Sunday, May 7, 2017

Book Review: Lovina Eicher's The Essential Amish Cookbook

I've been adding books with recipes to my shelves lately, so I was curious when I had the opportunity to read and review one. This cookbook has almost everything I imagine you would want in a cookbook. The sections are well divided up, the photos are beautiful, and the directions are straightforward. To keep with the idea of an Amish cookbook we also have parts where Eicher lets us a little in their lives to give it a personal touch.

Summary: Bestselling cookbook author and food columnist Lovina Eicher brings together the best of Amish cooking in The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Pantry. Join Eicher as she shares traditional Amish recipes along with her own kitchen tips and secrets. Growing up, Eicher learned to cook and bake at an early age alongside her mother, longtime columnist and Amish cookbook author Elizabeth Coblentz, and has put those skills to use in her own Amish kitchen as she cooks for her eight children.
The easy-to-follow, authentic recipes you'll find in The Essential Amish Cookbook are prepared every day in countless homes in Old Order Amish communities across North America. Many of the more than 100 recipes are richly illustrated with step-by-step photographs to help you learn Amish cooking just as if you were in Lovina's kitchen. From hearty main dishes to substantial sides--plus a generous sampling of scrumptious cakes, pies, cookies, and other delectable desserts--learn how to make the hearty, simple dishes that the Amish cook together and serve at home, church services, and weddings.

The book credits several photographers, but the primary photographer appears to be Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis.  Also credited are, Grant Beachy, Merrill Miller, Melodie Davis, Christie Tidd, Ruthboss. Some photos are from a stock place called Thinkstock. For the most part, all the photos beautifully go with one another.  Swartzentruber-Landis does beautiful work for the photos they take. I could tell though there were quality differences between some photos though, and it makes sense now knowing the photos weren't all from one source. I didn't notice this too much while reading though, and the photos still had my attention throughout.

I also want to add there were spots where it didn't make sense to add a photo. For example, on page 100 there is a recipe for Zucchini Fritters, but the opposite page isn't a photo of zucchinis nor the plant. The photo doesn't add to the recipe nor the cohesive flow of the book. There are other plants at the base of what appears to be an outdoor lamp or mosquito repellant. Many time the photos work magically though. The colors pop and the photos of peppers and tomatoes on the vine filled in when the recipe may not be available to photo.

Two of my favorite things about the book though is how well organized it is and the directions. The book is divided into 13 sections. My personal favorite sections are when they included more recipes straight from their garden. I enjoyed the Relishes, Pickles, Jams, and Jellies section, and the Snacks and Beverages section the most. I hope to pickle my homegrown cucumbers this summer, and I loved the instructions on brewing tea from spearmint and peppermint. I have a few varieties of mint we are hoping to steep too.  I also liked how straightforward the directions were. I need very step by step directions when making something, and I felt this book provided good instructions.

Lastly, there is something for the audience to learn a little about Amish life in the last sections in Amish Church Meals and Amish Wedding Meals. Readers will like the extra information, and it helps that at the end of many of the recipes she adds a little personal note. Overall, this book will leave you wanting to try the recipes that Eicher shares.

This book was provided by Herald Press in exchange for a review. 

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