Sherry has written an especially neat cookbook called Taste of Pinecraft: Glimpses of Sarasota, Florida’s Amish Culture and Kitchens, a tribute to the area’s culinary heritage. It is one of the most entertaining cook books I’ve come across.
I’ve been looking forward to getting the behind-the-scenes on Sherry’s book and community for some time now.
Today we’ve got an interview with Sherry, which I think you’ll enjoy. We’ve also got a 5-book giveaway of Taste of Pinecraft.
Taste of Pinecraft 5-book giveaway: How to win a copy
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The contest ends in one week’s time, on Monday, November 8th.
On Monday I’ll also select the 5 winners at random from the comments, and announce them on the blog.
Taste of Pinecraft interview with Sherry Gore
Amish America: Your cookbook, Taste of Pinecraft, is more than just a collection of recipes. In it you share observations on Pinecraft, many of them excerpted from your writings for The Budget.
Sherry Gore: Some people travel the world in search of extraordinary subjects to write about, I found them in my own backyard, so to speak. Kids, dogs, and old folks. Originally, I set out to compile recipes from Pinecrafters for a local cookbook to be given as sort of a souvenir gift – I have many such treasured books from my own travels. To give folks a real feel of life here in Sarasota, I went a few steps further and began to add pieces I had written over several years for The Budget.
“Letters from home” in the National Edition of the paper has been keeping Amish and Mennonites (scattered wide across the world) connected for over 100 years. Through these “letters” we tell of daily happenings in our churches, homes, and neighborhoods.
In my cookbook, I included a broad range of happenings. Like the time Eleanor Miller dumped an entire plate of spaghetti on a customer’s lap while working her first shift as a waitress. And how Kris Knepp shared of his courtship days at a dinner in the home of one of our ministers. “With Rebecca going off to the Dominican Republic for two years rather than one, Kris told us, “If Jacob waited seven years for the wrong girl, then I can wait two years for the right one.“ Rebecca’s father said to him, “You know, I do have an older daughter.”
And then there are the fish stories. Lots of them. All true, of course.
You can also find a bit of Pinecraft history, and historical moments taking place today, like records of births, and wedding announcements, and ordinations of ministers.
Also found in Taste of Pinecraft are stories of death, and tragedy. My younger sister’s life was taken last December, and I wrote some in The Budget of different acts of kindness from folks in the community, just soon after. And upon returning from the funeral for nine in Burkesville, Kentucky, I wrote a 10-page account of the accident on March 26, 2010 that claimed the lives of our close friends, the Eshes. It too, was one of the more difficult pieces I’ve ever written.
Bro. John Esh was a regular visitor to Pinecraft every January. He preached in our churches, visited old friends, and made new ones. He also attended the Haiti Benefit Auction with his wife, Sadie. Their daughter, Anna Lynn, had worked at Overholt’s produce, a hub of sorts in the community.
The Pinecraft Pauper made its debut just around the time Taste of Pinecraft was completed, so I was fortunate enough to have been able to include stories from it as well.
AA: Reading your descriptions, you get the idea that this is a fun place to be. Is that the case? Are Pinecrafters really all that cheery, and why (I’m assuming it has something to do with the sun, and maybe all the vitamin C in the air) ?
Sherry Gore: I haven’t been everywhere, but in my travels throughout America this has to be one of the merriest. Imagine leaving the north to spend the winter months in a sun-kissed environment with no burdensome snow to shovel, no cows to milk, and no alarm going off at 4:00am. That alone would make anybody happy.
But throw in white sandy beaches, mild temps, a gulf beach sunset, salt-water fishing, shuffleboard games that last till dusk, nightly volleyball games and never-ending visiting just makes winter all the more sweeter. Pinecraft is laid back. Even a mere week here seems to jolt some folks out of their sternness and puts them in a more relaxed mode.
Who can stay grumpy, when there’s pie to be had at Yoder’s Restaurant? Or the buffet at Troyer’s Dutch Heritage Restaurant? And don’t forget the friendly folks that make a living down here, year-round. One host/cashier, Brent, likes to tell people where to sit, and then ask them how they enjoyed overeating.
The sun seems to have an effect on snowbirds of all ages. Often, you’ll see girls step off the Pioneer Trails bus wearing bullet-proof stockings and their black everyday shoes. A week or two later these same girls climb back aboard the bus heading north wearing flip flops.
As to your question, are they all cheery in Pinecraft? There’s a sourpuss in every crowd, maybe more. We have two.
AA: Another question on Pinecraft: what makes this community so unique? And what’s the deal with the tricycles?
Sherry Gore: With the exception of the radar-laden Sarasota County Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol officer’s horses, we’re basically horse-less. The only buggy in town sits in the courtyard at Yoder’s Restaurant, mostly for photo opportunities. The most common mode of transportation are these three-wheelers. Drivers are hired of course for doctors appt. etc, and some use golf carts, but you’ll see most folks get around the village on the broad-seated trikes.
Thomas Peachey, a minister of the Amish Church, has been known to many as “The Flying Dutchman.” His faster-than-necessary motorized trike took him many miles from home everyday to his store, where he makes his famous Big Olaf Ice-cream.
On a return trip to Pinecraft recently, his axle broke sending him and the bike into oncoming traffic. Thomas was hit by a truck and suffered a severe leg injury. As in all other aspects of his life, he took the incident in stride. His motorized bike is totaled so Thomas has been reduced to riding a rather adventure-free version of a three-wheeler; one that goes about five mph in a good wind. “Well, Sherry, I suppose you’ll have to change my name now. Perhaps to something along the lines of “The pedaling Dutchman.”
There’s a great many good ideas drummed up in Pinecraft, too. Some months back, Sam Peachey shared his version on the latest news on the oil spill: BP officials have announced they will lower a giant Amish hat over the gusher. A spokesperson said they are very optimistic this plan will work. An Amish hat is used to control wild, out-of-control hair. There is no reason it would not have the same effect on oil.”
AA: There are a lot of cookbooks out there. What does yours have that others don’t?
Sherry Gore: Embarrassing moments, directions on how to cook an alligator, how not to catch a mouse, an inside look at the #1 Amish snowbird capitol of the world, and the answer to life‘s biggest question. This is not your Grandmother’s cookbook.
And here’s one reader’s take on it: “A regular recipe book has just recipes. Your special book cannot just be considered a “recipe” book. It is entertaining, heart wrenching, comical and enlightening as well as educational. You can make a recipe and while you are waiting for it to cook/bake, you can read a story or more and the time goes by faster. Before you know it, you are ready to eat.” ~ Monique Wood
Amish America: I’m not a cook. Things can get ugly in my kitchen. Which recipes should someone like me try out first?
Sherry Gore: That depends. Are you looking for a get-me-to-the-table-quick kind of meal? The Florida Avocado Egg Scramble is easy. Five ingredients, five minutes, and it’s on the table.
Don’t mind waiting? Try Rebecca Fisher’s Sour Kraut- three ingredients and a six week interim. It’s somebody’s favorite.
Numerous recipes are no-fail classics, like easy Barbecue Meatballs and Vera Kipfer’s Pan-fried Chicken; she’s been a Pinecraft resident for 54 years.
Other dishes, like the Grilled-lime Fish Fillet (a reader favorite), or Fried Alligator Nuggets, call for a little pre-kitchen adventure, both easily had in Sarasota.
AA: And which are your personal favorites?
Sherry Gore: Esther Souder’s recipe for Coquina Soup epitomizes Florida living, but it was the story she told of growing up in Pinecraft and trekking to the beach with her family that captured me.
Another favorite can be found in the Pie section. Amish Henry Detweiler (there’s three fellows in town with the same name, somebody had to get a nickname) was holding an auction on Graber Street to disperse Gary Eash’s worldly goods. Across the road, Fannie Kay Yoder had made her Chocolate Cream Pie and was selling it by the slice.
In the midst of the auction, the Pioneer Trails bus arrived at the Tourist Church parking lot filled to the brim with pale-faced northerners itching for some Florida sunshine. That crowd seeing the crowd on the opposite end of Graber Street came down to see what was shaking. While Gary may have owned some hard-to-find items of interest, I’m more inclined to think it was Fannie’s pie that made the crowd swell.
AA: In addition to being a national scribe for The Budget, you are also a writer for The Pinecraft Pauper, which I’d have to describe as a local paper of mirth and a bit of mischief (the good, fun kind of mischief of course). Really, reading through some issues your founder Daniel sent me, I found myself audibly laughing. It takes a lot to do that. Tell us a little about the PP.
Sherry Gore: Our village paper, the first of its kind, was launched by Daniel Fisher and Leon Hostetler to provide a creative outlet for the Amish. It certainly has a Florida feel to it. Since the maiden issue of the PP several folks have jumped on board.
While most of the writers are local, some send their carefully type-written pages via snail-mail. Steven Fisher, a young farm boy in PA, began his literary debut last winter by sharing his observations on birds, a topic of great interest to many plain folks. This year, Steven has takes a more journal-type approach and is broadened his scope to include an array of wildlife happenings on his wooded 100 year-old farm in his nostalgic writings.
The wide variety of readers we have took me by surprise In addition to quite a few Old Order Amish folks, there’s a Kentucky Derby race horse owner, two New York Times best-selling authors, and at least one professor included in the list of subscribers.
With five books of my own scheduled to be released by Christmas 2012, I recently sent word to Moby Dick, a rather witty and satire-filled fellow, explaining my lack-of-time dilemma. He’s agreed to continue answering questions sent to the Editor.
One feature tells of notable Pinecraft Facts:
“The smallest house in the village, found on Shrock Street, measures 8 x 12 with 96 sq. ft. It belongs to Katie Troyer, one of Pinecraft’s little people.
The largest house, also on Shrock Street, has an astounding 6,000 sq. ft. We don’t know who’s moving in, but one fellow claimed who ever it is must be fat. At least in the wallet.”
AA: In Taste of Pinecraft, you mention “the world’s only Amish-owned Post Office”. The Amish are getting into the postal business? I thought Uncle Sam had that market locked down.
Sherry Gore: This tiny, frumpy building and it’s parking-lot-for four, houses more than just mail. Sitting across the road from Big Olaf Ice-cream is one of the distribution boxes for the Pinecraft Pauper. Outside, on the east wall is the famous bulletin board. Here you can advertise for an up-coming benefit supper, find a job, announce your woes of not finding a job, or disperse a litter of kittens. If your lucky, you can find someone to do your ironing. Senator Lisa Carlton did that once. It was a good job; one I rather enjoyed.
Inside the post office you’ll find gems written on bits of pink paper and taped to the walls – words of wisdom, such as “You can’t stumble when you’re on your knees.”
What you won’t find are computers; not even a hand-held debit card machine. Postal clerk Magdalena Graber uses a small calculator. Receipts are hand-written and hand-stamped. Mark Shrock works the winter season. Expect to stay longer if you ask him a question regarding current politics. But never quote him.
AA: So if I pay a visit to Pinecraft, what do I need to do while I’m there? Anyone I need to watch out for?
Sherry Gore: Eat. First go get your fill of home-cooking Amish-style at one of the two restaurants. We must be doing something right. Recently, 600 people came to Pinecraft, for liver and onions. Then go rent yourself a three-wheeler on Kruppa Ave. They’re only $4 per day. You’re better off taking the long route so by the time you pedal your way to the Pinecraft Park you’ll be ready for shuffleboard, marbles, loafing, or for the youngie, volleyball. And don’t leave without sitting down with Amish Henry, at least once. And watch out for Becky Fisher. She’s 81, and caught a burglar recently.
AA: Let us know how to get a copy of Taste of Pinecraft, and how one might get ahold of The Pinecraft Pauper too while you’re at it.
Sherry Gore: You can find Taste of Pinecraft in many Amish and Mennonite stores across the country, but those living outside a plain community can order a copy on my website at www.SherryGorebooks.com. Subscriptions for 8 bi-weekly issues from Dec.-April to the PP can be ordered by sending $11 to Pinecraft Village Publishers PO BOX 50231 Sarasota, FL 34232. You can also find us on Facebook.
Photo credits: Beach- Catherine; Northern Arrivals- Sherry Gore; Amish couple- Saintbridge; Amish Tricycles-Bruce Stambaugh; Sarasota wedding- Chris Meyer; Pinecraft Pauper box- Sherry Gore; Pinecraft post office- Becky Mabry