Gather around the Amish Table shares recipes and stories from Plain life

GatherAroundTheAmishTableNews release
August 19, 2015

Updated Herald Press cookbook adds recipe photography

HARRISONBURG, Va. and KITCHENER, Ontario.—“It’s one of the blessings of life to share ourselves with each other.” So writes Old Order Mennonite compiler Lucy Leid in her introduction to Gather around the Amish Table, a cookbook released by Herald Press in August.

Gather around the Amish Table is an updated edition of Leid’s previous compilation, Countryside Cooking & Chatting released by Herald Press back in 2006. In light of the perennial popularity of Amish and Mennonite cookbooks, editors updated and retitled Countryside Cooking & Chatting, added new full color photography, and retested and revised recipes.

Originally Leid gathered recipe submissions and stories for the book project via Die Botschaft, a weekly periodical popular in her community as well as other Mennonite and Amish communities across the United States. In the book’s introduction, she describes her goal in the creation of the book: “There are so many cookbooks around, but I wanted a cookbook with stories in it, too, with the kinds of sharing I enjoy from Die Botschaft.”

Recipes vary from family sized dishes to the 120 pies and 50 pounds of roast beef required for a barn-raising. Accompanying the recipes and simple step-by-step instructions are stories submitted by the same cooks who shared their recipes.

14-07-10 Amish Cookbook-65 14-07-10 Amish Cookbook-57Leid has included her own kitchen tips spread throughout Gather around the Amish Table, from adding wheat germ to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches healthier to suggestions about how to use water left over from boiling eggs.

Melissa Engle was food photographer with Cherise Harper serving as food stylist. The two women also worked on recent Herald Press cookbook updates: Mennonite Community Cookbook 65th Anniversary Edition, Extending the Table Revised Edition, and Simply in Season 10th Anniversary Edition.

Leid lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she and her husband run an evergreen nursery and belong to a local Old Order Mennonite church community, the Groffdale Conference, and use horse and buggy transportation.

“As I paged through the recipes and poured over the photos in Gather around the Amish Table, I found myself thinking again and again, I’ve just got to try this! There are so many recipes in here just waiting to become new family favorites,” says Georgia Varozza, author of Homestyle Amish Kitchen Cookbook.

Midwest Book Reviews says the book is a “prized and thoroughly ‘kitchen cook friendly’ addition to the family cookbook shelf.”

Lovella Schellenberg, one of the authors of Mennonite Girls Can Cook, says of Leid’s compilation: “Reading through the treasure of recipes allows a glimpse into the home life of a community that gathers around the table for fellowship, with thankfulness for the bounty that God has provided them.”

Gather around the Amish Table is available in paperback for $19.99 USD from MennoMedia at 800-245-7894 or, as well as at bookstores everywhere.

14-07-10 Amish Cookbook-35

MennoMedia Staff
High resolution photos available.

for more information on press release:
Melodie Davis
News manager





Anniversary Edition for a New Era: Mennonite Community Cookbook

Mennonite Community Cookbook is celebrating 65 years of publication this year—with a special anniversary edition!

It has had an amazing ride and we hope it will be around for another good long life—in whatever form humans use to help with cooking in the future. The Internet, cable TV cooking shows, blogs, online videos and apps have only exploded the number of ways that people seek some sort of help to concoct and enjoy home cooked (in whole or in part) meals, snacks, desserts, lunches, and brunches!

MennoniteCommunityCookbook_2015coverThe new edition of Mennonite Community Cookbook has:

  • –A brighter cover – same charming Fraktur artwork, just refreshed to be bolder and not cut off at the edges
  • –A 12-page historical section with fascinating facts, stories and photos you likely have never seen or read before
  • –New food photography to entice new generations to immerse themselves in some legacy Mennonite cooking


We’re rolling out this edition with a new dedicated blog, which we hope will change how people talk about, use, share and find community around this great old/new cookbook. There are related contest themes you can enter (two new contests each month) and new winners announced every week—with the winner choosing from among several cookbooks to claim for the participant prize!

It has been my privilege this past year to manage the relaunch of this bestselling masterwork by Mary Emma Showalter Eby.  We want everyone to learn how she was much more than a great cook and home economics professor, with the vision and chutzpa to pull together the first ever, widely published Mennonite cookbook.

A 20-something might say, uh, this is just a cookbook, isn’t it? True, but so much more.


Mary Emma Showalter at an early age.

Many people have quite emotional attachments to this book, I have learned, including myself. It is part of Mennonite history for many. We want to explore all that, and I’ll tell my own story one of these days. Earlier, the food stylist for this new edition, Cherise Harper, shared her feelings  here about being involved in this project. Edith Shenk Kuhns and others shared some responses to that blog post here, and we’ll be inviting some to tell more in the future on our new blog for the cookbook. And if this kind of cooking is not part of your cultural or faith heritage, we want to explore the intersections of this book with the great cooking from different cultures and ethnicities that Mennonites are about today!

Meanwhile, help spread the word by sharing this blog post, posting on Facebook, or wherever you love to share fun news.

First contest: In celebration of the birthday of Anabaptism (January 21, 1525), Herald Press is holding the first contest in this year long effort! Take a photo of an old copy of Mennonite Community Cookbook—any condition! Dig out your copy, your mother’s, or grandmother’s, and post a photo on any of these Mennonite Community Cookbook venues: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest using the hashtag #mennocooking.


The deadline for this contest: Jan. 15, 2015, with the winner announced January 16! We want to see all the wonderfully antique and savored copies of this beloved book that are floating around on bookshelves, in kitchens, libraries, attics!

And take a peek at upcoming contests:

–Photo of your favorite recipe from the cookbook
–Love story related to the cookbook. Who gave your mother or grandmother hers? Is there a story?
–Donut recipe from the cookbook–and more


No Mennonite Community Cookbook? Buy the original version here while copies last or pre-order the 65th anniversary addition at 25% off here! (Discount will show up in cart.)


The contest will give you an opportunity (drawn from entries received) to get YOUR CHOICE of one of these popular cookbooks, each a $20-$30 value! Simply in Season, More with Less, Extending the Table, Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations, OR Saving the Seasons. Our goal is to get you cooking, sharing and talking about Mennonite Community Cookbook and all the many fine books for sharing food and faith from Herald Press!

Melodie Davis
Managing editor





Amish Christmas Traditions – Step Inside an Amish Household

Guest Post by Lovina Eicher; with Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies Recipe

We are delighted to share these reflections by Lovina Eicher, popular columnist and cookbook author, who has been writing Lovina’s Amish Kitchen syndicated newspaper column for us since July, 2014. Enjoy! And a blessed, peaceful, and simpler Christmas from your friends at MennoMedia.

DSC_0845-001 (3)

Christmas Day is only days away. Daughter Lovina, 10, and son, Kevin, 9, are keeping track of exactly how many days. Every morning they mark off another day on the calendar. Oh, to be so young and carefree, with only worries such as how many days there are until Christmas!

Lovina and Kevin will both be in the elementary school Christmas program on Thursday evening. Next year Lovina will be a fifth grader and in middle school. This is her last Christmas program and Kevin has only next year—unbelievable! My husband Joe and I used to sit in the audience with the little ones while our older children were in the program. Now the six oldest children are back in the audience sitting with us, and our two youngest children are in the program.

On Friday the school will only have a half day of school. Lovina and Kevin’s classes are having a gift exchange. Kevin is so worried that he doesn’t have his gift wrapped yet. I want to make snacks for their party, and he reminds me every evening not to forget.

We were disappointed to hear that our children’s bus driver, Rich, has quit driving the bus route. He was a great bus driver to our children for almost eleven years. Daughter Loretta, 14, with her handicap needs more time to walk out to the bus and to get up the steps. Rich was always very patient and caring. So far they have had only a substitute driver, but the children are hoping the next bus driver will be like Rich was. We wish Rich well at his new job.

Joe will have his forty-sixth birthday on Monday, December 22. I want to have a birthday supper in his honor but am undecided yet which night to have it.

On Sunday the women in our church all decided what each one of us would bring to the annual Christmas potluck. I plan to take a large roaster with a pasta casserole. The potluck will be after our next church services, which will be on Dec. 28.

Joe and I will have our family Christmas on Christmas Day. The children usually want to open their presents before they eat, so we usually end up having a brunch. May we always remember the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season!

I wish all of you readers a joyous Christmas that brings blessings of peace and hope now and through the coming year 2015. May each of you stay healthy and enjoy being with family and friends through the holiday season. And most importantly, let us thank our Heavenly Father for bringing Jesus our Savior into the world so that our sins can be forgiven. Blessed wishes to all!

Here is a favorite recipe for sour cream cut-out cookies. We like this recipe to make Christmas cookies.

ChristmasCutouts ChristmasCookies

Sour Cream Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 1/2–4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda


1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup milk
food coloring (optional)
colored sprinkles (optional)
chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl, and stir with a whisk to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir until it forms soft but firm dough. Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out the dough. Place the shapes on the prepared pan.

Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Cream the shortening, vanilla and 1 cup powdered sugar. Gradually add the milk and the rest of the powdered sugar, beating constantly. More powdered sugar can be added to make a thicker icing. Food coloring can also be added. Spread the frosting on the cooled cookies. Decorate with colored sprinkles or chocolate chips if desired.

Lovina Eicher is an Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife and mother of eight. Formerly writing as The Amish Cook, Eicher inherited that column from her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, who wrote from 1991 to 2002. Readers can contact Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply) or at


If you know of a newspaper who might enjoy Lovina’s weekly recipes and slice of life from inside an Amish home, let us know!


A show fort Lovina’s children made!