Food for a Barn Raising {Amish Family Recipes}

Mennonite Community Cookbook | Amish Family Recipes |

What exactly is the “Mennonite Community Cookbook“? There are two answers to that question.

First, the Mennonite Community Cookbook was the food bible of sorts in our home kitchen, where my talented mama taught me how to cook. It’s the first cookbook we referenced when looking for a traditional Amish recipe, and it was the standard for our family’s Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. My mother has a hardback edition, and she gave me the copy depicted in the photo when I set up my kitchen as a young married woman.

Grandma Lydia's Good Dishes

My Grandma Lydia’s “Good Dishes”, used for entertaining. {Photo Credit Kathryn Dienner

And next, this cookbook (initially published in 1950), was the first comprehensive gathering of Amish and Mennonite recipes. Its collection is “a compilation of over 1,100 recipes, chosen from more than 5000 recipes sent in from Mennonite communities in the United States and Canada”, a gathering and organizing of hundreds of hand-written, traditional recipes passed down through the generations. It’s truly a treasure.

Although I’m not Amish, I come from a beautiful heritage of Antibaptist, Amish and Mennonite ancestors. My blog is named after my two, Amish grandmothers, Lydia Esh, and Barbra Glick-Dienner. Last year during the #write31days challenge, I shared stories and lessons from my Amish family, that I wanted to be sure are not lost to my daughters. It was such a special experience that I decided to continue in the same vein this October. As this cookbook is an important part of the Amish-Mennonite culture, naturally I decided it was a great starting point for this month’s writing!

This is day 7 of the #write31days challenge, and I had scheduled “Cup Cheese” for today’s post. Unfortunately the cheese process didn’t get my memo ;-), and is taking longer than planned. So I thought I’d share a fun recipe of sorts from the “Miscellaneous” section of the Mennonite Community Cookbook.

Thank you for following along with my cooking and writing journey this month. I am thoroughly enjoying every post! So, with no further ado, here’s the recipe for today: Food for a Barn Raising, “enough food for 175 men”.

Mennonite Community Cookbook | Amish Family Recipes |

Food for a Barn Raising {Amish Family Recipes}

Yield: Enough food for 175 men

Food for a Barn Raising {Amish Family Recipes}

(Photo of my Grandpa Esh's Amish barn, in Morgantown, Pa. Circa 1970


  • 115 lemon pies
  • 500 fat cakes (doughnuts)
  • 15 large cakes
  • 3 gallons applesauce
  • 3 gallons rice pudding
  • 3 gallons cornstarch pudding
  • 16 chickens
  • 3 hams
  • 50 pounds roast beef
  • 300 light rolls
  • 16 loaves bread
  • Red beet pickle and pickled eggs
  • Cucumber pickle
  • 6 pounds dired prunes, stewed
  • 1 large crock stewed raisins
  • 5 gallon stone jar white potatoes and the same amount of sweet potatoes


  1. "This bit of information was found in a quaint, old handwritten recipe book from Great-grandmother's day...As many of us know, a "barn raising" was quite an event during those early years. When a new barn was built, all the fiends and neighbors came on the specified day to help put up the framework of the barn. This policy is still carried out in some communities where neighbors are neighborly. Homemakers of our day will no doubt be astounded at all the food consumed in one day. What is more difficult to believe is that it was all made in Great-grandmother's kitchen." ~ Mary Emma Showalter, author of the Mennonite Community Cookbook


Recipe source: Mennonite Community Cookbook, Herald Press

Interesting link: Amish Barn Raising Time-lapse Video

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