Book Review: More-With-Less Cookbook

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This humble cookbook, bound with practical spiral binding, defined much of how we ate as children and how we've come to think about food since. More-With-Less (World Community Cookbook) was first printed in 1976, and it emphasized seasonal, organic eating long before these ideas became mainstream.

The cookbook draws its recipes primarily from Mennonite kitchens, where grains and vegetarian sources of protein are used much more heavily than animal, and the book argues against the protein overeating in the modern American diet, as well as just overeating in general.

There are many recipes in the book drawn from other cultures - the book opens with a poem from a Somali poet and some facts and figures on worldwide food shortages. If that sounds like glum reading though, don't fear - the author argues that living simply is a way to joy, and good eating and good hospitality go hand-in-hand. This hospitality should extend to the whole planet, and being wise and restrained in what we eat cares for our neighbors everywhere.

How are the recipes, then? We love many of their whole grain recipes, like Barley-Lentil Stew and homemade granolas, and simple, nourishing sweets like Applesauce Pudding. There's scads of recipes for whole-grain breads and vegetarian bean dishes - many of them with interesting stories and provenance, like Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas. The recipes with meat provide gentle encouragement to use a little less and make meat stretch farther for reasons of health and economy.

It's full of good recipes for kids, too, that encourage participation as well as good eating. Peanut butter balls with milk powder and honey were a favorite treat in our household.

There are many cookbooks that have come along in recent years that individually offer more in terms of health, eco-consciousness, or authentic recipes from international cuisines, but we still haven't found a cookbook that offers so much in one small package. Highly recommended.