When I heard that the popular blog Mennonite Girls Can Cook (MGCC) was going to publish a cookbook through the Herald Press last year, I was very excited to order a few copies! I have been reading the blogs of Judy, one of the authors,of the blog My Front Porch, for many years. Through her blog I've been connected many of the other MGCC authors' blogs. Except for one American, they are all Canadians of Mennonite descent, who were taught the traditional recipes of their heritage from their grandmothers and mothers and are now passing those recipes down to a new generation in a new way over the internet. They also cook favorite contemporary recipes with a wonderful flair by using the bounty of their country's produce in imaginative and delicious ways. Many of those those non heritage recipes are also included in this cookbook, along with an occasional gluten-free recipes.
Here are the cookbook authors in a group photo from their web site, posing in the beautiful Fraser Valley in British Columbia. Remarkably, they almost all first met through blogs, when they began to see and comment on the traditional Mennonite recipes they fund in each other's posts. Eventually in 2008, Lovella, of the blog What Matters Most, had the idea to begin the popular Mennonite Girls Can Cook (MGCC) website, where they pooled their efforts together, each taking turns posting a recipe on alternate days. On Sundays, one member will post a very uplifting and spiritual "Bread for the Journey" post.
Another remarkable sign of their faith and generosity was that they decided from the beginning of the MGCC blog, that if they were ever lucky enough to have a commercial cookbook published of their recipes, they would donate all their profits to a charity that would help feed those in need. When this became a reality they chose a shelter that feeds and provides services to street children in the Ukraine.
One of the reasons I was so excited to buy their beautiful cookbook was that although they are mainly of German Mennonite descent, their ancestors lived as refugees for a time in Russia and the Ukraine before coming to North America. I immediately saw a Ukrainian style to many of their traditional dishes and it made me very nostalgic for my maternal grandmother's cooking.
My Grandmother standing by her garden, circa 1960's
My grandmother came to the USA as a very young woman in the early 1900's, from an area outside of the city of Kiev, in the Ukraine. The first time she saw the ocean was the day she had to board a ship in Germany for the voyage to America! When she arrived in New York City she went through the process of immigration on Ellis Island. I can never visit the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island without thinking of her, and what her experiences must have been. She settled in the coal mining region of Pennsylvania and soon married my grandfather who was also of Ukrainian/Austrian descent. Sadly, my grandfather was killed in a mine accident, leaving my grandmother with six children to raise by herself, when my mother was only three months old!
I have such fond memories of visiting my grandmother when I was a child. She always enjoyed our visits and had little treats waiting for us. I remember all the incredible fresh food we ate at her house-fresh eggs, freshly picked vegetables, pears, grapes and berries--all picked from her large garden and cooked on her black cast iron coal and wood stove. My grandmother always had a pot of delicious soup or stew simmering on the stove top and something good baking in the oven.
Stuffed cabbage rolls ready to go into the oven
In a cookbook full of culinary memories, as I found in the Mennonite Girls Can Cook Cookbook, the first thing I chose to make was stuffed cabbage rolls, called " holubschi" in Ukrainian. My grandmother made these often, as cabbage was a staple in her garden.
To save this blog post from being longer than it already is, I won't post the entire recipe from the cookbook here, but you can see another full version on the Mennonite Girl's Can Cook website at this link. It includes a handy tip on how to bypass pre-cooking the Savoy cabbage! While you are on their blog look around at more of their wonderful home style recipes and I'm sure you will also become a fan of theri blog.
The cabbage roils after simmering in a low oven for two hours.
The stuffed cabbage rolls were absolutely delicious! The long cooking process really incorporates the sauce into the rolls and makes them very soft, slightly sweet, and "melt in the mouth" good! My Italian born husband, who did not grow up eating cabbage rolls, enjoyed them as much as I did!
I know I will be making these stuffed cabbage rolls many times, as well as the paska, borscht, perishky and vereniki recipes from the Mennonite Girls can Cook Cookbook, as they are all wonderful heritage recipes I have not tasted for many years since my grandmother passed away. I also know I'll enjoy many of the other more contemporary recipes included in the cookbook, such as chicken enchiladas, rhubarb orange sticky muffins and coconut prawns, as they are all family favorites of the authors, and look so good in the color photography that accompanies each recipe! You do not have a Mennonite, Russian, or Ukrainian background to enjoy this cookbook--you only need to enjoy good, simple and delicious home cooking!
Please remember, if you purchase this cookbook, all the author's profits are donated to feed and shelter children!
Can anything better than that?
I'm linking this week to "Foodie Friday" on Michael's blog Designs With Gollum, "Friday Food with Nicole's Mom Trends blog, Beth Fish Reads for her "Weekend Cooking Party," and Beverly's Pink Saturday event of her blog How Sweet the Sound as some of the cookbook ladies are wearing cute pink aprons you can read about on this link.
Go on over to these wonderful blogs and see some scrumptious posts!