Canadian Mennonite Cookbook


267 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-7737-5038-X





Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



This is a revised and enlarged edition of a book originally called The Altona Women’s Institute Cookbook. The revisions are so extensive, however, that it deserves to be treated as a new work.

This is a serious cookbook for those who enjoy baking and producing meals from scratch. No short cuts, no add-water-and-serve recipes. It’s for those who buy flour and sugar in 50-pound sacks and are more concerned with taste than calories.

The main attraction of the book is a section of 66 Mennonite recipes — shoo-fly pie, buttersoup, raisin bread, borscht, and all the rich, wonderful dishes traditionally associated with the Mennonite Order. One drawback here is that some of the recipe titles lack translations. Schnetki, Pirosliki, Hallepse, and Ikra all sound intriguing, but I’d be reluctant to embark on a recipe without knowing if the result would be bread, cookies, or soup. (Yes, an experienced cook can take a guess.)

Another 373 recipes, plus variations, complete the book — a very substantial collection. The emphasis is definitely on baking: bread, cakes, cookies, squares, pies, and desserts get the largest share of space. Pickles are well represented, but meat and vegetable dishes, beverages, soups, and salads are present in much more restricted numbers.

The cover has a wipe-clean finish. All measurements are given in both metric and imperial systems, and there’s a page of explanation on metric cooking. The revised Canada Food Guide is included. The recipe sections are separated with tab dividers, and most start with a magnificent full-color, full-page photograph. This is simply decorative, however: no key relates the items photographed to the recipes. Each section ends with a page for notes, and the book concludes with a generous section of ruled sheets for the reader’s own recipes.

One weakness to the book is the index. This is included at the back of the vegetable section, near but not quite at the end of the book. This makes it hard to find quickly. Further, it’s not organized as an index of the whole book, but rather consists of an alphabetical listing of recipes within each section. This is of little help in finding a specific recipe. For example, “cream cheese cake” is under “desserts,” not “cakes.”

Overall, in addition to the Mennonite recipes, the book stresses rich, sweet, fairly economical dishes, many of the type associated with the groaning boards of great-grandmother’s day. The book is both practical and attractive and would make a suitable gift for any traditional-minded homemaker.


“Canadian Mennonite Cookbook,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,