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

A Sense of Community {Lessons From My Amish Family}

Community #write31days #31AmishDays

Photo Credit Julie Lea Waldron

Community is a buzz word these days. But in spite of all the discourse, it’s rare to find groups of people who live in fellowship with each other for a lifetime, let alone multiple generations.

“Many people are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact do little. Others do a lot but don’t talk about it; they are the ones who make a community live.” ― Jean Vanier

At the very core of the Amish people is their sense of communal values. Sociologist Donald Kraybill says; “All of their daily practices are shaped and formed by their religious beliefs. Very few of us will ever become Amish, but I think we can learn some things from them regardless of our religious background. And I think some of the most important things are a sense of community, a sense of family, and the sense in which our daily practice shapes our religious outlook.”

The Amish and Mennonite people don’t simply talk when it comes to helping and supporting their brothers & sisters within their community. They’re entirely committed to being there for each other when challenging times arise, or when disaster strikes. They have a profound respect for others, and demonstrate what it looks like to live by the Golden Rule. One of the Amish customs I most admire is the way they care for their aging family members.

“Where there is not community, trust, respect and ethical behavior are difficult for the young to learn and for the old to maintain.” ― Robert Greenleaf

A most dynamic display of this strength in the Amish community is the barn raising. In case you haven’t yet seen it, here’s a video so you can understand how extraordinary it truly is!

Another way the Amish-Mennonites foster the sense of community is through their quilting. says “Amish women of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country have been creating exquisite Amish quilts since the mid-1800′s (and some believe even earlier). Amish quilts are an expression of frugality. They not only serve a practical, functional purpose, but serve as a form of entertainment as well. Many times groups of Amish and Mennonite women gather for a quilting bee. The bee is a form of socialization and relaxation for these women. It’s a time when they can get together to visit and “catch up” with one another.

Although it’s not an AMISH quilt making video,  I believe the link provided below expresses the gracious story of how Amish and Mennonite women join hands to share love and beauty in tangible ways, while cultivating the culture of community.

Thank you for joining me on this #write31days project, as I share lessons I’ve learned from my Amish family! You can read more of my posts on the Amish way of life by clicking here. 

~ Justina Dee



Sociologist Don Kraybill discusses “The Amish Way”

Read more about how Amish beliefs shape their community

Read more about Amish quilts at