even better than regular mashed potatoes. Loved it.

Not much to say about this except I added way more salt then called for. I find the Mennonites usually like things horribly under salted.

And buttered parsley? Never heard of it……so I winged it, and just rubbed butter over fresh parsley. Tasted great! (How could it not?)

Lastly, the recipe call for mashed potatoes and I was unclear if they should already have milk, butter, pepper etc in them, so I added a couple splashes milk and a chunk of butter into the mix.

comfort me with molasses

I have been a bit under the weather. I had the stomach bug last week, and then this week, I got a nasty cold. I wanted some comfort food so of course, I thought soup. But soup just didn’t seem comforting enough. What to do? As I flipped through the cookbook, I saw Molasses Crinkles and it was decided. These cookies hold a special place in the heart of my family, and they seemed perfect for my sad situation. Also, no one but my Grandma High can seem to make these cookies correctly, so it seemed like a good challenge.

molasses crinkles

Molasses Crinkles

Recipe submitted by Mrs. J. Irvin Lehman, Chambersburg, Pa; Mrs. Schertz, Falfurrias, Tex.

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

4 Tbsp molasses

2 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add egg and molasses and beat until well blended.

Sift flour. Measure and add salt, soda and spices. Sift again.

Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture and mix thoroughly. Chill dough in refrigerator.

Shape the chilled dough in balls 1 inch in diameter.

Roll balls in granulated sugar and place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.


So the reason these cookies are called molasses crinkles, is because they are supposed to “crinkle” and form ridges on the top as they cool. Obviously mine did not. They cracked and were a bit thicker than they should have been…….but they were still soooo good! Chewy on the inside with a slight buttery crunch around the edges. Eat them warm with milk or coffee.

I used butter for my shortening. For my molasses, I used half mild, and half full flavor……Brer Rabbit is my favorite brand.

The recipe said it would yield 4 dozen. I got about 3 dozen using a 1 inch cookie dipper.

Work quickly, or the dough will become sticky.

These smelled wonderful while they were baking!

Try to just eat one…..

molasses in the afternoon

Of course I think of my grandma when I make these cookies. I would be so happy when she made them for family gatherings and would love to know her secret. Part of who I am, my love of food and desire to work with my hands, I inherited from my grandma. It’s a bitter sweet thought….. Although I have been to countless family reunions and weddings, I don’t really know my grandma on a personal level. As my immediate family became less conservative, my grandparents remained very conservative and religious. I always felt a separation from my grandparents and a desire to have a deeper connection with them. Now that I am older, I am starting to see that it’s never too late to reach out………maybe Molasses Crinkles are a good place to start……..

dull to decadent

I decided to make dinner for my brother Shawn and his wife Abbey last night. I didn’t really have much on hand at the house, so I was unsure how things would pan out. What did I end up with?? One really normal casserole …… and one really damn tasty chocolate cake!

Recipes to follow…..

six layer dinner

Okay okay, this dish was not all bad. It was very hearty, something you would want to eat after working in the fields all day. In the words of Abbey, it was, “weirdly addicting”. Initially it was not very striking, but then you wanted to keep eating it…… kind of like box pasta and sauce. So here it is….

Six Layer Dinner

Submitted by Mrs. Velma Miller, Canton, Ohio; Mrs. Abner Musselman, Elmira, Ont., Can.

2 cups hamburger

2 cups sliced raw potatoes

2 cups chopped celery

1/2 cup diced onion

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 cup diced green pepper

2 cups canned tomatoes

Place potatoes in bottom of greased casserole. Add celery, then hamburger, onions and pepper.

Sprinkle salt and pepper on each layer. Pour tomatoes over mixture in dish and garnish with green pepper rings.

Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.

Serves 6-8.


The only thing I really changed about this recipe was that I used shredded cabbage instead of potatoes. This dish was a great way to use up a variety of veggies that might soon go to waste…… Mennonite blood loves this thought! And really, that concept was probably why this dish was created. Makes me smile.