I find an unusual source of inspiration for my cooking in the Mennonites. You may be wondering what place they have in a food blog, but cook a recipe from one of their many cookbooks and you’ll understand. I first stumbled upon one of these cookbooks when my aunt passed down to me a box of kitchen items that belonged to my late grandmother. I eagerly read through the recipes, the unique quotes, tips, and stories as if it were a piece of literature. However, I never did take the time to cook from it until I found myself at dinner with friends who planned to prepare stuffed acorn squash from the Simply in Season cookbook (http://www.worldcommunitycookbook.org/).
Patience is required to reap the rewards of this dish. You begin by scooping the seeds from the squash halves and softening the inside of these edible bowls by roasting for 40 minutes. In the meantime, sausage, apples, herbs, raisins and walnuts are combined and eventually placed into the bowls. The entire dish is then put back in the oven for another 20 minutes so the flavors meld together, the aroma tempting you the whole while. When we finally sat down to eat, we excitedly took in the smell, the sight, the taste of our meal--but it was the sharing of the meal, with friends and family, that gave it the true Mennonite quality.
Their cookbooks are rich with recipes like stuffed acorn squash, and furthermore the books are more than just a collection of recipes. They are unique in their educational and stewarding approach to cooking. They set out to empower chefs with the tools to prepare local, in-season foods in a manner that reduces waste and overconsumption. If you are looking for a cookbook to invest in, give the Mennonites a chance.
Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 4 medium-sized acorn squash
- 1 lb. bulk turkey sausage
- 2 apples, chopped
- 4 stalks celery, finely diced
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ c water
- 2 c bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- Generous pinch of salt
- Black pepper
Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350° until almost soft but not mushy, 40-50 minutes.
While squash is cooking, sauté sausage in frying pan just until cooked through. Add seasoning, celery, onion, apples, raisins, walnuts and water. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Mix in sour cream and bread crumbs. Stuff into cooked squash and bake at 375° for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and enjoy!
Fun Food Fact: After WWII, the Mennonites were providing 40% of America's non-govt. food aid even though they made up less than 1/10 of 1% of the US population, and they are still going strong http://mcc.org/whatwedo/food