Or a better title might be “Mom Goes Mennonite”
Sunday, February 14th is book Club Sunday and my turn to host the meeting. Our book that we read was Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, by Rhonda Janzen. It is her memoir of going back to the Mennonite community where she was born and raised after a series of personal crisis.
I really didn’t know much about the Mennonites, thought they were like the Amish which they are, but the Amish broke away from the Mennonites because they thought they were too worldly (go figure).
The author talks about food a lot in the book, and like most food it holds lots of memories for her. So I thought it might be fun to make some of the food mentioned in the book for our Book Club lunch. Since I have been baking a lot I thought I would try the Zweiback she talks about. I always thought that was the hard as nails dry toast you give babies when they are teething but in the Mennonite community Zweiback is a soft dinner roll that is sort of like a snowman without a head. One big dough ball with a smaller one on top. You push through the two dough balls with your finger so that they stay together when baked. The other dish she mentions a lot is Borscht. I always thought Borscht was Russian, boy I didn’t know anything about the Mennonites
I guess because Borscht is Ukrainian where her people were from. The Ukrainian borscht has beets in it where some versions do not. I checked out a couple of my own cookbooks and a web site called Mennonite Girls Can Cook and took what was constant in all these recipes and started my own Borscht.
Roast 6 lbs of beef bones in oven until nicely browned.
Add 2 qts of homemade beef stock to browned beef bones in a large pot.
Add 2 qts of cold water to cover the bones by 1 – 2”. Deglaze the roasting pan with some of the stock and add to simmering pot of bones, stock and water. Skim several times during simmering. While the bones were in the oven I scrubbed the beets (enough to make a couple of cups of cooked beets), wrapped in aluminum foil and roasted until soft.
Simmer the bones for several hours until the broth is flavorful and beefy tasting. Strain, cool and remove harden fat. When ready to prepare the soup, use 2 quarts of the new stock and reserve any leftover stock in freezer for the next time you need a good beef stock.
Add a bouquet garni and simmer for a couple of hours.
Prepare 2 stalks of celery, 1 carrot, ½ head of Savoy Cabbage, 2 med onions, 1 leek and the beets. Sauté until just soft, all the veggies except the beets.
30 minutes before ready to serve put cooked veggies in stock and simmer for a while, about 10 minutes before ready to serve add beets. Season with red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Crème Fraiche and fresh dill.
The Zweiback rolls were fun to make. Prepare the dough according to instructions on Mennonite Girls Can Cook. After first rise, pinch off a piece of dough, roll into a ball then pinch off a smaller ball and place on top of larger dough ball and press through the two dough balls with a buttered finger. After they raise again bake and serve.
I have to say the soup was delicious and there was only a small amount left.
Mom, you never cease to amaze me with your ability to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.
Thanks again to my brother, Kelly Sue and Mom for sharing some moments in their kitchens. Up next is a vegetarian food exchange and Chicago Restaurant week.