Simply in Season

News and reflections on all that's good about local food
from the co-author of Simply in Season,
a World Community Cookbook in the spirit of More-with-Less

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Food, faith and sweet rolls

On Dec. 17, Simply in Season and its predecessor, More-with-Less Cookbook, were cited in a Dallas Morning News article about what it identifies as the latest trend: “cookbooks with a spiritual spin.”

The combination of spirituality and food may seem as odd to some as a peanut butter and bacon sandwich, but for others the combination is awfully appealing (who knew that sandwich appeared in early editions of The Joy of Cooking? Check out that last link). The Dallas Morning News article quotes Jana Riess, religion book review editor for Publishers Weekly, a journal of the book publishing industry, who “links the trend to growing interest in simple, daily spiritual practices that are ‘hands-on.’ ‘What could be more hands-on than creating meals that will nourish other people?’”

A key concept in the Mennonite faith tradition (which undergirds the World Community Cookbook series of which Simply in Season is a part) is discipleship: the idea of putting faith into practice in everyday life. We believe that faith is much more than a collection of beliefs. It must be made visible in our actions: what we say, what we do, where we work, what we buy.

Given the ramifications of the choices we make about food every day, maybe it’s not so strange to think that what we put in our mouths can be as much of a faith statement as the words coming out of our mouths.

Last spring one Generation X Mennonite suggested that Mennonite cookbooks deserve critical scholarship for the way they “[influence] and even [construct] Mennonite history, theology and culture” (Matthew Bailey-Dick in “The Kitchenhood of all Believers: A Journey into the Discourse of Mennonite Cookbooks,” Mennonite Quarterly Review, April 2005).

You needn’t be a Mennonite, a churchgoer, a Christian, a person of any particular religion or faith to want to make a connection between what you believe and what you eat. It’s my contention that we all enact our values at the table. More on this another week.

Several curriculums explore the connection between food and faith:
Hunger No More (Christian and Jewish versions available) from Bread for the World

Just Eating: Practicing Our Faith in the Kitchen, Presbyterian Hunger Project

Food for All (curriculum for children), Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Plus here’s the new review of Simply in Season from

* * *

It’s true anytime, but especially in the drear of winter there are few things more wonderful than fresh cinnamon rolls hot out of the oven. It’s my opinion that one of the most joyful tidbits in More-with-Less Cookbook is its advocacy of serving sweet rolls for desserts or snacks: they’re economical and satisfying, yet contain less sugar than cake or cookies.

Make your rolls with whole wheat flour -- or, better, with the Sweet Potato Crescent Roll dough from the Simply in Season recipe of the week -- and you’ve added a nutritional punch.

For a simple icing, beat together 1/4 cup of melted butter, 3 cups powdered sugar, the grated rind of an orange if available (better use organic in this case), and enough orange juice to make the desired consistency. Drizzle over the warm rolls.


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