Mennonite Girls Can Cook

M is for the Mennonite Girls Can Cook! I am one of the ten girls who have a blog we collaborate on to post a recipe a day and a devotional on Sundays. That blog is called Mennonite Girls Can Cook. We also have two published cook books, Mennonite Girls Can Cook and Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations. Both of these books are available on Amazon.

Canada-Tea 21

Anneliese, Judy, Lovella, Kathy, Bev, Betty, Ellen, Julie, Charlotte, and Marg.

Sometimes my meme buddies think that MGCC is my blog and all the recipes are mine because of my blogger comment link that will take you straight to MGCC.  If your blog has the (name/url) option to click on when I comment everything works great for memes because I can put in the url that will take you straight to my ABC Wednesday post, etc.  My personal blog is The Happy Wonderer, ellen b. but blogger/google has hijacked me and will send you straight to the MGCC blog if you click on my comment name when I don’t have another option in commenting. Does that make sense? Enough of that…back to the Mennonite Girls.

In 2010 all ten of us got together for the very first time to sign the contract for our first cookbook. Nine Canadians and one American, me. The nine Canadians hail from Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Winnipeg and Steinbach.

Here we are with our first cookbook in hand. It’s easy for me to get together with the girls from British Columbia and we cherish the few times all 10 of us can be together since Betty and Charlotte are over 2200 miles away from us. Along our cookbook journey we’ve had some fun book signings at farm markets, 10,000 Villages, bookstores and more…

Barnes and Noble in Bellingham and Ten Thousand Villages in Vancouver.

We’ve also done cooking demonstrations at the West Coast Women’s Show, Lepp Farm Market, Mennonite Relief Sales and on Global T.V.

In July of 2012 we signed a contract for our second book “Celebrations” which would be released in Spring of 2013.

Since this book was first published the cover has changed.

IMGP0322The West Coast girls traveled to Manitoba for book signings at several locations around Winnipeg and Steinbach so Charlotte and Betty were our hostesses for this great trip. I drove up to Abbotsford, B.C. to hop on a plane with the west coast girls for this trip to Winnipeg.

2014-03-26 paska class10I never dreamed blogging would bring this whole new world of Mennonites and Cookbooks into my life. This journey started with me contributing some recipes to the newly formed Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog that was inspired by a Paska Post on Lovella’s blog. Because the girls and I have family recipes that are very similar I was invited to be one of the contributors on the newly formed Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog even though I am not Mennonite. The ten of us remained faithful to the blog and soon a publisher came knocking at our door. Beyond publishing and blogging we have formed lifetime friendships with each other. The girls call me their adopted American cousin.

It’s not just the girls who enjoy our times together. Our husbands get to come along for the ride, too. We get together for events that have nothing to do with our cooking blog, too, but there is always good food to be eaten whenever we gather together!!

All this fun has not stopped yet because in August we will be published again with a smaller Devotional book with some recipes included.

I’m linking up to ABC Wednesday started by Mrs. Nesbitt and carried on by the masterful Roger and the ABC team. Thank you!

Paska, Easter Bread, Kulich

paska class 001Paska brought the Mennonite Girls Can Cook together and it continues to play a big role in our cooking story. This past Tuesday we taught a cooking class at Lepp Farm Market in Abbotsford, British Columbia (Canada) on Paska and a traditional Mennonite Easter meal. My daughter Katie had a ticket for the class and she was able to be our photographer as she watched.

So much was going on this evening at Lepp’s and I’ve created some collages of the different parts of the class.

2014-03-26 paska class1Paska, it’s what’s for Easter!

Paska is a slightly sweet Easter yeast bread that is traditional in the Ukraine and Russia. My Russian relatives call this bread Kulich. My mother and relatives always made dozens of loaves in the cylindrical shape using coffee cans or large juice cans.

2014-03-26 paska class9Lots of work goes on behind the scenes right up until Lovella introduces us to the guests and gets the evening going. Judy and Kathy helped coordinate this class and had all the timing and shopping lists ready ahead of time along with recipes to hand out to our guests.

2014-03-26 paska classLovella showed us her process in getting the dough ready to rise for her Paska.

2014-03-26 paska class3Julie talked about the products that make gluten free baking easier these days. She prepared her gluten free Paska and brought it to the class to share. She also demonstrated a delicious mustard sauce for the Easter Ham we would be serving.

2014-03-26 paska class5Kathy demonstrated her Cheesy Scalloped Potato recipe and also showed the ingredients she uses for a gourmet scalloped potato recipe.

2014-03-26 paska class2Judy demonstrated her delicious coleslaw dressing and mixed up a large batch of fresh coleslaw for the class. My daughter Katie is not fond of store bought coleslaw. She really enjoyed Judy’s homemade variety!

2014-03-26 paska class4Bev demonstrated how to make Pluma Moos or Plumi Moos. This is a traditional fruit dish served in Mennonite homes at Easter and other holidays, too. It can be served cold or warm. People use different varieties of fruit for the dish.

2014-03-26 paska class8Bev also demonstrated how to carve a ham with the bone in. She really did a great job.

While we started plating the food for our guests Lovella started working on her dough that had been rising during these demos.

2014-03-26 paska class7She showed us a variety of pans that you can use and how to pinch off small portions for sweet little petite paska buns made in muffin tins. She also showed a loaf variety and a twisted loaf.

2014-03-26 paska class6I had brought a completed Seernaya Paska, sweet cheese spread from home since it has to sit in the refrigerator having all the liquid pressed out for at least 24 hours. I plated it and showed one of the flower pots I use to mold the cheese and the heavy stone wrapped in plastic wrap to weight the cheese and force the liquid out. We used fresh viola blossoms to decorate it. I made an error in the pronunciation of this dish in our first cookbook. It is called seernaya paska not seerney paska . I’ve always had a hard time with Russian grammar. Growing up we always had this spread to serve with our Easter bread.

Lovella finished off the demonstrations showing us how she makes the Paska Icing.

2014-03-26 paska class12

While our guests ate their main course of ham with mustard sauce, cheesy scalloped potatoes, and coleslaw. We started plating the paska, sweet cheese spread and a dollop of frosting to serve. We also served up a small bowl of pluma moos.

paska class 309

paska class 311These classes are always so much fun to participate in. The wonderful thing is knowing that the profit generated from our classes goes to Matthew’s House in Abbotsford. Lepp Farm Market partners with us in donating the profits from our classes to this worthy non-profit that is a respite home for children with complex health care needs. You can see and read about Matthew’s house here.

2014-03-26 paska class10

paska class 005Because the class was all about Easter I have to explain what the X and B on my Russian Sweet Cheese Spread is all about. On Easter the greeting that we always express to one another is

Christos Voskress! Voistinu Voskress!

Христос Воскрес!

Воистину воскрес!

Christ is Risen!

Truly He is Risen!

So the X (the first letter of Christ in Russian) stands for Christ and the B (the first letter of risen in Russian) stands for Risen, Christ is Risen. This is what Easter is all about.

2014-03-26 paska class11I stole this next photo off of Kathy’s blog. Hope it’s ok, Kathy. If you click here you can see Kathy’s post about our time. Here’s Katie getting ready to take photos of the class.

Lepp Kt

Katie and I wrapped things up and hit the road back to the U.S.A. at about 9:30 P.M. We were happy to make it home at 11:40. I’ll admit that I was a zombie on Wednesday and I might or might not have spent the whole day in my robe.

All the recipes for these dishes are in our cookbooks or on our blog.

Matthew’s House

2014-02-11 Matthews house6Inspired by the life of a young boy named Matthew, Matthew’s House is a respite care home for children living with complex healthcare needs. Up to five children at a time are cared for in a state-of-the-art residence staffed by experienced caregivers. Medical necessities like overhead track systems for transferring and full wheelchair accessibility will be complimented by a beautiful aesthetic, a multi-sensory playroom and an outdoor playground. Overnight guest suites allow family to remain close while taking a restful step back to refuel themselves.

2014-02-11 Matthews house7The playground area was very impressive with a soft cushy surface and lifts and designs that allow easy access for wheelchair bound children. The slides are equipped with rollers so the kids can slide down without physical effort. Swings that you can lay down on and a merry go round flush with the surface to be able to wheel a wheelchair onto and spin the child while in their chair.

Matthews house 025Providing families with the support they need, Matthew’s House is about caring for kids, a community encouraging one another, hospitality, compassion and joy. One-hundred percent of the funds for Matthew’s House come from the generous support of individuals and community partners. The Mennonite Girls Can Cook have partnered with Lepp Farm Market in donating all the proceeds from our cooking classes at Lepp to Matthew’s House. Each of these leaves on the wall forming a large tree represent the many contributors to Matthew’s House.

Matthews house 026“Rob and Charlotte Lepp, owners Lepp Farm Market and the women of the Mennonite Girls Can Cook (MGCC) blog/cookbooks have raised nearly $25,000 to stock the kitchen at Matthew’s House and keep it cooking. It is a unique relationship that marries a love for good food and a
generous spirit.”

Matthews house 042Here are 7 of the girls along with Rob and Charlotte Lepp in the kitchen that we have helped to build and equip.

2014-02-11 Matthews house8What a privilege to be able to contribute to the needs of these families dealing with children with complex healthcare needs.

Matthews house 024Our private tour of the facilities renewed our vision and encouraged us to continue our partnership with Lepp Farm Market with our cooking class donations going to Matthew’s House. Our next cooking class will be on March 26th, Paska, Pluma Moos and Easter Dinner. Click on the link to see how to register for the class.

It’s Thursday and we have sunshine and beautiful skies while many of you are suffering winter storm conditions yet again. Hope you are safe. What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? We are going to have our meal in. Dear volunteered to barbecue some steaks and I’ll add some baked potatoes and a salad for our meal. Maybe we’ll watch some Olympics or another episode of Midsomer Murders on Netflix. Hope whatever you do that your home is filled with love.

Matthews house 035

Cookies!

2013-12-05 Cookie Class

We Gathered.

2013-12-05 Cookie Class6

We huddled, prepared, and watched.

2013-12-05 Cookie Class1

All hands in!

These hands made Lovella’s Nanaimo Bars, Marg’s Tee Gebaeck-Linzer Cookies, Anneliese’s Peppermint Cookies, Judy’s Peppernuts/Pfeffernuesse, Julie’s Chocolate Chocolate Gluten Free Cookies, Bev’s Honey Cookies. We also served appetizers (Red Pepper Jelly tarts, Judy’s Christmas Tree cheese board, Lepp’s prepared platters of  cured meats, and Marg’s Apple Spiced Cider that was posted on the blog yesterday)

2013-12-05 Cookie Class4

Each baker had her time in the spotlight!

2013-12-05 Cookie Class2

Work continued out of the spotlight.

2013-12-05 Cookie Class3

Judy had her own personal sous chef.

2013-12-05 Cookie Class7

Even though I didn’t bake any of the cookies I got to stir!

2013-12-05 Cookie Class8

I watched and smiled because for a change I brought along my own personal photographer. Note to sassy looking self standing behind Lovella: When you are behind the scenes and someone is taking photos you should always remember your weird expressions will get caught on film.

2013-12-05 Cookie Class5

Favorite moment of the night…laughing about Anneliese’s good old pans!

2013-12-05 Cookie Class10

When everything was said and done each guest at the cooking class got to take home one of these beautiful baskets of cookies the the girls had prepared ahead of time! All profits from last nights cooking class will be going to Matthew’s House in Abbotsford a non-profit help to families of children with disabilities.

Lovella took this next photo of Katie, my personal photographer for the evening. It was wonderful to have a traveling companion for the 200 mile round trip to the cooking class.

IMG_9977

I managed to get one photo of my personal photographer before the class when we stopped for tea at Clayburn Village Candy shop where we had a lovely meal and we shared sticky toffee pudding for sweets before the sweets!

P1040744

Clayburn

Dear and I are headed North again today. I’ll share more tomorrow on our adventure. I’m real happy someone else will be doing the driving the next couple of days.

Hope you all are enjoying some sweet moments in the bustle of this joyful time of year! Blessings…

From the Farm…

…to the Farm Market!

We so enjoy the relationship the Mennonite Girls Can Cook have with Charlotte at Lepp Farm Market. Many of our girls were raised on farms and now live off their farms. We are always treated well at Lepp and Sunday was another great day here. Our day started with a very good and challenging message from Lovella and Anneliese’s pastor on being sacrificially generous. After the service we all headed to Lepp Farm Market to enjoy brunch before our book signings began.

Lots of  delicious options plus ingredients to choose from for the chef to make your own personal omelette.

The weather was gorgeous and Charlotte had tables set beautifully for our outdoor brunch.

While having brunch I looked up and spotted Josh and Laura walking up to the market. I was busting at the seams with joy to see their faces and to know they trekked all the way from Seattle to bless me with their presence. It was so much fun to introduce them to all the girls and the husbands. Joy, Joy, Joy down in my heart.

Our Josh is a real “people person”, can you tell? I’m glad Marg captured these moments! Thank You Marg! Josh and Laura joined the men and Amy on a grand tour of Lepp Farm Market while the girls got busy signing books.

After the farm market tour Josh and Laura picked up their books that were all signed and headed back across the line.

Then we had a another special visitor arrive!

Marg’s 101 year old Father in law arrived to see what we were up to.

I think he is quite pleased with his daughter in law.

We all decided we should take a photo with our oldest supporters that came to Lepp Market. Along with Marg’s Father in law and Helen, Bev’s dad who is 90 drove over for the event, too. What a blessing!

Another sweet moment from the weekend that made me tear up was when Marg’s grandsons came to Wink’s with their personal cookbooks in hand.

They had marked their favorite recipes in the book and wanted us authors to sign on the page where their favorites were pictured.

It seems little Silas really likes my Blintz recipe and requests them at Oma and Opa’s house. For the record Marg and Silas call them crepes. Don’t tell my Russian friends! This little guy made my day!! Thank you to Judy for capturing these moments!

Another guy that’s going to make my day shortly is Dear. He’s on his way home from the airport right now. It’s been a long 5 days without seeing him. Blessings on your day!

Just Because…

….it’s June and the sun came out for a few minutes, and the Mennonite Girls Can Cook now have a page on Facebook, and because I promised, I’m having a Mennonite Girls Can Cook giveaway. The cookbook I’m going to give away is signed by all the girls! Leave a comment telling me something about yourself and what region of the U.S. or Canada you are from. Yes…my giveaway is limited to the U.S.A. and Canada. Make sure you leave a blog address or a good email address so I can contact you if you win.

The giveaway book was signed after we had a lovely meal at Lovella and her wonderful husband’s shop in May to celebrate the release of the book.

The following day we did book signings at Lepp Farm Market and Winks in Chilliwack.

Make sure you find us on Facebook and click on LIKE!

Comments will close Saturday at 6:00 P.M.  Pacific Time. I will announce the winner on Monday June 6th!