Cooking and Culture

By Lavonne Kroeker, PHEc

Food and our heritage have long been interconnected – especially at this time of year, many of us have memories of get-togethers that revolve around food.  One of the great things about exploring a new culture while travelling or in a local ethnic restaurant/ festival is the food.

Being Mennonite, I love reading a blog that provides me with recipes to celebrate my food heritage http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/.  Besides the recipes, there are stories behind the recipes and substitutions, a focus on locally grown produce and references to a shared faith.  As a girl, my mom had a couple of Mennonite recipe books but often they had vague instructions for traditional recipes and I was scared to attempt any of them.  Both the blog and the recipe book have helped to take away some of the fear of tackling these seemingly complicated but oh so yummy traditional foods.

There is something for everyone on this blog as I have found myself recently recommending it to friends who are following a gluten free diet.  My favourite is the Hazelnut Roll which is a lot simpler to make than it looks and a real treat for anyone who cannot eat flour products.

The women behind the blog  met online and began sharing recipes with each other.  They are not scared to branch out beyond Mennonite fare to include Italian, Mexican and cooking for a crowd.  The blog also has a searchable recipe index which is handy if you’ve heard a recommendation from someone and want to check it out.  Mennonite Girls Can Cook also supports a charity through the sale of their cookbooks and plans to release their second book in spring of 2013 called Celebrations.  If you are looking for a Christmas gift idea, this cookbook would be a real treat to receive (speaking from my own personal experience!).

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As a professional home economist, Lavonne Kroeker has worked in a wide variety of settings – an adult learning centre, child welfare, private industry and since 2007, as a Rural Leadership Specialist with Mantioba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives.  Her job involves “creating leaders” in rural communities – whether its supporting volunteer 4-H leaders, chairing a Safety Day committee, developing programming for women in business or organizing training for farm women, there is never a dull day!  Besides her day job, Lavonne enjoys volleyball, biking, creative pursuits and almost any outdoor activity!