Monica Perri, our office manager, reminded me to include a Fourth of July theme, but I hang my head in shame, as I am a month late. June just seems too early to think July 4th.
In my library of recipes, I had some that were authentically from the Mennonite community. So, if you’ll let me roll the clock back a bit, let’s think the spirit of the 4th: the freedom of religion.
The Mennonites go back to the 15th century. They came to us from Switzerland and the Netherlands. These pioneers settled in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere, living hardy, useful lives. They upheld freedom of conscience, opposing slavery, as well as warfare. The Amish are a part of this sect, and most of them live in the United States. A simple people, who prefer to hold religious services in each other homes rather than in elaborate churches.
The women dress plainly, wearing shawls not coats. Some groups require the men to wear 18th century black coats, hats and in some cases beards.
I hope someday to visit their community. Here is a simple, delicious dessert attributed to the Mennonites.
Mix until crumbly:
1 cup flour
3/4 cup uncooked rolled oats, lightly toasted in oven at 350° for 10 mins
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter, 1 cube
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine the following:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Separately prepare 4 cups diced rhubarb. Press half of crumbs in a greased 9 inch baking pan. Add diced rhubarb. Combine second mixture and cook until thick and clear. Pour over rhubarb. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350° for 1 hour. Cut in squares and serve while warm. This is fabulous served plain or with cream just slightly whipped. Topped with blueberries and a flag, it would have made a great Fourth of July dessert!
Let’s piggy-back with a Mennonite Punch (serves 12):
1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup water, dash salt, 1 1/2 cups strong tea infusion, 1 1/2 cups lemon juice, 2 cups orange juice, 1 quart ginger ale, mint leaves. Combine sugar and water and cook on low heat 1 min. Cool and pour over ice.
Tea infusion: add 3 teaspoons tea to 1 1/2 cups water. Add fruit juice. Just before serving, add ginger ale. You can even add some crisp Riesling too. Just cut down on the ginger ale.