Saturday, 24 September 2016

Please Pass the Waffles

I've had people suggest I share recipes, and I've been thinking about it, and even had a recipe page at one point. I'm not going to pretend I love to cook and do so regularly, because everybody who knows me, knows that's not true. However, as weird as that may seem, I do love to browse through recipe books -- and get one of my sisters to try some delicious looking morsel I found. One of my favourite cook books is by my friend, Judy Walter: At Home in the Kitchen. By clicking on the link, you can visit her blog, where she hasn't posted anything recently, but there are tons of great recipes from her book which you'd probably enjoy.

In any case, perhaps this will be the first of more recipe sharing posts.

commercial waffle iron
No question, waffles have been served and enjoyed in Hutterite kitchens for many, many years. Mostly they're made in the family kitchens, although there may be some communities who still have a commercial waffle iron. Our communal kitchen used to have two many years ago, but when it stopped working, it was never replaced for some reason. But our waffle irons weren't as modern looking as the one in the picture. They made round waffles, too, but were big and heavy and took up a lot of counter space. Back then we had waffles served with syrup and sliced grilled bologna for supper regularly.

I wonder if there's still a colony who uses a waffle iron in their communal kitchen. Somehow I never hear of waffles being served in the communal kitchen anymore and I wonder why. If you're from a colony that still serves waffles in the 'big kitchen', I'd love to hear from you!

My family's first waffle iron came from a garage sale and although it took a long time to heat up, we still had many a waffle feast with it. These days we're using a newer model which we got as a gift. We mostly eat waffles when we have family supper. (Many colonies have days when the families all eat in their own home, as opposed to the daily routine of eating in the communal dining hall. For our colony, Sunday is when we have family breakfast and supper.) My sister whips up the batter from scratch, every time. We've tried a few recipes over the years, and I find the best recipes are the ones where the waffles are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. One of the recipes we've tried is from my friend Judy,'s cook book, mentioned above. She allowed me to post it here. Thanks, Judy!


2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Heat waffle iron. In mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add remaining ingredients, beating until smooth.
 Pour batter from cup or pitcher onto centre of hot waffle iron. Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Remove carefully with fork.

Blueberry waffles
Sprinkle 2 tbsp blueberries over batter for each waffle as soon as it has been poured onto waffle iron.

Strawberry Waffles
Slice 1 quart strawberries. In chilled bowl, beat 1 cup whipping cream cream and 2 tbsp powdered sugar until stiff. Top baked waffles with strawberries and whipped cream.  

I'm sure many people have special waffle memories of their own, I'd be delighted to hear some. In the meantime, get out the waffle iron and enjoy this simple but scrumptious feast. If you try this recipe, please tell me how your waffles turned out.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Agriculture in a Hutterite Classroom

During the last school year we, here at Brennan School were part of a program called, Agriculture in the Classroom. It's an excellent opportunity for students to learn about the various aspects of farming. Even though we live on a farm, and see things first hand, almost on a daily basis, our students found it interesting to visit other farms and learn from them. Some of our older students got to plant and take care of plants in our greenhouse.

My sister Elma Maendel, the principal at our school, wrote an article about our experiences with this amazing program, which was recently published in the Manitoba Cooperator. You can read it here.

Monday, 19 September 2016

A Tapestry of Secrets - Sarah Loudin Thomas

About the Book:

What is the weight of a secret? And what happens when that burden becomes almost too much to bear?

For decades, Perla Phillips has hidden the truth of a decision that still fills her with guilt. But now, seeing her granddaughter, Ella, struggle in a similar way, she's prepared to finally open the past to her family, no matter the consequences. But when the opportunity is snatched from her in a most unexpected manner, will she have waited too long?

Spanning generations, this moving family drama weaves together the interlocking stories of two women as they navigate relationships, family, faith, and the choices that will shape their lives. Heartwarming and nostalgic, the story explores the courage to share the wounds of the past and celebrates the legacy a family passes from one generation to the next. 

My Review:

Even though I found this book a rather slow moving leisurely read, with very little high drama, there are certain elements about it that I thoroughly enjoyed: There's a quilt woven into the story -- I love stories that feature a quilt, perhaps because quilts have stories and symbolize beauty, warmth and they almost always have a lot of love stitched into them. And one quilt in this story certainly signifies a special bond between two endearing characters; Perla and her granddaughter, Ella, who creates beautiful quilts to sell at an art show. This hobby ties together nicely with the Appalachian setting, a small, close-knit community and also that Ella takes care of her grandma, who used to be a quilter as well.

As the title suggests, family secrets are a big part of the plot.The author does an admirable job keeping the intrigue going, enticing the reader to keep turning pages to learn how the story will unfold. The mixed emotions of a small congregation upon hearing that a land developer is looking to buy the land where their church is located, adds another interesting twist to the plot.

Apparently this book is part of a series, which I didn't realize while I was reading, as it's not mentioned anywhere on or in the book. I always like to know this before reading a book, so I can read the previous books, if I haven't yet.


Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Hutterite Help: A refugee sponsorship story - Mennonite Central Committee

A beautiful story of how a Manitoba Hutterite colony got involved with helping a refugee family from Lebanon, who now live in Wawanesa, MB. 

Paul and his wife, Wanda, are playing an integral part in this venture and are also part of the group of teachers, along with myself, who were taking summer classes this year. It was heartwarming to listen to his regular updates, as he shared his experiences with this family. I'm very grateful to see Hutterites get involved. As I've said in a previous post, with all we've been blessed with, we (Hutterites) should feel compelled to show some empathy and to share with those less fortunate -  the Syrian refugees fall in that category. It simply would not be right to not get involved in this crisis, especially since we have the means to do so. Hopefully this will inspire others to lend some assistance as well.

Thank you, Paul and Wanda and all at Green Acres Colony. 
You truly are an inspiration!

A Glimpse at One of our Summer Projects

As is usually the case, summer blew by in a blur. With five weeks of summer classes, gardening and lawn work, rest and relaxation, some of the items on my to-do list were simply left undone.

In a previous post, Tranquility in Tending our Cemetery I was telling you about one of the things we did get done though, in early summer; major landscaping in our cemetery. It was something we had been meaning to do for a number of years, but other tasks always got in the way. It was well worth all the effort. The petunias we planted on the graves, as a final touch, are beyond anything I imagined, as they added bountiful splashes of colour to our cemetery. And they're just now starting to show signs of the upcoming autumn, so almost three months in full bloom. The place has never been lovelier!

Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion,
With our dear loved ones who’ve gone before
In that fair homeland we’ll know no parting,
Beyond the sun set forever more.

(Fourth stanza of a hymn by Virgel and Blanch Brock, Beyond the Sunset)

Monday, 22 August 2016

Happy Birthday to You - Michelle Medlock Adams

 About the Book:

Jam-packed with all the elements that make birthdays so special, a new musical board book from WorthyKids/Ideals captures the excitement little ones feel on their birthdays.

Happy Birthday to You! is aimed at children aged 2 to 5. Illustrations by Sandra Rodriguez depict birthday ingredients such as balloons and presents, while cheerful verse from Michelle Medlock Adams bubbles with childlike enthusiasm:
Let’s bake a cake and decorate! 
Let’s celebrate this special date!
                                                     With bright balloons and streamers too,
                                                This birthday party’s just for you!

Birthday boys and girls can press the music button to sing along with the birthday song and can personalize the book by placing their photo in the pocket provided.

With a trim size of 7 x 8 inches and durable, board book pages, Happy Birthday to You! will withstand wear and tear for many birthdays to come. 

About the Author and the Illustrator:

Michelle Medlock Adams began her career in journalism; but when she had two children of her own, she quickly turned to writing children’s books, including the successful What Is . . . series for WorthyKids/Ideals. Michelle has two grown daughters and lives in Bedford, Indiana, with her husband, Jeff.

Sandra Rodriguez grew up in Mexico in a house with a big garden. From doodling her way through math class to playing with her dogs, her creative spirit was evident. Rodriguez’s illustrations are inspired by simple, everyday life: children playing in the park, people walking their dogs, families interacting after school. Rodriguez favors watercolor because it allows her to transmit the movement and emotion of life into her illustrations.

My Thoughts:

This title has all the elements of any favourite children's book - it's written in catchy rhymes, has a sing-a-long button, a place to insert a picture and delightful illustrations. It would serve well as a birthday card, as it has a To and From spot in the back of the book. I showed the book to one of my nephews and he thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the music button. 


In exchange for an honest review Worthy Publishing Group provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Hutterite Diaries Review by Leonard Gross

I'd like to share a recent review of Hutterite Diaries, written by Leonard Gross, author of The Golden Years of the Hutterites.  It was first published in the Mennonite Quarterly Review. My sincere thanks to Leonard Gross for taking the time to write this beautifully detailed and insightful review, and for granting me permission to post it on my blog.

 Leonard Gross, a Mennonite, has long held deep interest in Hutterian history and faith. His book, The Golden Years of the Hutterites, was first published in 1980, and is still available as a paperback. He also co-authored Selected Hutterian Documents in Translation, 1542-1654, a reprint of which is also again available from the Baker Colony Bookstore. His numerous articles on the Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites have appeared over the decades in North American and European scholarly journals. He and his wife, Irene, live in Goshen, Indiana, and are parents of two grown daughters, Suzanne and Valerie, and three grandchildren. Leonard appreciates the many fine visits he has had among all three Hutterian groups, and also the visits of those who have come his way to Goshen, Indiana.

Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community. By Linda Maendel. Harrisonburg, Va.: Herald Press. 

Since the time of their arrival in North America in the 1870s, Hutterites have produced little in the way of analytical interpretive history or other writings depicting their faith and life. Such was not always the case, as can be seen in the large array of Hutterian handwritten codices, extending all the way back to the 1530s, and continuing throughout the Hutterites’ European sojourn. This vast Hutterian literary production included chronicles, correspondence, theological treatises, prison epistles, hymnody, and sermons. Much of this corpus, found in leather-bound codices, is still extant. Indeed, virtually all Hutterite preachers yet today continue to preach verbatim from the sermon booklets of yore, with a repertoire of well over 500 such sermons (Lehren and Vorreden) from which to choose.

Published interpretation of the Hutterian way, then and now, has for the most part resided in the hands of outsiders, whatever the language. This has included volumes on history, theology, and culture, and on the intersection of faith and life. (An early exception is Paul S. Gross, The Hutterite Way: The Inside Story of the Life, Customs, Religion, and Traditions of the Hutterites, 1965.) Outside interpretation, however, has its limitations, as Hutterite writer Linda Maendel notes in her book, Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community: “When others write about us, things tend to get twisted, either intentionally or because the author couldn’t grasp certain aspects of our communal life” (13). Maendel attempts to set the record straight by describing in broad strokes the Hutterian life, faith, and history of her own people. In her endeavor, she succeeds superbly.

Maendel’s volume comprises twenty-two stories, grouped into four sections: fellowship; celebrations; values; and heritage. But these stories are sandwiched between an extensive prefatory description of the life of one person during a typical day, “A day in the life of the author,” and a well-rounded epilogue containing “FAQs about the Hutterites: The Author Answers.”

One essential part of the larger account of a people is story and history from the inside—what “we” think and believe, what the vision toward which “we” aspire entails. Linda Maendel possesses the gifts and education to accomplish this task. She is a superb storyteller, one of the few Hutterite storytellers, currently, whose works are published. She writes: “while other Hutterite women love to sew, I would rather write. It’s not something I have in common with many of my fellow Hutterites, but I’m fine with that” (56).

Several stories are historical in nature. One such story, “The Amana-Hutterite connection” (131-135), describes the support the Amana colonies granted to the Hutterites during the 1870s, through their first decade of existence as refugees and immigrants in South Dakota. Along with providing financial support, the Amanas also sent supplies, including bolts of black fabric laced with white polka-dots. And so began a new tradition of polka-dot Tiechlen(women’s head coverings), which up to that time were solid black. The same story recounts how a Hutterite, Michael Hofer, whose eyes were severely damaged in a dust storm, traveled to see an Amana doctor, who successfully treated Hofer—who then, instead of returning to the Hutterites, became an Amana member. Maendel notes that Hofer “chose to stay and made Amana his home, thus leaving one Christian community for another one” (133).

We gain insights into how Hutterites view those who leave in another story, “Two Empty Chairs” (61-63).A family left the colony, and the next day, in school, as a consequence, there were two empty chairs. Maendel’s interpretation of how this affects Hutterites is worth quoting:

Even though we don’t advocate staying if the heart is somewhere else, this
does not lessen the pain when people choose to leave. We’re together on a
daily basis: we worship, work, eat, play, travel, learn, relax, and visit in big
or small groups, year in, year out. Therefore, when someone forsakes the
colony, they leave an ache that is unlike any other—and hard to explain to

In her last story, “Love without End,” Maendel underscores the deeper significance of a shared love and life. The sharing on all levels of life bridges past with present, which all Hutterites experience; this is “another reminder of how invaluable multiple generations are to our communal life. In working together, tenets of our faith, values, work ethic, culture, and heritage are passed onto our children” (154).

Maendel writes experientially, weaving into her gathered stories many strands of what, together, constitute Hutterian faith and life. The reader thus comes away with the feeling of having experienced the Hutterian way where faith, theology, and history each finds its place, interwoven existentially into everyday life. Maendel somehow is thus able to integrate various components into a larger whole, each of which is seen as an essential part of the total Hutterian reality, without which the whole would fall apart. For the Hutterites, home and vocation, and faith, family, and friends are seamlessly intertwined and correlated with each other, resulting in a degree of fulfillment socially and culturally rare in Western human history. Maendel is a master in her capacity to describe this seamless way of life.
This volume of stories is already making its rounds. Melodie Davis, syndicated columnist, reproduced Maendel’s Christmas story (75-76) in the Goshen News(December12, 2015), introducing it as follows: “There are stories that grab us and stop us in our tracks to say, yes, yes, this is what Christmas is truly about.”

Educated and well-traveled, Maendel represents a growing number of Hutterite women from the progressive faction within the Schmiedeleut group. But her experience is not shared by most women living among the more conservative Lehrer and Darius groups. Nevertheless, at its foundation her description of the Hutterian “way” rings true for all Hutterites, centering as it does in having all things common.

It is said that we need the Amish to remind us of what simplicity can be. We also need the Hutterites to remind us about the richness and depth of what the gathered community, as the Body of Christ, can be.

Goshen, Indiana LEONARD GROSS (author of The Golden Years of the Hutterites)