Some recipes “stick with you for life,” Amish cookbook author says

April 6, 2017

Syndicated columnist Lovina Eicher releases first solo cookbook

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Herald Press is publishing a new cookbook by prolific Amish recipe author Lovina Eicher: The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Pantry.

The cookbook’s more than one hundred recipes are accompanied by full-page color photographs—both of recipes from the cookbook and of Amish life—as well as tips to enhance and enjoy the dishes or memories associated with them. Many recipes include smaller color
photographs illustrating the creation of the recipe step-by-step.

While this is Eicher’s first solo project, she is experienced at sharing recipes. She is the author of Lovina’s Amish Kitchen, a syndicated column published in newspapers across the United States, as well as in a weekly blog hosted by MennoMedia. She has also collaborated with other authors or editors to create several other Amish cookbooks, including The Amish Cook at Home, The Amish Cook’s Baking Book, The Amish Cook’s Family Favorite Recipes, The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book, and Amish Cooks across America.

Eicher began her cooking career at a very young age, helping her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, in the kitchen. “One of my earliest memories was watching her knead the dough when she was making cinnamon rolls,” Eicher recalled in an interview. “When she’d go in the next room to do something, I’d quickly squeeze the dough. It just looked so fun.” Elizabeth Coblentz was also well-known for her syndicated column, The Amish Cook.

Eicher’s latest cookbook is divided into 13 sections, ranging from basic categories like “Soups and Salads” and “Meats and Main Dishes” to more specialized ones like “Amish Wedding Meals.” Some recipes are staples in any cookbook, such as for homemade bread or muffins. Some encourage users to get a little more creative in the kitchen, such as Rhubarb Coffee Cake, BLT Salad, and Amish Wedding Nothings (also known as Knee Patches), a fried, doughy, airy dessert often served at weddings.

Eicher chose recipes that are easy to follow and that use basic, everyday ingredients. “I went with recipes that I use and like,” she said. “Everyone has a recipe that they like best to make bread. I’ve tried different kinds, and I always go back to the one I started with, which was my mother’s [named Lovina’s Homemade Bread in the book]. Some recipes just stick with you for life, I guess.”

Eicher also recalls making pies with her mother. “When she would make pies, she would give us little strips of the dough that she didn’t need,” Eicher described. “She’d give it to us to play with, and we had a little toy rolling pin, and we’d roll it out and make little pies, and she’d put sugar on it and bake it.”

Eicher first began writing when she took over her mother’s syndicated column after her mother’s passing in 2002. “At first I didn’t consider myself a writer,” she said. “I just wrote a letter like I was writing to a friend. I just wrote about my family.”

She recalls feeling intimidated about following in her mother’s footsteps. “My editor told me that the readers will only read the column for so long because I’m the daughter [of Elizabeth Coblentz]. You have to make sure to keep their interest. I guess something I did worked,” she said with a chuckle.

Eicher now considers writing an important part of her life. “It’s like a diary,” she said about her weekly column. “There are so many things I write about that I would have forgotten. It’s something I have to do that I wouldn’t do otherwise. I think it would be so nice if every mother would just sit down every week and write down what happened that week. You think you don’t have time to sit down and write, but if you have to, you find time.”

Eicher also adds she receives a lot of encouragement from readers. “I just want to keep encouraging them,” she said. “A lot of people out there haven’t been blessed with the faith that I was brought up with.”

Sherry Gore, bestselling author of Me, Myself, and Pie, says, “I love this cookbook. Like thousands of others, I am a big fan of hers!”

Eicher and her husband, Joe, have eight children and live in Michigan.

The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Pantry is available for purchase from Herald Press at 800-245-7894 or www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources.

Luisa Miller, staff intern

To discuss interview opportunities, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

A number of book signings by the author and book launches are planned for the Midwest. See current list here.

High-resolution photos available. All photos here including those on the book cover photographed by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis or Grant Beachy for Herald Press.

 

What is the essence of Anabaptism?

March 30, 2017

What is the essence of Anabaptism?

New book by Palmer Becker helps explain beliefs of Mennonites and more

HARRISONBURG, Va.—What makes Anabaptism different from other Christian traditions? According to author Palmer Becker, it can be explained by three words: Jesus. Community. Reconciliation.

In the new resource Anabaptist Essentials: Ten Signs of a Unique Christian Faith (Herald Press, March 2017), Becker introduces readers to the key convictions and practices of Anabaptism. Becker is also the author of the small volume, What Is an Anabaptist Christian? now published in 20 languages.

Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his Revisionist History podcast, says of Becker’s three key words, “It’s hard to explain to an outsider how seriously the Mennonites take these three things: Jesus, community, and reconciliation.”

Publishers Weekly calls it “an easy, engaging read for those who want to learn, or be reminded of, what Christianity is all about,” adding that the section on conflict “should be assigned reading for every Christian for its clear-eyed assessment of conflict and effective nonviolent strategies for engaging and transforming it.”

In Anabaptist Essentials, Becker explains the core beliefs of Anabaptism and clearly lays out the differences that define the tradition. Becker explains, “In this book I unapologetically describe ten ways in which Anabaptist Christians are uniquely different from many, or even most, Christians. Anabaptists have often downplayed differences with other believers and highlighted similarities.” While seeking common ground is a good impulse, Becker says, “this quest for unity has also muted many of the unique qualities and strengths that the Anabaptist tradition might offer to the wider church.”

Designed for study by small groups and for use as a basic resource for Christian formation and conversation, the guide includes illustrations and discussion questions. Spanish and French editions of Anabaptist Essentials are planned for release in June 2017.

Becker is a speaker, pastor, church planter, missionary, author, and educator. A graduate of Goshen College, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Regent College, and Fuller Theological Seminary, Becker most recently served as director of the Hesston College pastoral ministries program, before moving to Ontario in semi-retirement.

To schedule an interview with Palmer Becker, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

To purchase Anabaptist Essentials, check here or call 800-245-7894.

MennoMedia Staff
High-resolution photos available

Amish Prayers coloring book uses early Anabaptist prayers

February 22, 2017
News release

Amish Prayers coloring book uses early Anabaptist prayers
Herald Press offers second devotional coloring book

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Last fall, Herald Press took its first step into the world of adult devotional coloring books with Beloved Amish and Mennonite Quilts. Its latest addition to the field, Amish Prayers, offers fraktur drawings and thoughtful, contemplative prayers from Anabaptist history. The collection will be released April 4, 2017.

The 43 prayers are translated and adapted from Die ernsthafte Christenpflicht (Prayer Book for Earnest Christians, first published in 1708), a traditional Amish prayer book which grew from prayers of Anabaptists in the 1500s and 1600s, and still used by Amish folks today.

In the coloring book, each prayer is presented on the left side of each spread along with a related Bible verse and room for journaling. On the facing page is an illustration to color, incorporating a key phrase from the accompanying prayer using fraktur, a type of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. Lynn Sommer, an artist and member of Community Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, created each coloring page. Pages tear out easily if users want to display or give away their artwork.

“My ink and watercolor paintings are often inspired by traditional Swiss Mennonite and Pennsylvania German fraktur motifs from my heritage,” Sommer said. “The fraktur form drew me in as a young child because there was something sacred in the combination of names, dates, and sacred events such as baptisms and births recognized within the faith community. The folk art images in fraktur show a beautiful union between art and religion.”

The designs are symmetrical and often repetitive, aiding prayerful contemplation of a central idea. Some are more realistic and some more abstract, and many are a mixture of both, according to the artist. The designs frequently implement nature images of birds, flowers, plants, and the sun.

Sommer says that the process of creating the illustrations was “an artistic and spiritual discipline intertwined. I would first read the prayer, focus on the designated short phrase to be incorporated into the design, browse early fraktur designs, turn on contemplative music, then begin sketching.”

The book’s preface is written by an Old Order Amish woman from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who prefers that her name not be used. In the preface, she recounts fond memories of her father praying these prayers aloud and writes about how meaningful it is to pray prayers written centuries ago by Anabaptist Christians undergoing severe persecution.

In reflecting on the process of creating the art for Amish Prayers, Sommer concluded, “I am grateful for the spiritual pilgrimage this project has brought into my life. I am hopeful for coloring book connoisseurs as they embark on their spiritual journey with the Amish Prayers coloring book.”

Amish Prayers is available for $12.99 USD from Herald Press at 800-245-7894 or www.MennoMedia.org, as well as at bookstores and online retailers.

MennoMedia intern Luisa Miller
High resolution photo available

For sample copies or questions, please contact:
LeAnn Hamby
Marketing Manager
Herald Press
(540) 908-3941 LeAnnH@mennomedia.org