Cooking

‘More-with-Less’: Iconic cookbook celebrates 40th anniversary (recipes)

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Many readers love the recipe for Mahsi, Middle Eastern stuffed vegetables. Photo courtesy of Donovan Roberts Witmer and Herald Press.

By Emily Ryan, The Mercury

Cara Longacre Hurst remembers testing many, many recipes. She was just a kid when her mom wrote the “More-with-Less” cookbook, celebrating “simple, joyful eating.”

“We would have a new dish every night,” Hurst said. “We would give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down.”

Now she’s giving the 40th anniversary edition rave reviews and hopes her late mother, Doris Janzen Longacre, would be proud.

“It’s exciting to kind of have it in the spotlight again,” Hurst described. “It’s always been a well-loved book. A lot of people come up to me and talk about how much they’ve used it and passed it on.”

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“More-with-Less” highlights the idea that “how we cook can change the world.” Photo by Emily Ryan

It’s sold almost a million copies.

“It was the first cookbook that I ever cooked things from growing up,” recalled Rachel Marie Stone, who updated and edited the new version. “My parents got the cookbook as a wedding gift.”

When the Mennonite Central Committee commissioned “More-with-Less,” Longacre reviewed recipe submissions from around the world. Favorites like oatmeal bread remain along with “quite a few new recipes.”

“I think we really kept the iconic recipes and philosophy of eating exactly the same,” Stone said, while modernizing “what we understand about nutrition and what we understand about the environment.”

“By and large, it’s the same cookbook we know and love,” agreed Amy Gingerich, editorial director for MennoMedia. “It’s environmental. It’s economical, and it’s faith-based… Doris was ahead of her time in all of them.”

Born out of concern for the hungry, “More-with-Less” highlights the idea that “how we cook can change the world.”

“She talks in the book about meatless Mondays” and eating “in a way that’s sustainable for our whole planet, which is just as relevant, if not more relevant today,” Gingerich said.

There’s also “this idea of eating with joy,” she added. “It’s just such a lovely phrase that really captures the ethos of ‘More-with-Less.’”

In fact, Stone named her own cookbook “Eat with Joy.”

As for the new “More-with-Less” – “it’s just beautiful,” she said. “It’s big. It’s got great photographs. It’s just a lovely book.”

Oatmeal Bread

Yields 2 loaves

Combine in large bowl:

INGREDIENTS

1 cup quick-cooking oats

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

Pour over:

2 cups boiling water

Stir in to combine.

Combine, dissolving yeast:

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

½ cup warm water

When batter is cooled to lukewarm, add yeast mixture.

Stir in:

5 cups white flour

INSTRUCTIONS

When dough is stiff enough to handle, turn onto floured surface and knead 5 to 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. Punch down and let rise again. Shape into two loaves and place in greased 9-by-5-inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool on rack, brushing loaves with butter for a soft crust.

Option: For added texture, add 1/4 cup bulgur wheat before the boiling water.

Mahsi

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

Vegetables

Select a variety of vegetables to prepare for stuffing:

Tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, small eggplant

INSTRUCTIONS

Cut off tops, reserving lids. Clean out center seedy portions, reserving tomato pulp.

Parboil three minutes to soften:

Leafy vegetables, such as cabbage and green grape leaves

Use newer grape leaves – old ones are tough. For easier stuffing, use leaves at least 4 inches long. Prepare stuffing.

Stuffing

Brown in skillet:

½ to 1 pound ground beef, pork, or lamb

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

Add:

1 cup uncooked rice

½ cup parsley, minced

Fresh mint or dill, or combination, to taste, chopped

2 cups tomato sauce plus any reserved tomato pulp

3 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Taste to check seasonings. Fill hollowed-out vegetables two-thirds full with rice mixture, replacing reserved tops.

For leafy vegetables (cabbage and grape leaves), place 1 tablespoon stuffing mix on each. Roll up loosely so rice can expand, folding in sides. May be fastened with toothpicks.

Place stuffed vegetables in baking dish, add water to ¼-inch depth, and bake at 325 degrees for 1½ hours.

Options: To cook on top of stove, place vegetables in a well-buttered skillet, add 2 cups boiling water or thin tomato juice and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook 1 hour, or until rice is tender.

Replace beef with 2 to 3 cups cooked, drained brown lentils and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Recipes reprinted with permission from More-with-Less Cookbook. 2016 Herald Press.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doris Janzen Longacre lost her battle with cancer three years after publishing the “More-with-Less” cookbook. She was 39.

“I think my mother was very much an experimenter with recipes,” said Cara Longacre Hurst. “She often didn’t use a recipe. She just tried things.”

Longacre, a dietitian, worked with the Mennonite Central Committee in Vietnam and Indonesia before writing the book in Lancaster County.

“I think cooking is just so important on many levels – the smells, the connections with family and friends around the dinner table,” Hurst explained. “It’s a cookbook that I still go back to a lot.”

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