Amish Acres Recipe Cookbook
Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana is the only Old Order Amish farmstead in America listed on The National Register of Historic Places. For over three of its thirteen decades the farm has been in a state of preservation for the purpose of interpreting Amish culture to an unfamiliar world. Among the traditions of these people who adhere to the patterns of life from 17th century European peasant culture, are retained the food habits of a time and place whose influence on American cuisine has been pervasive to the point of going unnoticed. This book of recipes illustrates through Amish Acres, along with friends and neighbors, the stalwart basics underlying adaptations that continue to grace the tables of church carry-ins, fundraising events, frolics and family dinners.
Recipes that had originated in the German Alps, the Rhineland, or pastoral Alsace evolved often in new directions when the wives of the early German-speaking farmers began to deal with America’s bounty. Of all the regional cooking styles, perhaps the most enduring and distinctive can be claimed by the Pennsylvania Dutch. They cherished the value of farm produce because in many cases their European enemies had destroyed their crops, cut down their orchards, and dug up their vines in dead of winter to drive them out. Rudyard Kipling was inspired to write that the Pennsylvania Dutch lived "as peaceful as Heaven might be if they farmed there."
Several years ago a young reporter from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) came to Amish Acres seeking authentic, therefore quaint, recipes from the Amish who remain a curiosity in Europe today. In a recorded interview with Ruth Miller, Amish Acres’ cook, the eager reporter thrust a microphone her way and asked in a quaint, to us, British accent, “Ruth, tell me some of your unique recipes.” Ruth looked perplexed by the question. Finally, under a wrinkled brow, she said, “We have meat, potatoes, vegetables and fruit.” The microphone clicked off as the reporter’s exuberance turned to near despair. She was a long way from home!
Ruth had elegantly illustrated the simplicity of Amish attitudes toward food and its preparation. For the Amish it is sustenance for the body and mind, provided by Nature, already in a perfect state. What follows in this collection of recipes is, to many Amish, superfluous and fancy; however, the underlying reverence for Nature’s gifts shines through our shared background and traditions, with each recipe, offered with respect and love.
This collection includes all of the recipes for our famous Threshers Dinner. This menu of recipes has been served since the family style restaurant opened in 1970. Nearly five million Threshers Dinners have been served in the barn restaurant over that period.
In a similar pattern of tradition, the Broadway musical about the Amish, Plain and Fancy, has been on Amish Acres stage since 1986. Celebrated in this love story and cultural declaration in a nod to the bounty of the soil. In the rousing anthem, “Plenty of Pennsylvania,” the Yoder family, in alphabetic order, pays homage: “Asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, dandelion greens, and escarole, fennel, grapes, honeydew melon, and iceberg lettuce for the salad bowl, juniper, kale, lovely lentils, mushrooms, nutmeg, okra, peas, quinces, rutabaga, squash, tomatoes, onions-sweet like strawberries, vinegar, also watermelon, xplant planted all in rows, yams and spinach, sour kraut, no, zucchini.”
Amish continue to make their kitchens the biggest rooms in their farmhouses, to serve as centers of food preservation. Centuries-old techniques for preserving vegetables and fruits are still practiced with each season’s harvest. Their use of spices and herbs, as harmonious additives rather than as seasoning to shock the palate, are unlike any other cuisine. As the world’s tables become more varied and regional dishes lose their flavor, the basics will always be rooted deeply in the soil of the Germanic farm families who bravely made America their home.
Since 1996 repertory musical theatre joined Plain and Fancy and Friday night Theme Buffets have accompanied each show. We have collected these recipes by show and given you the spice of time and place from the Barn Loft Grill.
In September of 2000, 471 direct descendants of Manasses T. Kuhns, the last Amish owner of the farm, gathered in family reunion. Many of the great great grandchildren were visiting their ancestral homestead for the first time. The Kuhns family brought well over one hundred of the recipes in this collection to the reunion.
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