This past year I loved working with Marianne Jantzi, a young Amish mother near Kitchener, Ontario, to publish her first book, Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother.
It was especially enjoyable for me because she is about the age of one of my daughters and while a little ahead of them in the number of children she has (four), her youngest child is sandwiched between my grandchildren in age. So I felt a little like a grandma-at-a-distance in hearing her aside about promising a popsicle if they were good while she talked to me on the phone.
I also felt like maybe a mentor in helping her figure out how to take magazine columns for The Connection she’d written over the past five years and synthesize them into a book. Which is exactly what I have done 4-5 times in the books I’ve been able to have published over the last 30 something years. (You can read two shorter excerpts from Marianne’s book here, download an entire free chapter here, read more about the publishing process with an Amish author who writes her work by hand, and an exclusive interview with Marianne by Ardell Stauffer on our company blog, Mennobytes. (Scroll to the end for the interview.)
I would love to meet her family someday, but meanwhile her oldest daughter Alyssa first baked one of the recipes shared in Marianne’s book, a simple four-ingredient recipe for chocolate chip bars. Everyone has a recipe for chocolate chip cookies or bars, but I am dumbfounded as I look at this simple recipe and wonder how many other cookies or bars could be streamlined to this simplicity.
Alyssa’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips
Cream butter and brown sugar.
Add flour and chips.
Mix well. Spread in greased 9 x 12 pan.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cut into bars after 10-15 minutes. Makes about 32 bars.
Of course I “tested” these at the MennoMedia/Herald Press office. One man emailed his thanks: “Yum. How can you go wrong with flour, sugar, chocolate and butter?”
They are rich and buttery good—and delicious warm right out of the oven. In defense of the other ingredients most of us usually add to a bar type cookie like this, I think the normal eggs, baking soda/powder and vanilla added help keep the bars a little moister as time goes on. But in an Amish family of 7-10 children, leftover bars wouldn’t last that long anyway.
So for a simple recipe the kids or grandkids can almost master themselves, this is an awesome find! Thanks, Marianne and Alyssa!
Just $12.99, and it makes a lovely Mother’s Day gift. You will be helping support this young hard working Amish family! (And no, this is not Alyssa on the front, and her mother says the Amish wear slightly different head coverings in Ontario. Just in case you wondered.)
Melodie M. Davis is the author of nine books, most recently, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime (Herald Press, 2010). She writes the syndicated column, Another Way, serves as a managing editor for Herald Press, and is also editor of a local family publication, Valley Living. She keeps a blog where she features frequent recipes from her home, family and church life. She is married and the mother of three adult daughters and two grandsons.
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