Dear Mrs. Yoder: Recipes from an Amish Cookbook

If you haven’t guessed, I like cookbooks. Right now, as I am typing you this article, my foot is resting against a stack of twelve, rummage sale bought, dandies-of-a-cookbook. The trashier the cover the better. A trashy cookbook means it was loved. Rips, tears, splotches, grease stains… I will take it! I hope you enjoy my Dear Mrs. Yoder: Recipes from an Amish Cookbook… I sure have some questions for these gals.

I bought the “Our Favorite Recipes” by the Log Cabin School of Pardeeville, Wisconsin at the Mischler’s Country Store. It was one of the first cookbooks I bought after getting married. I enjoyed their little introduction “We tried to put in something for everyone. Enough recipes for the cooks, a little food for thought, a few laughs, as they are the best remedies, enough mistakes so as not to disappoint those who are always looking for them.”

I’m sure the grammarians and punctuationists have a field day with my articles. Somebody has to keep you folks occupied!

If you’re not familiar with Amish folk, you will find that there are lots of Miller’s, Yoder’s, Bontrager’s, Christner’s, Mullet’s Schrock’s, Mast’s, Schmucker’s. And it is not uncommon to find Rachel, Anna, Katie, Susan, Mrs. E. Miller, and so on. I did write an article about the Amish folk,, in the area we used to live in Wisconsin. Wander back and give it a read!

Photo by Michele Bruxvoort

Log Cabin School Recipes

-Disclaimer. These ladies are no slouches to cooking, canning, and baking. They are very short with most directions and assume you come equipped with a general knowledge of “the trade”.

Salad Dressing Pickles- Erma D. Miller

  • 12 large cucumbers
  • 12 onions- (holey moley, don’t forget some of these recipes are for their picnics, barn raisers)
  • 1-pint vinegar
  • 1-pint water
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper (scant)
  • 2 sweet peppers (if desired) – (I think Erma was trying to play it safe. Didn’t want to get too wild.-M)
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. celery seed

Peel and slice cucumber; let stand overnight in brine made of 1/2 cup salt and 3 quarts water (drain). Add onions. Mix sugar, spices, and vinegar; add to cucumbers. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes and put in jars. Seal. Good to eat on sandwiches or with meat. (I’m thinking the meat is the “chaser” after eating the dressing… uffda!-M)

Spaghetti Sauce- Mrs. Daniel Schmucher

  • 1 scant bushel tomatoes
  • 4 green peppers (sweet)
  • 4 stalks celery (Yes! Celery is a part of Italian cooking.-M)
  • 2 hot peppers
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tbsp. oregano
  • 5 tbsp. slat
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 c. brown sugar

Wash, cut up, and cook tomatoes; put through a sieve. Chop remaining ingredients and add to tomatoes. Cook until thick; then add 1-pint vegetable oil. Cook another hour. Makes 8 – 10 quarts. Add 1 can bought tomato soup for each quart of sauce. Put in jars and cold pack 15 minutes.

Cabbage Salad to Can- Roseanna Miller

  • 1 large head cabbage
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • celery (optional)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 medium onion (optional)

The Dressing- to put over cabbage

  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tsp. salt

Put in cans; then let the water just come to a boil and turn off.-Obviously, Roseanna knew this water bath had an end, go with your “English” (that’s the term for non- Amish folks) canning gut!-M

Tomato Soup- Barb Schmucker

  • 1 lage pail ripe tomatoes
  • 1 bunch celery, chopped
  • 7 large onions, chopped
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 butter
  • 1/4 c. salt (yes a 1/4 cup)
  • pinch red pepper
  • 3/4 c. flour

Boil tomatoes, celery, and onions together for 1 1/2 hours. Pu through a sieve. Blend butter with the rest of the ingredients; add to juice. Boil until thickened. Put into jars. Cold pack 30 minutes.

Alright friends! That was just a little taste of Amish cooking. In the next few weeks, I hope to deliver some more recipes from each section. I hope you found the recipes interesting. Till next time. Here is to good food, good friends and a very good life.


Last week I was walking through Farmhouse Market, taking in all the oldies but goodies when I spied some old cookbooks. There tucked on a shelf was an old cookbook from McNess, circa 1937, titled “Recipes from ‘Round the World'”.

McNess got its start in 1908 with Frank Furst and Frederick McNess in Freeport, Il. Furst and McNess worked for W.T. Rawleigh(think Watkins). Furst and McNess approached W.T. Rawleigh with an innovative idea of selling products with a product safety seal and trial size bottles. Emphasizing the safety seal would boost consumer confidence in the product and the trial size bottles could be sold right on the spot.

Safety First

Watkins allowed customers to “try before they buy”. Each customer was allowed to try the product from a full-size bottle. Each bottle had a trial line built into the glass bottle. The customer used the product up to that line and then if they were not pleased with the product, they simply returned the bottle to the salesman next time he stopped by. The salesman, not wanting to waste a returned partially sampled bottle, would then pour an item of the same color back into the bottle to resell it.

This practice held many safety concerns for the consumer and the salesmen. Seeking to remedy this problem, Furst and McNess wanted to sell trial size bottles as well as a safety seal on all the bottled products. Unfortunately, this innovative idea was not at all interesting to W. T. Rawleigh and told them he wasn’t interested. Undaunted by this rebuffing, Furst and McNess set out together and created the Furst McNess Company.

They began their adventure by instituting new sanitary practices in manufacturing- safety seals on all the bottles and trial size samples bottles for their salesmen to sell on the spot.

From horse and buggy to automobile

Image by Michael Treu from Pixabay

The Furst- McNess company began with horse and buggy. Salesmen had two styles of a McNess wagon to choose from or a McNess buggy. If you already had a Ford Roadster you could order a custom-fit box. You’d then fill your wagon, buggy, or automobile with products, samples, and supplies and set off from town to town selling products. As time and automobile innovation arrived salesmen and saleswomen fit their cars or trucks to carry and sell McNess products.

Furst and McNess struck gold with consumers who were very impressed with the safety seal and trial size bottles. With tremendous sales pouring into the company, by 1919 they were able to build the “Sunlight Laboratory”. This was a state-of-the-art facility for its time and its product line continue to expand.

Fame and fortune

Furst-McNess company used a variety of celebrity endorsements as well as their “Champion Cake Bakers” along with other famous 4-H cake bakers. Mrs. Edith Moore delights you with her “Cake Baking Secrets” for 5 pages. I love her helpful hints and suggestions and hope to bring you some of Mrs. Moore’s suggestions in a few weeks.

Sincerely, if you have time and love nostalgia please drop by their beautiful website. Be sure to click on each category and enjoy the pictures as well as the wonderfully laid out stories. It was fun to read and look.

The recipes from around the world were in that nationalities language first and then English. I will leave with a recipe:

French Chocolate Cake- Mrs. Edith Moore

Mrs. Moore would like you to know that her recipe below won 29 first prizes! GAME ON GIRLS and BOYS!


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sour milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoonful Vanilla
  • 3 eggs


Dissolve two-thirds cup chocolate and half cup sugar in a little hot water. Add this to the sugar, butter, milk and eggs which have been well mixed, then add the flour and soda and bake.

-You must have noticed I did not leave you and baking time and temperature directions. It also doesn’t mention what size pan. But if you are reading this column your no “mamma’s baby” to baking. The picture eludes to a round pan, three layers worth.

Writing this weeks article has been so fun wading through all this history and nostalgia. I sure hope you enjoyed our little trip. Till next time friends, here is to good food, good friends and a good life.