Using Food to Discover the World

Reading and cooking are two of my favorite ways to relax. Give me a suspense mystery and I’m lost to the world for several hours. Give me a new, interesting recipe and I will make a special trip to the grocery store and purchase ingredients to get started immediately. And if my love of reading and cooking are combined—say, I get a new cookbook—I will ignore everything around me as I marvel at the photos and look for good recipes.

These loves are why I signed up to test new and modified recipes for the upcoming revised edition of the Extending the Table cookbook. The cookbook is already a staple at our house. The introduction states, “This collection of recipes and stories invites us to sit with people we have never met, taste the flavors of their food, feel the warmth of their friendship, and learn from their experiences.” Indeed, as I’ve used this book over the years, I’ve felt much more attuned to the world around me.

The revised edition will include colorful photos and recipe revisions, along with several new recipes. Some of my favorites in the cookbook include Bang-Bang Chicken, Rice Noodles with Vegetables, and Dhal. Now that I’ve tested recipes, I’ve added a few more to my list.


Pad Thai already appears in the cookbook, but I tried a revised version with tofu instead of meat. When ordering this dish at Thai restaurants I always request tofu as the protein, and so I was excited to cook with it as well. After stopping at the local Asian grocery to find my preferred size of rice noodles, I grabbed the cutting board and heated the wok. I was thrilled when the dish turned out to be both simple to make and tasty to eat. The tofu was a nice exchange. From now on, that’s how I’ll make Pad Thai.


Mango Lassi is a new recipe for Extending the Table. I was eager to try it because I order one whenever eating at an Indian restaurant. The small, yellow, and soft mangos are my choice because they are sweeter and juicier than other varieties. I found them at my favorite Mexican grocery. I chopped them, measured other ingredients, and gave everything a whirl in the blender. It was another very simple and tasty recipe!


The revised edition of Extending the Table will be available in early summer 2014.  Join me in discovering more foods to expand our worlds!

120127_3988Mary Ann Weber, Managing Editor for Curriculum

The Winning Recipes—and People—of Extending the Table

MennoMedia is proud to be releasing a new edition of Extending the Table in Spring 2014. Extending the Table is the second cookbook in the World Community Cookbook series, commissioned by Mennonite Central Committee, that also includes the More-with-Less Cookbook and Simply in Season.

As I reported in a Mennobytes post in March, the new edition of Extending the Table will include more photographs, a few new recipes, and many of the recipes, stories, prayers, and proverbs from around the world that you have come to love.

Today I’m happy to report on two types of “winners” with regard to the new edition of Extending the Table: recipes and people. First, the recipes.

RECIPES: The results are in! More than 120 people responded to the Extending the Table survey, to help determine which recipes appear in the new edition of the cookbook. Thanks to all of you who spent time paging through your copy of the cookbook and voting for the recipes that you and your household find yourselves preparing again and again. We are taking your responses very seriously.

Right now we are working to determine exactly which recipes from the current edition will appear in the new edition of the cookbook. Seven people are serving as an advisory group for the process; they are weighing in on these questions over the next several weeks. So while I can’t reveal a list of which recipes will make the final cut, I can report on which recipe received the most votes in each category. It’s safe to assume that the recipes listed below will definitely make it into the new edition. (Note: We did not include beverages, grains, and dried beans in the survey.)

So the winners are . . .

  • BREADS: Tied for first place were Indian Flat Bread / Chapati from India (p. 48) and Pita Bread / Khubiz Arabi from the West Bank (p. 51)
  • SOUPS: Spicy Lentil Pot / Shorbet Addis from Egypt (p. 98)
  • SALADS AND VEGETABLES: Thai Stir-Fried Vegetables / Pad Pak Rooam from Thailand (p. 130)
  • EVERYDAY MAIN DISHES: Curried Peas and Potatoes / Mattar Alu Kari from India (p. 180)
  • FESTIVE DISHES: Spinach Pie / Spanokopita from Greece (p. 218)
  • POULTRY: Bang Bang Chicken / Bang Bang Ji from China (p. 228)
  • FISH: Fish with Mango / Samaki na Embe from Kenya (p. 235)
  • MEATS: Groundnut Stew / Nketia Fla from Ghana (p. 244)
  • APPETIZERS AND SNACKS: Chick-Pea Dip / Hummus from Turkey (p. 259)
  • CONDIMENTS: Garam Masala from India (p. 289)
  • DESSERTS: Flan from Spain (p. 303)

There you have it: dishes from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe top the list. (Don’t worry: we will include recipes from South and Central America and Canada and the United States, too!) Since collating the results of the survey and discovering which ones rose to the top, I’ve found myself trying out these recipes in our home. I figured that since so many people voted for these, they must really be winners. You may want to do the same.

PEOPLE: And last but not least, the people winners . . .

Actually, anyone who took the Extending the Table survey is a winner. All respondents to the survey will receive a 30 percent discount on one copy of the new edition of the cookbook (closer to the time of publication, a code will be emailed to you that you can use when ordering a copy).

But three respondents are winners in a special way. They will receive a global-cuisine gift mailed to their doorstep. A high-school student from my congregation, Slate Hill Mennonite Church, who was shadowing me for a morning while I was working on this project, got the privilege of choosing the winners in a random drawing of survey respondents. Here is Veronica, getting ready the pick the third lucky winner in our very high-tech, randomized selection process. (Okay, so we put names on slips of paper and shuffled them around in a little box.)


Ninth-grader Veronica Werner of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, does the random drawing of winners of the Extending the Table survey respondents.

The winners, and their global-cuisine gifts, are:

  1. One set of the three MCC-commissioned World Community Cookbooks: More-with-Less Cookbook, Extending the Table, and Simply in Season: Kay Schmidt, Walton, Kansas
  2. A basket of Asian spices and ingredients (including, among other things, Madras curry powder, lemongrass powder, coconut milk, fish sauce, and spring roll wrappers): Erin Ramer, Wellman, Iowa
  3. A box of 10,000 Villages food items (coffee, tea, olive oil, and soup mixes): Julie Hurst, East Waterford, Pennsylvania

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who spent time filling out the survey and to everyone giving feedback along the way. We pray that the revised edition of Extending the Table will extend the witness of worldwide Christians and the use of the World Community Cookbook series to even more kitchens than before.

— Guest post written by Valerie Weaver-Zercher, contract editor for MennoMedia