Monday, November 30, 2009

Reading Notes:
The Amish Cook's Baking Book

  • So many interesting things about the Amish, but Williams' narrative style is dull, like he tried to oversimplify the words
  • 'Funny Names' is such a quirky, relevant factoid section & I wish he'd matched that tone the rest of the way through
  • Why not edit? Instead of opting for 'authenticity' sometimes lack of reorganization makes Eicher seem slow/dull
  • No face pictures? Why? The entire book is of hands or the product or still lifes around the farm. At least address the reason for the absence, because it affects the connectivity with your readers.
  • Pat-a-Pan piecrust with no rolling! Tried it already on Thanksgiving and it works fabulously. Crisp and delicious. Even stayed crisp with a pudding filler.
  • Super quick pie fillings; some seem extremely economical, which sound rather adventurous to me, like vinegar pie - what?
  • Williams' prose reads like 6th grade history textbook, despite some fascinating back story.
  • Layout is bland overall ; muted, bland colors with long blocks of plain text. Even the often gorgeous photos can't uplift boring pages in their oversimplification. As a designer, I can think of several easy fixes for this book that would weave it together, give it the authentic Amish infusion they seemed to trail after, and still have it pack visual punch.
  • Hard to differentiate sometimes between Eicher and Williams' dialog. Either Williams grew a heavy hand in his fitful editing or is having a difficult time finding his own voice.
  • Soft pretzels recipe also works beautifully, though it made me long for dipping sauce.
  • Recipes seem efficient in method and ingredients, a rare find these days.

The Amish Cook's Baking Book
Lovina Eicher with Kevin Williams
Andrews McMeel Publishing
View at Barnes & Noble

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Note on January 12, 2010: I've read some backlash about this particular post. The key comment being that I "don't know anything about the Amish." I laughed. That's absolutely true. Should only Amish folk purchase this book? People like me, the curious folk who want to know more, are the ones buying it. I run a farmers market booth come summertime, flanked by an Amish woman and her four daughters selling corn and pie on one side and an Amish man and his son selling meat on the other. While I've befriended both families, we're not close enough that I would feel comfortable asking them why their faces can't appear in photos. I'm not friendly to have my questions answered. I had hoped this book would offer more insight on the rich history of the Amish, and I'm disappointed not to have learned more, though I applaud the compendium of excellent recipes.


  1. Oh my goodness! This is such a beautifully done book! The photos are great! The writing is great! I have already made a few recipes and they are easy to follow and were delicious!

    dsi r4

  2. Neil,

    I agree about the recipes. I recently made the Best Sugar Cookies and sincerely believe them to be the single best sugar cookie recipe I've run across. My husband, however, disagrees. Whatever. We must leave some room for opinions.

    Thanks for reading!